Overlooking Cheonsuman Bay, Seosan is a small city surrounded by rural farmlands and forested nature reserves. It boasts off-the-beaten-track cultural and historical landmarks, as well as one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Catholicism.
Things to do in Seosan
Visit one of South Korea’s best-preserved Joseon-era fortresses at Haemieupseong, which was built in the 15th century to guard the coast against Japanese pirates. It’s considered a Holy Ground by Korean Catholics due to the Byeongin persecutions that took place here in 1866, with a memorial hall and 300-year-old locust tree of particular significance.
Wake early to see the rising sun illuminate the Yonghyeon-ri Rock-Carved Buddha Triad, one of the only Baekje-era ruins remaining in the Seosan area. It dates back to the late-6th or early-7th centuries and features a Buddha flanked by two Bodhisattva standing atop a lotus leaf.
A short walk away is the ancient pagoda of Bowonsa Temple, which has been designated a National Treasure of Korea. Follow the walking trail that leads to the 15th-century Gaesimsa Temple to admire its ancient hanging mural and the sacred statue of Amitabha Buddha.
If you want to experience the natural beauty of Seosan, hit one of the hiking trails in the Yonghyeon National Natural Recreation Forest. Dense groves of oak trees blanket the valley floor and it boasts crystal-clear streams and magnificent views towards the Yellow Sea.
Getting around Seosan
Seosan is around 1.5 hours’ drive from Seoul and just under three hours from Incheon International Airport. Buses travel throughout the city and connect to neighbouring towns and villages, with many sights within cycling distance of the city centre.