Hallasan, a massive shield volcano, tops out at 1950m. It is the highest mountain in South Korea and just like any other country’s premier peak, it is one of the hottest items on the hiking menu.
“But wait …” I hear you say, “a volcano?”
Well, a volcano it is, and classed as an active one at that, but don’t worry – it hasn’t erupted for about 5,000 years and is basically dormant, it’s just that the boffins can’t agree on its true status.
Forming the bulk of Jeju, Hallasan is central to the island’s identity. It gave birth to Jeju, and to the locals, the two are often interchangeable, one and the same. No matter where you are, you can see its distinctive profile against the sky, and when it’s shrouded, thick and grey, you can still feel its huge bulk rising behind you.
The summit of Hallasan seen from the south coast of Jeju Island
The summit of Hallasan, seen from
the rocky south coast of Jeju Island
It is a fantastic hike and one of our favourites in Korea. Jeju’s isolation from the mainland has made it a unique place and the journey up the mountain displays its great qualities, from the beautiful, low lying forests to the craggy beauty of its upper flanks. If you get lucky you’ll see out across the whole of Jeju as you climb, and the crater lake on the summit is a special place.
If you like hiking, nature and spectacular views – and let’s face it, what’s not to like – plan a trip to Jeju Island and put Hallasan first on your list. Watch the video and check out the rest of this guide to find out all you need to know about hiking South Korea’s highest peak.
[…] so naturally, I did my own online research and stumbled upon very helpful ones, especially Going the Whole Hogg and Fork and Foot’s very detailed accounts of their hike at Hallasan. Of course, […]
Thanks for this. It was a really helpful guide to climbing Hallasan and I hope I can make it soon 🙂 I plan to visit in January and hope there’ll be lots of snow on top of the mountain!
Thanks Joel! Would love to see Hallasan all covered in snow, hope you get a nice clear day for it! Cheers, Kim
Wow, your blog is really helpful, thanks to you I can get a better of image of how the hike is going to be like! I am not really a pro hiker but I’m not inexperienced either. But I’m going to be alone when I go to Jeju this autumn and hike Gwaneumsa by myself. Do you have any other tips for a solo hiker like me? It is safe, right? :-p
Hi Rei! Glad we’ve helped you out ? I’m sure you’ll meet plenty of other hikers on the trail, so you won’t be completely alone. But yes, it’s safe, just be sure to have enough food and water with you for the whole day. Have a great time on Jeju and Hallasan especially. Cheers! Kim
Thank you for all of your valuable information and tips for the hike as I’m planning to visit Korea for 1 month in Sept-Oct. Hiking Hallasan is on my list to conquer with a few of my cousins and sister. I’m very nervous and excited at the same time as I’m not a very active person. Thank you once again for all of your information on this page. I’m more excited than nervous as I’m able to have some expectations in place.
Hi Hannassi! Thanks so much for your kind words and so glad we’ve made the hike seem a little less nerve-wracking for you! It’s definitely easier to prepare yourself when you know what to expect. Having a month to travel in Korea will be great. If you have some extra time on Jeju besides Hallasan, a great way to experience the island is walking one or more of the Olle Trails. They’re much less challenging than the Hallasan hike and some of them take you past amazing natural scenery. We’ve got plenty of blog posts on the site about various… Read more »
Hey, looks like you both had an enjoyable hike! The information on this page is priceless! Thank you so much. This is the best page I have found by a long mile! Hiking hallasan this month by myself thanks for the info guys! Did you guys do seoraksan by any chance?
Kind regards Martin
Hey Martin, thank you! And that’s great you’re going to do the hike. Hopefully you get good weather, we’re actually hiking the Olle Trail around Jeju right now and we’ve had amazing views of Hallasan most days. We’ve been to Seoraksan NP and hiked to Ulsan Bawi, but unfortunately haven’t had a chance to hike any of the other bigger trails there. It’s a beautiful place if you get a chance to go. Enjoy your hike! Cheers, Kim
Looks like you guys had fun, thank you so much for the info! It’s tough to find such clear detail about Hallasan, especially when it comes to actual hiking times and the possibility to grab a taxi back to the other car park. Looking forward to trying this end of May! 🙂
Hey Thomas, thanks for the message! It’s always nice to hear we’ve helped people out. You can get the Kakao T app in advance (in English) if you’re planning to take a taxi. It’s like Uber, but used all over Korea. Have a great hike! We’ll be back on Jeju then too, can’t wait ?
Hi. Thank you so much for the detailed guide! We are looking forward to hiking Hallasan this autumn. Could I find out when in the autumn did you ascend via the Gwaneumsa Trail? We are planning to visit Jeju-do from late Oct to early Nov, am wondering if we should go earlier to avoid colder temperature when hiking Hallasan.
Hi Erin, that’s great to hear! It’s an awesome hike. We did it in early October. Obviously weather can be very changeable but we reckon it shouldn’t be too cold in late Oct/early Nov. January and February are generally the coldest months in Korea. Just keep an eye on the weather forecast when you are there and try to be flexible in case you need to change hiking plans to suit the weather!
Thanks, really helpful. On this website you can check whether the trails are open: http://www.jeju.go.kr/hallasan/index.htm# (in the menu you can select English)
I’m hoping to summit Hallasan in mid-October 2018. I’m reading much talk about one or the other trail occasionally being closed, but I don’t see any reference to a phone or website that will tell me of closures close-in to my departure. Any help? Very helpful info on this site. I have bookmarked it. Thanks.
Hi Kevin, Glad you found it useful. As far as we know, there is no website (at least in English) that publishes information about trail closures. If they do close a trail, it usually happens at short notice. We’d advise you to make your plan and then check the day before. There are a few ways you can find out. Call the English Tourist Helpline on 1330. They contact the Ranger’s office and find out for you. Or you can ask your guesthouse or hotel to contact the trail office directly as they’ll only speak Korean. The phone numbers are… Read more »
Thanks for sharing your experience, enjoyed the video, my wife and I both. I also intend to take the Gwaneumsa path up and descent via the “gentler” Seongpanak trail to at least try to save my knees. We will be renting a car for the duration of our jeju stay. I wonder if it is wise to drive and park at Seongpanak and take a taxi to the Gwaneumsa starting point. The plan being so we end up back to our car once we finish the hike. Just wondering how are the signages and directions for the trails in general… Read more »
Hi Michael, glad you enjoyed the video. Hopefully it gets you excited for the day ahead as well as letting you know what to expect. Your idea is a good one. Either park at Seongpanak and taxi to the start at Gwaneumsa or park at Gwaneumsa and taxi back when you finish at Seongpanak.There may be more taxis at Seongpanak when you finish and that would give you the advantage of driving straight to the trailhead at Gwaneumsa to start. I’d be inclined to do it that way but it’s probably a 50/50 call, and there’s definitely something to be… Read more »
Thanks for the elaborate and great guide. Especially love the tips for public transport. I would definitely say this is one of the better guides for anyone planning to hike Hallasan. Looking forward to more of your future posts, Cheers!
You’re very welcome Diana. Public transport was something we had a bit of a headache working out ourselves so we tried to give us much information as we could. Really glad you found it useful. Thanks!
Hi! Thank you for this giude! We got a lot of information here! We’re going to Hallasan tomorrow and I hope we get there on time. I don’t hike since a lot… so it’s gonna be hard I think ahahahah However it seems it’s worth it. 😀
Hi Veronica, really glad we were able to help. We’ve been away hiking in Tajikistan for the last two weeks ourselves. Hope you enjoyed Hallasan and got lucky with the views. It would’ve been very hot this time of year but definitely worth it!
Thankyou so much for this!!! It has been so helpful!! We are hiking the trails tomorrow, despite the heatwave that has hit South Korea at the moment, extra water = extra exercise woo! Great guide <3
Thanks for the feedback! So glad you found it useful. How did the hike go?! Korean summers are pretty intense, well done for tackling it in the heat and humidity!