Valleys Offer High TimesDeciding where to go for summer vacation can be tough. Do you head to the beach for sand and surf, or into a mountain valley for natural beauty and cool forests? Well, you do not need to worry about making such a decision anymore because there are some stream-filled valleys in Kangwon province located close to the East Sea (Sea of Japan).
Here are some vacation spots that will allow you to get the best of both options.
Beopsuchi is a small village located deep in the backwoods of Kangwon province. The villagers still raise honeybees the old-fashioned way in the woods. The village is quite cool in the early mornings and evenings due to the long hours of shade the valley gives.
Beopsuchi is well known for having plenty of water flowing in its streams. The valley seldom dries up during droughts, even after the deep valleys of Mount Sorak have stopped flowing.
In fact, the name of the village comes from the plethora of water found there － "Beopsu" is a Buddhist term meaning cleansing water and is a metaphor for the teachings of the Buddha. Just as "beopsu" in the minds of Buddhists never dries up, the village is never short of water, and hence the name.
Beopsuchi is 25 minutes by car from Hajodae beach on the east coast. Make a left turn at Hajodae on national road No. 6 toward Hagwangjeong, and drive via Eoseongjeon village to get to Beopsuchi.
In Beopsuchi village, there are some houses that offer accommodations. There is also a cottage, Beopsu-sanjang, with nine rooms.
Each of the rooms, built in a condominium style, can house about four people, and costs 50,000 won (about $39) per night.
For more information, call the cottage at 033-673-1343.
Mureung valley in Donghae city, surrounded by mountains such as Duta and Cheongok, offers some spectacular views of the area.
Folklore has it that the valley, with its numerous waterfalls and rocky landscape, is so beautiful that even mountain spirits visit there to enjoy the scenery.
Of all those rocky waterfalls in the valley, the most beautiful is Yongchupokpo, a waterfall that rises from Mount Cheongok. The water from the falls streams down creating ponds at three different stages. Both the upper and the middle ponds look like a mysterious earthenware pot, and the lower pond has a circumference of 30 meters.
From Mureung valley you can quickly get to beaches in Donghae city such as Mangsang and Chuam.
Jungbong valley in Samcheok city may not have the most superb scenery, but it is rich with huge trees and clean streams.
The main stream at the edge of Mount Cheongok divides into several small streams and forms small waterfalls and ponds on its way down. The valley is about one hour from beaches such as Maengbang and Hujin.
To get to the valley, take local road No. 421 at Hwaam-ri, a village in Jeongseon county, and drive about 20 minutes until the road meets national road No. 35. Then make a right turn and drive another 20 minutes or so to reach to the entrance way to the valley.
There are no accommodations available near the valley, but there are some at Daetjae, a ridge area about 20 minutes from the valley.
Deokpung valley at the skirt of Mount Eungbong in Samcheok city is a secluded resort. The valley is known for the magnificent red pine trees that grow in the area.
The lower part of the stream, between the edge of the valley and Deokpung village, is called Deokpung valley, but the upper stream, about six kilometers between the village and Mount Eungbong, is called Yongsogol (a common name for areas around waterfalls).
In the valley there are many waterfalls and swamps that create beautiful scenery. Around Yongsogol, there are some swamps, called yongso, that look so dark it is hard to guess how deep they are. Some are as much as 40 meters deep.
Except for the swamps, the streams in this valley are quite safe for families to enjoy swimming. Underneath the streams there are some big rocks that absorb the sun's rays, keeping the water warm enough for swimming all the day.
If you get tired of playing in the water, head toward Munjigol, another valley located west of Yongsogol. When you walk through the valley, you can find various wild plants with small berries and pears that have fallen on the ground. There is also a camping site for people who go into the mountains to dig for ginseng.
Remember to bring a pair of hiking shoes since the paths are quite rough.
There are many beaches in the area, including Hosan, Nagok and Imwon, all about an hour from Deokpung valley. At the beaches, you can enjoy some fresh seafood at low prices.
To get to Deokpung valley, take national road No. 7 from Samcheok and drive along the east coast to Wondeok. From Wondeok, take local road No. 416 toward Taebaek and drive for 30 minutes to the valley.
In Deokpung village, there are about 10 guesthouses including a cottage, Deokpungsanjang, that offer rooms for between 30,000 won and 50,000 won.
Some of the guesthouses also run stores that sell simple groceries, but it is better to bring your own food since there is not much variety available.
For more information, call Deokpungsanjang 033-572-7378.
Yongsogol valley in Yangyang county is well known for its beautiful streams. The valley has a sandy beach surrounded by magnificent rocks and is a good place for a family vacation. The stream is not very deep and there are some camping grounds available around the valley.
It is about 20 minutes away from beaches such as Naksan and Osan. There are some houses in the neighborhood that offer accommodations at about 40,000 won per night.
by Kim Sae-joon