Korea

Hiking Hallasan- The Highest Mountain in South Korea

Hiking Hallasan: The Highest Mountain in South Korea

Up until this Summer, one of the things that had been sitting (unticked) on my Korea bucketlist for a while was hiking Hallasan, the highest mountain in South Korea. Due to its location, slap bang in the middle of Jeju Island, I was beginning to think that I’d never get there. So, when Veeran and I decided to go to Jeju on a cycling holidayΒ it was an essential part of our itinerary.

Hiking Hallasan: The Highest Mountain in South Korea

Hiking Hallasan

You might think that we were a bit mental for cycling 244 km and then hiking up a 6,398 ft mountain, and to be honest, we kind of were! My legs seriously hated me for the extreme torture that I put them through on our very active holiday. But still, I’m so glad that we did it- Jeju Island is fairly difficult to get to, so it made sense to kill 2 birds with 1 stone while we were there. Plus, those views from the top were absolutely amazing.

Hiking Hallasan The Tallest Mountain in Korea

I’ve done a lot of hikes in Korea and I have to say that this one was definitely my favourite. Yup, I liked it even more than hiking the other Jirisan on Saryangdo!! Although there are several hiking trails along Hallasan, only 2 will take you to the top- Gwaneumsa and Seongpanak.

Hiking Hallasan: The Highest Mountain in South Korea

A flower of Scotland on Jeju Island!

Gwaneumsa

At 8.7km long, this is the shortest trail of the 2 but also the steepest. This is apparently the most beautiful of the two trails with contrasting scenery along the way.

Getting There– Although there are public buses to Gwaneumsa, I’ve heard that they’re not very frequent. A taxi from Jeju City should be less than 20,000 KRW.

Seongpanak

Although this is the longer of the 2 (9.7km), it’s the easiest route since it’s the most gradual.

Getting There- Buses 781, 781-1 and 781-2 go from both Jeju City Hall and Seogwipo City Hall. You should get off the bus at Seongpanak bus stop.

We had originally planned to hike up Gwaneumsa and hike back down Seongpanak. Sadly, when we got there Gwaneumsa was closed due to falling rocks. I’ve searched online to see if there is a website where you can check which routes are open every day but had no luck. If anyone knows of any, please let me know in the comments so I can add it in here for other people.

Hiking Hallasan: The Highest Mountain in South Korea

People say that Gwaneumsa is the more picturesque route of the two. I found Seongpanak to be very beautiful but it was a bit same-y. The majority of the route is through forested areas and there wasn’t much variety in the landscape until we reached the top. Regardless of whichΒ way you take, you’ll still enjoy the same views from the summit (which, by the way, are amazing!)

Tips for your Hallasan Hike!

Hiking Hallasan: The Highest Mountain in South Korea

  • Bring plenty of snacks and water. The hike is no joke and you’re going to be up there for at least 8 hours (unless you zoom up and down.) Unlike other mountains in Korea, there was actually no access to fresh spring water on the trail which was a bit disappointing. There is a shelter along the way selling snacks and bottled water.
  • Set off early in the morning. The mountain rangers stop allowing people to go past the shelters at certain times everyday. This depends on the season. Check here for more information.
  • Trainer or hiking boots? In the Summer I like to hike in my trainers as my feet get too hot in my boots. Plus, if I’m travelling far, I tend to spare myself the extra weight of carrying my boots. For Hallasan, I would bring them if you do have them- even if it means adding a bit of weight to your luggage. Coming down the mountain is steep, rocky and murder on your ankles!
  • If you decide to go in Winter, you will need winter hiking equipment since the mountain gets really snowy. Crampons are recommended, along with some warm layers. Don’t forget to wrap up your extremities as well, of course!
  • Don’t worry about a guide- it’s a straight path the whole way up and everyone is going the same way. This would be completely unnecessary and a complete waste of money. Don’t let any tourist touts tell you differently.
  • Take your time, and enjoy it! It’s not a race to the top! Just go at your own pace and make sure to toast your achievements when you get back down to the bottom! We had a bottle of red wine waiting for us in the hotel room and it was definitely the best decision we made on our whole trip!

Hiking Hallasan: The Highest Mountain in South Korea

Hiking Hallasan: The Highest Mountain in South Korea

The famous crater of Hallasan! (All dried up…)

Where we Stayed

We stayed at Hotel W Top-Dong which I would thoroughly recommend to anyone looking for comfortable, high-quality accommodation in Jeju City. You can read more about all the hotels we stayed at on our trip here.

My Summer Hiking Essentials

Want to go on an adventure to Jeju? Don’t miss these posts!

What’s your favourite hike in South Korea? (Or anywhere?) let me know in the comments!

Hiking Hallasan The Tallest Mountain in South Korea

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20 Comments

  • Reply
    Travel with Karla
    8th December 2016 at 2:00 pm

    Looks like you had an awesome time. I totally agree with your tips. Hikers need to stay hydrated. I’m wondering, do they have toilets on the way up?
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    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      11th December 2016 at 2:10 pm

      Thanks Karla! Yes, there are some toilets at the shelter πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Ana Park
    8th December 2016 at 10:57 pm

    Awesome! My husband has been to every mountain in Korea except for Hallasan and we have been planning for the longest time to climb it. You have pretty strong legs to endure all that cycling and hiking!
    Ana Park recently posted…Journey in SeoulMy Profile

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      11th December 2016 at 2:12 pm

      Oh my god, that’s such an awesome conquest! Hope you guys get the chance to visit some day! Thanks for commenting πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Rocio Cadena
    11th December 2016 at 3:18 pm

    Hallasan sounds fun and the views are stunning! I’ve yet to check out Jeju so I must try to attempt Hallasan when I do make it out there. It seems like you also lucked out with the weather since it was sunny and clear skies!!

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      14th December 2016 at 10:50 am

      I hope the weather gods are as good to you as they were to me!

  • Reply
    Wendy
    12th December 2016 at 2:45 am

    So beautiful up there, Nicole. I love your 5th photo the most. It’s like from the top you can suddenly dive from what looks like the edge of a cliff into the plains below. The biking around Jeju and the hike up to Hallasan must have been your summer’s highlight.
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    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      14th December 2016 at 10:51 am

      Jeju is such a beautiful place and our trip was quite last minute and unexpected- it was definitely a highlight!

  • Reply
    Lauren West
    12th December 2016 at 8:41 am

    Looks like you had better weather than when we climbed Hallasan in April! What makes the hike most worth it is the views you can get from the top, and it seems like you had nice ones that day πŸ™‚ Hope you enjoyed your trip to Jeju!

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      14th December 2016 at 10:52 am

      Ohh, April must have been lovely to visit with all the blooms out on display! Thanks Lauren, hope you guys enjoyed your trip, too!

  • Reply
    Alla Ponomareva
    12th December 2016 at 4:06 pm

    Daedunsan is my favorite hike in South Korea since you can take the cable car to about half way haha. You are a trooper for doing 9+km up Hallasan. Man oh man but look at those stunning views. I’m glad you had a nice sunny day to help with visibility and clarity. I hope you found a nice jim jil bang sauna to soak your feet/muscles in after this trip. You rock!

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      14th December 2016 at 10:53 am

      I’ve still not been to Daedunsan but I’ve saw so many awesome pics of it! We were actually far too tired to attempt finding a jjimjilbang afterwards but luckily our accommodation had a bath!

  • Reply
    Hedgers Abroad
    12th December 2016 at 6:18 pm

    Biking 244km and THEN hiking Hallasan!? WOAH. You nailed your Jeju vacation, Nicole! We too have our eyes on a Jeju trip and a hike up Hallasan as we have still not been! Next year when the weather warms up, we are going to finally make it happen! Thanks for sharing your tips for hiking this beast πŸ™‚

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      14th December 2016 at 10:54 am

      Thanks guys! Yeah, it was pretty intense haha- my legs hated me afterwards. Oooh, hope you manage to make it out there. We actually found super cheap ferry tickets from Wando which I think is pretty close to you guys. You should check it out πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Jackie
    12th December 2016 at 7:52 pm

    If you don’t mind me asking, is it an actual mountain path or is that wooden path there until you reach the top? It seems a bit strange to be hiking the highest mountain on a plank, but that’s just me.
    Also, aren’t the famous rock statues in Jeju also called Hallasan? Are they related?
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    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      14th December 2016 at 10:55 am

      Hi Jackie, a fair portion of the hike up is on the stairs which I also don’t really like. However, it’s an extinct volcano so the terrain under foot isn’t exactly the safest… The statues are called dol hareubang, not hallasan πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Hallie
    12th December 2016 at 11:00 pm

    Great tips! I literally saw some girls in heels trying to walk up and I was like.. no, just no! You’d think it wouldn’t need to be said, but yes it does apparently. There are stunning views, if you’re prepared that’s for sure. Great post!

  • Reply
    Emily
    17th December 2016 at 8:27 am

    The photos are so stunning, especially that colorful purple flower. I like all of your hiking gear, too! Way to match! πŸ™‚

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      19th December 2016 at 9:03 pm

      Thanks Emily, that’s so sweet!

  • Reply
    Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017 - Wee Gypsy Girl
    2nd January 2017 at 9:48 pm

    […] was definitely an active year. We managed to fit in a lot of hiking this year, too! I also hiked Hallasan (the tallest mountain in South Korea) and Jirisan (the tallest mountain on the mainland of South […]

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