The east coast is a popular summer destination in Korea, so I decided to check it out before the summer rush. Of the various destinations along in the east coast, Samcheok is probably one of the more popular ones. In addition to some scenic coastlines, Samcheok is also known for its caves. Because local buses don’t run frequently here, I suggest you either come here by car or take the Samcheok city tour.
1. Samcheok Ocean Railbike 삼척 해양레일바이크
2. Hwanseongul Cave 환선굴
3. Samcheok Downtown
A week beforehand, I had signed up for one of the early slots for the Samcheok Ocean Railbike 삼척 해양레일바이크, so the first thing I did was check that out. I like railbikes a lot because unlike taking a drive, you get a chance to check out the area without having to pay attention to the road in front of you. At the Samcheok Ocean Railbike, There are two stations, Gungchon and Yonghwa, and you can get on at either station. Once you get to the end of the 5.4km track, there is a shuttle bus to take you back to the station you started from. It took about one hour for the one way trip and there was a five minute break in the middle where everyone got out and stretched their legs. This was my second time here and of the railbikes I’ve ridden in Korea, this is definitely my favorite one. You get a great view of the ocean for half of the trip, and the other half is spent in caves with some neat lighting. You do have to sign up online, and on weekends it tends to be sold out, so make sure to plan ahead.
Ocean Railbike Operating Hours: roughly 8:30-6pm (check website for specifics on time slots)
Admission Fee: 20,000 won for a two seater, 30,000 won for a four seater
Average Viewing Time: 1 hour / one way trip
Contact Information: 033) 576-0656 www.oceanrailbike.com (Korean only)
From there I drove to Hwanseongul Cave 환선굴 which is a huge cave complex. Hwanseon Cave is famous for being one of the largest limestone caves in Asia, and the biggest in Korea. The cave is located in a mountainous area that also includes Daegeumgul Cave 대금굴 but you need to make an online reservation in order to enter it. The area was majestic and it kind of reminded me of a toned down version of a scene from Avatar. I will definitely have to come back here for a hike along the ridge of the mountain.
It’s a bit of a hike up to get to the cave, but I recommend that you walk up because there are some great views. I came here with my parents, so we decided to take the monorail which was alright too.
Inside Hwanseongul Cave, there was a structure resembling the Great Wall of China, but compared to other caves I’ve been to in Korea, there weren’t a lot of other neat structures. The appeal of Hwanseongul is more about how large and open it is. There are huge lakes and rivers inside, but unfortunately most of the cave is closed off to tourists.
Hwanseongul Cave Operating Hours: 8:30 am – 4 pm (Nov-Feb) 8 am – 5 pm (Mar-Oct)
Admission Fee: 4,000 won / adult
Monorail Fee: 3,000 won one way, 5,000 won round trip
Average Viewing Time: 1.5-3 hours (various depending on whether you want to hike or take a quick monorail)
After that, there are lots of things to do in the downtown area of Samcheok, such as the cave exhibition center and the Rose Park 장미공원, but unfortunately due to time constraints, I didn’t get a chance to check it out. I’ll have to update this post when I go back in the summer.