Mount Paektu is located in the Chinese and North Korean border and it has become one of the most appealing tourists’ objects in the country. Originally named Baekdu-san or Paektu-san (which means white head mountain), this mountain is the highest and also the most beautiful mountain in the Korean Peninsula and Changbai ranges. In Chinese, it is called Changbai Mountain.
What Makes the Mountain Special?
There are some reasons that make this mountain special. Not only this mountain is popular because of its beauty, but it is also the birthplace of Kim Jong Il, North Korean leader. Basically, there are 5 most popular mountains in Korea but Mount Paektu is given the spotlight because of this fact. In 1942, Kim Jong Il was born in the secret camps (one of them), so it holds a special meaning to the leader as well as the people.
The mountain itself is unique in its own way. It has a very big Crater Lake, named Chon (or Lake of Heaven), on the summit. This is the world’s deepest Crater Lake. Because of it, it is also the coldest one. Chon Crater Lake is the original source of Korean’s two longest rivers, Tumen River (521 kilometres) and Amnok River (803 kilometres).
The place also has its historical stories. The surrounding areas on the mountain are filled with secret camps and historical sites – related to Korean guerrilla war against the Japanese. Before 1945, the Japanese held the Korean Peninsula under their territory until they surrendered in 1945 because of their loss. This has made this mountain an important spot in history. It played a crucial role in the Korean Revolution. Not to mention that it is believed to be a sacred place. In the legend of Korean’s creation, there were 3 mountains that were believed to be the origin of the country – Mount Paektu, Hallasan, and Jirisan.
The Appeal of Paektu
If you are expecting a lot of actions when visiting Paektu Mountain, then be ready to be disappointed. Paektu isn’t that kind of tourist attraction. If you go to Paektu, you will enjoy the natural view and the peaceful atmosphere. Going to the summit can provide a challenge too. But once you get there, you will be pampered with such a breathtaking view.
Keep in mind that it can be super chilly there. The characteristic of the mountain is the cold climate, where winters can last for 8 months. Springs usually begin in May (usually late) where the temperature is around 20 degrees Celsius, max, in summers. The lake is then covered by ice up to June. July and August are the time when the place is cloudy and rainy. Snow begins to cover the area in October. So, the best time to come to Paektu is in September.
You should be prepared with warm clothes because not only this mountain is located in the coldest area in North Korea, but the wind can be harsh. You should be prepared with sunscreen or sun cream, sweater, sunglasses, raincoat, and also hiking or waterproof footwear.
Reaching the Mountain
This mountain is situated in the northwestern area of Samjiyon County, which is bordering with China. This county itself is around 385 kilometres away from Pyongyang. If you want to go to the summit, you can only do it from May to September. The place won’t be accessible during winters. Foreign tourists can go to Paektu Mountain by plane. You can get off at Pyongyang Airport and continue to Samjiyon Airport.
The locals have another alternative to this mountain. They can use the train heading to Hyesan City, which is 67 kilometres away from Samjiyon. From there, they can drive to Paektu.
Mount Paektu sounds quite appealing, huh? If you are going to North Korea for your next holiday, make sure to plan and manage everything from now, including your flights. Cathay Pacific, for instance, can be managed and reserved at Airpaz.