December 16, 2023

Explore Seoul: A City of Over 100 Mountains, a 1,200m Wide River, and 5 Royal Palaces


So, have you ever had a chat with foreigners who've lived in Korea for quite a while? While they often laud the safety and the convenience of transportation in Seoul, they inevitably highlight three unique architectural aspects that differentiate the city from others. These are: its embrace of nature, the colossal Han River, and the enchanting blend of tradition and modernity.

1. Mountains within a Metropolis:

This is probably unimaginable for someone from New York, Paris, or even Tokyo: a city with a mountain right in the center! Seoul boasts numerous mountains – from the central Namsan Mountain to the magnificent Bukhansan and Dobongsan peaks. What's more intriguing? You can access virtually any of these mountains from the heart of Seoul within 30 minutes to an hour using public transport.

Although popular mountains like Bukhansan and Gwanaksan are always recommended, there are other unique ways to appreciate these peaks, especially for those who aren't mountaineering enthusiasts. 


First up: the Seoul City Tour Bus to Namsan. Since regular vehicles can't ascend near Namsan's summit, this bus offers a scenic, relaxed route up. And the nighttime view of Seoul from the peak? Absolutely breathtaking.


Alternatively, you can opt for a cable car. Perfect for those who prefer a more laid-back journey up.

Bukak Skyway Drive

For a more personal recommendation: the Bukak Skyway Drive, which winds up to the peak of Bugaksan Mountain. The view of Seoul from Bukak Palgakjeong is magical. And while public transport doesn't service this route, a taxi ride is totally worth it!

Just off the Bukak Skyway, there's the Gilsangsa Temple. Formerly an elite bar catering to government officials, it's now a serene temple. The irony? Rooms that once buzzed with covert politics now serve as meditation spaces.

2. The Vast Han River:

While cities like London have the Thames and Paris has the Seine, neither compares to the breadth of Seoul's Han River. Spanning a whopping 1,200 meters, it’s not just a river; it’s a leisure hub. Foreigners and locals alike frequent the parks, indulge in sports, or just lay back with a beer and ramen from park-side convenience stores.

If you're looking for a place to start, Banpo Hangang Park and Yeouido Hangang Park are top picks. And don't miss out on the Banpo Bridge, home to the world's longest Moonlight Rainbow Fountain – a sight that promises awe.

3. A Dance Between the Past and the Present:

Five palaces right in Seoul's heart. Let that sink in. Amongst global capitals, only Seoul can make this claim. These aren't just historic remnants; they're living legacies. While first-timers often marvel at Gyeongbokgung Palace, the real charm lies in exploring all five, each with its distinct flavor and setting.

Take, for instance, Deoksugung Palace, nestled in the city's hub, flaunting a picturesque stone wall road. Or Changdeokgung Palace and Changgyeonggung Palace, offering a serene experience with their lush forests.

In wrapping up, these three facets truly capture Seoul's essence. If Korea's on your travel list, ensure you explore its peaks, relish the Han River's expanse, and immerse yourself in its historic palaces. Only then will you have truly experienced Seoul.

For those interested in exploring more of what Seoul has to offer:

- Considering touring Namsan Mountain? Check out the Seoul City Tour Bus Info and the Namsan Cable Car Info.

- Need guidance on using taxis efficiently in Seoul? Dive into our article: What apps can foreign travelers use in Korea?

- Captivated by Korea's breathtaking autumn landscapes? Discover the best spots in our guide: Top 15 Autumn Leaves Spots in Seoul 2023: Where Did Everyone Search the Most?

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