About Paraeso Falls (paraeso pokpo [파래소폭포])
Paraeso Falls (Paraeso Pokpo [파래소폭포]) was a pretty popular waterfall tucked away in the foothills of Ganwolsan and Sinbulsan Mountains in the Baenaegol Valley, which itself sits on the outskirts of Ulsan.
Despite the waterfall’s somewhat hidden location (see directions), we encountered many people here as it was a hot day in the mid-30s in degrees Celsius (i.e. mid 90s F).
The hike began from a car park at the end of a narrow single-lane road, which itself was hidden after exiting between expressway tunnels between Ulsan and Miryang (see directions below).
From there, we pretty much followed a partially-shaded path that crossed before a side stream and then eventually reached a curious monorail that wasn’t working during our mid-June 2023 visit (roughly 300m from the trailhead).
The trail then followed along the main stream while also ascending alongside the roller coaster-looking monorail tracks before the trail eventually skirted the left side of the bouldery streambed.
After crossing another bridge over the stream just past an invitingly cool and shaded alcove with a rest bench, the trail then ascended some steps before descending to an elevated lookout of the Paraeso Falls (about 1.2km from the car park).
The trail continued down steps beneath this lookout to access the rocky streambed at the edge of Paraeso Falls’ plunge pool, where you can get a more direct look at the waterfall.
Now as inviting as the plunge pool beneath Paraeso Falls looked, swimming is not allowed here, and we didn’t see anyone try to break those rules during our visit (there’s also CCTV cameras practically everywhere around Korea).
We did, however, see kids skipping stones in the plunge pool, which was probably about as much interaction as you’re going to get with this waterfall.
After having our fill of this waterfall, we then returned the way we came, which took us around 90 minutes at a very slow pace given the heat to do the whole 2.4km return excursion.
Paraeso Falls resides in the Sinbulsan Recreational Forest west of Ulsan in the Gangwon-do Province, South Korea. It may be administered by the local authorities of Sinbulsan Recreational Forest. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try visiting this website.
Paraeso Falls lies somewhat hidden between Miryang and the city of Ulsan.
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, we were coming from Daegu (대구) so with that as our starting point (출발), we set up 파래소폭포 (Paraeso Waterfall) as the destination (도착).
This route took us over 90 minutes to go the 122km distance.
If you’re coming from Ulsan (울산), then Kakao says the 40km driving distance should take a little under an hour.
And if you’re coming from Busan (부산), then Kakao says the 67km driving distance should take a little over an hour.
Finally, after leaving the expressway, the road was mostly single-lane road for the final 1.4km towards a kiosk and barricade where we had to pay 6000 won to enter (3000 won for parking plus 1000 won per person).
Beyond the barricade, we continued on another single-lane road for the last 700m before reaching the car park at the end of the road.
Another thing worth mentioning regarding the tunnels and expressways is that you can only exit towards Paraeso Falls on the westbound lanes (coming from the Ulsan side) and you can only return to the expressway going east towards Ulsan.
If you’re looking to both come from or leave towards Miryang further to the west of Paraeso Falls, then you’ll have to do some intricate maneuvers going from the Hamyang-Ulsan Expressway to the Gyeongbu Expressway then coming back.
For geographical context, Ulsan was about 41km (about an hour drive; depending on traffic) north of Busan, 122km (over 1.5 hours drive) southeast of Daegu, 68km (over an hour drive) east of Miryang, and 377km (about 4.5 hours drive) southeast of Seoul.
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