North Seoul Tower (Namsan Tower to some) is one of Korea's most popular tourist destinations and with good reason. The views from the tower observatory are quite stunning; every direction you look shows you a different section of the Seoul metropolis, always contrasted by a mountainous backdrop.
When visiting, you can walk up Namsan Mountain, get a bus, or take a cable car. My recommendation is to get the cable car up and enjoy a leisurely stroll down the mountain on your return. A daytime trip will give you a better view of the surrounding mountains, but visit between 7pm and midnight to see the tower light up in glorious illumination. There are a handful of restaurants at the tower, including a burger bar and the expensive N Grill, which slowly revolves and offers romantic panoramic views of the city as you eat. Booking a table for the latter is a must.
Tickets for the tower itself range from 3,000 to 7000 won. The cable car itself costs 4,800 one-way or 6,000 for a return ticket.
Google map: bit.ly/w7V7aI
A 10-15 minute walk (or a cheap taxi), take Subway Line 4 to Myeongdong Station and leave via exit 3. Take the wide road next to the convenience store and walk straight to the left of the Pacific Hotel. Keep going and you will soon find yourself at the cable car platform. Purchase a ticket on the 3rd floor of the building.
Ingwansan is a 338 metres tall mountain located in the heart of Seoul. A short walk away from the nearest subway station, a brief 15 minute hike will see you encountering Buddhist temples, citywide vistas and a shamanist shrine to boot.
Be sure to pick up some kimbap (김밥 in Korean script) from one of the many small restaurants nearby to devour as a snack upon reaching the summit. Made of white rice and various other ingredients, wrapped together in dried laver seaweed, a kimbap is the perfect reward after a short and sharp climb.
Oh, and don't be surprised if you're offered a soju pick-me-up by one of Korea's numerous elderly hikers!
From Dongnimmum Subway station (Line 3), leave through Exit 2 and take an immediate left. Follow the winding road and you will, after 2-3 minutes walking, come across some steps on the right handside. Climb the steps and you'll find yourself at Ingwansan.
Google map: bit.ly/ziF6hT
It's a "secret" garden (biwon can be translated literally as secret garden) attached to Changdeog-gung palace in central Seoul. The garden used to be strictly off limits for the non-royals, but now it is open to the public to enjoy. The scenery is breathtaking all the year round, but in the autumn, the leaves turn to spectacular colours to the delight of visitors. The place is not too crowded if you time your visit well and can be a great place for quiet thoughts and reflections in the middle of one of the most hectic cities in the world.
www.lifeinkorea.com/Travel2/76; Underground (Subway) line 3, Anguk Station, exit 3, 5 minutes walking
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