From Busan, there are two options:
(1) Take an intercity bus from Nopodong Terminal to Eonyang Terminal and transfer to a local bus for Seongnamsa (25 min)
BUSAN Nopo-dong Terminal => EONYANG Bus Terminal
There are 20 buses per day, running from 06:30 until 21:00
Price: 3,200 won
Journey Time: 40 minutes
(2) Take Busan City Bus #12 from Beomosa Subway Station, Yangsan City Hall, or Dongnae Lotte Department Store. It runs all the
way to Eonyang Terminal, but because it makes frequent stops, it takes longer to get there. Once in Eonyang, you still have to
transfer to a local bus for Seongnamsa.
Price: 2,300 won
Journey Time:90 minutes
Sleeping and Eating
There is a good selection of motels and minbak not far from the Seongnamsa parking lot, where the bus drops hikers. Head down
the main road back towards Eonyang. It’s a 10 minute walk. As usual, bargain with the proprietors. A typical minbak should have
clean, simple rooms for a single person for around 20,000 won (30,000 won for two people). There are a few ratty restaurants and
a row of identical convenience stores in the Seongnamsa parking lot, but not many other choices for food.
Seongnamsa stands just below the main ridge at Gajisan. Though small, the temple complex is one of the most visually satisfying
around, perhaps because of the influence of its residents. The temple is occupied entirely by nuns. Important relics include a
round stone tower, which contains the remains of the temple’s founder, and a 3-tier stone pagoda. If you go there in the evening,
you can witness the prayer ceremony, where dozens of nuns sit together facing the primary prayer hall and chant together as the
light fades from the sky. It happens around 6 PM.
Gajisan (가지산) Hiking Routes
HIKE 1: GAJISAN RIDGE LOOP - 5 hours
Difficulty Rating: 3 - Intermediate
This hike begins at Seongnamsa (temple) and climbs steeply up the hillside to the main ridge. From there, the path goes west past
Ssalbawi, and continues to Gajisan (1,240 m).
The trailhead starts just before you walk into the temple grounds. There’s a road to the right marked with a metal sign and basic
trail map (in Korean). Follow this road past a hilltop monument on the left (you’ll be going away from Seongnamsa and the mountains,
which seems wrong, but it isn’t) until it meets with the trail. There the trail doubles back toward the mountains. The early part
of the trail does not have signs, but it’s fairly easy to stay on the right track as the trail is well-defined most of the time. As
always, look for red, pink, or yellow ribbons tied to trees if you're unsure. At places, the trail crosses a river bed (sometimes
dry, sometimes not). It climbs quite steeply for about 1 hour, at which time you come out onto a dirt utility road near Gwibawi
(1,117 m). Go left (west). The rocky outcropping of Ssalbawi (1,109 m) is an easy 30 minutes further and offers stunning views of
the Eonyang Valley and surrounding peaks. From there it’s gentle 30-40 minute climb to the peak of Gajisan. All of the ridge hiking
is quite easy and can be covered quickly, if necessary. Keep an eye out for colorful snakes (look, don't touch) and mountain toads.
Unmunsan (1,118 m) is about 2 hours further west from Gajisan.
On the return trip, a heavily-eroded path leads south toward Seongnam Tunnel for about one hour. At the fork, one trail continues
south to the tunnel and on to the Southern Yeongnam Alps. It's possible to hike all the way from this point and come out far south
at Pyochungsa (temple) in Miryang, but it's a full-day trek. Take the eastern option instead. Another 50 minutes on the trail brings
you to the paved road, just above the parking lot and Seongnamsa bus stop. This route is popular with Koreans heading up to Gajisan.
It’s well-marked with non-English signs. The entire hike can be accomplished in 4 hours.
HIKE 2: SEONGNAMSA TO UNMUNSA - 5 to 6 hours
Difficulty Rating: not rated
This hike follows the route of Hike 1 to Gajisan peak. From there it continues west to Araetjae Pass and on to Unmunsan (about 2 hours).
Unmunsa (temple) is another 2 hours hike north.