Update: I’ve also posted instructions on getting help with Ulleungdo, if that’s your thing.
I thought posting detailed instructions would be helpful to anyone looking to make the hike. The trip to Seokbulsa temple isn’t too challenging for a mountain hike, but it’s not a walk through a museum either. Come prepared for some very steep slopes, and dirt paths. I have done more challenging hikes already in my time in Korea. There are many ways to the site. Crazy enough you could even drive there if you wanted – but you’d better have confidence in your car’s tires and low gears, because it is a steep climb. The first set of directions are probably the most scenic and best hike, and it’s how I got there. I took a ropeway to the top of the mountain, and then hiked down to a steep little road which I was able follow all the way to the temple.
Option 1 – The best hiking experience
- Take the #1 subway to Oncheonjang Station and proceed out Exit 1. You can walk to Geumgang Park from there in less than 1o minutes.
- Once inside the park follow the signs to the ropeway where you can buy a one-way ticket for 4000KRW (2014).
- At the top of the mountain follow the signs for the South Gate. Walk along these paths until you come to an intersection in the path with 4 choices – and nearly all of which are in Korean. We followed the path that was on the left of where we came from and sloped downward.
- This will lead you to Nammam Village, where there are many restaurants and sporting fields. Go straight through the village and keep to your left. You should see the sign below. Go left after you pass this fence
- This trail will begin to go downhill, and you’ll go down stairs, across a small stream, and probably more stairs. Follow it for no more than 10 minutes.
- You will come to a big fork in the road with a sign post (see below) where the current trail veers left and a new, and steep, trail goes straight and down some steps. The steep trail is the one you want!
- Follow this path all the way until the very end. You’ll cross some beautiful terrain on your way down.
- At the end is a small road. Turn right up the road and don’t stop until you reach the top!
- The easiest way home is by following the road all the way to the bottom, where it will bring you close to the Mandeok subway station on line #3.
Option 2 – slightly rougher directions
- Using the roads, you can climb all the way to the top
- Take the subway to Mandeok station on line #3 and go out through exit 2
- Go straight out of the stop and make a left at the next street (Gumandeok-Ro)
- Follow this road you come to a pedestrian bridge that will let you cross to the other side
- Now you must follow the signs for a ‘Duck Village’ – the roads will mostly be going uphill
- There is only one road that goes uphill, and this is the road you want to take to the temple. There are no sidewalks so just be careful as you make your way up.
- You should pass a hospital and endless love motels and eventually the road will turn form asphalt to rugged concrete.
- Keep going up until you reach the temple!