Buril Falls (buril pokpo [불일폭포])

Hwagae-myeon / Jirisan National Park, Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea

About Buril Falls (buril pokpo [불일폭포])

Hiking Distance: at least 6.2km round trip
Suggested Time: about 2.5-3 hours

Date first visited: 2023-06-19
Date last visited: 2023-06-19

Waterfall Latitude: 35.23743
Waterfall Longitude: 127.66406

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Buril Falls (Buril Pokpo [불일폭포]; also spelled “Bulil”) was my waterfaller’s excuse to explore Jirisan National Park (sometimes also referred to as “Wisdom Mountain” since eccentric and wise people would go there to seek enlightenment).

This was a towering 60m waterfall that involved a bit of a hike starting near the Ssanggyesa Temple so it was an opportunity to combine that holy experience with Nature.

Ssangyesa_and_Buril_254_06182023 - Buril Falls
Buril Falls

Jirisan Mountain was the second tallest mountain in South Korea at 1915m, but it was also apparently one of three “legendary” mountains in Korea as far as being epicenters of the Korean faith in Buddhism.

The other legendary mountains were the popular Hallsan on Jeju Island as well as Geumgansan in North Korea.

The Ssanggyesa Temple (meaning “twin streams”) was said to be one of the head temples of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism (I had seen the one at Sinheungsa earlier on in our 2023 trip to Korea).

So I guess its location on the hallowed Jirisan Mountain made sense insofar as its importance as far as Korean Buddhism was concerned.

Ssangyesa_and_Buril_044_06182023 - Looking up at the main hall in the Ssanggyesa Temple complex on the way up to the Buril Pokpo Waterfall
Looking up at the main hall in the Ssanggyesa Temple complex on the way up to the Buril Pokpo Waterfall

During our mid-June 2023 visit, we happened to show up in the morning when monks were already performing chanting and praying rituals, which certainly added to the otherworldly atmosphere of this place.

Moreover, prior to getting to the Ssanggyesa Temple, we stumbled upon the Hadong Hwagae Market, which apparently was a very famous market fronting a well-known cherry blossom bloom spot (though they were long gone by this time).

Even around Jirisan, we saw turnoffs to other large temples like Hwaeomsa and Cheoneunsa among others.

Indeed, there seemed to be lots of important sights around the Ssanggyesa Temple and Buril Pokpo Waterfall, but I prioritized the waterfall and let whatever other sights we happened to see to be the icing on the cake, so to speak.

Summary Of The Hike To Buril Falls

Ssangyesa_and_Buril_151_06182023 - The hike to Buril Falls is mostly uphill with lots of rocky and uneven steps along the way
The hike to Buril Falls is mostly uphill with lots of rocky and uneven steps along the way

In any case, like many things that are worth it in life, I had to earn my visit to the Buril Pokpo by going on a bit of a long uphill hill hike beyond the Ssanggyesa Temple.

According to my GPS logs, it’s around 500m from the car park to the Ssanggyesa Temple gaining around 30m along the way.

The GPS logs also incidated that it was about 2.6km each way with nearly 400m of elevation gain to go directly to the Buril Falls from the temple (though the signs indicate that it was merely 2.4km in each direction).

Therefore, the overall hiking distance is probably more like 3km each way or 6km round trip, and this doesn’t count the optional 600m out-and-back hike to check out the Guksaam Temple.

Ssangyesa_and_Buril_313_06182023 - The Guksaam Temple was an optional out-and-back detour from the trail to Buril Falls
The Guksaam Temple was an optional out-and-back detour from the trail to Buril Falls

In addition to the Guksaam Temple, I also encountered a campsite as well as a hermitage near the Buril Falls deep into this hike.

I wound up spending about 3.5 hours away from the car, but it could have easily been 3 hours or less if I didn’t take as many pictures nor socialize with some people (including a nice Swiss couple) that I met on the trail.

One thing worth mentioning since this is a bit of a moderate half-day excursion, if you have people in your group not wanting to do the hike and they have to wait, well they don’t have cafes or food stands at the Ssanggyesa Temple.

I guess that makes sense if you’re talking about one of the more holier temples in Korea, but at least there’s good internet to kill time since Korea’s cell coverage in general has to be second to none!

Trail Description

Ssangyesa_and_Buril_088_06182023 - Looking back at a side wing of the Ssanggyesa Temple from the part of the trail where the path to Buril Falls leaves the temple complex
Looking back at a side wing of the Ssanggyesa Temple from the part of the trail where the path to Buril Falls leaves the temple complex

From the car park (see directions below), there were a pair of uphill paths going in parallel (one going through archways and the other kind of going around a garden) leading up to the Ssanggyesa Temple.

Once at the temple, I took some time checking out the complex, which consisted of a handful of buildings (mostly containing worshipping rooms where taking photos were not allowed).

It was from some of these buildings that I heard monks making chants that reverberated in these south-facing Jirisan slopes.

Continuing with the hike, there were steps leading to another wing of Ssanggyesa Temple, but the steps ultimately veered around it, went by a sign indicating that the Buril Falls was another 2.3km away, and then went onto a more conventional forest trail.

Ssangyesa_and_Buril_179_06182023 - I noticed these interesting totem poles fronting a clearing and campground on the way to the Buril Falls
I noticed these interesting totem poles fronting a clearing and campground on the way to the Buril Falls

After 300m, the moderately uphill trail (gaining about 80m in elevation) reached a trail junction with the optional detour to the Guksaam Temple on the left, but I kept right to continue towards the Buril Falls.

According to my trip logs, the next 2.1km pretty much involved hiking up mostly shaded forest gaining another 250m in elevation before reaching an opening by a campground.

In much of this stretch, there were interpretive signs to keep things interesting though the surface could get a bit rocky and uneven in spots.

Beyond the campground, the trail then started to flatten out then descend onto a series of ledges and catwalks, where there was a junction for Burilam or Buril Hermitage (that kind of looked like it had another shrine and residence) after about 500m.

Ssangyesa_and_Buril_020_iPhone_06192023 - Finally making it to the Buril Falls
Finally making it to the Buril Falls

After the spur trail to the hermitage, the path then steeply descended a series of cliff-hanging steps before reaching a lookout right in front of the Buril Falls.

Since I was kind of looking against the midday sun (I showed up at around 11:40am in mid-June) and this waterfall was quite tall, it was hard to get a good picture of it all.

Nevertheless, it was worth the effort to get up to this point, and I got to savor it alone for a bit before looking forward to the mostly downhill trajectory save for a few climbs at the start of the return.


Buril Falls resides in Jirisan National Park by the city of Hadong in the Jeollanam-do Province, South Korea. It may be administered by the Korean National Park Service as well as local authorities. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try visiting this website for leads.

Ssangyesa_and_Buril_010_06182023 - Making our way up the walkway towards the Ssanggyesa Temple on the way up to the Buril Falls
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_017_06182023 - Going up the archway and steps to enter the Ssanggyesa Temple complex before going up to the Buril Falls
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_019_06182023 - Another look up at one of the entrance buildings on our way up to the Ssanggyesa Temple complex before going towards Buril Falls
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_021_06182023 - Looking back at some statues facing the entranceway on our way up towards the Ssanggyesa Temple Complex
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_027_06182023 - About to ascend some steps towards some of the buildings within the Ssanggyesa Temple Complex
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_039_06182023 - This bell was actually next to the steps leading up to the trail for the Buril Falls
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_042_06182023 - Looking towards the main altar or building of the Ssanggyesa Temple complex
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_060_06182023 - Looking back across the backside of the buildings at the Ssanggyesa Temple Complex
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_070_06182023 - Still spending some time checking out the Ssanggyesa Temple Complex before going up to the Buril Falls
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_078_06182023 - In order to get started on the hike to the Buril Falls, I had to go up these steps
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_085_06182023 - Here's where the Buril Falls Trail deviates and leaves the Ssanggyesa Temple Complex
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_095_06182023 - Initially, the Buril Falls Trail continues climbing up steps above and beyond the Ssanggyesa Temple complex
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_098_06182023 - The Buril Falls Trail continuing to go up the sweat-inducing climb to get well above the Ssanggyesa Temple complex
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_101_06182023 - The Buril Falls Trail then continues climbing but now it's more of the conventional trail
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_109_06182023 - This trail junction contains branches that go to the left for the Guksaam Temple or to the right to continue going to Buril Falls
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_114_06182023 - Some parts of the Buril Falls Trail have non-slip mats like what's shown here, but it didn't cover the trail as extensively as I've seen other trails througout Korea so far
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_118_06182023 - The Buril Falls Trail going up some ledges on its way higher up the southern slopes of Jirisan Mountain
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_121_06182023 - One of the bridges that the Buril Falls Trail goes across
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_124_06182023 - The Buril Falls continuing to climb
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_127_06182023 - One of the few times a butterfly or moth stood still long enough for me to take a picture along the Buril Falls Trail
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_129_06182023 - There are actually quite a few interpretive signs (mostly in Korean though) that line the Buril Falls Trail
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_142_06182023 - More ascending along the Buril Falls though the surface is a bit on the ankle-busting uneven side, especially when they are arranged in rocks like this
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_152_06182023 - Still ascending the relentlessly climbing Buril Falls Trail
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_164_06182023 - Some parts of the Buril Falls go by some giant boulders like this one
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_167_06182023 - A couple of rest benches along the long ascent up the Buril Falls
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_178_06182023 - Eventually the Buril Falls Trail starts to open up just as it approaches a clearing and a campsite
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_187_06182023 - Looking towards some kind of shelter or campground administration shack by the Buril Falls Trail
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_191_06182023 - Looking across a clearing area where I suspect people can camp by the Buril Falls Trail
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_204_06182023 - Beyond the campground, the trail starts to cling more to cliffs
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_206_06182023 - This descending part of the Buril Falls means I'd have to climb it on the way back
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_210_06182023 - More fencing and ledges on the way to the Buril Falls
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_212_06182023 - Just when I thought all the climbing to get to the Buril Falls was over, there was this ascent that I had to make
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_224_06182023 - Eventually, I made it up to the Burilam or Buril Hermitage, which is actually still inhabited
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_227_06182023 - Looking back at what appeared to be a prayer building for the Burilam or Buril Hermitage
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_232_06182023 - Starting to go down a bamboo-lined narrow ledge path on the way down to the lookout for the Buril Falls
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_238_06182023 - Descending one of a handful of steep switchbacks on the way down to the lookout for Buril Falls
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_241_06182023 - Context of the Buril Falls and the steep steps getting closer to the lookout
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_243_06182023 - Another look down at the steep steps leading to the lookout fronting the Buril Falls
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_017_iPhone_06192023 - Context of the lookout fronting the Buril Falls
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_258_06182023 - Focused look against the midday sun towards the impressive Buril Falls (I swear pictures don't do this one justice at all)
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_271_06182023 - After having my fill of the Buril Falls, I had to start hiking back, but immediately I have to make this steep climb
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_278_06182023 - Continuing along the fence-lined ledge trail on the way back from the Buril Falls
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_285_06182023 - There was certainly no shortage of chipmunks or squirrels in Jirisan National Park
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_290_06182023 - Going by some giant boulders on the way back from the Buril Falls to the Ssanggyesa Temple
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_294_06182023 - On a spur path leading me to the Guksaam Temple
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_306_06182023 - Making it to the Guksaam Temple
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_307_06182023 - Exploring the Guksaam Temple (which felt more homier than the larger Ssanggyesa Temple Complex)
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_023_iPhone_06192023 - Walking up to the main praying building atop the Guksaam Temple mini-complex
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_026_iPhone_06192023 - Finally making it back to the Ssanggyesa Temple complex
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_337_06182023 - During my hike to Buril Falls, Julie and Tahia were waiting for me, and I found them on their phones at this fountain
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_348_06182023 - Looking towards the archways that I had gone under earlier on but now I took the other parallel path on the way back to the car park
Ssangyesa_and_Buril_349_06182023 - Julie and Tahia returning to the car park for the Ssanggyesa Temple

Buril Falls lies within Jirisan National Park near the town and county of Hadong.

Rather than confuse you with a bunch of turn-by-turn directions that won’t mean anything to you, I’ll just tell you that it’s best to use a Korean routing software on a phone that’s hooked up to a Korean Network (as Google Maps doesn’t work in Korea).

Drive_to_Ssangyesa_039_MingSung_06192023 - Driving through Hwagae on the way up to the Ssangyesa Temple
Driving through Hwagae on the way up to the Ssangyesa Temple

We prefer using a SIM card with an unlimited data plan for this purpose so we shouldn’t be running out of data while routing (while also allowing us to use that phone as a hot spot).

Regardless of what your current location is (and South Korea is as well-connected of a country as I had ever seen), use Kakao Map app to navigate your way through all the city streets, interchanges, and local rural roads.

It even tells you the whereabouts of speed bumps, school zones, speed cameras, and all the particulars about which lane to take when there’s a decision point with multiple lanes involved.

The only catch to using Kakao Map (or any other Korean routing app) is that you’ll need to at least learn how to put your place names in Hangeul (the Korean writing system).

Drive_to_Ssangyesa_057_MingSung_06192023 - Going through a part of the road where the cherry blossoms would be blooming on the way to the Ssanggyesa Temple
Going through a part of the road where the cherry blossoms would be blooming on the way to the Ssanggyesa Temple

That’s because using romanized words and expecting the app to find it doesn’t always work, but placenames in Hangeul almost always can be found in the app.

Anyways, in our example, we were coming from Surak Falls (수락폭포) so with that as our starting point (출발), we set up 쌍계사 (Ssanggyesa Temple) as the destination (도착).

This route took us under an hour to go the 39km distance.

If you’re coming from Jinju (진주), then Kakao says the 67km driving distance should take less than 90 minutes.

Ssangyesa_and_Buril_005_06182023 - The car park for the Ssanggyesa Temple
The car park for the Ssanggyesa Temple

Finally, it’s worth noting that the road leaving the Route 19 and going up towards the Ssanggyesa Temple involves going through both the Hwagae Market and the famous cherry blossom road.

Although it wasn’t a problem for us since we were 2-3 months after the cherry blossom ended, traffic may be restricted given that it would be crowded here at the peak of the blossom.

So that’s something to keep in mind.

For geographical context, Hadong was about 38km (45 minutes drive) southeast of Gurye, 42km (under 45 minutes drive) north of Suncheon, 43km (under an hour drive) west of Jinju, about 67km (over an hour drive) southeast of Namwon, 157km (over 2 hours drive) southwest of Daegu, and 331km (about 4 hours drive) south of Seoul.

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Back and forth sweep showcasing the lookout at the end of the trail as well as sweeps of the impressively tall waterfall as well as the lower cascade below

Trip Planning Resources

Nearby Accommodations

Tagged with: buril waterfall, buril pokpo, ssanggyesa, temple, jirisan, hadong, hwagae, south korea, korea, hwagye-dong, hwagae, gyeongsang

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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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