About Wonang Falls (wonang pokpo [원앙폭포])
Wonang Falls (Wonang Pokpo [원앙폭포]) was a wide segmented waterfall dropping some 10m into a colorful blue plunge pool that is quite popular as a swimming hole.
In fact, most waterfalls in Korea (let alone Jeju Island) are the look-but-don’t-touch type, and that’s what makes this waterfall stand out.
During my visit, I witnessed scores of people in swimming attire and towels going both to and from the 400m walk to the falls.
There was even a shop at the trailhead that rented out wet suits as well as snorkeling gear (the latter being something I wouldn’t normally think of doing at a waterfall).
Further adding to this place’s popularity was that it was located in Donnaeko Valley, which was apparently encompasses one of the routes involved in getting to the summit of Mt Hallasan – the sacred mountain in the center of Jeju Island).
Moreover, as of my visit in late June 2023, access to the falls was free, which I’m sure also helps further fuel its popularity.
Indeed, there was a bit of a festive atmosphere around the waterfall (e.g. people smoking, some music being played, cliff jumping, swimming, etc.).
The trail to the Wonang Falls was well-developed through a jungle (attesting to the humidity and high rainfall of Jeju Island) before descending on a series of steps to the plunge pool at the waterfall.
Wonang Falls’ stream is said to never dry up (which is apparently rare on the island), but the water was also anecdotally said to be cold since it comes from Hallasan Mountain.
Overall, I spent about 35 minutes away from the car, but you could easily do the walk about 5-10 minutes each way.
Finally, I would warn that this festive atmosphere around the Wonang Falls occurred on a pretty benign weather day.
However, the very next day started a series of severe monsoonal thunderstorms that produced intense and persistent flooding rains.
Under those conditions, the stream would be too swollen and turbulent to allow for swimming, and thus the weather is certainly something to keep en eye out for when it comes to visiting the Wonangpokpo Waterfall.
Wonang Falls resides by the district of Topyeong on the northern outskirts of Seogwipo, Jeju-do Province, South Korea. It may be administered by the local authorities in Seogwipo. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try visiting this website for leads.
Wonang Falls resides in the Topyeong-dong District on the northern outskirts of Seogwipo-si.
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, in our example, we were coming from Cheonjeyeon Falls (천제연폭포), which was near Jungmun-dong, so with that as our starting point (출발), we set up 원앙폭포 (Wonang Falls) as the destination (도착).
This route took us about 40 minutes to go the 19km distance (though Kakao Map says it should take 30 minutes).
Coming from Seogwipo City, it should take about 16 minutes to go the 9km distance.
Finally, coming from Jeju-si City, it should take about 50 minutes to go the 33km distance.
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