It’s impossible to miss the arrival of fall, as the air becomes crisp and the trees change their leaves into bright, festive colors. The clear blue sky and fall foliage can be seen in both mountains and cities. One of the most popular places to take in this natural splendor is at Naejangsan National Park, located in Jeongeup, Jeollabuk-do. There are so many beautiful spots that it can be easy to miss some of them. To enjoy all Naejangsan National Park has to offer, be sure to follow our helpful guide!
Upon arriving at Naejangsan National Park, the first thing to enjoy is the maple tree tunnel! The maple trees lining both sides of the road create a long archway you must pass through when entering and exiting the park. You can take in the beautiful pathway on foot or hop on the shuttle bus, which goes all the way to the ticketing booth for Naejangsan Cable Car. To enjoy both, take the bus in and then walk out.
The fleeting nature of fall foliage makes planning a trip quite tricky; Naejangsan tends to start changing colors around mid-October. It reaches its peak in early November before fading out around the middle of the month. Because the park is very famous among Koreans, who generally can only travel on weekends, we recommend visiting on a weekday if possible. If you must visit on a weekend, try to get an early start to beat the crowds!
The best way to get an overhead shot of the mountainside is by riding Naejangsan Cable Car. Both one-way and round-trip tickets are available but many tourists choose to ride up and then walk down.
The cable car generally runs in 20 minute intervals, but runs non-stop during the peak fall foliage season. Because of Naejangsan’s popularity, there is often a wait time after purchasing tickets. It is advised to plan for this in advance so your travel itinerary doesn’t get an unwanted surprise!
The observatory on Yeonjabong Peak is located just 300 meters away from the cable car’s mountaintop station. From here, you can look out over Byeongnyeonam Hermitage and the many other peaks that comprise Naejangsan Mountain. The pathway is not very difficult, but is mostly stairs and dirt trails so wearing comfortable shoes is a must! It can also be quite windy at the top, so we recommend bringing a jacket.
Walking down the mountain from the cable car station, you will see a signboard for Naejangsa Temple; it is about ten minutes from here, walking at a leisurely pace. This section of the trail is one of the photo spots that should not be missed! Naejangsa Temple was built in the year 660 during the Baekje kingdom. Unfortunately, many of the buildings were lost to a fire, with only a few remaining today. One perk to visiting the temple before you leave is the free tea they give out to all visitors! Be sure to try some while walking around the temple grounds.
After Naejangsa Temple, be sure to stop by Uhwajeong Pavilion. It was built in 1956 but the original concrete façade made it stand out too much from the natural landscape. It was redesigned in 2016, giving it a new look that is in harmony with its setting. The pavilion and surrounding foliage reflecting off the waters of the pond to create a picture-perfect scene.
The last stop on a trip to Naejangsan Mountain is the marketplace! Located at the entrance to the park, the restaurants sell all kinds of delicious Korean dishes like bibimbap and rice soup. If you’re not hungry enough for a full meal, choose a snack from the array of street food vendors. Enjoying some hotteok (sugar-filled griddlecake) or gun bam (roasted chestnuts) is the perfect ending to a fall foliage trip to Naejangsan National Park!
Getting to Naejangsan National Park
* This column was last updated in October 2019, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to confirm details before visiting.