Tips to view the azaleas in Hapcheon Hwangmaesan, South Korea

Image: Hapcehon-gun
Image: Hapcehon-gun

Tips to view the azaleas in Hapcheon Hwangmaesan, South Korea

haps Korea Magazine

Hapcheon Hwangmaesan in Gyeongnam province is one of the top places in the country to view azaleas each spring.

With an elevation of 750m to 1,110m above sea level, it is 5˚C lower than the city area, so you can enjoy the bright spring energy around the 21-square-kilometer region.

Why was the royal azalea colony formed on Mt. Hwangmaesan?

In 1984, as the government’s livestock promotion policy, a large-scale ranch covering 180ha (hectare) at the entrance of Mt. Hwangmaesan was built. Dairy cows and sheep raised here ate the surrounding grass, leaving only the poisonous azaleas, and naturally, a large-scale azalea colony was formed. 

If you walk along the royal azaleas visible between the royal azaleas and the silver grass (tourist resting place) to the 4 colonies, you can feel the time of spring with the traces of blooming and withering flowers left by Mt. Hwangmaesan.

Where is the prettiest place to see azaleas?

There is a popular place where people wait for the sun to rise after installing expensive equipment even before dawn. It is at the part of the road from Colony 1 to Colony 2, where a new photo observatory deck was installed. 

Introduced in the Winter Olympics Korea’s Four Seasons Spring, this is the so-called favorite place visited by photographers from all over the country. As rumored that a lot of works submitted for the grand prize come from this place, the moment when the rising sun and azaleas cover the world in red light explains why there are no empty seats on the photo observatory deck before 6 a.m. 

Researcher Park Sang-yong designed the observation deck in the most popular space after understanding the movement of visitors to Mt. Hwangmaesan for three years and completed it before the azalea blooming season this spring.

In addition, the summit shelter deck near the summit parking lot was designed and completed by the officials in charge to provide a space for more visitors to enjoy the whole of Mt. Hwangmaesan comfortably.

What kind of things can you enjoy during the azalea blooming period, when the festival is canceled?

There is an interpretive guide program that allows you to tour Hwangmaesan Mountain while listening to the guides of forest commentators, such as the history of Hwangmaesan County Park and the origins of native plant species.

The docent tour, which takes about an hour, starts on April 22 and runs until May 21, the flowering period of azaleas though it is closed on Sundays and Mondays. Anyone planning to visit Mt. Hwangmaesan can apply on a first-come, first-served basis. 

It is held every 30 minutes from 9:00 am to 15:00 (excluding lunch break from 12:00 to 1:00). Hearing all the charms of Mt. Hwangmaesan, such as the difference between azaleas and azaleas, and the meaning of the name of the sycamore tree, you will soon become an expert on Mt. Hwangmaesan, though the service is only in Korean.

The Nanum cart tour lets people with disabilities also ride an electric cart and travel around the expansive Hwangmaesan County Park.

The tour, which takes about 40 minutes during the azalea blooming period (May 2 – May 20), starts with the summit sharing shelter deck, Hwangmae Garden, Starlight Hill, and peony colony. It is a course that goes back to the summit sharing shelter deck after passing through the azalea altar and can only be used by a small group of 7 people or less. 

It is closed on public holidays such as weekends and may be canceled in case of rain. The cart experience will be held 5 times a day at 9:30, 10:30, 1:30, 14:30, and 15:30. 

You can participate after making a reservation on the website of Hwangmaesan County Park on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Check out the local agricultural products market, delicious agricultural products grown at the foot of Mt. Hwangmae in Hapcheon.

The agricultural products direct market in Hapcheon is open from April 30 to May 22, near the summit parking lot. Although the azalea festival has been canceled, it is a unique local food store that only opens during the azalea blooming season, which is expected to attract many tourists along with the lifting of social distancing. You can meet agricultural products produced at the foot of Mt. Hwangmae in spring.

Azaleas in Hwangmaesan are in full bloom in the first week of May. The first and second weeks of the upcoming Family Month are the best times to see the azaleas.

It is not easy to connect by phone to inquiries about the blooming status, so you can refer to the pictures of the blooming status of azaleas uploaded daily to the Hwangmaesan County Park website. There are many visitors on weekends and public holidays, so if you don’t come before 7 am, cars around the summit parking lot will be lined down the road. 

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