The Hwanseongul Cave is one of the largest limestone Caves in Asia and it is beautiful. Yvonne and I had the pleasure of visiting the Hwanseongul Cave on our first trip to Korea. We wanted to share our experience and some useful tips to make your experience more enjoyable.
Useful information about Hwanseongul Cave
The cave is in Gangwon province, South Korea. It is near Samcheok city and it is about 40 minutes away by bus if you are at the Samcheok Intercity Bus Terminal. It should cost about 2,000 won each way.
The entrance fee is 4,000 won and there is an option to take a monorail to the cave entrance. The monorail costs 3,000 won each way or 5,000 won for a round trip ticket. Total cost for this half-day trip including the monorail is around 13,000 won (8,000 excluding the monorail).
If you choose not to take the monorail, you will have to hike about 1.5 km to the cave entrance, including climbing 398 stairs. This hike will take about 30-40 minutes depending on your physical condition. The Hwanseongul Cave is enormous, but it takes about 1 -1.5 hours to explore. Again, this depends on your travel style and interest in caves.
The whole trip can take half a day, but you might feel rushed. The bus ride to and from the cave will take about 1.5 hours (around 40 mins each way) plus 2-3 hours on site. The total time needed is around 4 hours to enjoy this half-day trip.
You are allowed to film and take pictures inside the Hwanseongul Cave, but be mindful of the crowds. According to different sources, the cave attracts around 1 million visitors per year and the peak times are during the summer months.
What to See: The Hwanseongul Cave is known for its various formations like “The Swamp of Hell”, “The Figure of Lady”, “The Palace of Dream,” and “The Great Wall.”
800, Hwanseon-ro, Singi-myeon, Samcheok-si, Gangwon-do
강원도 삼척시 신기면 환선로 800
November-February: Ticketing – 08:30-16:00 (Last admission: 16:30)
March-October: Ticketing – 08:00-17:00 (Last admission: 17:30)
Our story about Hwanseongul Cave
Yvonne and I went to Samcheok to see the Penis Park or Haesindang Park, but when we were researching the area, we learned about the Hwanseongul Cave and thought it would make a nice day trip. We set out early in the morning about 9 am and made it to cave around 10 am. We went to Korea during the Chinese Spring Festival, which usually falls around February, so there was snow and ice on the roads. This caused the bus to go a little slower.
When we arrived at the ticket office they asked us if we wanted to take the monorail to the cave entrance, but after inquiring about the prices, we declined and thought a hike would be better. We entered the park after purchasing our tickets and followed the signs to the stairs. Along the way there were many buildings, bridges, and other things to see, which made the hike enjoyable. The cave is located in the mountain region, which provides a great outdoor experience.
We started on the 398 stairs with a lot of enthusiasm, but near the top we were regretting our decision to hike! The whole hike to the cave entrance takes about 40 minutes, which on first thought doesn’t seem too bad, but most of the hike is stairs. This can be tiring but we made it!
We were surprised by how warm the temperature was inside the cave. On the way up, it was snowing and quite cold outside, so we were not expecting the cave to be hot. Inside the cave, we wandered around and took many pictures. According to Tourist Spots, notable formations in the cave include “Bat of a Goblin”, “Fountain of Life”, “The First Waterfall”, and “The Statue of Maria.” Equally notable are the pools “Rice Terraces” and the “Royal Throne.” After seeing all the different formations and notable spots, we headed back down the stairs and looked for the bus to take us back to Samcheok.
When we got to the bus stop, we realized we had just missed the bus and we would need to wait about 2 hours before the next one arrived. I was tired and it was snowing really hard, so needless to say, I was unhappy. Yvonne decided that we should hitch-hike. In her normal high spirits, she flagged down a SUV and told the driver we wanted to go to Samcheok. The driver had no idea what she was saying but understood “Samcheok,” so, Yvonne and I piled into the back of the SUV and off we went to Samcheok.
The people that took pity on our cold and wet souls were a nice couple from Seoul. But they only spoke about 5 words of English and one word of Dutch. Okay, they didn’t really know any Dutch but the knew one name “Guus Hiddink.” They were extremely excited to “talk” to a real Dutch person! Overall, the ride to Samcheok took about an hour because of the heavy snow, but the couple was happy to take us back and even offered us some snacks. Yvonne had little Dutch Shoe key chains that she gave them as a “thank you.”
In the end, our day trip took about 5 hours and we didn’t want to do much after arriving back in Samcheok, because we were sore from all the steps and it was snowing hard. We really enjoyed the Hwanseongul Cave and I would suggest adding it to your list if you are thinking about visiting South Korea. Especially, if you head over to the Haesindang Park.