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AUTUMN: The Season of Bountiful Harvests

From September to early November, it will be pleasantly warm during the day but somewhat chilly at night. The gold and crimson autumn leaves under the blue sky create a picture-perfect view.

Fall Foliage Destinations | Autumn Festivals | What to Eat in Autumn 

Fall Foliage Destinations

Naejangsan National Park (Naejangsa and Baegyangsa Temples)
Designated a national park, Mt. Naejangsan has some of the finest autumn foliage in Korea. Centered on the Buddhist temples of Naejangsa and Baegyangsa, the park is famous for its maples, with small, beautiful leaves that turn a bright crimson in fall. The best known temple spots are the so-called Autumn Foliage Tunnel that leads to Naejangsa Temple and the reflection of Ssanggyeru Pavilion and Baekhakbong Peak in the pond in front of Baegyangsa Temple. The foliage is at its finest at the end of October.

Maisan Provincial Park
Mount Maisan’s twin peaks are shaped like horse’s ears hence its Korean name of Horse Ear Mountain. Visitors to the nature park will find the mount’s rocky surface riddled with small honeycomb holes; a unique backdrop for Tapsa, the “Pagoda Temple” onsite. Erected by a hermit who moved to the temple at 25 years old, he spent three decades building about 80 conically shaped stone pagodas by hand as a mean of self-cultivation. Since then, scores of visitors have done the same by piling different sized stones to form their own stone towers in line with the Korean belief that stones have positive chi (energy) and stacking them up will make wishes come true. Well-wishers also place coins into different nooks and crannies of the Tapsa’s stony outcrop. If the coin stays in place, it signifies that one’s wish will be granted.

Seoraksan National Park (Heullimgol and Jujeongol Valleys)
The first place where the trees turn color in autumn is Seoraksan National Park. The best-known foliage-viewing sports are the Heullimgol and Jujeongol valleys in the South end of the park ― by mid-October they are a riot of color. More strenuous hiking trails stretch from near the entrance of Heullimgol to Jujeongol, while trails for an outdoor stroll are from Osaek Hot Spring to Yongso Falls.

Hallasan National Park
Hallasan, located in Jeju Island, is considered one of Korea’s most sacred mountains. With 1,950m above sea level, it is the tallest mountain in South Korea. It is officially named as Hallasan Natural Conservation Area due to its various plants and diverse vegetation.

  • Website : http://www.hallasan.go.kr/english/
  • Location : Topyung-dong, Seogwipo, Jeju
  • How to Get There : From Jeju Inter-city Bus Terminal, take a bus to Hallasan National Park.

Bukhansan National Park
Bukhansan National Park streches between Seoul and Gyeonggi-do. Despite its city location, the park is blessed with beautiful natural scenery and a wealth of cultural resources. The Baegundae Course, a 1.9km trail leading to Baegundae, the highest peak in the park, takes about two hours to climb.


Jirisan National Park (Piagol Valley)
Located in the southeastern part of Jirisan National Park, Piagol Valley is the best-known foliage spot in the park, famous for its crimson-red maples. The colors are so beautiful, in fact, that they are considered one of the 10 sights in the park. The scenery from the entrance of the valley to Samhongso (“Three Reds Pond”) Pond is particularly beautiful ― the pond gets its name because the mountains, water and reflections of people are all red. The valley is at its most colorful in early November.


Odaesan National Park

Standing at 1,563m above sea level, Birobong is the highest peak in Odaesan National Park.  Odaesan is also house to several other peaks, such as Dongdaesan (1,434m), Durobong (1,422m), Sangwangbong (1,491m), Horyeongbong (1,561m), and Noinbong (1,338m)

  • Website : http://english.knps.or.kr/Knp/Odaesan/Intro/Introduction.aspx
  • Location : Ganpyeong-ri, Jinbu-myeon, Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-Do
  • How to Get There : From Dong Seoul Bus Terminal, take an intercity bus to Jinbu. From Jinbu Bus Terminal, take a local bus bound for Woljeongsa Temple or Sangwonsa Temple.

Juwangsan National Park

Juwangsan is one of the smallest national parks in Korea, and it is great place to walk and enjoy the breathtaking views. It is known as the top scenic spot in Gyeongsangbuk-do. At Juwangsan, there are lots of temples and waterfalls that add to the beauty of the mountain.

Chiaksan National Park

Chiaksan, the 16th national park in Korea, has many steep valleys among its high peaks and is well known for having a beautiful scenic figure with steep slopes. The area is easily accessible through expressways such as Jungang Expressway and Yeongdong Expressway, and railroads. Lots of people visit Chiaksan National Park because of its close proximity with Seoul.

  • Website : http://english.knps.or.kr/Knp/Chiaksan/Intro/Introduction.aspx
  • Location : Hakgok-ri, Socho-myeon, Wonju Si, Gangwon-Do
  • How to Get There : From Wonju Station, take city bus No. 41 bound for Guryongsa Temple, No. 21 bound for Geumdaeri or Seongnam-ri, or No. 82 bound for Hwang-gol. Get off at the entrance of Mt. Chiaksan.

Songnisan National Park
Crowned by the 1,058m peak of Cheonwangbong, this park consists of rugged cliffs and deep valleys. The most popular course is the 14.5km Cheonwangbong Course, which begins at Beopjusa Temple and climbs to the peaks of Munjangdae and Cheonwangbong before descending again to Beopjusa. This course also allows you to visit Beopjusa, and ancient Buddhist temple and one of Korea’s finest monasteries. The temple and the surrounding foliage are beautiful in autumn.

  • Website : http://english.knps.or.kr/Knp/Songnisan/Intro/Introduction.aspx
  • Location : Area around Boeun and Goesan in Chungheongbuk-do and Mungyeong and Sangju in Gyeongsangbuk-do
  • How to Get There : From Seoul’s Central City Terminal, take a bus bound for Songnisan Terminal. From Songnisan Terminal, walk to the park.

Autumn Festivals

Yangyang Songi Mushroom Festival
The songi (matsutake) mushroom of Yangyang grow under pine trees in the pristine forests deep within Korea’s mountainous heart. The mushrooms here are especially fragrant and fleshy. You can try your hand at finding and picking these mushrooms during the annual Yangyang Songi Mushroom Festival, held every October. The festival has a separate mushroom picking program for international visitors. There are also songi mushroom tea tastings and mushroom cuisine samplings.

  • Period : October
  • Website : http://song-i.yangyang.go.kr
  • Location : Area around Yangyang’s Namdaecheon
    Stream, Yangyan
    g Market and Songi Valley Natural Forest Resort

Yeongju Punggi Ginseng Festival
Pung-gi ginseng is only grown in the Sobaeksan Mountains and is widely known for its superior quality. The reason Punggi ginseng is so highly valued is because of its high contents of ‘saponin,’ which is effective in regulating blood pressure and reenergizing the body. It is even believed to help reduce the risk of cancer. The Punggi Ginseng Festival coincides with the peak of the harvesting season each year, which takes place around October.
During the festival period, visitors can participate in various events such as harvesting ginseng and sampling cuisines made from the expensive Punggi ginseng. There are also many other tourist attractions located in the Yeongju region, including the Buseoksa Temple and Sobaeksan Punggi Hot Springs.

Jarasum International Jazz Festival
The Annual Jarasum International Jazz Festival, held on the beautiful Jaraseom Island in Gapyeong, is a large-scale jazz festival that attracts over 100,000 visitors every year. The main events are held on Jaraseom Island, and the sublime jazz music blends with the beautiful surroundings of the island. This year, about 50 bands from all around the world will be performing on multiple stages set up throughout the venue. In addition, there will be shops displaying and selling diverse art pieces.

More Info on Autumn Festivals

What to Eat in Autumn

Jeoneo (Gizzard Shad)
The fragrance of grilled jeoneo (gizzard shad) in autumn is said to be so good that its scent can bring back runaways from home. Try it sliced raw, wrapped with garlic and a tangy paste inside a lettuce or sesame leaf, or have it salted and grilled.
The East Sea town of Gangneung in Gangwon-do is considered one of Korea’s coffee capitals. Beginning with the coffee machines of Anmok Beach, there are about 200 coffee shops ― both big and small ― in Gangneung alone. 
The two most prominent Gangneung coffee shops are Terarosa (25 Hyeoncheon-gil, Gujeong-myeon, Gangneung-si) and Cafe Bohemian(181 Yeongjin-ri, Yeongok-myeon, Gangneung-si). Styled like a factory, Terarosa is split into a space for drinking coffee and a space for roasting and selling coffee. Cafe Bohemian is run by Korea’s first accredited barista. Gangneung hosts a coffee festival every Octover. A good place to learn about coffee history while experiencing a bit of coffee culture is the Coffee Museum at Coffee Cupper.


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