Sokcho Travel Guide
Sitting within easy reach of Seoraksan National Park and on the shores of the East Sea, Sokcho is a popular tourist destination in South Korea.
While nature lovers will have their hands full, its amazing temples, markets, and neighbourhoods will impress as well.
Come check out our Sokcho travel guide as we cover the best things to do in Sokcho, Korea.
Most people make the trek out to Sokcho to visit Seoraksan National Park, one of South Korea’s most beautiful nature reserves. Here, granite and gneiss peaks rise more than 1,700 metres above the surrounding landscape, giving fantastic views in every direction.
If you are short on time, ensure that you do the Ulsanbawi Rock hike. While it is described as ‘the StairMaster from hell’ by some trekkers, the dramatic views from the top and flora and fauna along the way will make the sweat you’ll shed worth it.
Waterfall fans will also love this park – ensure that Biryong Falls and Towangseong Falls are on your list, as these picturesque water features will take your breath away. Don’t leave Seoraksan National Park off your itinerary, as flowering trees, greenery, fall foliage, and snow make this place stunning in any season.
This national park isn’t just home to natural attractions – it also has cultural assets as well. While in the Sokcho area, make plans to visit Gwongeumseong Fortress. Built on Seoraksan Mountain by King Gojong in the 13th century, its impregnable position helped to keep the peace in the region for generations.
It sits in ruins in the present day, but that doesn’t stop tourists from visiting the site via a cable car. Want to head up the hard way? It used to be allowed, but the steep nature of the trail and sheer cliffs led to its closure, so you’ll have to ride the tram with day trippers.
While the foundations can be hard to pick out from the rocks at the summit of Seoraksan, the views of the surrounding area make up for it. Be ready to wait for at least a couple of hours during peak season – try to visit during the week, if possible.
The stunning natural beauty of the Sokcho region has made it the perfect place to build Buddhist halls of worship. Of them, Sinheungsa Temple stands out – built in the 7th century during the reign of Queen Jindeok, it has been destroyed numerous times over the aeons.
Sinheungsa Temple is best known for its statues – notable ones include the Bronze Jwabul Statue and four that honour former Cheonwang, or kings.
Sokcho is situated less than 100 kilometres from the North Korean border. As the first major city within easy reach of this frontier, it has become home to a substantial community of North Korean refugees during the Korean War.
The neighbourhood where they and their descendants live is popularly known as Abai Village. In a nation that had modernized rapidly over the past half-century, it stands out as a place where old Korean homes remain.
The charming nature of these streets made it a central shooting location for the K-drama, ‘Autumn in My Heart’ – key attractions include a supermarket where the lead actress worked and the boat she took to cross a nearby channel.
Hungry? Be sure to try some hamheung naengmyeon or Abai sundae – both dishes are familiar to this particular neighbourhood.
Spent a couple of days hiking in Seoraksan with your family? Reward yourself and your kids with a relaxing day at Seorak Waterpia. A water park with indoor and outdoor features, it can be visited at any time during the year.
With water slides, wave pools, saunas, and pools that can be as hot as 49 degrees Celsius, this park is the perfect place to unwind.
Connect with locals shopping for dinner at the Sokcho Jungang Market. While it was initially a seafood market, this place has since become famous for its dak gangjeong, or sweet and sour fried chicken.
If you are jonesing for fresh seafood, though, there is no better place to go in Sokcho than Daepo Port. Here, the catch of the day is hauled off boats and is quickly prepared to be bought by restaurateurs and seafood enthusiasts.
In attached restaurants, everything from $100 fish to cheaper seafood tempura is served up – have the latter with some beer or makgeolli – thank us later.
If the peak days of summer have you drenched in sweat, seek sweet relief from the heat at Sokcho Beach. A white sand beach that extends for two kilometres (although, the public swimming area is only 450 metres wide), there are many places where you can roll out a towel to enjoy the sea breeze.
Afterwards, try some fresh sashimi, as there are countless spots along the waterfront where it is available.