Chilbo (Chilbosan in Korean) is a mountain area in North Hamgyong province, one of the 5 celebrated mountains of Korea. There are a million stories about the area and the rock formations, which guides are happy to share with tourists. Many of these stories have special charm so that some tourists have nominated Mt.Chilbo to be "the sexiest mountain of Korea".
In 2000 Mt.Chilbo was included into UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List. The Mt. Chilbo Mountains embrace 700m to 1103m mountains forming a middle-altitudinal landscape. Mount Chilbo holds enormous cultural heritage, notably through the Kaesim Temple with its thousand year old history (built in 826), and ten other State Natural Monuments.
The name "Chilbo" translates as seven treasures, stemming from the legend that Chilbo has seven treasures buried in it. It is scattered with beautifully-shaped rocks, resembling images that earns names such as the General rock, Marriage rock, and the Rabbit and Tortoise rock. The mountain, covering 250 square kilometers of area, is divided into Inner Chilbo, Outer Chilbo and Sea Chilbo boasting of waterfalls, fantastic rocks, thick forests and sea sceneries. Chilbo is particularly noted for its views when covered in snow.
The Mt.Chilbo is called the "Mt.Kumgang of North Hamgyong Province". Amongst the main attractions apart from the views is the Kaesim Temple, dating from the 9th century.
In July 2014 Mt. Chilbo was registered as an international biosphere reserve at the 26th meeting of the UNESCO International Coordinating Council of the Man and Biosphere Program, the fourth of its kind after the registration of Mts. Paektu, Myohyang and Kuwol. This biosphere reserve covers an area of 50,340 hectares with its highest elevation above sea level being 1,103m and lowest at 13m.
Mt. Chilbo located 565 km from Pyongyang. There are three major ways to get here:
This area stretches to the inland region of the Mt.Chilbo. The towering peaks are covered with pine trees viewed like green carpets and multi-farious rocks. Inner Chilbo is subdivided in districts of Kaesim Temple, Sangmae Peak, Naewon and Isonam.
430m southeast of Kaesim Temple is a pergola commanding a fine view. Literally known as "ascending to heaven", the pavilion is referred to a legend that fairies who visited the Mt.Chilbo and bathed in the Kuryong Pool, danced and ascended to heaven. All interesting sights of Inner Chilbo can be viewed from this pavilion either directly or via available free telescope.
The Kaesim Temple is situated in the Mt.Pothak, central part of Inner Chilbo. First built in 826 in Palhae dynasty, it was rebuilt in 1377 in Koryo dynasty and repaired several times in Li dynasty. It consists of Taeung Hall, Manse Pavilion, Simgom Hall, Unghyang Pavilion, Kwanum Hall and Sansin Pavilion. Even though the DPR Korea is an atheist country all ancient buddhist temples are preserved and kept for future generations.
Taeung Hall has five Buddhist images, seven pictures of Arahata, wooden bells with clappers. The lion-shaped wooden motar attracts the viewers. In Manse Pavilion there is a bronze bell which was built in 1764. Beside the temple there is a 600-year old tasty chestnut tree.
3. Piano Rock
Outer Chilbo extends to the route between Inner Chilbo and Sea Chilbo. The outer Chilbo is higher than Inner Chilbo. It offers skyscraping peaks, precipitous rocks, sheer cliffs, cascades, pools and fords. It is subdivided in districts of Jangsu Peak, Manmulsang, Rojok Peak, Tok Valley and Kangson Gate.
The Pavilion is located 400m above sea level and offers a panoramic view of Manmulsang and and Joyak Rock in the center of Outer Chilbo. There is a telescope in the Pavilion.
This area stretches for 40km from the Musu Plain in the south to the Orang Plain in the north. Sea Chilbo is a continuation of sheer cliffs, queer-shaped rocks washed and worn by the sea and sand beaches. It offers mysterious islets and rocks on the sea, green pine trees emitting the smell of resin and white-crested waves. One of the best views of the Mt. Chilbo can be enjoyed from a boat.
Sea Chilbo is subdivided in districts of Sol Islet, Chaehwa Peak and Takgochi.
One of the main attractions of Mt.Chilbo is a Home Stay with regular Korean family living in a private cottage in a village of about 20 houses. The two-storey homestay accommodations have running water (cold water only), an electricity supply and televisions in every living room.
The Home Stay village is our base camp in Mt. Chilbo, it is located at the shore of Sea Chilbo. It is a unique opportunity to mix with North Koreans who are not guides and wander freely around the homestay village. It is the only place in the DPRK where foreign tourists (except for Americans, who are allowed to visit during the day but cannot stay for the night. They can spend the night in a hotel in Outer Chilbo) can experience Home Stay. It is advised to present local hosts with a small gift such as snacks, cigarettes and soju, a potent local liquor traditionally made of rice, wheat or barley.
Kim Jong-il’s visit the opening of the Mt Chilbo Homestay in 2006 when he stayed 2 nights in the guest room of one of the cottages. You still can see and stay in the same room (in house 16), which hasn't been redecorated since his stay.
While in Home Stay there are many things you can enjoy:
Orang is a small town which hosts Orang airport (chilbo airport) - a gateway to Mt.Chilbo (2 h drive to South) and Free Economic Zone Rason (3 h drive to North) via chilbo city. Usually tourists get to Mt.Chilbo via Orang either driving from Rason or flying in from Pyongyang.
The Mt.Chilbo offers many specialities. Among them pine mushroom is the first recommended. There are tens of species of muchrooms growing in Korea, but the pine mushroom of the Mt.Chilbo is the "king" of mushrooms. The tasty and nutritious pine mushroom contains lots of protein, fat, mineral matters and vitamins.
In Chilbo area there are several accommodation options:
We have group and individual tours visitng Mt.Chilbo. Drop us a message to check what options are available for you: firstname.lastname@example.org
Other Korean Mountains
There are five celebrated mountains in Korea, and you can check out other four: