When down in Seokcho
Sokcho; the last major city on Gangwon-do on the north east side of Korea. Being an international port the gateway to Seoraksan National Park makes it a very popular tourist spot for locals and tourists alike. And many other beautiful natural wonders while at the same time being a home to a small number of North Korean refugees. Spending a full two days exploring Sokcho and the attractions around it can an awesome experience for anyone. Being only 2.5 hours from Seoul makes it a bearable bus ride.
If you plan to go to Sokcho from Seoul then you will need to go to Dong Seoul Bus Terminal which you can find if you get off at Gangbyeon Station of Seoul Subway Line No.2, Exit 4. Take a bus bound for Sokcho which takes 2hrs 50mins to 3hrs 30mins. The first bus is at 06:25 and the last bus is at 23:00. The bus run close to 50 times over the day so you can’t really miss the bus so don’t hurry and pack your essentials.
A small island community of North Korean refugees live in Sokcho’s Abai Village. Though many Abai residents have moved away from the tiny fishing village, a core group of a few hundred remain. The island is a maze of well preserved homes and seafood restaurants. Till recently, the only way to access the island was via the Gaetbae Boat, a small raft pulled along a cable. A new bridge makes access by car possible, but some visitors still like to pull themselves over on the raft.
Abai Village enjoys a few claims to fame. My personal favourite is its unique take on sundae, a classic Korean dish. Normally, sundae is beef or pork intestines stuffed with all manner of unknown goodness. In Abai Village, the fishing community have conjured up a squid variety known as Abai sundae Instead of stuffing intestines, they stuff it with squid. The end result is a salty, hearty and wildly delicious taste.
This lake can be found near the centre of Sokcho connecting to the East Sea. There is not much going on around the lake other than having a walk around it while enjoy the view. Around the lake you will see the buildings and tower from the of yesteryear. Go around sunset with a cup of coffee to truly enjoy the lake to the fullest. This really is the best time to enjoy the view of the lake and the small city. We also were lucky enough to get a free show of fish jumping around the lake.
Teddy Bear Farm:
Its all in the name and as unique as it sounds. This place looks like it is run out of someone’s home and they had a few add-ons to the house to host the teddy bears. There are three galleries including an outdoor garden with rabbit statues and a live rabbit pen. You can take a stroll around inside with giant teddy bears or simply take in all the scenes of teddy bears living the Korean lifestyle. This is a very chintzy, kitschy place that should visit only if you have some extra time in Sokcho and have a open and good sense of humour or a crazy maddening love for teddy bears.
Seoraksan National Park:
You can’t go to Sokcho and not go to Seoraksan National Park. Truly one of the most awe inspiring places that will find no matter where you go in Korea. There are phenomenal hiking trails, mouth dropping views, a contemplative Buddha statue, and just so so much to see. Sokcho is only situated a few miles away from the main entrance where you can hike, have lunch, or ride a cable car to the top of a peak. This park has to be one of the most beautiful places we have been and plan on going back.
While the DMZ that you can visit from Seoul may be well known and obviously has more tourists , the Goseong DMZ is a much more mellow affair. It’s a little difficult to get there if you haven’t got your own way to get there, but don’t let that put you down on the idea of going there. It’s totally worth a visit with stunning views of the coast with North Korea in the background and way less tourists to possibly walk into your photo. Make sure to put it on your list of things to do while in Sokcho. Definitely not one you wanna miss.
All in all, Sokcho is a lovely weekend getaway from the draining city life. The fact that it is by the sea and Seorak Mountain is right there makes it a must visit spot for whatever reason you need.