The Gangwon city of Sokcho is a consistently in demand travel destination with scores of annual domestic and international tourists in the Republic of Korea. Once part of North Korea, the city of just under 100,000 people is in close proximity to a duo of pre-eminent points of interest that compete with the likes of Seoul, Jeju and Gyeongju for supremacy in the bottom half of the Korean Peninsula.
The DMZ, or Korean Demilitarized Zone, is a must from Sokcho. A short day trip from the city, the accidental nature reserve that serves as the thin line between North and South Korea runs 155 mi/250 km from end to end. As the most heavily militarised and hostile border on the planet, the DMZ is to Asia what the Iron Curtain and Berlin Wall were to Europe.
Sokcho is also a notable platform to one of the best national parks in South Korea. Perennial UNESCO World Heritage Site candidate and home of Mount Seoraksan, Seoraksan National Park unfurls photogenic topography, fauna and flora. The park serves as a vital refuge for thousands of animals, from musk deer to black bear, otter to rare endemic fish. Buddhist temples dot the nooks and crags of Seoraksan as well. While in Sokcho, save time for other important landmarks such as Abai Village, Sokcho Beach, Expo Tower, Gwongeumseong Fortress and Yeongnangho Lake.
Sokcho's Top 10
10. Taepo Fish Market is a hive of activity and the place to be to haul the catch of the day.
5. Gwonggeumseong Fortress is in ruins but punctuates the Seoraksan Mountains with historical import nonetheless.
9. Sinheungsa is the mother temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. The obvious main attraction is the behemoth 108 ton bronze Buddha out front.
4. Sokcho Beach The east coast of Gangwon province lures over 20 million visitors every summer. Sokcho Beach is a major reason why.
8. Baekdamsa is a Buddhist temple with over 1,200 years of history.
3. Abai Village, or Cheongho-dong, is home to many people of North Korean ancestry. The throwback village looks like Seoul in the 1970s and serves as a popular backdrop in films.
7. Expo Tower is the most prominent structure in town and offers a bird’s eye view of Sokcho and the Sea of Japan.
2. DMZ, or Korean Demilitarized Zone, is the most notorious border area in the world.
6. Yeongnangho Lake is a natural lagoon and magnet for locals and tourists alike.
1. Seoraksan National Park is a lush habitat for native plants and animals.
- Gyeongpodae - Located just outside of Sokcho, this historic site is one of the top attractions in the area.
- DMZ - The demilitarised zone that separates North Korea from the south is an important historical site.
- Gwongeumseong Fortress - This fortress that sits high atop a hill used to guard the city from invaders in ancient times.
- Sinheungsa Temple - The stone pagoda and 14m statue of Buddha are the main attractions at this ancient temple.
- Naksansa Temple - This temple was built in 671 AD and is known for its famous statue of the goddess of mercy.
Sokcho Art & Culture
- Sokcho Museum - The cultural and historical exhibits at this museum tell the story of the area.
- Biseondae Rocks - Many famous poets and scholars have carved into these famous rocks in Sokcho.
- Seoraksan National Park Visitor Centre - The scenery, animals and plants of the park are all on display here.
- Displaced Civilians Folk Village - This attraction aims to recreate a village in the time when many people were fleeing the North for the South.
- Teddy Bear Farm - Many teddy-bear-related exhibits make this attraction one of the favourites among children.
- Sinheung Sundubu - This small town is one of the best places near Sokcho to get tofu.
- Rodeo Street - This street is a great place to find unique street food.
- Wangshiprigoihanmadang - This famous restaurant offers all-you-can-eat pork, squid and ice cream, making it a unique place to spend the day.
- Namdaemun - This open-air market sells just about everything at a bargain.
- Dongdaemun - Another traditional open-air market is a great place to find clothes and shoes.
- Art and Antique Office - This office provides information to shoppers about where to find genuine local art and antiques.
Gay & Lesbian Sokcho
- Hanwha Resort - This gay-friendly resort can take care of all of your travel arrangements.
- Tong Yang Resort - Although this resort is open to everyone, it is a favourite among gay travellers.
- Sorak Park Hotel - A great place for the gay and lesbian traveller to stay.
- Kensington Star Hotel - This upscale hotel caters to the sophisticated gay and lesbian traveller.
- Taksabal - This bar is popular among the gay expat community of Sokcho.
- Seoraksan National Park - The hiking trails at this Sokcho Park were built for all fitness levels.
- Cheondang Falls - The hike to the top of these waterfalls makes for a great day in the outdoors.
- Seoraksan Mountain - The climb to the top of this mountain is one of the best hikes in the area.
- Geumganggul Cave - Exploring this cave is a favourite way for tourists to spend the day.
- Seorak Falls - These waterfalls offer a great view of the city.
- Swim the day away at the Waterpia Theme Park.
- Take a swim in the beautiful waters off Sokcho Beach.
- Take a hike to the Piryong Falls.
- Go diving with the pros at Bongpo Resort.
- Work out and stay in shape at the Sokcho Sports Club.
Sokcho Seorak Cultural Festival takes place every August.
Chuncheon Mime Festival is the foremost pantomimist event in Asia.
Gangneung Dano Festival is a 1,000 year old folk festival and UNESCO "Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity" that takes place in May.
When To Go
Sokcho has a humid subtropical climate with four distinct seasons, from chilly winters to hot, rainy summers.
While June to August is prime time beach weather on the Gangwon coast, Sokcho summers swelter and typically bring 65% of total annual rainfall. Months like April and October, on the other hand, feature temperatures between 50°F (10°C) and 68°F (20°C), with minimal precipitation.
Winter temperatures in Sokcho range from 24.5°F (-4°C) to 44°F (7°C), with intermittent snowfall.
Tiny Yangyang International Airport in Gangwon serves Seoul and charters from Taiwan.
Bus and rail service to Sokcho is sporadic. Most visitors arrive in the city by car.
A ferry from Sokcho provides service to Zarubino in Russia, China and Paekdusan, a mountain area between China and North Korea.
Within Sokcho proper, a car is the most reliable way to get from point A to point B.
The city of Sokcho is a reliably popular destination with domestic and international tourists in South Korea every year. Home to some 90,000 people, the Gangwon-do province hub is on the doorstep of two incomparable points of interest. The Korean Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ, for one, is a staple day trip from Sokcho. The buffer zone between North and South Korea runs 250 km across the Korean Peninsula and for over six decades now, has been the most notorious and precarious border on the planet.
Sokcho is a gateway too, however, to Seoraksan National Park. The eternal UNESCO World Heritage candidate is the most famous national park in South Korea and while a tidy 164 km2, unfurls a host of spectacular gems, the most conspicuous of which is Mount Seoraksan. The rocky landscape of the park is a sanctuary for over 1,000 types of plants and 1,500 types of fauna. Two of the most notable landmarks in Seoraksan National Park, Baekdamsa and Sinheungsa, are significant Buddhist temples. Other vital points of interest in the vicinity of Sokcho include Abai Village, Sokcho Beach, Expo Tower, Mount Gwonggeumseong and Yeongnangho Lake.
Attractions & Activities
- Abai Village
- Sinheungsa Temple Complex
- Expo Tower
- Mount Gwonggeumseong
- Yeongnangho Lake
- Seorak Cultural Festival
- Sokcho Beach
- Hwanseon Cave
- Seoraksan National Park
Restaurants & Nightlife
- Sokchan Seafood Market
- Odaeyang Hoetjip
- Ilchulbong Hoetjip
- Sanmaru Sundubu
- Hansongjeong Garden
- Sorak Park Casino
- Beer Bank
Sokcho has a humid subtropical climate, with cold winters and hot, rainy summers.
- Winter (December to February) -2-7°C
- Spring (March to May) 2-21°C
- Summer (June to September) 17-27°C
- Fall (October to November) 5-19°C