Naksan Provincial Park
And now, for something completely different! Naksan Provincial Park is not properly mountainous. The park protects a temple in a beautiful east coast setting: high on a rocky prominence and surrounded by pretty pine forest. As luck would have it, our summertime east coast bike trip would have us cycling right past it near the end of our mountain mission year! We pulled over and made time for this very pretty park.
The entrance to the park is right off the coastal highway (and bicycle highway) between Sokcho and Yangyang. Making a sharp turn towards the sea, you cross under a grand temple gate. Once inside the park, you enter the cool, quiet shade of the forest. Climbing a little up a dirt road takes you to the first wall surrounding the temple, and the ticket booth.
Naksansa temple grounds sprawl across the rugged coastal hills in a very attractive way. Atop it all, on the highest point, there is a towering standing statue of the Goddess of Mercy. After paying your respects, you can look out from this point at waves rolling ashore on some beautiful beaches below. Toss a spare coin into a little wishing well opposite the statue.
We spent about an hour walking around the temple grounds and enjoying some early morning serenity. Naksan Provincial Park presents a combination of some of the things we love best about Korea: scenic seascapes, atmospheric temples, tranquil forests and rugged hills with great views. It was a refreshing stop on our bike tour, and a pleasant destination in its own right.
Know and Go! Naksan Provincial Park
Naksan Provincial Park is located between two of the major cities on the east coast of Gangwon-do. This makes it a convenient destination if you’re doing a weekend beach getaway in Sokcho (highly recommendable!) or Yangyang. Most intercity buses that connect the two have an official stop at the park. Local buses also serve the park. It’s also a totally bikeable, walkable or runnable distance from either!
As Naksan Provincial Park doesn’t feature a summit, it’s not really a hiking destination. But don’t let that put you off visiting. You can enjoy lots of contemplative strolling in the forest and temple grounds. Afterwards, you can be as active or relaxed as you’d like on Naksan Beach!
Stay & Eat
The stretch of coastline surrounding this park is loaded with accommodation and restaurants. It’s a very popular vacation destination for Koreans in summer, and it is accordingly a very convenient place to stay. You can find everything from starred hotels with fine dining to little minbaks above convenience stores. There’s even a Naksan Hotel if you want to stay practically in the park.
In this area, my personal favorites are Bongpo Beach, which is a bit north of Sokcho, and thus a greater distance to Naksan. There’s also good motels clustered around the express bus terminal in Sokcho’s south end. Staying in Sokcho is a great bet for convenience, beach access – and in addition to admiring the amazing views of Seoraksan National Park from afar, you could (and should!) work a hike there into your plans!
Kent and I visited Naksan Provincial Park in August 2016 for a peaceful morning stroll. We were traveling by bike, as part of our east coast bike trip.
We didn’t investigate this park much beforehand, knowing that we would be passing by on our bike trip to check it out in person!