Sanbangsan and Songaksan are sister mountains in Jeju, spectators of each other—one onlooking from the south and the other watching from the northeast.
I planned to hike both mountains in one day. But I took up too much time soaking in the beauty of Songaksan and its surroundings that I ran out of time for Sanbangsan. Nonetheless, I was able to make a visit and catch the sunset from a cafe at Sanbangsan.
Sagye Beach extends between the sister mountains and serves as a perfect stopover with its lovely coast dotted by quaint coffee shops and restaurants. On my way from Songaksan, I spontaneously got off at a bus stop near Sagye Beach and walked around for a bit. The urge to walk inside one of the cafes was strong, but I decided to just wait till I get to Sanbangsan and have my cup of coffee there.
In the meantime, I walked along the brown-sand beach that turns a beautiful bronze at sunset. The sun was dipping somewhere behind Songaksan.
It was a cold day yet I decided to take my shoes off and walk barefoot. The chills aside, Sagye Beach was fine and soft, a little wet, beneath my feet.
After a while, I settled and sat on a fairly dry rock in a rocky part of the shore, where there were little streams of water running through moss-covered rocks. I dipped my feet in the shallow running water, so soothing. The cold never bothered me anyway—it actually gave a unique kind of relief. It doesn’t matter to me what season it is, be it even winter, I love being by the beach.
Sunset walk on Sagyenam-ro to Sanbangsan
Once I was satisfied, I deliberated on whether I should take the bus or try walking to Sanbangsan. It didn’t take me long to make the decision. I got back on foot and ready to explore the neighborhoods between Sagye Beach and Sanbangsan.
It wasn’t a short walk, but it wasn’t so bad either. Sagyenam-ro was as calm and amiable as the houses and shops I passed by. Very light traffic. Small cafes and quaint pensions. And then, the imposing dome that is Sanbangsan always present on the horizon—making it seem so close than it actually is. The walk took me over 20 minutes, but I didn’t even notice the time.
I reached Sanbangsan around a little before 6 PM; it was still bright but already dusky. I couldn’t hike anymore because admission to the trail is only until 5 PM (winter hours). Unlike Songaksan, you need to pay a small admission fee to proceed: 1,000 – 2,500 KRW depending on the course.
I wanted to hike to the top of Sanbangsan. Jeju Tourism says it’s possible to hike to the summit but so far, I haven’t found any other detailed traveler stories about climbing to the top. I guess I’ll have to experience it for myself and share information here next time.
The most popular course at Sanbangsan is visiting Bomunsa Temple and Gwangmyeongsa Temple at the bottom part of the mountain and then climbing via stairs to Sanbanggulsa Grotto, which is already a nice sightseeing point. There are also popular walking courses around Sanbangsan, and some of the most popular attractions are Yongmeori Coast and a canola flower field that blooms around March–April.
Lazy Box Cafe at Sanbangsan
As for me, during this visit, all I could do was to take in the views from the bottom. At the foot of Sanbangsan, near Bomunsa Temple, there is a little strip of restaurants and cafes. Fortunately, a charming artsy cafe was still open—Lazy Box Cafe. It has a view of the coastal town and Songaksan farther ahead.
This cafe is so pretty and cozy, and definitely Instagrammable. There’s a section of shelves of various art and craft items and Jeju souvenirs for sale.
Lazy Box Cafe specializes in homemade pastries, coffee, tea, and fresh juices. So, it’s a perfect stop after you get a full meal from one of the other restaurants/cafes on the strip.
I stayed for around one hour until the cafe closed at 7 PM, during which time it was already dark. The place gets pretty much deserted at this time, and buses also start to get scarce.
In case you missed my Songaksan daybook entry: