Hiking is a beloved national pastime in South Korea, where mountains cover 70% of the terrain. Seoul is no exception; while it stands as one of East Asia’s most vibrant urban hubs, it also offers a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in nature, with ancient peaks rising amidst its illuminated streets.
Seoul is more than just a bustling metropolis for millions of people; it is a city nestled amidst scenic forested mountains. Whichever direction you cast your gaze, Seoul’s towering skyscrapers harmoniously contrast against the backdrop of gently rolling mountain ranges, where urban life coexists with the allure of nature. Ascend to the summits of these mountains, and you will be treated to stunning panoramic views that unveil the entirety of Seoul.
Seoul has ingeniously blended Western-style hiking with the rich traditions of Korean hiking culture, resulting in a unique hiking tourism experience designed to showcase the city’s allure and the possibility of hiking within the city center. You will be pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to embark on a hiking adventure in and around Seoul. The starting points for most of the city’s premier hiking trails are easily accessible by public transportation. Furthermore, Seoul’s hiking options cater to individuals of varying fitness levels, as long as you have a reliable pair of hiking shoes and appropriate attire for the season.
Rich History, Vibrant Culture
Gangbuk-gu offers a range of unique tourist attractions in Bukhansan and its foothills, including the Seoul Hiking Tourism Center, Bukhan Mountain International Climbing Center and Ui-dong Mountain Culture Hub. In this area, you can immerse yourself in nature while savouring a diverse selection of health-conscious treats, including tofu-based and mountain vegetable cuisine.
Nestled at an elevation of 836.5 meters above sea level on the north side of Seoul, Bukhansan, also known as Bukhan Mountain, stands as a prominent landmark visible from most districts of the metropolis. The name “Bukhansan” translates to “Mountain north of the Han,” signifying its location approximately ten kilometers to the north of the Han River. At its summit, you will encounter Baegundae Terrace at 836.5 meters (2,744 ft), Insubong Peak at 810.5 meters (2,659 ft), and Mangnyeongdae Terrace at 799.5 meters (2,623 ft), giving the mountain the nickname “Samgaksan” or the “three-horned mountain.”
Officially designated as a national park in 1983, Bukhansan is renowned for its rich biodiversity, picturesque landscapes, historic temples and cultural heritage sites. With nearly 5 million annual visitors, it holds the distinction of having the highest visitor density per square meter among national parks, thanks to its easy accessibility, reachable within just one hour using public transportation options such as buses and subways.
November offers the perfect opportunity to admire Seoul’s autumn foliage at its peak. Bukhansan is celebrated for its stunning natural beauty, which takes on unique characteristics with each changing season. Particularly during autumn, the mountain adorns itself with a vibrant tapestry of foliage, drawing visitors from across the city and the country with its breathtaking views. Therefore, hiking is the optimal way to savour the vibrant leaves on Bukhansan. Let’s plan for a K-hiking adventure here!
Following the pandemic, hiking has experienced a resurgence in the city, leading to the enhancement of hiking routes through the addition of new staircases, pavilions, and observation platforms. Moreover,to cater to tourists eager to explore these trails, a new all-in-one hiking resource has emerged – the Seoul Hiking Tourism Center – making it more accessible than ever.
The Seoul Hiking Tourism Center, which began operations in September 2022, serves as a facility designed to provide insights into hiking and tourism in Seoul, offering a range of convenient services tailored to foreign tourists. The center provides the option to rent essential hiking equipment such as boots and clothing to ensure hikers’ safety. It also offers storage facilities for additional clothing and personal belongings. Furthermore, the center features amenities like a lounge area, changing rooms and shower facilities. To enhance the experience for foreign tourists, the center provides multilingual information services in English, Chinese and Japanese, complete with maps and guidebooks.
Conveniently located just a five-minute walk from Bukhansan Ui Station, the Seoul Hiking Tourism Center is your ideal location for embarking on a spontaneous hiking adventure without prior arrangements. However, visitors are encouraged to book hiking clothes and shoes online at least two days in advance to ensure availability in their size.
Nestled along the route to Bukhansan from the Seoul Hiking Tourism Center, the Bukhansan International Climbing Center offers an outdoor rock-climbing experience that prioritises safety and enjoyment. It provides a range of membership options, including monthly and one-day passes, ensuring flexibility for climbers of all levels. Furthermore, the center features an indoor climbing wall, allowing enthusiasts to indulge in their passion regardless of weather conditions.
The outdoor climbing wall boasts an impressive height of 15 meters, while the indoor wall stands at 12 meters, catering to the needs of both expert climbers and those seeking to improve their skills. After an exhilarating climb, visitors can freshen up with convenient on-site shower facilities.
Address: 80, Samyang-ro 173-gil, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul
9:30 a.m – 9:30 p.m, Tuesday – Friday
9:30 a.m – 7:30 p.m, Saturday – Sunday (Closed on Mondays)
Tel: +82-70-4167 7468
Discover the true essence of alpine living where alpine adventures, cultural immersion and community bonding converge within this versatile mountain sanctuary. The premier exhibition pays tribute to Um Hong-gil, the renowned mountaineer who conquered all 16 Himalayan summits, providing a comprehensive alpine experience filled with valuable insights and training. Additionally, visitors can participate in basic mountaineering courses, covering essential aspects such as gear selection and hiking attire, and embark on a captivating virtual reality expedition to the summit of Insubong Peak.
Address: B2, 689-1, Samyang-ro, Gangbuk-gu, Seoul
10:00 a.m – 6:00 p.m (Closed on Mondays)
~ Break from 12:00 p.m – 1:00 p.m ~
Tel: +82-2-994 8848
Gangbuk-gu is positioning Ui-dong as the ultimate basecamp for ‘K-Mountain Tourism,’ building upon the region’s rich legacy. This development creates a space where both locals and tourists can deeply engage with a dynamic fusion of culture, art and adventure.
Dating back to the 1980s and 90s, Ui-dong was once a prominent destination for hiking and membership training (MT), referring to retreats or workshops. However, the neighbourhood has experienced a resurgence, driven by the COVID-19 pandemic’s restrictions on indoor activities. These restrictions have brought outdoor pursuits into the spotlight, capturing the interest of younger Koreans. This revival has witnessed the emergence of trendy cafes and mountain-view hotels, designed to cater to individuals seeking a place to dine or unwind, offering a variety of delightful beverages and desserts.
Ui-dong Family Camping Ground provides both camping and glamping experiences, with the latter option relieving guests from the task of preparing their own camping equipment. This designated area provides raised platforms for tent camping as well as glamping (glamorous camping) amenities, including comfortable beds, refrigerators, fire pits and cooking utensils. Additionally, there is a convenience store, shower facilities and dedicated spaces for cleaning and maintaining camping equipment.
This camping facility offers an affordable pricing structure, with the camping deck priced at 35,000 won and glamping at 95,000 won, which includes a 5,000 won fee for electricity. For safety reasons, campfires and pets are not allowed. If you are in a group of four, you can secure a spot to enjoy the great outdoors with a scenic mountain view.
Reservations can be made through the Interpark ticketing site starting at 2 p.m. on the 10th of each month. Due to its exceptional management, reservations are highly competitive. Additionally, reservations open one day in advance for foreign visitors, and two standard decks are specifically reserved for those who may not be familiar with the competitive Korean ticketing process. When opting for the foreigner’s reservation, don’t forget to bring identification documents for verification.
Address: 28, Samyang-ro 181-gil, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul
Check in : 2:00 p.m / Check-out 11:00 a.m (Closed on Tuesdays)
Tel: +82-2-944 2941
Stay tuned for more from Gangbuk-gu
However, there is more to it. Gangbuk-gu is dedicated to facilitating the seamless inclusion of mountain tourism programmes into the itineraries of foreign tourists. Whether you are embarking on a day trip or planning a refreshing two-day escape, Gangbuk-gu is meticulously designing a well-structured experience that enables you to fully enjoy mountain adventures during your trips.