Sokcho is a coastal city in the Eastern side of South Korea, where one of Korea’s most famous mountain, Mount Seorak is located. Besides the magnificent view from Mount Seorak’s peak, Sokcho is famous for their local fresh seafood and scenic ocean views.
How to get to Sokcho
From Seoul, you can take an intercity bus from Seoul Express Bus Terminal (Seoul Gyeongbu) to Sokcho Bus Terminal. The journey will take around 2 hours and 25 minutes.
The economy express bus will cost 13,800 KRW one way per person while an excellent grade express bus will cost 17,900 KRW one way per person. The economy bus is a normal bus with 2 seats on each side of the bus while the excellent one has wider and more comfortable seats with only a total of three seats on each row (Shown below).
We took the excellent grade bus because the excellent grade bus had more frequent timings especially on the weekdays. The seats were really comfortable so I would recommend going for the excellent grade bus since it is only around 4,000 KRW more. If you are going on the weekends, there will be more economy buses for you to choose if you want to save the extra money.
Tickets for the bus can be booked online on the Kobus website. Although there are more than 20 buses going to Sokcho daily, book your tickets early (especially for weekend trips) because Sokcho is a popular holiday destination even amongst the locals.
Places to Visit in Sokcho
Mount Seorak (Seoraksan 설악산)
Our first stop in Sokcho was Mount Seorak. You can take bus no 7 or 7-1 from across the bus terminal and alight at Soraksan Sogongwon (설악산소공원하차) bus stop to go to the main entrance of the mountain.
The entrance to the park costs 3,500 KRW per person and the easiest way up to the peak is by cable car (10,000 KRW per adult for a round trip). The cable car station is just a short 10 minutes walk from the entrance of the park. Be sure to come as early as possible if you are visiting on the weekends, especially during the peak season (like in Autumn) as the queue for the cable car can be as long as a few hours!
We visited on a weekday and we arrived an hour before their closing time, around 4.30pm. Thankfully it was really empty and we were able to immediately board the cable car without any queue.
The ride up took 5 minutes and once we stepped out of the cable car, we were instantly greeted by a significantly cooler weather and beautiful scenery. We came in summer so all the trees were lush green but I strongly advise you to visit in Autumn when the mountain is filled with colourful trees.
From the cable car, you will need to hike up for another 15 to 20 minutes to reach the actual peak. The hike was very easy and I managed to do it in my flats.. so do not worry! Most of the area was equipped with anti-slip stairs and only the last 5 to 10 minutes of the hike were on rocks. Even if you are not properly dressed for rope climbing, you should still climb the stairs to the picturesque photo area shown below.
Sokcho Tourist & Fishery Market (속초 관광수산시장)
This market was formerly known as Jungang Market 중앙시장 and is a must-visit if you are in Sokcho. Appearance-wise, the market looks similar to other markets in Seoul like Gwangjang and Namdaemun Market however they do sell significantly more seafood than markets in Seoul.
To get to to the market, you can take bus no 1, 1-1, 7, 7-1, 9-1 or 88 from the side of Sokcho Bus Terminal for around 15 minutes and get off at Gaetbae Entrance (갯배입구) bus stop. The entrance will be on the opposite side of the road. You can also take bus 7 or 7-1 directly from the same bus stop where you alighted at Mount Seorak if you are going directly from there.
A trip to Jungang Market is never complete until you try Sokcho’s famous dakgangjeong. Dakgangjeong is Korean deep fried chicken coated with sweet and spicy sauce. They do sell it as street food in Seoul in cups but the one we had in Sokcho tasted way better! One box can be eaten by 4 people (we tried sharing one box for two and it was definitely too much) and costs around 15,000 KRW to 18,000 KRW. Although most tour groups will go to Manseok Dakgangjeong, I would highly recommend Jungang Dakgangjeong (중앙닭강정, photo shown above).
There are also many other food that you can try here including the dragon breath candy and hotteok.
Daepo Port (대포항)
Daepo Port is one of the many coastal ports in Sokcho that you will see when you enter the city.
We chose to go to Daepo because this was where ‘Strong Woman Do Bong Soon’ was shot in. If you have watched this Korean drama, there was a scene where Ahn MIn Hyuk took Do Bong Soon out for a date near the sea.
The port was very pretty and quiet. There were less than 10 people in the area with us at that time.
Other than the lighthouse, you can walk around the seafood market near the port and try out Sokcho’s crab ramyeon. We did not realise it was popular in Daepo until we left so we did not get a chance to try 😦
To get here, take bus no 1, 3, 5, 7 or 9 from across the express bus terminal and get off at Daepo Port (대포항) after a short 2 to 3 minute ride. You will also pass the port if you are coming back from Mount Seorak into the city.
Abai Village (아바이 마을)
‘Abai’ literally means ‘an aged person’ in North Korean dialect. Yes you read it correctly, NORTH Korea. This village got its name because many elderly people from North Korea fled to this village during the Korean War and it is now home to many people with North Korean ancestry.
To get to Abai village, you can take the same buses that goes to Sokcho Tourist & Fishery Market and instead of crossing the street to the market, walk away from it. If you are using naver maps, find “갯배선착장” and go there. From here, take a 200 KRW manual boat ride to the village.
This village was used as a filming spot for an old Korean drama ‘Autumn in My Heart’. Here you will see many restaurants and a few cute cafes as well as a beautiful beach.
The one thing you need to try in Abai Village is their ojingeo sundae (squid sundae). Sundae is Korean’s traditional blood sausage but in Abai, they have their own version which does not include the blood! They also fry the sausage in an egg batter making it look like some sort of Korean pancake (jeon).
Sokcho Beach (속초해변)
Sokcho Beach is the nearest beach from the express bus station. To me, it is just like any other beach so if you do not have time, you should just skip it!
There is also National Museum of Coastal Sokcho next to the beach if you are interested. To get to the beach just walk towards your left once you get out from the bus terminal. It will take around 5 minutes by foot.
Overall I really enjoyed my two days in Sokcho although it was really hot. The temperature in Sokcho was around 35 degrees on both days due to the summer season. If possible, come to Sokcho in autumn instead!
If you do not have two days to spare and can only do a day trip, I would recommend using this tour package which includes transportation and visits to the top 2 must-visits in Sokcho (Mount Seorak and Sokcho Market). The tour departs every Tuesday. Going on your own is possible too but you will not be able to cover both places, perhaps just Mount Seorak.
A food guide and review of our accommodation in Sokcho will also be posted soon.