Autumn, my favourite season in South Korea, has finally arrived. The air is fresh and cool, the skies are blue and the leaves are turning all shades of red, orange and yellow.
Naejangsan National Park borders on both Jeollanamdo and Jeollabukdo, and it’s only an hour from Gwangju. The drive into the national park was beautiful! The entrance to the national park, not so much! Even on a Friday morning, the car park was packed, and the road leading up to the walking track was filled with food stalls and blasting trot music.
Thankfully, just 15mins up the road, the crowds had dispersed, and we found a little peace and quiet. The trail up to Uhwajeong Pavilion follows a pretty little stream and is lined with colourful autumn foliage.
A bit over 2 km along the path, we came to the Pavilion. What a perfect time to visit! You can cross a stone path over the water and visit the pavilion, but the best views are from the bridge on the other side of the lake. Is it a lake?
If you continue along a bit further you will come to Naejangsa – a working temple in a gorgeous setting,
This temple has some unique touches I haven’t seen elsewhere – and we’ve seen a lot of temples! I especially appreciated this huge wooden pink fish and colourful drum—also, the old wall and peaceful pond below.
Things to note: you can drive up to about 2.5km from the pavilion and parking costs 5,000won (or it did on this Friday). It’s a further 3,000won per person to get into the national park at this time of year. You will drive past a ton of restaurants before you get to the parking area, and there are several toilet stops along the way. It’s an extremely easy and convenient place to appreciate some stunning seasonal colours. Oh, and although it’s a decent walk, it’s nearly all flat – perfect!
If you’re in Jangseong-gun, the Hong Gildong Theme Park is a kind of random but interesting little stop along the way. There’s also a lovely little cafe with great pizza a few minutes from the theme park.