Sambuyeon Falls (sambuyeon pokpo [삼부연폭포])

Galmal-eup / Mt Myeongseong / Hantangang River Geopark, Gangwon-do, South Korea

About Sambuyeon Falls (sambuyeon pokpo [삼부연폭포])

Hiking Distance: about 200m round trip
Suggested Time: about 15-30 minutes

Date first visited: 2023-06-12
Date last visited: 2023-06-12

Waterfall Latitude: 38.14021
Waterfall Longitude: 127.32765

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Sambuyeon Falls (Sambuyeon Pokpo [삼부연폭포]) was a 20m high waterfall dropping in three tiers between a steep granite notch though its main tier comprises most of the overall drop.

Personally, this waterfall introduced me to what it was like waterfalling in South Korea since it was my first one during our June 2023 trip to the country.

Sambuyeon_019_06112023 - Sambuyeon Falls
Sambuyeon Falls

Situated in the Hantangang River Geopark on the slopes of Mt Myeongseong north of Seoul, it took me over 2 hours to drive to this waterfall.

Of course, if you didn’t miss some turns, take wrong toll lanes, and have trouble deciphering Hangeul in real-timeand (not to mention lots of speed bumps as well as speed cameras), then you might get here way faster than I did (details in the directions).

Nevertheless, once you’re here, visiting the falls was quite easy once you get to the waterfall’s car park.

I wound up walking a well-developed path through a nice cool tunnel paralleling the roadside tunnel with rest benches and lights so no torch is needed.

Sambuyeon_011_06112023 - The tunnel providing some coolness to the area while also making the walk to the falls very easy
The tunnel providing some coolness to the area while also making the walk to the falls very easy

Upon emerging from the tunnel, I then followed a single-switchback ramp that leads straight to a lookout providing the frontal views of the Sambuyeon Waterfall that you see on this page.

My visit here was quite short because the steps leading down to the plunge pool was closed during my June 2023 visit, and the morning sun was shining directly against my line of sight.

I also didn’t realize that there was a temple across the road from the Sambuyeon Falls lookout so I can’t really say much more about what that would have been like (nor how much more time I could have spent checking that out).

In the end, my GPS logs said that it was about a 200m round-trip walk to cover the distance from the car park to the lookout and back, which underscores just how easy of a visit this was (provided you have your own rental car).

Sambuyeon_015_06112023 - Context of the lookout and the Sambuyeon Falls against the morning sun
Context of the lookout and the Sambuyeon Falls against the morning sun

Overall, I spent about 45 minutes away from the car though I easily could have left sooner than that or linger even longer had I checked out the temple despite the trail closure to the waterfall’s plunge pool.


Sambuyeon Falls resides near Galmal-eup township in Cheorwon-gun county of the Gangwon-do Province, South Korea. It is administered by the Hantangang River Geopark as well as local authorities. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try visiting this website.

Sambuyeon_006_06112023 - At the far end of the Sambuyeon Pokpo car park was the restroom facility (on the left) and some kind of office and info kiosk on the right. In the shadows ahead is the tunnel
Sambuyeon_007_06112023 - Closer look at the entrance to the tunnel leading to the Sambuyeon Falls
Sambuyeon_010_06112023 - About to enter the pedestrian tunnel heading towards the Sambuyeon Falls
Sambuyeon_012_06112023 - Emerging from the pedestrian tunnel, where you can see that the narrow road didn't offer anything in the way of parking so you have to go through the tunnel and park at the designated car park before properly experiencing Sambuyeon Falls
Sambuyeon_013_06112023 - Looking back at the exit of the pedestrian tunnel besides the road tunnel to the right of it
Sambuyeon_017_06112023 - Looking back at the context of the Sambuyeon Falls lookout area and the tunnels from the lone switchback leading down to that lookout
Sambuyeon_023_06112023 - Looking towards the Sambuyeon Falls from the end of the lookout area (mostly to try to avoid looking directly into the morning sun) during my mid-June 2023 visit
Sambuyeon_031_06112023 - Locked gate preventing access down to the plunge pool before the Sambuyeon Falls during my mid-June 2023 visit
Sambuyeon_032_06112023 - Context of the steps leading down to the plunge pool and the Sambuyeon Falls behind it
Sambuyeon_033_06112023 - Another look at the context of the Sambuyeon Falls with the locked steps leading down to its plunge pool
Sambuyeon_035_06112023 - The morning sun becoming more intrusive, which pretty much compelled me to have my fill of the falls and return to the car park to conclude my mid-June 2023 visit
Sambuyeon_036_06112023 - Looking across the road towards some cliff-hanging building (is one of those buildings a temple?) from the Sambuyeon Falls lookout and walkway
Sambuyeon_040_06112023 - Last look down at the Sambuyeon Falls Lookout platform
Sambuyeon_048_06112023 - Going back through the pedestrian tunnel after having had my fill of the Sambuyeon Falls. Notice how the seats are facing me now that I'm going uphill through this tunnel
Sambuyeon_052_06112023 - Making it back to the car park for the Sambuyeon Falls

Sambuyeon Falls resides on the slopes of Mt Myeongseong near the rural city of Cheorwon.

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 the Korean Network (we prefer using a SIM card for this).

Drive_to_Sambuyeon_025_Oho_01012022 - Driving towards the Sambuyeon Falls after leaving Cheorwon-gun
Driving towards the Sambuyeon Falls after leaving Cheorwon-gun

As far as our routing app of choice, I’ve had pretty good success using Kakao Map (keep in mind that GoogleMaps doesn’t work for routing in Korea).

On Kakao Map, make the destination (도착) 삼부연폭포 (which is Sambuyeon Pokpo in Hangeul) as I’ve often had success putting in Hangeul place names whereas trying to put Romanized spellings for the same thing often fails.

In my case, I started from the Lotte City Hotel near Myeongdong in the city center of Seoul where we were based.

Then, I let Kakao Map route me (paying very close attention to its prompts, especially if there are multiple lanes to choose from at certain interchanges, ramps, forks, or intersections).

Sambuyeon_003_06112023 - The car park for Sambuyeon Falls is right by the exit of a road tunnel near Cheorwon-gun
The car park for Sambuyeon Falls is right by the exit of a road tunnel near Cheorwon-gun

Eventually, Kakao got me to the town of Cheorwon, where I eventually picked up the Myeongseong-ro and then the 112beon-gil (along the river) and followed this road for about 1km (there are lots of speed bumps and school zones along the way).

Next, this road will intersect with the Sambuyeon-ro, where I then took this road about 1.5km to a car park on the left beyond the end of the tunnel by the Sambuyeon Waterfall (Pokpo).

It’s worth noting that even though you can see the Sambuyeon Falls before entering the tunnel, there is no legal parking.

You have to drive through the tunnel before reaching the car park on the left side as soon as you exit the tunnel.

Sambuyeon_004_06112023 - Looking past the car park towards the restroom facility and some office right at the start of the short walk to Sambuyeon Falls
Looking past the car park towards the restroom facility and some office right at the start of the short walk to Sambuyeon Falls

Overall, this drive took me about 2 hours and 15 minutes, but a lot of that was due to a combination of morning rush hour traffic, a few wrong turns, and overall getting used to driving in Korea.

Kakao Map says this should take over 90 minutes, but that assumes you’re already kind of used to driving here.

For geographical context, Cheorwon is about 90km (over 90 minutes drive) north of the city center of Seoul and 88km (also over 90 minutes drive) northwest of Chuncheon City.

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Sweep from left to right looking back at the ramping walkway before panning over to the falls looking against the morning sun

View of the falls while walking down the ramp for a closer perspective

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Tagged with: sambuyeon waterfall, cheolwon, cheorwon, cheolwon-gun, cheorwon-gun, gangwon, gangwon-do, korea, south korea, waterfall

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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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