Are you looking for the perfect day trip out and about? Are you into hiking but also love checking out historical sites at the same time? Do you love to try local foods and drinks? Then Mungyeong Saejae Mountain Pass is the place for you! This pass is the only part of the old road between Seoul and Busan, the Great Yeongnam Road, that still looks like it did during the Joseon Dynasty and a couple of “modern extras” make this place the ideal hiking trip!
Here’s why Mungyeong Saejae is Korea’s most underrated hiking spot:
Beautiful Valley with Apple Trees in Bloom
At the bottom of the mountain pass, you will find beautiful fields with apple trees in bloom in spring. This area of the country is famous for its delicious apples and sells them nationwide. The valley also features a museum near the park entrance as well as a collection of small shops and restaurants, including a Starbucks offering a drink containing the valley’s other popular fruit: omija berries!
Mountain Pass with diverse natural scenery
Walking up the mountain pass, you will come across the most beautiful landscapes including fresh streams, small waterfalls and lots of flowers, bushes and trees. Hiking up, we even came across a chipmunk munching on some nuts! The entire park seems to be well taken care of, and I did not see any trash lying around or people littering, which is always important for hiking locations.
Three Stone Gates
Along the hike, you will pass 3 stone gates which used to be “checkpoints” during the Joseon dynasty on the Great Yongnam Road. These gates stand majestically in the middle of the trail surrounded by the vast nature of the area. Try to make it up to the third gate, which takes about 2 – 2.5 hours if you don’t stop. Therefore, you should plan around 5-6 hours for the entire walk. The good thing is that the trail leads up pretty steadily and is not too steep.
Traditional Korean Village Movie Set
My personal favorite was the traditional village which serves as a set for Korean movies and dramas set in the Joseon dynasty. The set-up of the village is really impressive as it looks like a real village from the Joseon dynasty featuring a big gate, temples, beautiful hanok houses and smaller huts with grass roofs where the poorer peasants would live. There is an entrance fee of 2,000 KRW ($2) to enter the village but it’s definitely worth checking out! Dramas and movies that were shot here include: “대왕세종“, “대조영“, and “장사의신“.
Delicious local foods and drinks
The Mungyeong Saejae Provincial Park offers a great number of restaurants and shops where you can buy local specialties. Be sure to try out Omija berry tea or even Omija makgeolli (Korean alcohol) that is available at all the restaurants and shops for purchase in the park. Don’t forget to munch on some yummy Mungyeong apples when they’re in season.
How to get to Mungyeong Saejae Provincial Park
Take an intercity bus to Mungyeong Interciy Bus Terminal, and take the City Bus bound for Mungyeonggwanmun (bus runs every hours). Get off at Mungyeong Saejae Provincial Park Parking lot. or take a taxi (10 Min. ride).
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