Five stunning national parks to visit in South Korea
South Korea may be best known for its sprawling high-tech cities and world-famous entertainment industry, but this peninsular nation is also home to some truly spectacular natural sights. From the island-rich south shore to the northern border, there is no shortage of jagged mountains and lush forests to explore. If you are planning a trip to Seoul in the near future, be sure to allow extra time in your itinerary to explore the wild side of South Korea.
Seoraksan National Park
South Korea’s northeast region may lack world-class cities like Seoul and Busan, but the region more than makes up for its abundant natural beauty. Case in point: Seoraksan National Park, an expanse of approximately 98,000 acres teeming with jagged granite peaks. While the vast Gongnyong Ridge – or Dinosaur Ridge in English – is a popular attraction thanks to its dramatic appearance, Seoraksan National Park is also hailed for its lively inhabitants. With over 1,000 listed plant species and around 1,500 animal varieties found throughout the park, this is a must visit for those looking for native Korean flora and fauna.
Jirisan National Park
Officially established in 1967, Jirisan is South Korea’s oldest national park, with over 116,000 acres of protected land spread across three provinces. A haven of peace for all walks of life, this immense region is home to nearly 5,000 different plant and animal species living alongside historic Buddhist temples and roaring waterfalls. While elk and feral cats are two iconic creatures that inhabit Jirisan, the most iconic by far is the Asian black bear. With more than fifty individuals recorded throughout the park, Jirisan is certainly South Korea’s main attraction for spotting these majestic animals in the wild.
Bukhansan National Park
Located along the north of Seoul, the vast Bukhansan National Park offers a well-deserved getaway to all city dwellers looking for a change of scenery. The park is known for its abundance of towering granite peaks, including the 2,744-foot Baegundae, but in addition to its pristine natural beauty, Bukhansan is also home to a particularly notable man-made attraction. Known as Bukhansanseong, this stone fortress was completed in 1711 following invasions launched from the neighboring Japanese archipelago as well as the forces of the Qing Dynasty.
Hallasan National Park
Jeju Island, South Korea is renowned for its distinct culture, tumultuous history, and most importantly, abundant natural beauty, the latter of which can be experienced first-hand at Hallasan National Park. While this verdant reserve is home to Hallasan, an approximately 6,300-foot-tall shield volcano that serves as South Korea’s tallest mountain, it’s far from the only natural attraction found within the park boundaries. The high altitude here has fostered a particularly fascinating range of native flora and fauna, with hundreds of plant species, over 350 different bird varieties, and classic East Asian mammals like wild boar and roe deer. Siberian.
Wolchulsan National Park
Wolchulsan National Park may be South Korea’s smallest national park, but don’t let that put you off: this approximately 14,000-acre reserve is home to a host of fascinating attractions in addition to its pristine natural sites. Upon arrival, visitors are invited to cross the bustling Cloud Bridge, a 171-foot passage perched 390 feet in the air, or visit the Dogapsa, an idyllic Buddhist temple outfitted with ornate statues and detailed paintings depicting the life of The Buddha. For those looking for wildlife, Wolchulsan is a popular birding destination, with over 75 different avian species recorded in the park.