1. While Koreans tend to cover their skin outdoors, you won’t offend anyone by wearing shorts and a tee in hot weather. But slather on the sunscreen; the country is at the same latitude as California.
2. Pack light. Most trails have plenty of ups and downs, making short distances on a map look deceptively easy.
3. Before setting out on the trail, commit “Anyong haseyo!” to memory. Koreans can be reserved, but a friendly hello will often break the ice (and it might earn you a shot of soju).
4. Pack your hiking gear and clothing from home as outdoor equipment is much more expensive in Korea. (But if you do forget something, you’ll be able to find it easily.)
5. Spending a night in a mountain shelter is the best way to connect with local hikers, but book ahead; popular huts fill quickly. (reservation.knps.or.kr/foreigner)
6. Remember to bring a full water bottle or hydration pack, even on short hikes. (See tip 2.)
7. As tempting as it may be, don’t swim in the mountain streams. National park rules only allow hands and feet to be submerged.
8. You can top up your water bottles and buy basic foods like noodles and canned fish at most mountain huts, but you’ll need a camp stove to cook. Don’t worry if you are without; others will help by loaning theirs. (You can bring a burner on the flight in your checked luggage, but you have to buy the gas canister after arrival.)
9. There are no mattresses or beds at mountain shelters, so pack an inflatable air mattress. There’s no need for a sleeping bag, though, as blankets can be rented.
10. Limit weight in your pack by leaving all but basic toiletries behind. (There are no showers at the shelters.) But be sure to bring earplugs in case of operatic snoring.