South Korea 🇰🇷 is one of the best countries to experience autumn here in Asia. From crimson leaves falling from park trees to yellow leaves found in ordinary streets, autumn transforms South Korea into a colorful & jaw-dropping tourist destination.
A random street in Seoul 😍
It’s been years since Korean drama & pop music introduced the beauty of South Korea to the Filipinos. Since then, the country, particularly Seoul, became one of the favorite travel / vacation destinations of Filipinos. According to the Korean Tourism Organization website, in 2016 alone, there were 556,745 Filipinos who flew to South Korea. That was a 37.9% increase from arrivals recorded in 2015 (403,622 arrivals). Filipinos take up 3.2% of the visitors who entered South Korea last year.
Came across this place on our way to Namsan Park 😃
I may not be one of the 556,745 Filipinos who visited South Korea last year, I can say I was one of the 403,622 Filipinos who visited South Korea in 2015. In 2014 & 2015, I went to Seoul, South Korea for my annual November trip. Yes, I visited Seoul for 2 consecutive years. I fell in love with autumn & Seoul’s autumn spots the first time I went there up to the point I flew back the following year. (Separate 2014 & 2015 Seoul blogs to follow)
Lovely autumn colors in Insa-dong 🍂
I know for a fact that some of you have plans of visiting Seoul in the coming weeks & months. Let me share to you 8 must-visit places in Seoul during autumn.
Hangang Park is a long & wide park built beside the Hangang River. Running through 12 districts, the Citizen’s Park is the go-to place of locals & visitors for various sports & relaxation activities. This park is characterized by walking & biking trails, seating areas, exercise facilities every few meters & shops where you can grab a snack / drink whilst there. Many people visit this park everyday. Admission to the park is free. It is also open 24/7.
Banpo Hangang Park’s walking trail & biking lane 🚴
We went there to see the famous Banpo bridge (one of the famous parts of the park because of the fountain show); we went biking around the park & also tried the free exercise facilities. Unfortunately there was no scheduled rainbow fountain show during our visit. I also went to Yeouido Hangang Park (another part of Hangang Park) to relax & watch the sunset, also to cure my hangover. *wink*
Subway Access: Banpo Hangang Park – Express Bus Terminal Station – Exit 8-1 / 8-2 then follow the directions to the park | Yeouido Hangang Park – Yeouinaru Station – Exit 2 or 3
North Korea & South Korea Border (DMZ Tour)
Autumn plus some frost in Imjingak 🌨️
The visit to North Korea & South Korea border was one of the reasons why I went to Seoul in 2014. Visitors are required to take an organized tour if you want to visit this area of South Korea. There are 3 tours offered – the half day Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) Tour, the half day Joint Security Area (JSA) Tour & the whole day Demilitarized Zone & Joint Security Area (DMZ / JSA) Tour.
A glimpse of the Kaesong, North Korea 🇰🇵
My friend & I took the DMZ Tour with Cosmojin. The tour company picked us up from our guesthouse & brought us to the bus meet-up place. It took us around an hour to the DMZ area. We went to Imginjak Resort, the Third Infiltration Tunnel (a long tiring walk down to the tunnel), Dora Observatory (you’ll see a glimpse of the nearby North Korean city from here) & Dorasan Station.
To Pyeongyang, anyone? 🚉
If you want to see Panmunjeom (Joint Security Area), the place where officials from both countries had peace talks in the past, & the Bridge of No Return, you need to further take the JSA tour.
Tip: Make sure to book with a credible tour agency (I highly recommend Cosmojin – head over to their website for rates) at least a week before the tour. Please don’t forget to bring your passport during the tour – the military checks everyone’s passport upon entry to DMZ.
Outside the main Gyeongbokgung Palace Hall
Built during the last dynasty of Korea in 1395, Gyeongbokgung Palace served as the royal palace during the Joseon Dynasty. It served as the home of the officials as well as the seat of government that time. It is also the biggest among the 5 palaces built by the Joseon Dynasty. The other 4 palaces are Changdeokgung Palace, Gyeonghuigung Palace, Changgyeonggung Palace & Deoksugung Palace. (Thank God I still have the palace flyer / information sheet! 😂)
During the Royal Guard Changing Ceremony 💂🏻
Admission Fee: 3,000 won per person
Tip: Don’t miss the Royal Guard Changing Ceremony happening every 9:30 am & 1:30 pm. The palace is closed every Tuesday.
Subway Access: Gyeongbokgung Station – Exit 5 or Anguk Station – Exit 1
Bukchon Hanok Village
A random house near Gyeongbokgung Palace 🍂
Located between the palaces, the Bukchon Hanok Village is a traditional Korean village composed of hundreds of wooden & brick houses located in different alleys. This village shows the ‘old urban’ vibe during the Joseon Dynasty. These structures used to house high-ranking government officials & prominent people during that time. Locals converted these houses to cultural centers, restaurants & tea houses to give visitors a taste & glimpse of traditional Korean culture.
Subway Access: Anguk Station – Exit 1 or Exit 2
Insadong-gil – Insa-dong’s main street 🍂
Insa-dong is a neighborhood in Jongno-gu district famous for modern galleries, traditional shops & restaurants, tea houses & cafes. The area’s main street, Insadong-gil, connects to smaller streets & alleys that showcases various establishments.
Tip: You can visit Insa-dong, Bukchon Hanok Village & Gyeongbokgung Palace in one day. They are located a few meters walk from each other.
Subway Access: Anguk Station – Exit 3
Namsan Park & N Seoul Tower
Namsam Park is a famous park located on top of Namsam Mountain. This park is famous for its autumn sightings & walking trails. You can also find Palgakjeong (octagon hall), Namsan Library, restaurants, shops & the N Seoul Tower on top of the mountain. Entrance to the park is free.
A cloudy morning in N Seoul Tower grounds
N Seoul Tower is Seoul’s iconic observatory located in Namsan Mountain. The observatory offers a 360-degree view of Seoul. Make sure to go there in the morning or afternoon to avoid the crowd; it gets really busy at night. Entrance fee to the observatory is 10,000 won per person.
View from N Seoul Tower Observatory; Manila is 2,625.7 kms away
Subway Access: Myeong-dong Station – Exit 2 & 3, then walk up to the park. Alternatively, you can walk to the Namsan Cable Car Station & ride up to the park. A round-trip ticket costs 8,500 won.
Myeong-dong Shopping Street (+street food)
Myeong-dong Shopping Street is one of my favorite places in Seoul. It may not be the cheapest place to buy all sorts of stuff, but the place offers a wide variety of shops & brands to choose from. If you are a fan of skin care products, this is the place to be. Name the Korean cosmetic brand you’re looking for it’s here. There are also shops for clothing, shoes & souvenirs. The area also boasts hundreds of restaurants & cafes. The Myeong-dong Cathedral & Nanta Theater (which houses the famous Nanta Cooking Show) is also located in this part of the city.
The very busy Myeong-dong Shopping Street 🛍️
Aside from shopping, Myeong-dong Shopping Street is also a good place to have Korean street food. You can find pop-up food stalls in the main street at night. If you’re going there in the morning or early afternoon, make sure to head to the left-most street facing the main street & look for the stalls that sell Korean food.
The kinds of Korean street food you’ll find in Myeong-dong
My favorite street food is the Korean egg bread, locally known as gyeran-bbang. It’s basically made of batter & egg (cracked on top of the batter while being cooked). Make sure to try this when you go to Seoul & let me know what you think.
My favorite gyeran-bbang!!! 😋
Tip 1: The best time to go shopping is early afternoon to early evening. The shopping street gets super duper busy during dinnertime. If you are looking for cheaper buys, you can go to the nearby Nandaemun Market. It’s a short walk (or 1 train station away) from Myeong-dong area.
Tip 2: If you are into artsy & hippie stuff, head over to Hongdae (Hongik University Street – Hongik University Station – Exit 8 or Exit 9). This area is known for the young ones – those in college & early days of adulthood. It’s also the place to see street performances (only happens during night time) & local festivals. It’s also the best place to drink & party. *wink*
Subway Access: Myeong-dong Station – Exit 2 or Exit 8
Nami Island is probably the most beautiful place to experience autumn in Seoul. This island became famous because it was where parts of the hit Korean drama ‘Winter Sonata’ were shot. The island is near Chunchoen City, the capital of Gang-won Province about 1-1.5 hour away from Seoul.
Somewhere in Nami Island 😍
The island has the best autumn view one can image. You can see crimson leaves to yellow autumn leaves all in one place. The place hosts various activities & festivals from time to time. The best way to explore the island is by foot. Make sure to go around the island because you might just miss a stunning view.
Entrance fee to the island is 10,000 won per person. It includes a round-trip ferry transfer (10 minute per trip) from the mainland.
That’s me posing for a photo in Nami 😍
Tip 1: Prepare your autumn / winter outfit when visiting Nami Island. It’s a good place to have a ‘mini-photoshoot’ with friends. Also, if it’s already cold in Seoul, it’s colder in Nami. Prepare your winter jackets & coats.
Tip 2: You can go to Petit France & Garden of Morning Calm after visiting Nami Island. These 2 places are just a bus ride away from Nami. I visited Petit France in 2015 & I personally believe it was just okay – perhaps another place to take good photos. I missed out going to the Garden of Morning Calm due to time constraints.
Subway Access: Gapyeong Station – You can either go there from Sangbong Station (Jungang Line) or Yongsan Station (ITX-Chuncheon Train). From Gapyeong Station, you can either take the Gapyeong Tour Bus (& get off at Nami Island bus stop) or take a taxi (around 2,000 won) per way.
Nami Island is at its best during autum 😍 Definitely a must-visit! 🍂
There you go! I hope I gave you an idea on the best places to visit in Seoul during autumn season. Do you have any questions regarding these destinations? Is there a beautiful autumn place I missed? Let me know by posting a comment below. You can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Drop me a message on Facebook, drop a comment on Instagram or send me a tweet on Twitter.
Gamsahabnida, joh-eun halu doeseyo! 감사합니다, 좋은 하루 되세요. 🇰🇷
PS. All photos above were shot using my HTC One M8.