Saturday, January 5, 2019

See Sokcho

Most tourists go to the city of Sokcho in the province of Gangwon on a day trip, not to visit the city itself, but to go to Seoraksan National Park especially in autumn. I decided to stay two days and one night in Sokcho for two reasons: one, to explore Sokcho City; and two, to have a good night's sleep and start my hike early at Seoraksan National Park the following day (the aim was to start the hike before the busloads of tourists arrive).

How to Go to Sokcho from Seoul

Get yourself to Seoul Express Bus Terminal. If you are taking the subway in Seoul, take the subway to Seoul Express Bus Terminal Station. Take exit 1 to proceed to the bus terminal. The bus ride from Seoul Express Bus Terminal to Sokcho Express Bus Terminal will take 2.5 hours and the bus ticket will cost more or less 17900 krw (depending on the type of bus). You can reserve a ticket online or just buy a ticket on the day at the terminal.

What to See in Sokcho

I stayed at With U Hotel & Guesthouse just across Sokcho Bus Terminal. Although there are city buses, I decided to walk the 1.6 kilometers to Abai Village because it was such a beautiful sunny day and I figured I needed to warm up my legs for the Seoraksan hike I was planning to do the next day.

I am glad I walked because on the way to Abai Village, I caught sight of red and white lighthouses. It stood out with the blue background of sea and sky. I made a little detour and saw that it was a nice pit stop to take in views of the sea to the east, a beach to the south, and Seoraksan and Sokcho City to the west. It looked like it was also a popular place for fishing—there were many locals casting their fishing lines along the breakwater.

Red and White Lighthouses

Sokcho City and Seoraksan

East Sea


Go fish!

After the little detour, I crossed the pink Sokcho Bridge, on the other side of which is the Abai Village. It's a small and quiet seaside village where the locals have opened cafes, restaurants, and food stalls. It turns out this place became popular because it was a filming location for a K-drama called "Autumn in My Heart."

Abai Village

Across the road from Abai Village and under the bridge is the dock for the gaetbae or raft that will take me across the waters to downtown Sokcho. The gaetbae fare is 500 krw per way. The gaetbae is not powered by a motor, but by its passengers—passengers help pull the cable that would move the raft across the 60-meter wide waterway.


Passengers help pull to get the raft moving

The dock at the downtown Sokcho side is surrounded by restaurants and cafes, but I wasn't hungry and I propelled my feet to go to the Sokcho Fishery Market, about 300 meters from the dock, for a look-see. Just like any other market, there was a ton of fresh seafood, fruits, and vegetables at Sokcho Fishery Market.

Sokcho Fishery Market

I added another 1.6 kilometers to my shoe-mileage because 1.6 kilometers away was the Yeonggeumjeong Pavilion, a public pavilion that faces the East Sea. Too bad I was there late in the afternoon and not early morning...this place would surely have a beautiful view of the sunrise.

Yeonggeumjeong Pavilion

Sokcho Lighthouse as seen from Yeonggeumjeong Pavilion

Looking north from the pavilion, I could see the Sokcho Lighthouse. It is only a 400-meter walk from the pavilion to the lighthouse, but I had to hurry because the bright sunny day had turned cloudy and raindrops were starting to fall. The wind was picking up by the time I reached the lighthouse, plus I was getting soaked. I took refuge inside the lighthouse observatory (open from 9am to 6pm) where there are dioramas of the area. Sadly, the information was in Korean and I could not read Korean. I checked out the outdoor observatory only for a second, because it was too windy and the rain was pelting me. The outdoor observatory would have afforded me a 360-degree view of the area.


View from Sokcho lighthouse

Fortunately, the rain didn't last long and I made my way back to my guesthouse. I was going to take the bus, but after waiting for 20 minutes at the bus stop and having no idea what time it would arrive, I found myself walking. Again. At the end of the day, I logged 28,999 steps! So much for a pre-hike warm up. I hope my legs won't break on the hike up Seoraksan tomorrow!

This article is now available as a mobile app. Go to GPSmyCity to download the app for GPS-assisted travel directions to the attractions featured in this article.

Sokcho+Seoul+Gwangju, Autumn 2018
Itinerary and Expenses: 10D/10N Seoul and Sokcho
Sokcho, Gangwon-do
Sokcho Accommodation: With U Hotel & Guesthouse
See Sokcho (you're here!)
Seoraksan National Park
Seoul Accommodation: Hostel Tommy
Finding Solace in the Midst of Seoul's Urban Jungle
Art Museums in Seoul
Food for the Seoul
Unhyeongung Palace, Cheong Wa Dae, Jogyesa Temple
Gwangju, Gyeonggi-do
UNESCO World Heritage: Namhansanseong Fortress

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