Original day of travel: 15 April 2014
Two days after arriving in Seoul from my 4-day sojourn in Jeju, I took another side-trip, this time to Sokcho & Mt. Sorak. My days of travelling solo was coming to an end, as a friend would be joining me at Seoul Express Bus Terminal directly upon arrival from Singapore.
Sokcho City, in Gangwondo province, is the starting point for most people headed to Mt. Sorak from Seoul, as the express and intercity buses end their journey there. It is well-known for attractions such as Sokcho Beach and Abai Village (filming location for K-Drama Autumn in My Heart). Like many seaside towns in Korea, it is also a great place to get fresh seafood. By this time, I was missing the plentiful seafood in Jeju, so was looking forward to the meals on Sokcho.
In this post, I share more about how you can travel by express buss from Seoul to Sokcho, and local buses from Sokcho bus terminal to Mt. Sorak.
Mt. Sorak is a short 30-min ride away from the
Sokcho bus terminal on the local buses no. 7 or 7-1 (see below on how to get to Sokcho fm Seoul). You get a scenic ride along the coast before the bus turns inland towards the mountain. Apparently, autumn is the best season to visit as the mountain presents a veritable feast for the eyes when the trees lining its slopes cloak it in hues of orange and red. Turned out that spring wasn’t a bad time to visit either as the cool weather made hiking less tiring. Not that you have to do much hiking to enjoy Mt. Seorak; there’s a cable-car that takes you some distance up the mountain so you can enjoy the views without needing to climb too much, making this a suitable place to bring children and the elderly. Of course, the more fit and energetic amongst us can reap further rewards if they do make the hike up. Below are some of my photos that show what Mt. Seorak looks like in spring.
How to get there:
The fastest route to Sokcho is by express bus from Seoul Express Bus Terminal (also known as the Gangnam Terminal) to Sokcho Express Terminal, taking only an est. 2 hrs 30 mins, and costing 18,100 won per pax.
The bus terminal can be reached by taking the subway (lines #3, #7 and #9) to the “Express Bus Terminal” station. Take exits 1 or 2 and walk a short distance to the terminal. There are clear signs from the subway station, so it’s easy to find.
Upon arriving at Sokcho Express Terminal, cross the road to the local bus station and take bus 7 or 7-1. The bus ends its route in the Mt. Sorak area, so just sit tight until you get there. There are a few stops in the Mt. Sorak area, mostly in front of notable hotels or landmarks, so listen out for the pre-recorded announcements on the stops. I was able to drop right in front of my hotel, the Kensington Stars Hotel, which was one of the last few stops before the entrance to the Mt. Sorak national park.
Where I stayed:
Having a travel companion means you can split costs, so the two of us chose to stay at one of the more posh hotels in the area, Kensington Stars. The hotel has the added benefit of being almost right at the door steps of Mr. Seorak national park, which in turn is a short stroll away from the cable-car station at the mountain base. The 110,000 won that we paid per room per night was worth it. We got a great unobstructed view of the mountain from our room (we got upgraded to a better room ‘cos it was off season), and the room was nice and big. The hotel staff was also friendly, with at least 2 english-speaking staff who greeted us everytime we walked past the counter and were all too eager to help us call for cabs or give directions to restaurants. To some more fussy travellers, the hotel’s interior might look a bit shabby, especially for the price.
Tip: Use this nifty search tool on the KTO website to figure out the fastest bus route from Seoul to other destinations. The good thing is that it shows various routes from different bus terminals in Seoul (there are at least three, Dong Seoul terminal, Seoul Express Bus terminal and Honam terminal). You may then want to head over to the KoBus site,where you can find out the number of available seats, as well as verify the travel durations for buses from different bus companies. Unfortunately, not all bus companies are represented at the KoBus page. Nonetheless, it helped me identify the fastest route to Sokcho, using a bus from the Expess Bus terminal.
Bonus: Catch a glimpse of Sokcho in this KBS World travelogue (Go Go! Korea Ep 15)