Guides + Tips Winter in Korea

Inje Birch Forest: A Winter Paradise Unveiled

It’s hard to fathom that it took me so long to seize the opportunity to explore the renowned birch forest in Inje-gun. After enduring numerous chilly winters in Korea, I can finally cross off “visiting the illustrious Inje Birch Forest” from my bucket list. In this article, I’m excited to recount my personal experience and provide valuable tips to help you maximize your visit to the forest, ensuring you savor the winter season in Korea to its absolute fullest!

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    Location of Inje Birch Forest:

    Situated in the charming small town of Wondaeri within the Inje District of Gangwon Province, Inje Birch Forest (인제자작나무숲) is a natural woodland that thrives in an area renowned for its abundant snowfall. If you’ve stumbled upon captivating images of birch tree clusters tucked in a blanket of splendid white snow with the hashtag or geotag ‘Wondaeri Birch Forest’, rest assured that they are from the very same location—Inje Birch Forest. The name is used interchangeably, referring to this captivating natural wonder.

    What to Expect at Inje Birch Forest during Winter:

    Following a devastating fire over 50 years ago, the government transformed this expansive 138-hectare land into the captivating Inje Birch Forest, which opened its doors to the public in 2012. Throughout the year, the forest boasts the beauty of over 700,000 birch trees, but it is during winter that its allure reaches unparalleled heights.

    Over time, a multitude of wintry images captured within the forest have circulated across the internet, showcasing the elegant birch trees standing tall, adorned with a fresh layer of pristine white snow. The pale bark of these trees forms a striking contrast against the winter backdrop, offering a visual spectacle that captivates all who behold it.

    Among these enchanting scenes of the snow-covered forest, a particular image has taken the internet by storm—an alluring tipi crafted from cut birch trunks, perfectly positioned on the snowy ground. This conical wooden tent has become a sensation, attracting visitors to seek out its location within the Inje Birch Forest. Embark on the hiking trail that leads to the tipi, and relish the sense of accomplishment that comes with marking your visit to this extraordinary forest.

    Weather and Ideal Time to Experience the Breathtaking Winter Scenes:

    Winter in Gangwon-do typically spans from December to March. The weather during this time is cold and snowy, creating the perfect ambiance for a winter adventure. The average temperature ranges from -5°C to -10°C (23°F to 14°F), so make sure to dress warmly and wear appropriate winter gear. 

    For those seeking the awe-inspiring sight of Inje Birch Forest adorned in a thick, velvety layer of snow, January offers the highest probability. It coincides with the peak of the ski season in Korea, providing an opportunity to combine winter activities with forest exploration. In January, it is common to witness an extended period of snowfall, with consecutive days or even weeks of snow blanketing the forest. The snow-covered ground in the forest tends to last until the end of February, and sometimes even longer, contingent upon the prevailing weather conditions.

    Getting to Inje Birch Forest from Seoul:

    There are several transportation options available for reaching the birch forest, including driving, public transport, or booking a package tour.

    By Car:

    Traveling by car is often the fastest and most convenient method. The journey from the center of Seoul typically takes around 2 hours. Parking lots are conveniently located near the forest entrance. However, it’s important to note that parking spaces can be limited, especially during the peak winter season and weekends. To ensure a parking spot, it is advisable to arrive early in the morning or plan your visit on weekdays.

    If you’re interested in renting a car for the trip, consider the following options:

    Public Transportation:

    To reach Inje Birch Forest using public transportation from Seoul, follow these steps:

    • Start by taking the bus from Dong Seoul Bus Terminal to Inje Intercity Bus Terminal. The bus ride typically takes around 2 hours and costs approximately 13,000 KRW.
    • From Inje bus terminal, it is recommended to take a taxi to the forest, which will take around 20 minutes and cost approximately 20,000 won.
    • When it’s time to return to Seoul, take a taxi from the forest to the intercity bus terminal, and then board the intercity bus heading back to Seoul.
    • Instead of waiting at the forest entrance for a taxi, I recommend waiting at the rest area, which is conveniently located nearby. This rest area offers a few cafes and restaurants, providing a comfortable place to relax while waiting for a taxi.

    Book a Tour:

    Booking a tour is often the easiest and potentially cost-effective option. Consider the following platforms for tours to Inje Birch Forest:

    Planning Your Winter Trip to Inje Birch Forest

    Inje Birch Forest offers a truly magical experience during winter and is certainly worth a visit. However, before making plans for your next winter trip to the forest, there are important facts to keep in mind:

    Operation Day and Hours:

    • Inje Birch Forest is closed every Monday and Tuesday, except when these days coincide with national holidays.
    • Opening hours: Summer 09:00 AM – 03:00 PM / Winter 09:00 AM – 02:00 PM
    • During winter (November to February), the entrance closes as early as 2:00 PM.

    Expect a Long Hike:

    Steep Road to the Birch Cluster

    • The birch clusters and the tipi photo spot are located over 4 km from the parking lot.
    • The trail includes numerous steep dips and rises, so be prepared for at least an hour and a half of trekking.
    • If you choose the Jeongwon Forest trail (원정임도), note that there are no restroom facilities along the 3.2 km course until you reach the cluster.
    • Wear appropriate footwear to keep your feet warm during the long hike.

    Upon Entering:

    • Entry without a pair of crampons (traction apparatus for snow/ice climbing) strapped on both feet is not permitted. Crampons for hiking can be purchased on-site.
    • You may be asked to register at the information office upon entering the forest. Leave your name and phone number for emergency or fire safety purposes.

    Expect the Unexpected:

    • Access to Wondae-ri Birch Forest may be restricted due to sudden climate changes or unforeseen circumstances.
    • In such cases, consider alternative spots like Mt. Seorak or Maebawi Ice Wall to make up for your winter excursion in Inje.

    That brings us to the end of this comprehensive guide, designed to assist you in planning your trip to Inje Birch Forest during the winter season. Whether you have a trip already scheduled or you’re simply searching for an amazing winter destination in Korea, you now have a clear understanding of what to anticipate. I hope you have a truly fantastic time at the forest and create wonderful memories during your visit!

    Gallery: More Winter Shots From Inje Birch Forest

    Access Map: 

    Quick Info About Inje Birch Forest:

    Forest Address: 강원 인제군 인제읍 자작나무숲길 760 자작나무숲 안내소
    Naver Map: Link
    Admission Fee: None
    Website: 원대리 자작나무 숲

    Jajak Namu Rest Area
    Naver Map: Link

    Parking Area:
    Naver Map: Link

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