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Refreshing Summer Destinations - Valleys in Korea

When the early summer heat has you down, visit a valley to take refuge from the scorching weather and refresh the body and mind.

Under the influence of monsoon season, summer in Korea is marked by periodic interchanges of heat and rainfall. The weather after a rainfall can be scorching, so at the height of summer, city dwellers seek reprieve near the water by visiting the mountains, sea, river or a water park. In a country covered 80% by mountains, there are seemingly endless valley destinations to visit. This column introduces some destinations that are a day trip from the Seoul metropolitan area, and others that are further trek away from the capital. Read on and take a tour of some of the best “healing valleys” of Korea.

Seoul and its Vicinities

Gangwon-do Province

Other Regions



Seoul and its Vicinities

• Jungwon Valley in Yangpyeong

Jungwon Valley in Yangpyeong, Gyeonggi Province, is an ideal day trip for Seoul residents. Jungwon is a deep and pristine valley located to the east of Mount Jungwonsan (800 meters). It is widely known as Yongmunsan Valley because Mount Jungwonsan is part of Mount Yongmunsan (1,157 meters). Mount Yongmunsan, which is the most noted mountain in Yangpyeong County, has several peaks. Its water is abundant and clean, making it a popular summer destination.

Of the many valleys in Yongmunsan, Jungwon is the most popular thanks to it beautiful scenery and cool, clear water. The valley can be reached after a 15-minute walk from the parking lot. The valley’s highlight is Jungwon Waterfall. Though it stands less than 10-meters-high, Jungwon Waterfall is notable for its emerald green colors and the uniquely-shaped rocks that frame the water. Past the waterfall, the upper reaches of the valley are less populated, presenting a natural environment ready to be enjoyed in its full splendor. Admission to the valley is free through the end of August.

Info

Jungwon Falls


☞ Address:
Jungwon-ri, Yongmun-myeon, Yangpyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do
☞ Admission:
Free
☞ Website:

Yangpyeong County Culture & Tourism http://tour.yp21.net (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
Gyeonggi-do Province Culture & Tourism http://www.ggtour.or.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
☞ Nearby tourist sites:
Yongmunsan Resort, Yongmunsa Temple (Yongmunsan Mountain), Yongmunsan Natural Recreational Forest
 
• Yongchu Valley in Gapyeong

Gapyeong County’s Yongchu Valley is a popular year-round vacation destination thanks to its convenient proximity to Seoul, scenery, and range of attractions. There are in actuality a number of valleys named “Yongchu” in Korea, as the name means “dragon ascending to heaven.” Many say this name is popular to highlight the crystal clear valley water so clean that a dragon would emerge and go up into the sky.

Yongchu Valley originates at summit of Mount Yeoninsan (1,068 meters) and flows southeast. It stretches approximately 10 kilometers in total, down to Yongchu Falls. The area is known for the nine scenic views that are collectively called “Yongchugugok.” The valley waters create natural pools along the way. There are also facilities nearby for recreational water activities.

Info

Yongchu Falls


☞ Address:
Seungan-ri, Gapyeong-eup, Gapyeong-gun
☞ Admission:
Free
☞ Website:

Gapyeong County Culture & Tourism http://www.gptour.go.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
Gyeonggi-do Province Culture & Tourism http://www.ggtour.or.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
☞ Nearby tourist sites:
Yeoninsan Provincial Park, Kalbongsan Natural Recreational Forest
 
• Bigeum Valley in Namyangju

Bigeum Valley is located in the upper reaches of Sudong National Tourist Park in Namyangju, Gyeonggi-do Province. Sudong-myeon in Namyangju historically has had an abundance of water and boasted a stunning landscape, surrounded by Mount Seorisan (831 meters), Mount Chungmyeongsan (879 meters) and Mount Jugeumsan (813 meters). For this reason, the area was designated a national tourist resort in 1983.

Sudong National Tourist Park features several notable valleys. Bigeum Valley sits in a 2-kilometer stretch between Mount Seorisan and Mount Jugeumsan. It is a popular vacation destination in the summer thanks to its lush forest and pure, cool water. There is also a camping site that has been set up in the valley for visitors.

During the summer peak season, Sudong National Tourist Park is bustling with people, especially in its valleys’ middle and lower streams. There are relatively fewer people in Bigeum Valley’s upper area. To enjoy leisurely recreation and camping, be sure to get an early start in the morning.

Info

Bigeum Valley


☞ Address:
Naebang-ri, Sudong-myeon, Namyangju-si, Gyeonggi-
☞ Admission:
Free
☞ Website:

Namyangju City Culture & Tourism http://www.nyj.go.kr/culture/index.jsp (Korean)
Gyeonggi-do Province Culture & Tourism http://www.ggtour.or.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
☞ Nearby tourist sites:
Mongolia Culture Town, Chungnyeongsan Recreational Forest
 
• Other valleys worth a visit in the Seoul metropolitan area

There are a number of other valleys boasting convenient accessibility from downtown Seoul and beautiful scenery. Songchu Valley is easily accessible via public transportation, and has a number of other convenience facilities, making it a popular summer destination. For a more tranquil and peaceful ambiance, we recommend the Jomurak Valley in Gapyeong. If the one to two hour drive from Seoul Gyeonggi-do Province proves too far, then check out Uidong Valley in Bukhansan National Park (Dobongsan zone) in Seoul. No matter the destination, a trip to the valley is sure to refresh your mind, body and spirit, and provide a cool, lush refuge from the bustling daily life in the city.

Songchu Resort Myeongji Valley

Eobi Valley Jomurak Valley
 

Gangwon-do Province

• Sogeumgang Valley in Gangneung

Sogeumgang is a valley situated in the eastern area of Odaesan National Park in Gangneung. The valley itself occupies a quarter of the total area of the national park. The valley was named Sogeumgang, which means small Geumgangsan Mountain, after the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). It takes its name from its resemblance to Mount Geumgangsan (1,638 meters) in North Korea, which is considered one of the three most beautiful mountains* on the Korean Peninsula.

Sogeumgang Valley was designated “Famous Site No. 1”** in Korea. Its popularity stretches back far enough that each of the rock outcroppings surrounding the valley and waterfalls is associated with a special legend. The area has great recreational water activities under the waterfalls, but it is also enjoyable to walk along the hiking trail to view some of the many beautiful sites there.

Since Sogeumgang Valley is situated in a national park, camping, cooking, and campfires in the valley are strictly forbidden. If you are considering an overnight stay, visit the automobile camping site nearby.

* What are the three most beautiful mountains on the Korean Peninsula?
Baekdusan Mountain (2,744 meters, North Korea), Geumgangsan Mountain (North Korea), and Hallasan National Park
** What is a famous site?
Sites with notable landscapes that are worthy of commemoration are designated “famous sites” by the Korean government.

Info

Sogeumgang Valley in Mount Odaesan


☞ Address:
Samsan-ri, Yeongok-myeon, Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do
☞ Admission (Cultural asset viewing fee):
Adult 3,000 won / Teenagers 1,500 won / Children 500 won
☞ Website:

Gangneung City Culture & Tourism http://www.gntour.go.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
National Park http://main.knps.or.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
Gangwon-do Province Culture & Tourism: http://www.gangwon.to (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
☞ Nearby tourist sites:
Odaesan National Park, Guryong Falls (Sogeumgang), Woljeongsa Temple
 
• Mureung Valley in Donghae


▲ A rock is inscribed with poetry from the Joseon era (left).

Mureung Valley is one of the most well-known valleys in Korea because of the two mountains surrounding it: Mount Dutasan (1,353 meters) and Mount Cheongoksan (1,404 meters). Mount Dutasan in particular is frequented by monks seeking a beautiful and natural environment in which to leave behind the worries and greed of the world.

Mureung Valley is nestled in between Mount Dutasan and Mount Cheongoksan. The valley spans about 4 kilometers, from Hoamso natural pool, which is associated with the legend of a tiger that drowned in the pool while trying to cross it, to Yongchu Falls. The area is so well-known for its scenery that it is said “All poets and painters in the country have been there at least once,” and “This is a playground for the gods.” In fact, Mureung means “paradise” in Korean. The valley features a huge rock that can accommodate hundreds of people at a time, as well pools and large and small waterfalls. For this reason, it is recognized as one of the top summer vacation spots in Donghae city.

Info

Mureung Valley


☞ Address:
Samhwa-dong, Donghae-si, Gangwon-do
☞ Admission:
Adult 2,000 won / Teenagers 1,500 won / Children 700 won
☞ Website:

Donghae-si Culture & Tourism http://www.gptour.go.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
Gangwon-do Province Culture & Tourism http://www.gangwon.to (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
☞ Nearby tourist sites:
Samhwasa Temple, Mangsang Beach
 
• Heungjeong Valley in Pyeongchang

Heungjeong is a major valley in Pyeongchang that embodies the pristine natural environment of the area. The valley originates in the western vale of Mount Hoeryeongbong (1,309 meters) and runs 5 kilometers toward the upper stream of the Pyeongchanggang River. Heungjeong Valley is famous for its clean, cool water that remains below 15 degrees Celsius even at the height of summer. Mount Hoeryeongbong is still unpopulated by visitors. The water of Heungjeong Valley originates from the deepest part of the mountain, which is why the water is so clean and cold. The valley is home to a variety of freshwater fish, including the lenok (a natural monument) that only inhabits the cleanest of waters. It is common to spot children holding small fishing nets and adults trying their hand at fly fishing. Fishing is a great recreational activity that adds to the pleasure of traveling in Heungjeong Valley.

Thanks to the Herb Farm and great accommodation facilities nearby, Heungjeong Valley is a popular tourist site all year round.

Info

Heungjeong Valley


☞ Address:
Heungjeung-ri, Bongpyeong-myeon, Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do
☞ Admission:
Free
☞ Website:

Pyeongchang County Culture & Tourism https://www.yes-pc.net (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
Gangwon-do Province Culture & Tourism http://www.gangwon.to (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
☞ Nearby tourist sites:
Herbnara Farm, Lee Hyo-seok Culture Village
 
• Other valleys worth a visit in Gangwon-do Province

Baekdam Valley Cheonbuldong Valley
Photo courtesy: Seoraksan National Park Management Office

Yongso Valley Samcheok Deokpung Valley Village
 

Other Regions(Chungcheong-do, Jeolla-do, Gyeongsang-do provinces)

• Gucheondong Valley in Muju

Gucheondong Valley in Muju County, Jeollabuk-do Province is a must-see on the list of pristine valleys in Korea. Muju County is a major habitat of fireflies (Korean Natural Monument No. 322), which is known to be found only in clean natural environments.

Gucheondong Valley begins from the summit of Deogyusan National Park and spans approximately 24 kilometers. Due to its scale, it is home to 33 beautiful scenic spots. Walk on the pleasant hiking trail along the valley to visit some of these scenic spots. The Deogyudae camping site close to the valley is always bustling with people during the summer vacation period. Move further up towards the upper stream to find a quieter place.

Just like Sogeumgang Valley, Gucheondong Valley is situated inside a national park, so no camping, cooking, or campfires are allowed unless otherwise specified.

Info

Gucheondong Valley


☞ Address:
Jangdeok-ri, Seolcheon-myeon, Muju-gun, Jeollabuk-do
☞ Admission:
Free
☞ Website:

Muju County Culture & Tourism http://www.gptour.go.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
National Park http://main.knps.or.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
Jeollabuk-do Province Culture & Tourism http://www.gojb.net (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
☞ Nearby tourist sites:
Baengnyeongsa Temple (Deogyusan Mountain), Deogyusan Deogyudae camping site
 
• Pocheon Valley in Seongju


▲ Manguijeong Pavilion in the upper part of Pocheon Valley and the road to Manguijeong Pavilion (below)

Mount Gayasan (1,430 meters) not only features a beautiful natural environment, but frequently appears in historical records. The mountain stretches over Hapcheon-gun, Geochang-gun in Gyeongsangnam-do Province and Seongju-gun in Gyeongsangbuk-do Province. Pocheon Valley is the most famous of the many valleys originating at Mount Gayasan. Pocheon runs towards the north of Gayasan and spans 7 meters. The water is clean and abundant, and the valley is impressive and full of energy.

Pocheon Valley is said to have been frequented by scholars in the past for training the body and mind and body. In fact, there is still a place called Manguijeong Pavilion in the upper part of the valley where Lee Won-jo (1792-1871), a scholar of the late Joseon era, lived and studied. The pavilion, built during the Joseon, era is a unique site housed in the valley. Though no scholars study there anymore, there are now people visiting this place year round for its natural splendor. As such, Pocheon Valley is a popular summer vacation spot with a unique historical attraction.

Info

Pocheon Valley


☞ Address:
Hwajuk-ri, Gacheon-myeon, Seongju-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-do
☞ Admission:
Free
☞ Website:

Seongju County Culture & Tourism http://www.seongju.go.kr/tour (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
National Park http://main.knps.or.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
Gyeongsangbuk-do Province Culture & Tourism http://www.gbtour.net (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese, French)
☞ Nearby tourist sites:
Gayasan National Park (Baegundong area), Gayasan Wildflower Botanical Garden
 
• Other valleys worth visiting

Songgye Valley Chilseon Valley (Jirisan Mountain)

Juwangsan National Park Yongchu Valley (Daeyasan Mountain)

Piagol Valley Binggye Valley

With an abundance of mountains, Korea is home to countless valleys, ranging from small valleys 1-2 meters in width to those as large as rivers stretching 30-40 meters across. Most of the valleys presented above are equipped with a camping site or auto camping site nearby. If there are no camping sites, you will find modern accommodation facilities like pensions or motels in the lower streams or near the valley entrances. In the summer, camping and auto camping sites are operated on a first-come, first-served basis and no reservations are taken. If you plan to stay overnight in a camping site, make sure to start early in the morning.

 
☞ Official site of travel information:
http://www.visitkorea.or.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese, German, French, Spanish, Russian)
☞ Korea Travel Hotline:
+82-2-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
Last updated on July 19, 2013
Date 08/26/2013



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