The Caverns of Hwanseongul

A large wall featuring a limestone formation

Samcheok is by the Japan sea, but once you go away from the coastline the terrain gets mountainous very fast. And the mountains of Samcheok have marvelous caves, such as Hwanseongul, one of the largest limestone caves in Asia.

The map shows that Gangwon province is in northeastern South Korea, and that Samcheok is the southeastern-most town in Gangwon, right on the east coast

Near the bus stop is a model of the type of houses Koreans in this area lived in before industrialization.

A rectangular yellow wooden house with a slanted roof covered with pine bark.

While walking from the bus stop to the cave I got to see the mountains covered in misty, a lovely waterfall, and an otter.

A beautiful white cascade of water over black stone under delicate red and yellow leaves.

And then … it was INTO THE CAVERN!!!

The entrance of the cave

These photos do not convey just how LARGE this cave is. I did put in a few photos showing the walkways to offer some sense of scale. You could fit a cathedral into some of the chambers.

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I took the first bus in the morning, so at first it was very quiet in the cave. Then the first group came, and I waited for them to pass me, for I wanted to savor the cave in solitude. By the time I left the cave hours later, there were a number of groups entering. And this was a weekday. So I highly recommend visiting in the morning.

This passage leads into a section of the cave called 'The Statues of All Nature'.  It is supposedly has the most gorgeous rock formations, but it is closed to visitors in order to protect the cave's delicate ecology.

This passage leads into a section of the cave called ‘The Statues of All Nature’. It is supposedly has the most gorgeous rock formations, but it is closed to visitors in order to protect the cave’s delicate ecology.

Some of the rock formations types seen in this cave have not been found in any other cave in the world. As I slowly, leisurely made my way through the 2 kilometers of walkway, I constantly found new shapes and formations, such as waterfalls cascading from the ceiling, or the “Great Wall” formation.

A formation in the ceiling from which water steadily drips down

This is one of the coolest experiences I had in all of South Korea. If you ever go to South Korea, even if you don’t have much time, try to visit this cave, even if you have to make a special trip out of Seoul just to see it.

Enjoy the photos!

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About Sara K.

Sara K. is an aromantic asexual from California who has previously lived in Taiwan. She blogs at the notes which do not fit, has previously been a contributor at Manga Bookshelf, and has written guest posts for Hacking Chinese. She enjoys reading, travel, live theatre, learning languages, and gardening.
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6 Responses to The Caverns of Hwanseongul

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