Sannae Silsangsa Temple Jirisan Circular Road Baemsagol Dalgung Valley Simwon Valley Seongsamjae Pass Gurye Jirisan Spa Complex
Jirisan is a deep, high mountain. Koreans call it "the roof of three southern provinces" and to many hikers, hiking on the ridges is equivalent to a pilgrimage. They shudder at the thought of hiking in Jirisan Mountain, thinking that it will be too rough and hard. It's probably because most of them don't know that they can drive deep into the mountain. Here is how you can drive to some of the beautiful places in Jirisan Mountain. Take the Olympic Expressway and get off on Jirisan IC, and you'll find yourself in Inwol-eup. It's where the Third Section of Jirisan Dulle-gil starts. You should be able to see the Dulle-gil Inwol Center and a cozy café named Jebi. The road from Inwol to Sannae is a great driving course along Imcheongang River. After passing Junggun Village and Maedong Village, you'll see Jirisan Ilsung Condo and then Sannae-myeon right after that. You should turn right if you want to go directly into Jirisan Mountain, but you're recommended to pass through the town and go to Silsangsa Temple first. It takes less than five minutes to get there from Sannae. From Ipseok-ri, you can cross Haetalgyo Bridge and reach the temple in a car.
1day,Silsangsa Temple Silsangsa Temple is situated in a plain instead of a mountain as most Buddhist temples in South Korea tend to be. What makes it even more rare is that it's a very old temple built more than 1,000 years ago, when old temples are very seldom in an open area. It's the leading temple of the Seon sect of Korean Buddhism. Seon Buddhism was first introduced in Korea during the Silla Period, and Seon masters opened a temple in a total of nine mountains in the country. Korean Buddhists call them the 'Nine Mountain Monasteries'. Silsangsa Temple was the first to be built among the nine. For this reason, it's often referred to as the birthplace of Korean Seon Buddhism. Recently, however, the temple is more well-known among Koreans as the first place that encouraged the city people to move to the region and start making a living as a farmer. The temple even established an agricultural school for those planning to live in the countryside as well as a small school for children. According to the feng shui principles, there are some locations that bring good fortune to a nation. Silsangsa Temple is one of the rare locations. Korean feng shui experts say that it's the last place where the beneficial energy – after having originated from the Baekdu Mountain Range and passed through Jirisan Mountain – gathers for the last time before flowing into Japan. They say if they don't block the flow of feng shui energy here, Korea will lose its energy to Japan and that's why the temple was built here. According to a legend, Japan will lose its power if the temple prospers, and Japan will prosper is the temple loses its prosperity. More specifically, there is a special bell with the map of Japan engraved on it in a building in the temple grounds called Bogwangjeon, and sounding the bell disperses the energy before flowing into Japan. The bell is still in the building.
1day,Baemsagol Valley After a tour of Silsangsa Temple, come back out to Sannae and drive deeper into the mountain. To do that, go past Sannae-myeon Office and get on the Jirisan Circular Road. Drive along the valley and you'll reach a commercial district with a motel called Jirisan Parktel. Besides this, you'll see an array of motels and restaurants. Across the valley, there is the Baemsagol Hiking Information Center. You can park your car in front of the center and start taking in the view of the valley along the Ecology Hiking Trail. If you want to really feel the atmosphere of Baemsagol, you must walk to Waungyo Bridge for about an hour.

They say there used to be a Buddhist temple called Songnimsa long before Silsangsa Temple was established. Just above the temple was a large pond, and it's where the oldest Buddhist monk would pray all night while seated on a rock next to the pond on the Buddhist All Souls' Day as a tradition. But for some reason, every monk who prayed on that night disappeared and never came back. The locals believed that it's because the monks ascended to the heavens after attaining enlightenment. Decades later, a high monk came to Songnimsa Temple. Upon hearing the rumor, he poisoned a robe, tied a silk thread to it and had the old monk who was chosen to pray at the pond that night of the year wear the robe without telling anyone. On that night, he and others heard a strange sound coming from the pond and the monk who was sitting on the rock disappeared. So the high monk waited until daybreak and followed the silk thread into the valley, only to find a dead python that failed to become a dragon side by side with the body of the monk, also dead, but with his hands still together in a prayer position. From that point on, the place is no longer called a 'yongso', or 'dragon pond', but a 'baemso', or 'snake pond'. The valley was also renamed to 'Baemsagol,' which literally means "the Valley of Dead Snake" in Korean. As for the monks who went to the rock to pray but died, people started calling them 'banseon', or 'half deities', and named the area 'Banseon' as well.
1day,Dalgung Valley Dalgung Valley is the next destination after Banseon. The route to the valley is regarded as one of the most beautiful trails in Jirisan Mountain. While on the trail, you'll see a number of waterfalls and ponds, with the cliffs of the gorge very close to each other. Along the way, you'll see Deokdong Auto Camping Site and Deokdong Lodging Village at the foot of the mountain. Go past these two, and you'll reach Dalgung Camping Site and Dalgung Village. Just like Banseon, Dalgung Village is a commercial district with motels and restaurants. The camping site is right next to the valley. The auto camping site and camping site are on either side of a road. Together they're the biggest and best camping area in Jirisan Mountain. Dalgung is where King Hyo of Mahan took refuge after being attacked by Jinhan during the Samhan Period about 2,000 years ago. At the time, his palace in this place was named 'Dalgung', which literally means 'Moon Palace' in Korean. According to a legend, the king ordered General Hwang and General Jeong to build fortresses, which later became Hwangnyeongchi Pass and Jeongnyeongchi Pass. The camping ground is where the palace site used to be, and there are still some traces of a fortress over Jeongnyeongchi Pass.
  • Travel Tip
  • Dalgung Auto Camping Site doesn't take reservations. It operates on a first-come-first-serve basis, so it's hard to get a tent site during the busy season. There are a total of five sinks and four restrooms. They'll charge you for both parking and camping separately. The parking fee is KRW 5,000 for a passenger car and KRW 2,000 for an economy-size car during the busy season. The camping fee is KRW 2,000 per person (adult).
2day,Simwon Village It's mostly uphill from Dalgung, and it's a steep climb to the top. At the end of the winding trail, you'll come to an intersection where one trail leads to Jeongnyeongchi Pass and the other to Seonsamjae-gil Road. If you take the one to Seongsamjae Pass, you'll find yourself climbing a steep hill. After about 10 minutes, you'll see a smaller hill with a path leading to Simwon Village to your left. The village is at the end of a short steep downhill. It's the highest altitude village in South Korea. Some Koreans call it the "first town below the heavens". The village was originally occupied by slash-and-burn farmers who came to this place during a war. It has recently turned into a tourist town with motels and restaurants, because for years, many hikers passing through this place asked them if they sell food. In Simwon Village, the menu is often limited to a bowl of rice with mountain vegetables and native chicken. Being a very remote mountain village, all the households harvest vegetables from the mountain in the spring and use them as food ingredients throughout the year. In other words, this is the only place in South Korea that serves only the vegetables growing in Jirisan Mountain.
2day,Seongsamjae Pass After Simwon Village, keep climbing up the hill to reach Seongsamjae Pass. It's at the highest point of the Jirisan Circular Road. The place overlooks Jirisan Spa Complex just below the hill and Gurye-eup in the distance. Park your car on Seongsamjae Pass, and go up Nogodan Peak. It's only about an hour's walk to the place. It's downhill from Seongsamjae, all the way to the bottom of the mountain. After passing through Siamjae Pass, the winding road will pass by Cheoneunsa Temple and lead you to Gurye. From Gurye, you may go to Namwon, or enjoy the drive along Seomjingang River towards Hadong.