We recently went on our second trip back to Sokcho. It is a beautiful area that is right by the beach and is surrounded by gorgeous mountains. It is a gem. And it is really easy to get around in and there is a lot of english spoken there as they are very used to tourists. The busiest times to go are in the fall when the leaves change, but it is breathtaking. We really loved both of our trips here, so I have put together a quick guide for you if you are going to visit. I hope you love it as much as we do! If you have questions or suggestions please leave them in the comments.
More tips from our first trip here.
WHERE TO STAY
The House Hostel. The hostel is located very close to the ocean in the middle of the city. The owner speaks great english and this is literally the best hostel we have ever stayed in. It is straight out of an adorable magazine and is very conveniently located within the city. You can make reservations through Hostel World here. There is a local bus stop right out front and the intercity bus terminal is about a 3 minute walk. There are very nice bikes for you to use at anytime and breakfast. The owner will sit you down and give you a map and recommendations of where to go and what to eat, really all you need to do is show up here and you will be set! Sorak National Park is about a 30 minute bus ride from here.
Hiking Hostels. If you only are going to go hiking and do not plan on spending any time in the city, then you will want to stay at a hostel up near the park. There are many hostels here and a strip of restaurants you can eat at and convenience stores so you do not need to leave this area, again if all you are doing is hiking. We have stayed at this hostel and were happy with it, but we wish we would have stayed even closer to the park. You can of course take the bus into the city if you need. Bus 7 and 7-1 will take you into the city and up to the park entrance. You will still have to walk a good ways to get up to the park entrance even from this location.
Buses are the easiest way to get around as they are cheap and run everywhere. The 7 and 7-1 take you into the Park and the 9 and 9-1 run along coast making stops at the beaches and temples. The buses only take CashBee cards, so if you are visiting in Seoul and plan to travel to Sokcho, buy a CashBee transportation card, not a T-money card (seoul takes both cards, but Sokcho only takes CB). Taxis are also easy to find and the meters start at 2800won. It is easy to walk here, but the city is fairly large and spread out, so this will only work if you are touring a specific area. You cannot walk from the park to the city, etc.
WHERE TO EAT.
There are a lot of cheap, typical Korean places everywhere in the city as usual. If you are hiking, there are restaurants as soon as you get into the park, but they are pricey and there are some restaurants as you hike on some of the longer trails. If you are staying in the park area, there is a strip of restaurants with Korean food in them, but they are a bit more expensive also. Two specific places we would recommend in the city are: Matsu and all you can eat Korean BBQ.
Matsu is an Italian place that is delicious. For about 15000Won you get an entree (pasta!), appetizer (brushetta!), salad and dessert or coffee. It is a little off the beaten path though, but it is rated the #1 restaurant in Sokcho! I would advise using your GPS when trying to find it. But general directions: take the 7 or 7-1 bus (either going to or coming from the park). You will get off at a the bus stop that is yellow and painted with giant flowers. You will have to push the button as the driver wont normally stop as it is in the middle of nowhere. There is an SK gas station across the street. Walk into the little neighborhood, down the road that looks like someones driveway. You follow this street back into the neighborhood for about 2 minutes and Matsu will be on your right. More info here.
All you can eat BBQ. If you are staying at the House Hostel, this place will be recommended to you and is within walking distance or is perfect if you are visiting the temples and overlooks by the sea. For 11000won (plus drinks) you get all you can eat meat and sides, even fish! It is on the main road before you are enter the seafood district. HIKING
In the park there are a ton of great and very diverse hiking options. Here are trails we have done:
Daeseung Falls: This is a very easy and quick (about two hours round trip) hike to the falls. This is a great place for a picnic if it’s not too crowded.
Ulsanbawi trail, This hike is very strenuous. It has stairs for about 3 hours and when you reach the peak and it is not a clear day then it can be complete fog, so only subject yourself to this if it’s a clear day.
Cheonbuldong Valley: Very easy and short hike. So beautiful.
Cable Car: Do this. Breathtaking and worth every penny. But book your ticket first before hiking so you can get the time you want.
Sinheungsa Temples: This is more of just in the park, you don’t really ‘hike’ to it. These are really fun and beautiful!
More photos from these hikes here. IN THE CITY
Sokcho Beach: Koreans don’t really do the beach the same as Americans. So there is not a lot of swimming or two piece bathing suits, plus the water is pretty cold. But you can picnic, take photos, play games, etc. This area has food and some cool architecture to see!
Sokcho Lighthouse Observatory/Fish Market: this area has a lot of fun stuff to do and see. There are 3 different observatorys, light houses, temples, overlooks all right together and are all free. You can then stroll through the fish market and see GIANT crabs and all sorts of other things. But be warned, they are really very expensive, 100$ each….
Naksana Temple: If you take the 9 Bus out to the beach (different beach from Sokcho beach) and get off at the beach, you will walk straight for a few moments and then go back into the little neighborhood where there are houses and hostels. You will walk towards the back, up towards the mountain, and see this green gate. Enter in and climb up the mountain (maybe a 10 minute walk along the dirt path) and you will enter in the back way. The temple is really massive and has amazing views. You can also enter through the normal entrance. For more travel info on other activities such as hotsprings and spa here.
More photos and tips from our first trip.