Hiking in Bukhansan National Park was easily one of the most rewarding things I have ever done in my life. Maybe it was just something I needed to do-get outside my apartment (or myself?) and revel in some natural beauty, but I think that anyone who is visiting Seoul should make it a priority to visit Bukhansan.
I mean, just look at these views…
Bonus: Because Koreans are such avid hikers, they’ll bring every spare piece of equipment they have (and they have a lot), which makes for a great laugh until you realize most of them can out-hike you and it begins to rain and they laugh at YOU for not having anything but a tank top, shorts, water, and a camera while they were more than adequately prepared. I got my reality check, just sayin’.
Take the subway to Gupabal station, exit 1. After exiting, turn around and walk to the bus stop (about 25 ft.) for the #704 bus. Take this bus for 6 stops, until you reach the Bukhansanseong (Bukhansan Fortress 북한산성) stop.
After exiting the #704 bus, you’ll turn left and walk towards Bukhansan National Park (you’ll see the mountains.) At the first street you come to, turn right (again, towards mountains) and follow that street until it ends. You’ll see the beginning of three trailheads. The trail on the left is what we took to climb both peaks.
This trail will take you around the base of the mountain for about 3-5 minutes before beginning to ascend. Most of the trail is built out of stones that have been fit together to form a sort of staircase, but there are a few places (2-3) that you’ll have to hold on to a steal cable to pull yourself up some rock formations and peaks if you take this route.
***Note: If you’re afraid of heights, you can still climb very far and see some amazing views before you have to actually pull yourself up a rocky peak.
After climbing to Wonhyobong Peak, you’ll descend about 2.2 km (follow signs for Baegundae Peak) before beginning another ascent to Baegundae Peak.
Once you reach Baegundae Peak, there are three routes to get down the mountain and signs that tell you how long each trail will take. We took the shorter trail, which was still steep but took us to Baegundae’s Trailhead and Doseonsa Temple.
Total Time: 5-5 1/2 hours, including some fairly lengthy breaks to take in the views.
Directions to Bukhansan National Park:
How I got there: We exited Gupabal Subway Station on Line 3, Exit 1, then took the #704 bus 6 stops to Bukhansanseong (Bukhansan Fortress 북한산성).
How I got back: From the trailhead to Baegundae Peak, you can visit Doseonsa Temple or several coffee/tourist shops. From here we took a taxi (for 1,000 KRW each) to the Bus Station (the taxi drops you across the street).We then took Bus #120 to Suyu Subway Station on Line 4, Exit #3, which was 11 stops. All of the stops were announced in English, so it was very easy.
****Note: If you only wanted to climb Baegundae Peak (about 2-2 ½ hours), the second option would be the best route
Fees, Times, and Information for Bukhansan National Park:
Times: Bukhansan is one of the most popular National Parks in the whole world, per square kilometer, but so many people visit it that the park has seen some general wear and tear from all the tourism. Thus, Bukhansan National Park is sometimes closed to visitors from February-early May and November-December. Call the Park or check out the website (see below) if you want to hike during these times.
Don’t Go: On or around holidays. If you really like seclusion, it’s best to go during a week day, although we went on a Sunday around noon and didn’t feel too crowded.
Telephone: 82-31-873-2791 ext. 2
Things to Bring With You:
Water.My biggest regret on this trip was that I felt dehydrated for the second half of it. Bring 2-3 water bottles with you per person if you plan on being gone more than 2 or 3 hours. (That said, I also just drink lots of water in general and I hiked in July…)
Food. There are places to purchase snacks and gimbap for decent prices at the bottom of the mountain/trails-but there is not any along the trails themselves. Safety first!
Good shoes. The trails are fairly steep and your feet will hurt afterwards. Sandals are not an option, even if they’re ‘hiking’ sandals.
A camera. No matter what your photography skills, you’ll want to take some of those sights back with you. That said, don’t spend the entire time taking selfies. Be in the moment!
Optional: umbrella, ponchos, a blanket for sleeping (When in Korea, do as the Koreans do and nap on the trail!), a walking stick, hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses. In all honesty I like to travel with as little as possible, but it DID rain on us and I wished we had brought ponchos to cover our backpacks/cameras.
Helpful Links/Websites before visiting Bukhansan National Park:
That’s it! Are you going to brave Bukhansan National Park anytime soon? Share your experience and thoughts below!