Azalea flowers across Cheonjusan mountain
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Hiking Cheonjusan Mountain during Azalea Season

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Hiking Cheonjusan Mountain in Changwon was one of my favourite things to do during spring in Korea. It’s located in the south of the country next to the naval town of Jinhae and is a favourite hiking destination for one specific reason.

Each year for 2-3 weeks during spring, the entire mountain is covered in bright pink and purple azaleas! They don’t last long so if you want to see this natural floral phenomenon, you should plan accordingly.

If you’re not familiar with azaleas, they are a specific type of flower that blooms once a year. They are a shrub that is part of the genus Rhododendron and regularly brings in crowds who want to see the bright-coloured flowers. They’re the perfect addition to an already exciting trail and are one that should be experienced by all outdoor enthusiasts.

If you want to experience different hikes that also showcase these pretty flowers in full bloom, why not try visiting Goryeosan Mountain during the spring season too? It’s another one of Korea’s favourite mountains that turns purple during the azalea season!

Want to spend an extended time in Korea? Check out how to get a working holiday visa. Plus, after arrival let me show you how to get set up as an expat.

Country:South Korea (Republic of Korea)
Currency:South Korean Won / KRW
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Wooden steps that go up the hiking trail
Some wooden stairs leading up the trail
A sign along the trail of Cheonjusan Mountain
A sign of the hiking trails that lead up the mountain

Cheonjusan Hike Stats

Height of the peak:

638.8m

Time to complete:

2 hours to the peak / 4 hours return

The Cheonjusan Mountain hike is relatively short compared to most hikes in Busan I’ve completed. It’s easy for most people’s abilities as it is a well-maintained trail that is clearly marked and isn’t a high elevation. There are a few different trails to choose from on the mountain but only one of them reaches the azalea field.

Luckily for you, there are multiple places to stop and admire the stunning views as this trail has numerous observation decks. There are 4 – 5 lookout points for you to take advantage of, all giving you a slightly different sight over Changwon, Jinhae and the surrounding mountains.

One of the best ways to stay on the right path is to use a hiking navigation app. My favourite one is AllTrails and I use them for every hike I do. The best way to stay connected and use the app during your trip is to have a SIM card you can use in Korea. Airalo offers eSIMS for modern modern phones.

If your phone is older or not eSIM compatible you can get a physical SIM here instead.


A signpost along the trail
A signpost showing directions of the trail

Spending some time in my favourite Korean city, Busan? Check out these other hikes:


A path along the tall azalea shrub forest on Cheonjusan Mountain
A path through the tall azalea shrubs

How to get to Cheonjusan Mountain

Location: Gyeongnam Uichang-gu, Changwon-si Dongjeong-dong 917

Car

The hike is located northwest of Changwon. It is best reached by car and there is a public car park available for use. It does fill up early in the spring and summer seasons so arrive early to guarantee a space.

If you don’t have access to your own vehicle, you can rent a car here.

Make sure to have your international driving permit from your home country with you, otherwise, you won’t be able to rent. If you need help renting a car as a foreigner in Korea, check out this post.

Public Transport

From Busan, you can reach the Cheonjusan Mountain hike by catching the bus from Dongnae Intercity Bus Station. This will take 47 minutes and you will need to get off at the Masan Intercity Bus Terminal.

Get on either the bus 20, 27, 24, 32 or 21 at the 합성동 stop. Ride the bus for roughly 20 minutes (13 stops) and get off at the Cheonjuam bus stop. You will then only have to walk for 4 minutes before reaching your destination.

If you plan on using public transport, don’t forget to take and top up your T Money card!

If you’re unsure what to pack for a typical day hike, I can send you a packing list below:


An observation deck and azalea flowers
An observation deck and azalea flowers

What to Expect on the Cheonjusan Hike

The first half of the hike

You’ll notice you’re heading up a steep hill from the main road before you officially reach the trail. You’ll reach the trailhead which is on the edge of a forest and the path will flatten out with regard to incline.

The path through the first section of the forest will be easy to follow as it has ropes and a small fence to keep you on the right track. The trail has a lot of rocky terrains mixed in with long winding stairs built into the hillside. Some sections are significantly steeper than others and you’ll notice that much of the trail has stairs.

You’ll be inside the forest for just under one hour until you reach a clearing. This clearing has multiple paths leading away from a large sign located in the centre. The sign shows the direction you would need to take to reach the azalea fields and also shows you the route of each other trail.

You’ll take the left path from the sign which takes you back into the forest and up a gradual incline. Within 15 minutes you’ll start to see some purple petals poking through the bushes (assuming you’re hiking Cheonjusan Mountain during the azalea season).

During the rest of the year, you will just see green where the azalea plants are.


The view of Changwon from Cheonjusan Mountain
Some old azalea flowers with a view of Changwon in the background

The azalea and the second half of the hike

As you progress along the trail you’ll see more and more azalea flowers in a bright pink-purple hue. They cover the entire side of the mountain which is an unusual, but beautiful sight to see.

As you make your way through the final stretch of forest you’ll get to the first great view of the hike. You’ll be able to see across much of Changwon, and Jinhae and even see as far as the ocean on a clear day. If you look in the northern direction you’ll see many more mountains that Korea is covered in.

As you walk through the first azalea field you’ll get to see a few observation decks that give you different views across the valley. You’ll find that each deck takes you up some steps to the next level and you will be constantly surrounded by the pink shrubs.

You’ll keep climbing up through the levels until you reach a large helicopter pad. Many people use this as a rest stop before heading up the final few feet to the peak.

At the peak, there is a summit rock but there are often long lines to get a photo with it.


Cheonjusan view of Changwon and the mountains
Azaleas on the mountain

When to visit?

Since this hike is relatively easy, it can be completed at any time of year. Weatherwise, I would say that spring or autumn are the two best seasons as it is neither too hot nor too cold.

The best season to visit overall (in my humble opinion) is mid-spring when the azalea flowers are in full bloom.

It’s one of the busiest periods of the year when locals flock to enjoy this short, but beautiful, phenomenon.

The azalea flowers on the Cheonjusan trail tend to last just 2 – 3 weeks in late April before returning back to their standard green hue for the rest of the year.

If you decide to travel between July and August (the summer rainy season), you will likely be faced with extremely hot and humid weather and potential downpours. These are not the ideal hiking conditions.

Why not check out these other spring favourites?


fresh azaleas with mountain views from just below the peak of Cheonjusan
Bright and fresh azaleas with mountain views from just below the peak of Cheonjusan

Want to hike throughout Korea? Check out my favourite hikes!

Don’t forget to get travel insurance to cover you if something bad happens. One company I have personal experience with is Safety Wing. Not everyone needs the same coverage, so make sure you get a personalised quote that suits you and your trip plans.

Some older azaleas coming to the end of their springtime life on Cheonjusan mountain
Some older azaleas coming to the end of their springtime life on the mountain

Final thoughts on hiking Cheonjusan for the azaleas

As I previously mentioned, this is one of my favourite hikes to enjoy during the Korean spring season. It’s a short hike for high reward and even if you don’t happen to make it for the azaleas, this hike still has really rewarding views during the other 3 seasons.

Have you hiked Cheonjusan Mountain? How did you like it?

Need help planning your trip?

Check out how to plan a trip abroad & see my travel resources for more.

WayAway – Great for booking flights. They even have a cashback feature for those who fly frequently.
Skyscanner – A comprehensive comparison website showing where to purchase flights.
HostelWorld – The biggest selection of hostels & sociable accommodations.
Booking.com – The largest collection of accommodations worldwide.

Safety Wing – A travel insurance brand for long-term travellers and nomads.

Airalo – An eSIM card company that lets you stay connected during your trip.
Wise – Perfect for transferring foreign currencies.
iVisa – For applying for tourist and visitor visas.

Viator – Great for finding tours and activities worldwide.
Get Your Guide – Another company for finding activities.
Klook – Have some of the best activity deals in Asia.

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