Sokcho [dead link] (속초) is a city in Gangwon, South Korea. It's quite a sleepy city and is known as a gateway to Seoraksan National Park, which is a 30-minute bus ride from the central hub. Also, the DMZ is an hour north by bus, from the central hub. The city has many beaches and areas to view the East Sea, or Sea of Japan.
The population is about 83,000 (2022), the fifth largest in Gangwon-do after Wonju, Chuncheon, Gangneung, and Donghae, and also ranks as the city with the highest population density in the province. In particular, it is the largest city north of the 38th parallel and the northernmost city in South Korea, being even higher in latitude than North Korea's Kaesong city. The two cities in South Korea farthest away from each other are Sokcho and Mokpo, separated by a distance of 530 km. Along with Jumunjin in Gangneung-si, it is one of the major fishing ports on the east coast, and Seoraksan National Park occupies about half of the city's area.
Buses leave the Seoul Express Bus Terminal approximately every 30 minutes. It takes around 2:30 - 3:00 hours and buses arrive at the Sokcho Express Bus Terminal. Tickets are approximately ₩15,000 per person. There is rarely need to get tickets in advance.
Buses leave from Dong Seoul Bus Terminal (Gangbyeon Station Line 2) to Sokcho every 30 minutes.
The bus terminals in the jurisdiction include 'Sokcho Express Bus Terminal' and 'Sokcho Intercity Bus Terminal'. The two terminals are in the southern and northern parts of Sokcho, respectively, and are about 3 km away, so be careful.
The city buses in the jurisdiction are Donghae Commercial Express and Gangwon Passenger, and T-money and Cashbee are used for transportation cards. Some postpaid transportation cards are not available, so be careful.
New BS has a high proportion, and there are diesel and electric buses. Donghae-si is the only city bus in the Yeongdong area where gas cars roll.
As of 2023, no trains serve Sokcho. Hence, if you want to travel from Seoul to Sokcho by train, you have to take a KTX from Cheongnyangni Station to Gangneung, then transfer by bus from Gangneung Intercity Bus Terminal to Sokcho Intercity Bus Terminal. If plans for a railway to be completed and opened by 2027 materialize, travel from Seoul is expected to take an hour and 39 minutes without a transfer.
National Road No. 7 is the only national road, and it crosses from Yangyang-gun, passes through Sokcho-si from north to south, and then passes to Goseong-gun. Along with National Route 7, the main interstate road in Sokcho City is Local Road 56, which connects downtown Sokcho, Sokcho IC, and Misiryeong Tunnel.
With the opening of the Donghongcheon IC-Yangyang IC section of the Seoul Yangyang Expressway, it has become easier to move to Gangneung and Samcheok. As a result of driving on the highway from Jamsil to Sokcho, Seoul, on weekdays in June 2020, it was able to run in 2 hours and 5 minutes despite traffic congestion in the existing Gyeongchun Expressway section.
Sokcho is a sprawling city but transport by bus is easy. Bus routes are available through the Naver map app but timetables are not given.
The two bus terminals (intercity and express) are at some distance from one another. City buses leave regularly for Seoraksan National Park. The bus leaves irregularly for Osaek (south Seoraksan) from the intercity bus terminal.
Sokcho is a great place to travel by car. Because the area is not large, it is good to go from place to place. Sokcho is also close to Gangneung, so it is very convenient to move by car.
There is a place where bicycles are rented. You can rent a bicycle there and enjoy the riding course in Sokcho.
Yeongnangho Lake is a great place for a bicycle course.
- 1 Abai Village (아바이 마을), Cheongho-ro 122 in Sokcho-si, Gangwon-do, ☏ . A small village of North Korean expats. Located just off the main street, a hand drawn (called Gaetbae and only ₩200) ferry will take you across the river to this charming village. You can even pull the boat across as a kind of "exercise." There isn't much to see in the village itself, but it served as scenery for the TV drama "Autumn in My Heart" and serves excellent Abai Sundae, a local speciality and probably the best sundae (not the eponymous dessert) in Korea. Instead of pork casings and blood, this variety uses squid for both the casing and filing. Rice, squid, seasonings and vegetables are cooked and then stuffed inside the cavity of the squid, which is then cooked whole. Then the squid 'sausage' is sliced. It's different in size and has a unique flavor from other sundae in Korea.
- East Sea. See the East Sea (Sea of Japan). The beaches are not the most beautiful in the world but at night you might get to see a lot of Korean groups burning fireworks at the beach. There are numerous pagodas and observation areas for sunsets with fishing ships in the foreground. Also, the Lighthouse Observatory offers a better-than-average view of the East Sea.
- 2 Sokcho Expo Tower (속초 엑스포 타워), ☏ . You can get to the 15th floor and have an amazing view of the city. ₩2500.
- 3 Seoraksan National Park (설악산), Sokcho-si, Yangyang-gun, Goseong-gun, and Inje-gun (강원도 속초시 설악동 43), ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Gangwon Province's famous mountain is in the Taebaek Mountains. It spans Sokcho-si, Yangyang-gun, Goseong-gun, and Inje-gun. It is 1,708 m high, the third highest mountain in South Korea after Hallasan Mountain and Jirisan Mountain. Rock rock and Ulsan rock are famous. If you look at the East Sea from Ulsan Rock, you can see the view of Sokcho City and the East Sea.
- 4 Sokcho Beach (속초 해변), 강원 속초시 해오름로 186 (조양동 1464-7), ☏ , email@example.com. The length of the white sand beach is 2 km long, including Cheongho-dong, Joyang-dong, and Daepo-dong, and the opening is 1 km and 75 m wide, reaching 29,752 m (about 9,000 pyeong), and the quality of the sand is good as well as clean water and pine forests, making parks, flower roads, and trails popular among Sokcho citizens. In addition, along with Seoraksan Mountain, Cheoksan Hot Spring, Cheongcho Lake, and Yeongrang Lake, which are major tourist resources in the vicinity, it plays a large role in emerging Sokcho as a comprehensive tourist destination, and its importance and necessity are even more prominent.
- Visit the Seoraksan National Park
- Sokcho Beach. Only "open" from approximately July 10 - August 20, but still worth a visit when the beach is "closed", but you can still get on the beach.
- Biking. Take a bike ride around Yeongnangho Lake The lake funnels into the East Sea and takes about an hour on bike to get fully around the lake. Some stops along the way include Bombawi, a rock shaped like a crouched tiger which offers views of downtown, pagodas and temples. Bikes are available from outside the GS25 Sokcho Tower Branch (next to the Sokcho Tower). They cost approximately 20,000 won/day to rent and there are a range of sizes. Call 0505-929-7000 for more info (updated Sep 2023).
- 1 Seorak Hanwha Waterpia (설악 워터피아), 88, Misiryeong-ro 2983 beon-gil, Sokcho-si - 강원도 속초시 미시령로2983번길 88 (장사동), ☏ . Korea's largest hot springs theme park with huge hot springs facilities such as modern facilities using natural spring water that comes out of the ground at 49 °C, outdoor leisure spa facilities, pulp wood baths and warm water baths at 8 °C. Visitors can enjoy various types of spas against the background of the ulsan stones that stand out like folding screens - the landmark of Gangwon-do.
- Sokcho Sea Boat (속초 갯배 선착장), 강원도 속초시 청호로 122 (청호동) (near the entrance to Abai Village), ☏ . It is the only cable ferry in the country that can only be found in Sokcho. Now, Cheongho Bridge and Seorak Bridge have been opened, so it is easy to cross the sea, but Sokcho-si designated the seashore as a tourist product and maintained it for tourists' experience. 500원.
If you're lost without an essential and are having trouble finding it try the E-mart near the express bus terminal. Also, fans of dried squid can find a whole package of squid for only ₩10,000, which is the same price, if not less, that most restaurants sell one squid for.
- 1 Sokcho Tourist & Fishery Market (속초 관광 수산시장), 12 Jungang-ro 147beon-gil. M-F 08:00~24:00 (closed Sa Su). A big seafood market worth visiting. It contains different sections catering to fresh seafood, fresh vegetables, household goods and finally cooked foods. There are many stalls selling battered / tempura style seafood such as crab legs, squid and prawns. There are also takeaway steamed crab stalls which offer a more affordable way of trying the local crab than many of the crab restaurants in the city. The market can become very busy in the evenings but is an excellent place to try local food.
- Red crabs
The area is famous for red crabs. Compared to snow crabs which are seasonal, red crabs are always available for purchase at Sokcho Jungang Market. Red / snow crab is available from many restaurants. It can be expensive at around ₩100,000 for a crab, including sides such as sashimi, rice, and pickles. A cheaper way of trying crab is at the Sokcho Fish market where takeaway steamed crab is available for ₩15,000.
- Cold noodles with pollack
A spicy and savory dish, it came about due to the fact that noodles made from sweet potato starch, potato starch, or buckwheat starch were not traditionally eaten with side dishes. At some point, people started to pair these noodles with pollack or flounder.
- Soft tofu (sundubu)
Hakhakpyeong, located on the way from downtown Sokcho towards Ulsan Rock (Mishiryeong Old Road), is home to several soft tofu restaurants. Made from pure Mt. Seoraksan water and seawater, it is chemical-free, nutritious, tasty and usualy costs only ₩5,000 at most places.
One of the types of sundae (again, not the eponymous dessert) unique to Sokcho is squid sundae, made using squid instead of pork intestines. It consists of squid stir-fried with noodles and blood sausage, with carrots, onions, seaweed and spices mixed together. The whole thing is then covered in egg yolk and fried. It runs about ₩10,000 per dish.
- Salted fish
Sokcho is also known for raw, salted fish, especially flounder and pollack. It can be quite expensive in restaurants (₩70,000 for two).
- 1 Wangshiprigoihanmadang (왕십리구이한마당), Rodeo St (walk toward the harbor from the intercity bus terminal and turn left at the three-way intersection), ☏ . 18:00-00:00. For ₩13,000 (₩12,000 if you buy a drink) you can eat an unlimited amount of meat, octopus, fish, and mandu. All of the standard types of pork are available, and they even have chicken marinated in some yellow stuff. Many foreigners staying at the House Hostel go there because the proprietor duly recommends it to everyone. There are also stray cats that lurk around which are fun to feed the fish to as long as you don't get caught doing it. Because many places do not serve alcohol and ice cream together, it is important to make an elusive makeoli-ice cream float if you patronize this fine establishment. ₩13000.
- 2 Mansuk Sweet and Sour Chicken (만석닭강정), 4 -, 471, Jungang-dong, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. As the name gives away, this chain restaurant is popular for its chicken dishes.
- Hang-A-Ri Mulhoe in Sokcho (속초 항아리 물회), 강원도 속초시 조양동 1470. Sashimi dish where you scoop the flesh of flatfish, sea bream, fish, and shellfish, cut them finely, season them, mix them with soy sauce, and pour cold water.
- sokcho_gobuk_e (속초 거북이), 강원도 속초시 조양동 새마을13길. It is a bar around Sokcho Beach where various snacks are prepared.
Sokcho is not filled with the plethora of hofs (restaurants with a drinking atmosphere), but almost all restaurants serve beer and soju (sweet potato wine, 20% proof). Beer and soju usually cost around ₩5,000 in restaurants.
- A small bar with nice views exists near the small hand pulled ferry crossing to the Abai village. It serves local craft beer (₩10,000 a can) and Korean lagers at ₩4,000. It has music and possibly karaoke on particularly lively evenings.
- 1 The House Hostel, 452-5 Dongmyeong-dong, ☏ , , email@example.com. Facilities include free internet access, free laundry, free bike rentals, guest kitchen and common room. Also, comes with an excellent staff fluent in English. Booking in advance is recommended since the place is popular with tourists. Dorm ₩18,000-30,000, double ₩35,000-60,000.
- 2 James Blue Hostel, 466-35 Dongmyeong-dong, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Dorm ₩20,000-30,000, double ₩40,000-60,000.
- 3 Beach Camping, toll-free: . There is camping right by the beach in a designated area for only ₩6,000 per night. Look for the "Dome Pensions" the camping area is next to it.
- 4 Hotel Seorak Park, ☏ . Deluxe, 121 rooms
- 5 The Kensington Star Hotel, ☏ . Deluxe 108 rooms
- 6 Donghae Condo, ☏ . 140 rooms
- 7 Sajo Resort, ☏ . 219 rooms
- 8 Kumho Resort, ☏ . 247 rooms
- 9 Sorak Pine Resort, ☏ . 141 rooms
- Welcome Condo, ☏ . 129 rooms
- Koresco, ☏ . 153 rooms
- 10 Hanwha Resort, ☏ . 1,534 rooms
- 11 Yunho Condominium, ☏ . 119 rooms
- Youngrangho Resort, ☏ . 261 rooms
There are tourist information kiosks beside both the intercity and express bus terminals.
- Sokcho city government home page
- Sokcho city government English-language home page
- Sokcho-si Tourism Org
- Sokcho-si :Official Site of Korea Tourism Org
- DMZ About an hour's bus ride north is the De-Militarized Zone between North and South Korea.
- Seoraksan National Park is about a 30-minute bus ride and served by the 3 and 3-1 buses (as of August 2009)
- Gangneung Another major city in Gangwon-do. There are many tourist spots in Gangneung like Daegwallyeong and Gangneung Coffee Street.
- Cycle the coastal path. A cycle track asking the coastal path goes all the way to the DMZ Unification Observatory (approximately 60km). A 2-3 day round trip from Sokcho, expect to see beaches, quiet villages and lots of fences nearer the DMZ. See the 'Bikes' section under 'Do' for bike rental information. More info on bike path: https://www.koreabybike.com/routes/gangwon-bicycle-path/sokcho-goseong/