A national pastime.
Mountain hiking is a favourite pastime of many Koreans, old or young. It is no wonder seeing that Korea is one of the most moutainous terrains in the world. In Seoul itself, there are plenty of moutain hiking parks popular with citizens and tourists alike. The likes of Naksan in the east, Inwangsan in the west, Bugaksan in the north as well as the famous Namsan in the south are all popular and tourist-friendly hiking courses. Among all these mountains, Bugaksan, a southern offshoot of Bukhansan Mountain is the highest.
Bugaksan is the very moutain you see when facing the national palace, Gyeongbokgun. As it sits just right behind the presidential house that is Cheongwadae, Bugaksan has been placed under military control due to its sensitive location. Visitors are required to bring along a proper ID such as your passport or your alien registration card before you can be let into the hiking track. In addition, there are strict entry and exit hours to adhere to. Visitors coming during the months from March to October has up till 4pm to enter the range, and are to exit by 6pm. Visitors coming during the months of November to February are to enter by 3pm, and exit by 5pm. The hiking range is closed on Mondays.
Due to some incidents such as one in 1968 where a gunfight took place on the mountain between the South Korean police force and North Korean commandos who have infiltrated into South Korea with intentions to assasinate then president Park Chung Hee, the hiking trail is heavily fortified with military troops. Visitors are also not allowed to take pictures unless in areas designated so. The patrolling troops have the right to request you to delete pictures in your camera should they suspect that you might have taken pictures of forbidden areas or structures.
How to get to Bugaksan Hiking Trail:
From Exit 3-1 of Gyeongbokgung Station on Line 3, make a u-turn after exiting and head straight for about 100m until you reach the first bus stop. Wait for buses 1020, 7022 or 7212. There are 5 stops till the stop where you are to get off, ‘Jahamun Go Gae, Yun Dong Ju Literary House’.
Remember you have to bring along your passport if you want to enter the Bugaksan hiking trail. You are also to refrain from smoking, littering and drinking of alcohol on the mountain.
You are to fill up an entry application form prior to entering the hiking trail. The forms can be found outside the office when you enter the military compound. Do also note that there are no shops nor restrooms once you start your hike, so do make use of the restroom near the booth for application forms prior to entering.
Once you make it pass the office, there is only one fixed path to follow. Follow the path to get to the top of the mountain. Do take note of the time where you have to be back at the foot of the mountain, and refrain from leaving the area past the permitted time. It should take you about 30 minutes to reach the top of the mountain.
Climbing Bugaksan is an enjoyable and simple activity which you can partake in during your trip here in Seoul. Getting to the area is easy and convenient as it is located behind the national palace Gyeongbokgung. It does not take you too long to reach the top and the view from atop is amazing. The experience of entering a Korean military compound is also an interesting experience to take away! If you are looking for something special to do in Seoul then Bugaksan is definitely worth a consideration!
- Address: Area of Samcheong-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul
- Subway: Line 3, Gyeongbokgung Station, Exit 3-1
- Opening Hours: March – October 0900 ~ 1600, November – February 1000 ~ 1500.
- *Visitors must leave by 1800(March-October), 1700(November-February)
- Website: http://www.chf.or.kr
- Contact Number: +82-2-1330
- Email: NA