Though I’ve been kicking around Seoul for the last 5 years or so, I’ve somehow never managed to make the mere 2.5 hour trip east to Seoraksan – the mountain most loved by Koreans. For shame.
It’s not that I haven’t wanted to visit, it’s just that other trips took higher priority. I suppose the truth is that I’d much rather take a trip to a beach than to a mountain, especially when we have perfectly good mountains just a subway ride away from home.
But, when my sister-in-law’s school offered an all-expenses paid trip to Sokcho AND Seoraksan for a few days, it was an offer I really couldn’t refuse.
We started our trip bright and early from Cheongna International School in Incheon, by crowding into a little yellow school bus (yes, the one meant for students), with our bags, snacks and cameras. Fifteen adult teachers and their relatives are quite a bit heavier than a bunch of Korean students, so you can imagine the speed at which we were traveling.
There were definitely a few hills that were touch and go, but amazingly we made it through Gapyeong and Sokcho, and arrived at our final destination, the Sol Beach Hotel & Resort in Yangyang, in one piece!
Many of the teachers opted to take a trip over to the nearby Naksansa Temple and Sokcho’s Traditional Market, but all I wanted to do was relax in the huge hotel complex and explore the gorgeous beach that I’d spied on my way in. It felt great to be far from the big city lights of Seoul.
After a super fortifying meal of black pork and mushroom kimchi jiggae, we set about discovering the many offerings of the Sol Beach Resort. Dusk was upon us, and temperatures dropping, but not before we discovered a cafe and infinity pool by the sea that could’ve been dropped there directly from the coast of Spain.
The next morning, after an amazing buffet breakfast, my only desire was to get my feet onto that perfect sand, bask in the warm sun and breathe in the salty ocean air. Pure bliss! When we discovered the hotel’s boardwalk, constructed in their best imitation of Gaudi’s Park Guell in Barcelona, and stood before the stunning seaside, I found it hard to believe we were still in Korea.
Getting to Sokcho
Located in Gangwando province, the small coastal city of Sokcho is surrounded by the lovely beaches and waters of the East Sea on one side, and the mighty Taebaek Mountain Range, on the other.
We traveled there in our little yellow school bus, but if that’s not available to you, you can take a real bus from the Dong Seoul bus terminal. There’s a bus every 30 minutes, and it should take 3 to 4 hours, depending on traffic. Of course, all bets are off on peak weekends.
While there, try out 2 of Sokcho’s specialties – squid soondae (Korean blood sausage that has been stuffed into a squid) and soondubu (not spicy like in Seoul, but made with a mix of pure mountain water and seawater).
Where We Stayed
We stayed at Sol Beach, one of the Daemyung Resorts. The hotel has several restaurants, coffee shops, spa, karaoke and kids area. It was beautiful, but a little noisy. Bring earplugs. Oh, and large towels. Despite it’s “Spanish” setting and design, this is still Korea, and the shower towels provided were not much bigger than a hand towel. 😉
Have you visited Sokcho or the East Sea? What did you think? Are you surprised that this beach exists in Korea?