Seongju is a small, rural town in the Gyeongsangbuk-do province of South Korea, and has yet to be spoiled by commercial tourist tracks or the typical technological development Korea is known for. It has luscious mountains towering around the town for miles that make you feel as if you’re cut off from life outside the quaint farm town itself. There are farmers and gardeners working on their crops and vegetation consuming your vision and with that, capturing your imagination.
The people of Seongju are completely content with the tranquility of their home, and the traditions of their past which are very much still apart of their present. It was refreshing to take a break from the fast paced hectic vibes of the metropolitan side of Korea we know so well, and step into the country side to be humbled by it’s simplicity and alluring peaceful qualities. Something I think that is more important now than ever before.
Seongju is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and fitness lovers alike. I found it an under rated adventure spot with plenty sites to discover and keep your heart racing at the same time. The lake, the Gaya mountains and the flat roads gives you the opportunity to swim, hike, cycle and climb through the natural terrain to get a rugged feel for Korean countryside at it’s best.
Seongju Lake is home to Ara World, an adventure water park that offers all kinds of fun water sports. Rent a cabin by the mountain and spend the weekend wake boarding across the lake, that curves its way through
surrounding highlands. The incredible landscapes alone leave you jaw dropped as you glide over the water. It’s hard to focus on your balance when you have such stunning scenery consuming your view. Banana boats, motorboats and canoes are all available to suit everyone’s needs. I will be sure to visit this hotspot again, with its secrecy among locals and visitors you’ll have the run of the mill and VIP service. Be warned though, there are very little English translations and the staff have even less, so you may need to brush up on your Korean or have google translate ready.
The Gaya Mountains were designated as a national park because of their stunning features and challenging climbs. They are some of the most popular hikes in South Korea, with intriguing rock formations, beautiful flora and fauna, and breath taking views all year round. It’s one for the list for all the hikers and climbers out there. It has many summits that reach 1000 meters, and it’s highest being Sanghwangbong. So you can find the perfect trail to suit your needs as a novice or experienced hiker.
“become engrossed in the Buddhist way of life for a night”
There are many tourist sites scattered throughout the mountains, such as Haeinsa Temple which is one of the most famous in Korea. This 1000 year old temple is home to over 200 national treasures, including the famous Tripitaka Koreana consisting of 80 thousand blocks. You can even stay at the temple and become engrossed in the Buddhist way of life for a night, which hosts visitors every weekend. You’ll also find the Banya Temple Gyeongwangsa Monument, a designated UNESCO world heritage site, and a stone Buddha figure amongst the note worthy features to visit on your climb.
The best feature of the Gaya mountains is the nature that welcomes you, and the scenery that paints a pretty picture while you explore the terrain. The sounds of the valleys add to the effect of the peaceful atmosphere, and some even turn tints of orange colour from the autumn leaves. Make sure to bring your camera as you’ll be snap happy while you discover the beauty of the mountain yourself.
If you can get your hands on a bike or bring one with you this is a perfect place to take to the road and explore the landscapes on two wheels. Although you are surrounding by mountains, the road itself through Seongju and it’s surroundings is ideal for cycling, and with the silence that comes with it, you’ll be in serene solitude while you take in the beauty of the farmland, valleys and mountain tops keeping you company. There is nothing better than sunny skies, stunning views and a clear road ahead to make you feel revitalised on your bike!
There are many fortress, forests and charming gardens to have a more peaceful stroll as you take in the culture of Korea, with temples and tales of the past around every corner. Dokyong Mountain Fortress is made up of a stonewall dating back 1500 years and many visitors like to walk or climb the wide scale iconic land. Bongbiam Rocks are a stunning feature of one of nine valleys of Muheulgok and you can enjoy the fresh water of the rock pool that surrounds the cliff and mountain landscape. Seongju is definitely a destination for your Korean bucket list, and is somewhere you can visit more than once. Those mountains are calling, and I must answer!
Get your hiking shoes and your Korean dictionary out and get yourself to Seongju for the weekend for some outdoor fun.