Juwangsan (주왕산) is easily overlooked due to its location and difficulty of transportation. But what it lacks in ease, it gains in beauty, authenticity, and uniqueness. I have been to a number of National Parks in Korea, and I must say, this one has a character of its own and should not be missed.
The base of Juwangsan is bustling with energy, especially during the fall! Ajummas line the narrow street selling apples, eager restaurant owners offer ladles full of mysterious drinks while beckoning you in for food, and Korean hikers, in excessive amounts of hiking garb, march past you ready for a day in the park.
Juwangsan is different from most Korean National Parks, in that the sole goal is not just to climb a strenuous trail to a picturesque peak. The park really doesn’t have that “wow” factor of a peak’s view. The beauty of Juwangsan is found by taking it slow and enjoying the tranquility and calm that it possesses. Juwangsan draws its visitors to revel in its beauty. It is a natural treasure chest full of waterfalls, gorges, and trickling streams.
When to Go
We visited in early fall and the park was showing its colors beautifully. Nothing beats fall in Korea. That said, spring is pretty spectacular as well. If you’re visiting in the spring, keep an eye out for the parks’ abundant amount of azaleas.
Entry & Tickets
The entry fee to Juwangsan is W3,500. There are also places within the park where you can camp. Check out the National Park’s website (link below) for more information about lodging and parking.
Check out: english.knps.or.kr
Again, don’t expect an incredible peak at Juwangsan. You can make it to some peaks, but I’d advise taking it slow and enjoying the natural beauty instead. Because we didn’t have a plethora of time, we walked in a good bit to see the waterfalls and then used the same trail to get back to the Daejeonsa Temple.
Sites to look out for
Daejeonsa Temple (대전사)
Conveniently, Daejeonsa is right when you walk in the main entrance. It’s a small temple but it still has some beautiful halls to check out. It sits at the base of the famous rock formation in the park, which makes it particularly photogenic. From Daejeonsa, you can easily access the trails.
What to Eat
While I have never had a bad meal at the base of a National Park, I must say, Juwangsan has some delicious eats. It is famous for its Samgyetang, a delectable chicken and veggie soup where you receive an entire (small) chicken stuffed with rice. It is cooked with highly ionized water (unique to this area), Ginseng,
While I have never had a bad meal at the base of a National Park, I must say, Juwangsan has some delicious eats. It is famous for its Samgyetang, a delectable chicken and veggie soup where you receive an entire (small) chicken stuffed with rice. It is cooked with highly ionized water (unique to this area), Ginseng, turmeric, and other fresh herbs. Don’t miss this TASTY dish! You can also find some delicious duck bulgogi and other duck dishes. Most dishes are shared portions, meaning they want you to get two, or more, of each. Each person will pay around W30,000 for one of the more popular dishes. If you don’t want to go that route, you can easily find individual noodle dishes, bibimbap, or something else.
If you’re there in the fall, keep an eye out for local apples, freshly squeezed pomegranate juice, and other yummy veggies.
Juwangsan, more specifically the entire Cheongsong region, is famous for its apples and therefore, also has Apple Makgeolli! Makgeolli, or Korean rice wine, is one of my favorite alcoholic drinks in Korea, topping the more bitter Soju. I haven’t seen Apple Makgeolli anywhere else during my time in Korea, so it was super exciting! Try it while you have the chance. Yum!
We paired Juwangsan with a trip to Andong and stayed in the park for about 5 hours. That said, you could easily spend a full day, or more, exploring. From Andong, you can taxi or bus. On the way there, we hitched a taxi, due to time constraints. The ride is about 50 minutes and the fare is high. Be ready to spend around W60,000 one way. On the way back, we were lucky enough to time out the bus perfectly. The bus is much more cost efficient at W22,000 to Andong Station, but it takes much longer. It only runs a few times per day, so make sure you don’t miss it! Of course, renting a car would always be the best option for exploring the more rural areas of Korea.
Helpful Tips/ What I wish I knew:
- People coming from Seoul: The same bus that runs from Andong to Juwangsan also runs to Seoul! If you want to pair Andong and Juwangsan, I would advise taking the bus all the way to the National Park first. That way, you can avoid some of the challenges of transportation. The only downside is you will have to carry your luggage.
- There is an English information booth that gives out maps but it isn’t open until 9am. I always recommend getting to National Parks early, as they get really busy around midday. If you’re in the same boat as we were and the information booth is closed, no fear. It is really easy to navigate the trails and find the waterfalls and caves that you want to see. When in doubt, follow the ajummas or the men with walking sticks! The route to the popular sites (waterfalls and caves) are pretty straight forward and are usually frequented by hikers.