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Autumn Hues : When the trees turn, Seoul becomes a wonderland of color
2010-10-08 VIEW: 4556
It’s autumn, which means it’s time to take in Seoul’s colorful autumn foliage. The Korean autumn is a wonderful time of year, when the hillsides turn red and gold beneath a high sky of cobalt blue. It’s a hiker’s paradise, so if you're the outdoors type, tie up your boots and head to the hills. Even if you’re not particularly fond of hiking, there are plenty of more urban areas to enjoy the colors without breaking a sweat.
Thanks to this year’s odd weather, the foliage will change color relatively late this year. The mountain areas will turn quickest, with Mt. Soraksan in the northeast turning color beginning Oct 3. Seoul’s Bukhansan National Park will begin to turn from Oct 22. This is roughly 15 days later than the average year.
To compensate, however, this year’s foliage is expected to be especially bright and colorful. The bigger the difference in nighttime and daytime temperatures, the more spectacular the colors, and the temperature gaps are expected to be quite severe this year.
Where to see the colors
Needless to say, you need to go where the trees are. Seoul’s surrounded by mountains, so if you have a penchant for hiking, you’re in the right city. Likewise, there are a number of urban forests that are also great places to take in the foliage.
- Bukhansan National Park : The most dramatic scenery in Seoul can be found in the imposing peaks and cliffs of Bukhansan National Park. Compared to some of the city’s lower hills, it can be a challenging place to hike, but the views are worth it.
Getting there : Many park entrances. See http://english.knps.or.kr for maps.
- Mt. Namsan : Located in the middle of the city, Mt. Namsan is an easy stroll for just about anyone. It’s also covered in maple and ginkgo trees that light up in autumn. If you’re looking for a relaxing hike, this is it.
Getting there : There’s a cable car that will take you to the peak (fare: 7,500 won round trip, 6,000 won one way). The lower terminal is a 10 minute walk from Exit 3 of Chungmuro Station, Line 3 or 4. There are also regular buses that depart from near Exit 2 of Chungmuro Station—they run between 8am and midnight.
Forests & streets
- Yangjae Forest : Together with the restored Yangjaecheon Stream, Yangjae Forest has earned a reputation for fine autumn foliage thanks to its many maple trees. If you live south of the Hangang River, it’s the largest forest around.
Getting there : Take a local bus from Exit 7, Yangjae Station, Line 3.
- Seoul Forest : Seoul’s answer to New York’s Central Park, Seoul Forest is a wonderful, expansive green space in the heart of Seoul. The riverside location accentuates the autumn colors.
Getting there : Ttukseom Station, Line 2, Exit 8.
- Samcheong-dong Road : Running along the eastern edge of Gyeongbokgung Palace, Samcheong-dong Road is lined with beautiful ginkgo trees that turn golden in autumn. Also nearby is the Jeongdok Public Library, the garden of which is a favorite autumn location of this writer.
Getting there: Exit 5, Gyeongbokgung Station, Line 3.
- Garosu Road : Like Samcheong-dong Road, this road in Sinsa-dong is lined with graceful ginkgo trees that radiate gold in autumn. Lined by trendy cafés, it bills itself as a little piece of Europe in Seoul.
Getting there: Exit 8, Sinsa Station, Line 3.
Written by Robert Koehler
(Source: SEOUL Magazine Sep. Issue)