Cooling temperatures followed by the changing leaves from the vibrant greens of summer to a rich palette of red, orange, and yellow signal the arrival of autumn. Although numerous areas across Korea offer brilliant displays of fall foliage, the mountains are still considered a quintessential destination.
This year, the leaves are expected to change color around late September at Seoraksan Mountain and spread south across the central and southern parts of Korea. Fall foliage generally reaches its peak two weeks from the time the leaves begin to change, meaning this year’s peak foliage is expected to reach the central region around mid-October, and the southern region in late October. This is when you can hit the road with friends, family, or loved ones to revel in the splendor of the changing seasons.
Seoraksan Mountain in Inje-gun, Gangwon-do
Fall at Seoraksan Mountain
When it comes to autumn destinations, the first mountain that comes to mind for most is Seoraksan Mountain. A feast for the eyes throughout the year, rich colors make Seoraksan a main attraction in autumn. When planning your hiking route, take into account that the best places to view leaves are Cheonbuldong Valley, Osaek Mineral Spring, Osaek Jujeongol and Baekdam Valley.
- Seoul Express Bus Terminal (Gyeongbu/Yeongdong Line) → Sokcho Express Bus Terminal / Travel time approx. 2 hr 30 min
- Dong Seoul Bus Terminal → Sokcho Express Bus Terminal / Travel time approx. 2 hr 30 min
Sokcho Express Bus Terminal →Seoraksan Mountain: Cross the street from Sokcho Express Bus Terminal and take Bus No. 7 or 7-1 to Seoraksan Sogongwon Bus Stop → Walk approx. 5 min to the park.
Odaesan Mountain in Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do
Odaesan Mountain and Guryongpokpo Falls
Odaesan Mountain’s vibrant fall foliage puts it on the map as an autumn destination. A popular vacation site year round, it is especially attractive during peak foliage season around mid-October. During busier times, the northern region, away from Woljeongsa Temple, often offers more convenient access to Odaesan Mountain. In particular, there is a city bus stop near Sangwonsa Temple, making it easy for travelers who use public transportation.
- KTX Seoul Station (Gyeongbu Line) → KTX Jinbu Station (Gangneung Line) / Travel time approx. 1 hr 40 min
- KTX Cheongnyangni Station (Gyeongbu Line) → KTX Jinbu Station (Gangneung Line) / Travel time approx. 1 hr 10 min
- Dong Seoul Bus Terminal → Jinbu Bus Stop / Travel time approx. 2 hr
KTX Jinbu Station Bus Stop→Odaesan Mountain: Take a bus from Jinbu Station Bus Stop bound for Jinbu∙Sangwonsa and get off at Sangwonsa Temple Bus Stop.
Jinbu Bus Stop→Odaesan Mountain: Take a bus from Jinbu Bus Stop bound for Jinbu∙Sangwonsa and get off at Sangwonsa Temple Bus Stop.
Jirisan Mountain in Gurye-gun, Jeollanam-do
Fall foliage of Jirisan Mountain and Ssanggyesa Temple
Jirisan Mountain is loved among Koreans due to its beautiful charm. During peak foliage season in late October, the slopes blaze with brilliant colors. The areas around Ssanggyesa Temple, Piagol Valley, and Baemsagol Valley in particular are outstanding at this time. Jirisan extends across three provinces (Jeollanam-do, Jeollabuk-do, Gyeongsangnam-do), and many visitors choose to go on overnight hiking trips to fully appreciate the mountain.
Seoul→Gurye: Seoul Nambu Terminal → Gurye Bus Terminal / Travel time approx. 3 hr 10 min
Gurye Bus Terminal→Jirisan Mountain: Take a bus from Gurye Bus Terminal bound for Gurye-Piagol Valley and get off at Pyeongdo bus stop → Walk approx. 7 min to Jirisan Yeongok Ticket Office.
Seoul→Hadong: Seoul Nambu Terminal → Hadong Intercity Bus Stop / Travel time approx. 4 hr
Hadong→Ssanggyesa Temple: Take a bus from Hadong Intercity Bus Stop bound for Hadong∙Ssanggyesa and get off at Ssanggyesa Temple Bus Stop → Walk approx. 5 min to Ssanggyesa Temple Ticket Booth.
Naejangsan Mountain in Jeongeup-si, Jeollabuk-do
Autumn scenes at Naejangsan Mountain
Naejangsan National Park boasts a high volume of visitors in late October, as to be expected from a top foliage destination. The most remarkable feature of this mountain during autumn is the tunnel of multicolored maple trees that begins at the ticket office. The maple trees that make up this tunnel were planted at 5m intervals, making photos taken here appear perfectly composed.
- Central City Terminal (Honam Line) → Jeongeup Intercity Bus Terminal / Travel time approx. 3 hr
- KTX Yongsan Station (Gyeongbu Line) → KTX Jeongeup Station (Honam Line) / Travel time approx. 1 hr 20 min
- SRT Suseo Station → SRT Jeongeup Station / Travel Time approx. 1 hr 15 min
Jeongeup Intercity Bus Terminal→Naejangsan Mountain: Walk approx. 2 min from Jeongup Intercity Bus Terminal to Jeongeup Terminal Bus Stop → Take Bus No. 171 and get off at Service Area∙Terminal Bus Stop → Walk approx. 5 min to arrive at Naejangsan National Park Office
* Jeongeup Train Station to Jungeup Intercity Bus Terminal is an approx. 8 min walk
Juwangsan Mountain in Cheongsong-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-do
Juwangsan Mountain’s fall foliage
Juwangsan National Park is characterized by rocky peaks, deep valleys and elegant waterfalls. Among the many hiking trails, Juwanggyegok Valley Course is one of the easier courses that offers a beautiful fall foliage view, and takes about two hours to complete. At dawn, the thick fog blanketing Jusanji Reservoir near Juwangsan Mountain, combined with the reflection of trees in the water, continues to attract visitors, especially photographers, to the mountain every year.
Seoul→Cheongsong: Dong Seoul Bus Terminal → Juwangsan Intercity Bus Terminal / Travel time approx. 4 hr 30 min
Juwangsan Intercity Bus Terminal→Juwangsan Mountain: The hiking trail starts directly from Juwangsan Intercity Bus Terminal
☞ Korea National Park Service website: www.knps.or.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
☞ National Park admission: Free
* Separate fees apply to many of the temples and cultural assets located along the hiking paths. The standard adult fee is 3,000 won.
☞ 1330 Korea Travel Hotline: +82-2-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Vietnamese, Thai, Malay)
* This column was last updated in September 2018, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details before visiting.