The Hike from Songjeong Beach to Haedong Yonggungsa Water Temple

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Songjeong Beach, Busan

The Galmaetgil 갈맷길 trails are one of the best ideas Busan has ever had. They are hiking trails that span all over the city and take you to all the best views and sights that this varied city has to offer. The only catch is that they are pretty tricky to find, and so far the only maps provided (for trails 2 and 3) are vague at best.

So it was with high hopes and keen feet that we embarked on our second mission (after a failed first attempt) to find the trail from Seongjeong beach to Haedong Yonggungsa. Luckily for me, my companions were much better at spotting potential paths than I am.

Hike from Songjeong Beach to Haedong Yonggungsa Water Temple       Hike from Songjeong Beach to Haedong Yonggungsa Water Temple

The hike takes you around the cost from Seongjeong harbor, through some cute little fishing spots and an old fishing village. It is an excellent chance to see another side of Busan, one well away from smartphones and subways. This first bit is a little tricky to navigate, but soon after you begin the walk, you are directed the rest of the way by the cutest little trail markers on the streets and in the trees.

Hike from Songjeong Beach to Haedong Yonggungsa Water Temple

[also check out:]
Songjeong Beach
Haedong Yonggungsa Water Temple
Hike from Jangsan to Songjeong Beach 

After the fishing village, the walk takes you over a construction site, Busan is always building, and then you reach the real gem of the walk. The path winds through woodland, but you stay right on the edge of the coast, with the cliffs nearly crumbling away from you in some places, so watch your step. It’s at this point in the walk you might just want to let someone else know whereabouts you are. I had a terrifying thought of ‘if we all fall off here, how long would it take someone to find us’… The path is pretty deserted once you get into the forest itself. It’s a really refreshing change from the crowds of Seomyeon and Nampo-dong.

Hike from Songjeong Beach to Haedong Yonggungsa Water TempleFurther around the woodland, keep an eye out to the right, and not just for trip hazards. There are three lookout posts, or what I assume to be. They are just abandoned there, in near enough the same condition they were originally used in I think. The razor wire still surrounds them, and the posts themselves are still intact, a crescent shaped dugout, which you can stand or sit in. I tried to get some information from my co-teachers about the origin of these, and amidst a lot of confusion, I think they said that the Americans built them. Who knows.

The entire walk takes  about 45 minutes to an hour, and it’s slightly terrifying when you reach the temple walls and then the barred gate into the temple grounds. There was no way I was going all the way back and around. Luckily we soon spotted the way, to your left there is a stone gutter on the hill, just after that, on the left is a slightly overgrown dirt path, complete with trail markers, leading up into the hill. Follow that and you will come to the entrance of the temple.

The walk is well worth the effort I think. Plus, it’s a nice break from that packed bus to and from the temple. You could spend the day at the beach at Seongjeong before or after your temple visit, though I highly recommend going as early as possible to the temple, especially on a weekend or holiday as, quite rightly, it’s really popular.

Beautiful water temple, Haedong Yonggungsa, BusanDirections:

Take the 181 bus from Haeundae Beach Station (out of exit 7, straight on 10 yards to the bus stop). Get off at the 송정해수욕장 Songjeong Haesu-yookjang stop. Walk straight until you reach the harbour. Directly in front of you should be the harbor, and to your left is a small bridge that is bordered on the right side by concrete wave breakers .

Or from Seongjeong beach, as you are looking at the beach, turn left and walk up the road until you reach the small bridge with the concrete wave breakers on the right hand side.

From the bridge, walk straight by the road, (a little tricky in places as the sidewalk is only half built). You can walk onto the small island to your right from here, and watch the locals fishing, continue around the island and you should be able to see another harbor on the other side. Aim for that, picking your path carefully as you go. Once you get to the strange metal fish house on the right side of the harbor, that is the beginning of the Galmaetgil trail, or at least the beginning as we found it. From here, the way is pretty much marked for you with the trail markers, on the sidewalk they are spray-painted on, and follow the paved path around the harbor, and then the path taking you round a small headland to the left of the harbor. Part of the walk just before you get to the woodland is across a really dodgy looking construction site, I think they are putting in some sort of tunnel.  Just keep heading across that to the forest and from there it’s easy.

To do the walk in reverse, find the tall pagoda statue just before the archway leading down the steps to the temple. Facing away from the temple there is a huge sign and the path is right in front of you there (sounds obvious but we missed it on our first visit).

{Check out Laura’s blog, Long Way Round in Busan}

Related posts:

  1. Haedong Yonggungsa Water Temple
  2. Hike from Jangsan to Songjeong Beach
  3. Seokbulsa Temple Hike
  4. Songjeong Beach
  5. Jangsan Mountain Hike


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