About Huibang Falls (huibang pokpo [희방폭포])
Huibang Falls (Huibang Pokpo [희방폭포]) was a waterfall nestled in a thick forest beneath the Huibangsa Temple below Yeonhwabong Peak in the Sobaeksan Mountain east of the town of Danyang.
It’s said to be 28m, which if true, would make it one of the largest waterfalls in the central inland region of Korea.
A sign here said that Seo geo-jeong, who was a reknown Confucian scholar of the Joseon Dynasty, described the falls as “…a place given by heaven, only to be seen in one’s dreams or in one’s imagination”.
That said, I swore that the waterfall looked quite a bit shorter than that in person, where it appeared more like 15m maybe, unless I’m missing some upper tiers that couldn’t be seen from the lookout.
Nevertheless, it seemed to me that the main draw here was probably the moderately-sized Huibangsa Temple, which sat further up the Yeonhwabong Peak from the waterfall.
The temple featured a series of bluish-tiled buildings with the familiar fancy tiled roofs that I’ve come to associate with old school Asian architecture.
Perhaps the temple’s presence shouldn’t be surprising because the mountains around Danyang were known to have many UNESCO World Heritage temples where the nearby Guinsa and Buseoksa Temples are among them.
As far as experiencing the Huibang Falls, we started from the uppermost public car park (see directions below), where a barricade stopped further access except for authorized vehicles.
A well-signed forest trail briefly went up along the road before veering to the right up forested steps on the way to the Yeonhwabong Peak (which the waterfall hike shares the trail with).
After about perhaps 600m from the car park, we proceeded to walk onto a bridge and then a lookout at the end of this bridge, which presented a frontal view of the Huibang Pokpo Falls, where there was a rest bench to also take in the view.
After having our fill of the Huibang Falls, I then decided to backtrack then veer to the left to continue up a stair-stepped trail leading up to the Huibangsa Temple.
Upon going up to the top of some steep steps, there was a bridge spanning the head of the gorge containing the Huibang Falls (where it can be heard but it was hard to see from up there) before continuing another 200m to the temple complex itself.
The trail actually rejoined the same road that we had deviated from, and so there were locals who drive up here to work the cafe, pray at the temples, or maintain the area.
When I visited this waterfall in the afternoon of our mid-June 2023 visit, a fairly crazy thunderstorm overtook Yeonhwabong Peak providing many flashes of lightning and forcing me to take shelter in the local cafe here.
Once the storm calmed down, I then checked out the temple complex, where there were steps leading to a lookout to take in a more elevated view of this temple complex.
It’s said that the Huibangsa Temple once housed an original wooden printing block, which was destroyed during the Korean War, but it has since been re-created though I don’t think that re-creation is here anymore.
After having my fill of the Huibangsa Temple, I then decided to walk back down the road to return to the car, which was about an 800m walk to avoid the muddiness and slippery terrain of the trail given the downpour that happened just minutes earlier.
Overall, I spent about a little over 90 minutes away from the car, but at least over a half-hour of that time was spent waiting out the thunderstorm.
Thus, this excursion could easily take about an hour to take in both the Huibangpokpo and the Huibangsa though it could also be done in as little as a half-hour if you don’t go up to the temple.
Huibang Falls resides in Sobaeksan National Park near the town of Danyang in Yeongju-si county of the Gyeongsangbuk-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.
Huibang Falls is east of the attractive riverside town of Danyang.
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).
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).
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, I had set up the starting point (출발) from the Miin Waterfall (미인폭포) in Taebaek with 희방폭포 (Huibang Waterfall) as the destination (도착).
This route took us over 90 minutes to go the 97km distance.
If you’re coming from Danyang (단양), then Kakao says the 29km driving distance should take a little over 30 minutes.
The road leading to the Huibangsa was narrow and winding (but always two lanes) though parking was limited at the uppermost lost.
If that one is full, then you’ll have to backtrack about 1.2km to a somewhat larger car park by the visitor center and then walk up that distance to get started.
For geographical context, Danyang was about 74km (about an hour drive) north of Andong (near Hahoe Hanok Maeul), 148km (over 2.5 hours drive) southwest of Samcheok, about 188km (under 2.5 hours drive) southwest of the center of Gangneung, and 177km (about 2.5 hours drive) southeast of Seoul.
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