Sokcho map

Sokcho Travel Guide, South Korea. One of the top vacation destinations on the east coast, Sokcho is perfect for soaking away your troubles. Twinkling nighttime lights on the sea from North Korean squid catches, quiet bookshops, the most famous hiking options in the country…Sokcho is a side of Korea everyone should see.

Index

Sokcho is not so much a city but an area with many things to do. Catering to a variety of travelers, there’s truly something for everyone! Check out the details to plan your trip in this Sokcho Travel Guide.

Top 5 Things to Do in Sokcho

1. Abai Village (Free!)

Abai North Korean Village in Sokcho travel guide

The Abai Village is a unique area to visit in Korea (so it’s why this Sokcho travel guide recommends it!). This village is one of the only places where there is a concentration of North Korean refugees/escapees. There are several statues and murals like the one pictured above that discuss the plight and difficulty North Koreans face.

The village is known for its restaurants that serve Sundae. Sundae is a sausage stew. If you’ve had blood pudding before, Sundae is similar except the casing is more firm and most people spit it out.

North Koreans have a difficult time adjusting to life in Korea, so it is nice to support these businesses if you can!

2. Seoraksan National Park (2,800krw)

Sokcho Travel Guide Autumn views of the mountain with cable car go in Korea

Seoraksan is the most famous national park in all of Korea. With famous hikes, temples, and viewpoints, it’s truly one of the most stunning areas of the country. Seoraksan is very close to Sokcho and it’s common for people to stay in Sokcho and visit the park during the day.

Hiking in Seoraksan is probably the most rewarding option on the mainland (Ilchulbong in Jeju would give Seoraksan a run for its money). Frequently, hiking in Korea means lots of stairs and less-than-rewarding finishing points (more trees). Seoraksan has some amazing courses for a variety of hikers, see the third largest waterfall or the 6 peaks of Ulsanbawi.

If you’re not interested in hiking, there is a fantastic cable car that can take you straight to the top for glistening views of Sokcho in the distance.

3. Naksansa Temple (Free!)

Naksansa Temple in Sokcho travel guide

Seaside temples in Korea are a rare delight. There are some in Busan that are just as stunning, but Naksansa combines the views of the sea with stunning mountain views. And, it’s not nearly as busy!

The temple is in remarkably good condition, the paintings and murals are clearly well taken care of. It looks lovely in a variety of seasons, there is a lotus pond that blooms in the spring and the area is one of the top destinations for fall foliage.

You can find out more about Naksansa from the god of Korean temple bloggers! I use this resource constantly since discovering the history of temples is incredibly difficult if you don’t speak Korean.

4. Enjoy the Beaches (Free!)

Sokcho Travel Guide beaches

Personally, this is my favorite aspect of Sokcho. As someone who grew up in Florida, I don’t think most beaches match up. But I really enjoyed the seaside here!

The water is crystal clear and fades into an array of blues and greens like a watercolor painting. The sand is also good quality and not the hard rocks or shells that most Korean beaches seem to favor. You won’t be cringing in pain here!

The beach is a good time even in the colder months, a perfect stretch for walking or picnicking if it’s not too windy. These sandy stretches stack up well against the other nice options in Busan and Jeju.

5. Sinheungsa Cave Temple

Sinheungsa Temple near Seoraksan and Sokcho travel guide

Caves are a seriously underrated and often undiscussed amazing aspect of Korea. And at Sinheungsa you not only get to see one of the awesome natural wonders of Korea, you get to see a beautiful temple too.

This temple is settled at the base of the Seoraksan Mountain range (but isn’t in the national park) and is a nice short hiking destination.

Other Things Do in Sokcho

  1. Sea Train: One of the most fun things to do on the east coast. The sea train runs directly along the coast, taking you from Gangneung to Samcheok. It’s kind of bizarre to see waves lapping just a few feet away from the train!
  2. Hand Crank Ferry: This is a unique activity to Sokcho. For 600krw you can take a short jaunt across the river that divides Sokcho (otherwise you’ll have to walk over a very windy highway!). The ferry is manually operated and a pretty fun experience!
  3. Seafood Market If you’re here in Sokcho for seafood, you won’t be disappointed! There are some rarer options at this market, such as the squid that is caught off the coast of Sokcho at night with special fishing boats.
  4. Bookstores While it may not be something many people mention where Sokcho is concerned, I really enjoyed the bookstores here. They’re great options for finding little souvenirs like pins and stickers, and some great vacation reading material. Moonwoodong and Dong A are the two best bookstores to visit.
East Sea Train in Korea

Best Daytrips from Sokcho

  • Gangneung This city is the most famous on the eastern side of Korea for its history, fun food, and great activities. While the beaches aren’t quite as nice, it makes a fantastic breezy continuation of any trip to Sokcho. For great activities, you can check out a sheep farm, the tofu village, and the fantastic Ojukheon historical site.
  • Goseong: About as far north as you can go in South Korea before you actually…hit the North. This is some of the most gorgeous countryside and photo opportunities you can get. Make sure you head to the Observatory where you’ll get a view of wild nature that’s hard to get in the overdeveloped South.
Gangneung historical site day trip from Sokcho travel guide

Sokcho Travel Guide Basic Costs

  • Local Bus: 1,350
  • Subway Ride: 1,350
  • 10 Minute Taxi Ride: Around 5,500
  • Entrance Fees: 2,000

  • Coffee: 5,000
  • Meal: 6,500 and up
  • Hostel Room: 10,000

Budgeting for Sokcho Travel Guide

Estimates are for a weekend in Sokcho, the minimum the Sokcho Travel Guide recommends for seeing this beautiful place. The Korean exchange rate is currently around 1,150krw to 1usd.

Backpacker (70,100krw)

  • Hostel: 35,000 a night
  • Local buses: 2,600
  • Food: 30,000
  • Activities: 2,500

Explorer (145,000)

  • Guesthouse: 50,000 a night
  • Local Taxis: 20,000
  • Intercity Bus: 10,000
  • Food: 50,000
  • Activities: 15,000

Splurger (205,000)

  • Hotel: 80,000 a night
  • Taxi Rides Everywhere: 60,000
  • Food: 50,000
  • Activities: 15,000

Where to Stay – Sokcho Travel Guide

View from a window in Sokcho travel guide

Most Koreans use Booking.com for booking their stays so all of the links are through that site. If you sign up for an account, you can earn Level 2 Genius status after only a few bookings and receive discounts. (I’m not being paid to say this, Booking is not a good idea in many western countries since they hike the prices).

However, in Korea it’s saved me over $100 so far! Sokcho Travel Guide recommends, generally, that you stay in the center since the city is very walkable if you do so.

Hostel

Unfortunately there are not that many budget options here in Sokcho. The Blue Door Hostel is one of the best choices you can make. It’s well located and provides a nice stay in a private room. Hopefully they begin to offer true hostel dorms again in the near future and Covid fears wane.

Guesthouse

Honestly, on the east coast Airbnb will frequently give you some reasonably priced options that are absolutely fantastic value. This one is my favorite Airbnb experience I had in all of my time in the country.

As you can see, the views from the window (pictured above) are simply incredible. The furniture was comfy, it’s located a tad bit out of the way but there were still good food delivery options and overall it was worth it.

Hotel

If you definitely want to stay in a hotel, or if you want to be a little closer to the downtown area, this is the the best option for you. It also provides some beautiful views and some rooms have a nice balcony to appreciate that fresh ocean air.


Where to Eat – Sokcho Travel Guide

Hindajeong

Sokcho Cafe Recommendations
It may not look spicy but it is!

Open: 11~19:00 (closed on Wednesdays)

Average $: 10,000w

Right on the coast, you’re constantly getting fantastic salty ocean breezes as you walk in. The decor is very peaceful and Japanese-inspired.

The drinks are really delicious, the desserts are different from typical cafe fare (like actually good cupcakes and flan!). Great cafe.

Woody

Open: 10~22:00

Average $: 6,000won

If you’re wanting to eat outside with the best views of the ocean, then this is the cafe for you! This cafe is primarily about the drinks, which are in the “refreshing” style. Think fun fruit combinations and ice cold coffee.

There are some cake and cookie style options, but they’re nothing that stands out. The drinks and view are why you should come here!


General Korea Tips

Getting Around

There are two main apps for getting around Korea; Naver and Kakao. Google Maps does not work. I recommend Kakao as the romanization spellings are more consistent and the features are generally better in my opinion.

You may need to type in Korean to find some destinations so make sure you download a Korean keyboard.

Kakao app bus schedule. Shows 16 stops, estimated time before the bus comes, and what the estimated arrival time will be.

When you go to catch a bus, it will tell you when the bus is arriving and how many stops you have. If you hit the bell icon in the upper right hand corner it will highlight which bus stop you’re currently at, and it will alert you when you need to get off. It’s amazing.

What to Pack

Depending on the season, Korea is either hot and humid or chilly and humid. In general, just take out the winter clothes for summer and add some leggings and a coat for winter.

  • 2 pair shorts or skirts
  • 1 pair jeans or comfortable trousers
  • 1 pair leggings
  • 4 shirts (crop tops are not a common sight in Korea, I would avoid outside of Seoul)
  • 1 dress or nice shirt for going out
  • 1 swimsuit (bikinis are basically unheard of but foreigners wear them frequently – just accept the stares :P)
  • 6 pair socks (fresh socks are the best)
  • 1 pair sneakers
  • 1 pair flip flops/slides for showers and out and about
  • 5 pair underwear
  • 1 travel towel
  • Toothbrush
  • Deodorant (it can be difficult to find and expensive)
  • Small lock for lockers
  • Universal plug adapter
  • Period products – if you prefer an option besides pads they can be difficult to find
  • Tissue packs – surprisingly difficult to find
  • General pain killers/common over the counter medicines – also can be a little hard to find depending on what you’re looking for. Not all pharmacists speak English and it can be very trying to attempt to communicate about medicine when you’re in pain.

Just about everything else is very easy to find, there is no need to buy shampoo, toothpaste, etc. It’s all right there in a Daiso or supermarket for reasonable prices. Of course, if you have a preference, that’s something you should bring as well.

Liked reading this Sokcho Travel Guide? Check out my other posts!

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