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.
(Bugaksan can be clearly seen from the national palace Gyeongbokgung.)
(The view from the hiking track.)
(Other mountains such as Bukhansan can be seen from the track.)
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’.
(After exiting the station, make a u-turn and follow the path.)
(Wait for your bus at the first bus stop you see on the road.)
(The buses are all green in colour.)
(Alight at the 5th bus stop.)
(The entrance to Bugaksan Hiking Trail.)
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.
(A statue of Superintendent General Choi Gyu-sik, who sacrificed his life during the gunfight against North Korean infiltrators in 1968.)
(Changuimun, sometimes also known as Jahamun.)
(The entrance to the Bugaksan Hiking Trail. This point onwards is a military compound.)
(Entering the military compound.)
(Fill up an entry application form first. The forms are available in English and Chinese.)
(The application form.)
(Enter the office and pass the staff your completed form and passport.)
(You should then receive a pass that you should hang on your neck at all times.)
(The climb starts here.)
Once you enter the compound, 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.
(The winding path up the mountain.)
(Catch the view of the surrounding view on your way up. This mountain here is Bukhansan.)
(Reaching the top.)
(The top of the Bugaksan, 342m above sea level.)
(Bugaksan is one of the tallest mountains in this area.)
(You can also see the northern mountain, Namsan in the distance.)
Climbing Bugaksan is an enjoyable and simple activity that 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)
Contact Number: +82-2-1330