Hallasan is a volcano located on Jeju island. At 1,947m, it is the highest mountain in South Korea. Want to hike? Great, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about hiking Hallasan, also known as Halla mountain.
Hallasan is located right in the middle of the island, with Jeju city on the northern side, and Seogwipo in the south. The difficulty is quite average, the elevation won’t be a problem and most of the trail is actually man-made consisting of wooden stairs. You don’t need to be a fitness freak to get up there, but a minimum is required.
The day we went hiking Hallasan, there was the three of us and our Couchsurfing host. We enjoy hiking, and the ascent took place only a few weeks after hiking Yushan, the highest mountain in Taiwan at almost 4,000 meters.
Hiking Hallasan Mountain
You are not required to get any permit, and there’s no entrance fee for hiking Hallasan.
There are two trails going to the summit, the first, Gwaneumsa trail, starting on the northern side of the mountain and the other one, Seongpanak trail, starting on the east side.
There are three additional trails going near the summit, named Yeongsil, Eorimok and Donnaeko, but you can’t access to the summit with those, only to the crater.
All these trails are opened all year round. The mountain is likely to be covered by snow in the winter, if this is the case you might need special equipment to get up there (crampons).
Koreans love hiking, and Jeju island is a very popular destination. If the weather is good, there will be plenty of other hikers. Try to go during the weekdays to beat the crowd.
You can’t camp in the Hallasan National Park, except at the free Gwaneumsa Campground (more information below).
You don’t need a guide to attempt hiking Hallasan, trails are well-marked with numerous signs along the way.
Opening and closing hours
Start early, although trails are opened every day, they are still subject to opening hours. Basically, you need to pass the checkpoints before 1pm in the summer, 12.30pm in spring and fall, and noon in the winter.
Seongpanak : There are two checkpoints, the trail entrance and Jindalrae (Jindallaebat) shelter checkpoint.
Gwaneumsa : There are also two checkpoints, the trail entrance and Samgakbong shelter.
You can’t start too early hiking Hallasan, because trails open between 5 and 6am. They will also urge you to go down the top after a certain time, so you can’t chill indefinitely up there.
More information and exact hours found here.
This is the official Hallasan website by the Korean Tourism Office. Use a translator.
Before hiking Hallasan, check the weather on the official Korean weather site.
The northern trail, Gwaneumsa, is shorter, it’s about 8.7 kilometers to the top, but it is steeper, more difficult to get to by public transport and starts from a lower elevation than the second trail. It is the closest to access from Jeju city, which is perfect if you have your own vehicle. The other positive point is that it’s much less popular than the other trail, so if you think that quietness is important while hiking Hallasan, it’s probably the best option. Last but not least for budget travelers, there’s a campground at the entrance of the trail where you can stay overnight free of charge.
The starting elevation is 620 meters and the peak is at 1950 meters.
The Samgakbong shelter is located at 1500 meters, 6 km away from the trail entrance. You need to pass this checkpoint before 1pm in the summer and noon in the winter, otherwise you won’t be able to ascend.
Officially you need 5 hours to get to the summit, depending on your fitness you could need less than half of this estimation.
Spring water can be found at one point on the trail.
Gwaneumsa Campground :
It’s free of charge to use, and right next to the entrance of the trail. It’s pretty basic but there are toilets nearby. You can also cook if you wish. There’s a restaurant close by and that’s pretty much it, so better get your own food before.
Get there :
There’s a bus stop named “Gwaneumsa Temple Trail Entrance” just in front of the parking lot, only one bus is stopping there and that’s the number 475. It costs 1200 won (1€) to take the bus on the island. To get there from Jeju City, the airport, the ferry terminal or Seogwipo you’ll have to change bus at least once. Check on Naver Maps or Kakao Maps (two very useful and accurate apps if you travel in South Korea) the fastest way.
Here’s the schedule of the bus 475, it’s in Korean so use a translator, you can see that the bus is running from 6.20 to 19.45, one every 90 minutes.
Hitchhiking is doable, especially during the weekends. The parking lot was full of cars. You can park there for a small fee.
When we were there, some taxis were waiting to bring back hikers to the city. The fare should be around 10000 – 15000 won (about 10 €) to the nearby Jeju City.
The Seongpanak trail is insanely popular, and during our hike it felt too crowded. It is the longest trail at 9.6 km, but it is also much more gentle than the previous one.
Officially, you need 4 hours and a half to get to the top.
The Jindalrae shelter is 7.1 km past the entrance point. You need to pass the shelter before 1pm in the summer, and noon in the winter.
Get there :
There’s a bus stop just in front of the parking lot. Three buses stop there, the number 281, 181 and 182. The 181 is coming from the airport while you can catch the 182 and 281 from Seogwipo or Jeju terminal. It takes about 40 minutes from the terminal, and 45 minutes from the airport. The 181 and 182 are express buses so it costs 2000 won (1.5€+) while the 281 costs 1200 won (1€).
Tips for hiking Hallasan
- You can go up with one trail and get down with the other as they are connected at the top. We went up with the Seongpanak trail, and went down with the Gwaneumsa trail.
- Bring your food and water, there’s no shop on the trails and places to get water are limited.
- Jeju is famous for its wind. It might be cold up there so you’d better come equipped.
- Don’t forget sunscreen. Although most of both trails are under the shades, when you get closer to the top there won’t be any trees.
- There are a few toilets along the trails.
And you? Have you been on top? Enjoy your time hiking Hallasan, and feel free to share your experience with us!