South Korea – Hiker’s Haven (Seoul Fortress Wall)

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Seoul City view from Haneul Park

I can really go on and on with how amazing South Korea is and still can’t get enough of its beauty.

When I was there the first time, my plans absolutely changed. My itinerary was literally thrown to the bin as I wanted to go to so many places, which are not even on my list and I know I will eventually regret if I don’t go. I told myself there’s no way I can go to all these places given the limited time to spend. But I tried anyhow.

One of the many things I want to do in Korea is to climb and hike the Korean mountains. The exquisite and breathtaking mountain view is one of the unique attractions that Korea offers to travelers apart from the famous sightseeing destinations like palaces, temples, shopping places and themed parks.

Korea is generally a safe place to visit even for female solo travelers and mountains are very safe to hike as most of the national parks are well-maintained and the hiking routes are well-trodden and crowded by a lot of local hikers. I am no professional hiker but I survived my first ever solo hike.

Seoul is unquestionably a modern city, but the people also tried to preserve its tradition and one can witness through its remnants of the fortress wall built many centuries ago.  In 2014, I started my first hiking journey with Seoul Fortress Wall of Bugaksan. Bugaksan is one of the mountains that can be climbed by beginners in the middle of Seoul and is a 342-meter high granite mountain.

It is a one-day hike, so not so bad. The night before, I slept early in preparation for my first hike.

12493955_212077979135837_4224115964570022425_o I got up early, had my breakfast, took the train and then took my first bus ride and headed my way to the park.

(Important Tip: Most buses do not have English Translation, except for major or tourist destination stops, so it’s best for you to print your itinerary with Hangeul so you can refer to your notes vs the bus stop map)

Although I am a self-declared as someone who has no sense of direction, I was able to reached my destination – Waryong Park, where the hiking journey begins.

Follow the signs and trail to Malbawi Information Center where you will need to show your passport and register.

There are 3 possible courses:
Course 1: Malbawi Information Center – Sukjeongmun Gate – Baegakmaru – Changuimun Information Center – Changuimun Gate (2.3 km)
Course 2: Sukjeongmun Information Center – Sukjeongmun Gate – Baegakmaru – Changuimun Information Center – Changuimun Gate (2.2 km)
Course 3: Changuimun Gate – Changuimun Information Center – Baegakmaru – Sukjeongmun Gate – Malbawi Information Center (2.3 km)

So I took Course 1, I presented my passport got myself registered and my visitors ID and started my way.

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Signs to Malbawi Information

The Bugaksan Trail is manned by security guards and you are not allowed to take pictures as the area is close to “Blue House” or the President’s House.

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Seoul Fortress Wall
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Stairs…
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… Unending Stairs…

With rest in between, aching feet and some sneaky photo taking, the view is really worth it.

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The view

The hike is not about the peak or the highest point, but all about the scenery and history embraced and weathered by the fortress wall. However, the view is only witnessed by those who climbed and walk the trail.

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Path along the fortress wall

This is probably the first time I’ve ever seen a lot of stairs (in my whole life) and I have no choice but to traverse the unending stairs to reach the destination. I walked leisurely and followed the well-maintained path while continuously rambling, “Almost there! Just go for it”.

Almost! But… I was only able to climb until 293m or maybe I got lost and did not find my way to Bugaksan peak (342m). Well, it was my first time and there will still be next time.

I sat down for few minutes, photo taking is still not allowed in this area. And after a little while, I decided to go and probably call it a day!

Little did I know that another unending stairs waiting on my way down… Imagine if I took the route from the other side (Course 3), I will be going up these stairs to where I started and no way I could have survived, or maybe I will, but who knows.

After the unending stairs, you will reached Changuimun Information Center, where you need to surrender your Visitor’s ID.

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Changuimun Gate

My first hike is over and done! Off we go on the next hike adventure in Sokcho, South Korea to climb Seoraksan. Stay tuned for my next blog update!

You can find more information about Seoul Fortress Wall of Bugaksan here.


 

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