If you have been around Korea for a while and have the determination to wake up early in the morning, you may have noticed the many Koreans on the subway with their hiking gear on. Hiking and mountain climbing are some of Korea’s favorite pastimes. When I first came to Korea, I was overweight and didn’t have a lot of money for a gym membership. A really good friend of mine said we should hike together. I was dreading exercise, but I was so happy with my decision to do it. I got so into hiking, I lost about 15 kilograms (33 lbs.) over five months. Instead of staying in and working out at the gym, one day a week I do my best to get outdoors and do some hiking. These are my top 3 mountains to climb if you are a novice like how I was.
1) Achasan – You can easily reach this mountain by taking the purple line (line 5) to Achasan Station (East side Seoul). is a very popular mountain for those who are just beginning to climb. For me to reach the peak, it takes about 45 minutes if I don’t stop to take pictures of the gorgeous scenery. On Saturday mornings, many hiking groups gather outside Exit 2 and do the trek together from the station. You do have to go uphill to get to the base of the mountain, however, it is a great warm-up. Once reaching the top of the mountain, you can get a great view of Seoul Children's Grand Park and East Seoul. There is lots of space up top to take your friends or significant other for a nice picnic. If you didn’t bring enough food or drink, there are some ‘ahjusshis’ that will be selling items along the way, but they do increase the price quite a bit. If you are feeling a little more adventurous and wanting something more challenging, cross the bridge to Yongmasan Mountain.
2) Bugaksan Mountain “The President’s Mountain” – located behind the Blue House (the President's Residence) in Central Seoul, Bugaksan gives its hikers an impressive view of the Jogno/Gwangwahmun area. Many people do not realize that they can climb this mountain. But in order to do so, foreigners must present their passport and Koreans must show their identification card. Getting to the entrance of the mountain is a little difficult from Anguk Station (orange subway line # 7). Many of the guards that surround the Blue House speak basic English and can help point out the way to the entrance. This mountain is basically a bunch of steps and some are a little steep so you must be aware of the other hikers going up and down. My favorite part is exiting into the Samcheongdong area where there are some great traditional Korean restaurants and coffee shops you can relax at. Please make sure that you are read the warning signs about taking pictures of the Blue House. I had my camera reviewed by the guards before exiting off the mountain.
3) Namhansanseong – in Southern Seoul. Unless you live in this area, you may have never heard of this one mountain. There are three ways to get to the top of the mountain and you can walk along the fortress wall, which goes from peak to peak. If you take the Western path, there are many steps to climb, but it does lead you to the Folk Village where you can eat traditional Korean food and take a bus down the mountain. Namhansanseong has some great views of the Jamsil/Songpa area and it is a good location to see the construction of the soon-to-be tallest tower in Asia, Lotte World Tower.
Do you know any mountains that are an easy climb around Seoul? Or even in Korea? Leave a comment below and tell us about it!
After working for five years in banking, Marc decided that it was time for a change before he got too old. He left the stress from his 9-5 job to do something new and different. After coming to Korea with a group of buddies, he landed in the Gangdong Branch in Eastern Seoul. When he's not teaching and doing head instructor duties, he is out about traveling Korea, looking for the new, old, and undiscovered places to visit.