Songnisan National Park

In the center of the Sobaek mountain ranges, Songnisan National Park (sometimes spelled "Sokrisan") lies in the border between Chungcheongbuk-do and Gyeongsangbuk-do. Due to its numerous trails, the park attracts hikers all year, with its southern portion being the most crowded. Its most popular attraction is the temple, Beopjusa. Most people enter the park in the Beopjusa area in Boeun-gun, but you can enter the park from the Hwabuk area, if you want to avoid the crowds. Admission to the park from the Beopjusa area is W3,800 ($4.10/£2.05) adults, W1,500 ($1.60/80p) teens, W1,000 ($1.10/55p) children. From the Hwabuk/Ssanggok area, admission is W1,600 ($1.70/85p) adults, W600 (65¢/35p) teens, W300 (30¢/15p) children.

Although the Hwabuk section of Songnisan has fewer famous locations and relics, its valleys are more beautiful with larger waterfalls.

From the Boeun Intercity Bus Terminal, take a bus to Songnisan. Buses run every 30 to 40 minutes, daily from 6:30am to 8:10pm, and the ride takes about 20 minutes. There are also buses from Seoul's Nambu Terminal to Songnisan three times daily and from the Dong Seoul Bus Terminal 12 times a day. Both buses take about 3 hours and 30 minutes. Buses from Cheongju run 26 times daily, 6:40am to 8:40pm, taking 90 minutes. There are also direct buses from Dong Daejeon, Daegu, and Busan.

About a kilometer below Beopjusa is the Songnisan tourist village. It has restaurants, tea houses, souvenir shops, and drinking establishments. The one first-class hotel is the rather aged Lake Hills Hotel (tel. 043/542-5281). The lower-class hotels or the handful of yeogwan in the area are better, more economical choices. The village also has a small post office, a police station, and the park's main office.

The area is usually the most crowded during the popular autumn months when crowds of visitors come up to see the gorgeous scenery and buy giant bags of dried mountain vegetables gathered from the slopes. The rest of the year, you can expect it to be quieter, although it never loses its "tourist" feeling.

There are also a few yeogwan and smaller restaurants near the entrance to Osong Falls. Try the trout, which are caught fresh from the valley near the falls.