Autumn in Korea Guides + Tips

Chasing Fall Colors: A Photographic Journey on Namsan Dulle-gil

This autumn marked a significant achievement for me as I successfully captured compelling close-up photographs of Seoul Tower framed with the rich hues of autumn foliage—a longstanding goal on my checklist. This opportunity presented itself during a photography assignment along the Namsan Dulle-gil trail, encircling the picturesque Namsan Mountain. In this post, I will recount my experience exploring the area and divulge the precise locations of notable photo spots. This guide aims to provide valuable insights for enthusiasts seeking to capture similar breathtaking shots and appreciate the panoramic views. If you are contemplating including the Namsan walking trail in your itinerary for an autumn excursion in Seoul, consider this post your handy cheat sheet. Without further delay, let us delve into the details!

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    About Namsan Dulle-gil:    

    Namsan Dulle-gil (남산 둘레길), also known as the Namsan circular walking trail, spans approximately 5 miles (8km) in Seoul’s Jung-gu. While it may not boast the rugged appeal of steeper trails in taller mountains, it has become a favorite among casual strollers and those in search of scenic views. The trail encompasses at least 9 distinct walking courses, each offering breathtaking perspectives of the city’s iconic landmark—Seoul Tower—and distinctive panoramic cityscapes.  

    The Southern Route: My Chosen Path for the Day

    From the various walking courses available, I selected the Namsan Namcheug Sunhwanro (남산남측순환로), also known as the southern route, for my leisurely stroll. I came across this recommendation on Naver Blog, Korea’s largest blogging platform, which highlighted it as one of the best routes in the city for enjoying scenic autumn foliage views. To access this route from the mountain’s base, the most convenient entry point is the Namsanpalgagjeong entrance (남산팔각정입구) at the main gate of the National Theater.

    The entrance’s name, translating to ‘Entrance to Namsan Octagonal Pavilion,’ provides a glimpse of the route’s destination—the prominent octagonal pavilion at the base of Seoul Tower. If you’re an enthusiastic walker willing to spend around 40 minutes walking uphill, this is the ideal starting point for you. However, as it wasn’t my preference, I took the reverse approach—I marked the pavilion as my starting point, took a bus up there, and then leisurely walked down the course towards the National Theater as my final destination!

    Reaching the Base Area of Seoul Tower by Bus:

    If, like me, you’re not in the mood for a long, uphill walk or simply don’t have 40 minutes to spare, public transportation is a convenient alternative. To access the top of the mountain and get closest to Seoul Tower, hop on the yellow buses numbered 01 or 8001 from downtown. Disembark at the Namsan Seoul Tower bus stop (stop number 03320). These buses operate to and from key locations and subway stations, including Chungmuro Station, Dongguk University Station, Hilton Hotel, Namdaemun Market, Gwanghwamun Square, City Hall, Gyeongbokgung, and Anguk Station, ensuring accessibility. A word of caution, though—buses tend to fill up quickly, especially at stops closer to Namsan Mountain like Dongguk University Station and beyond. If you prefer a seat, board the buses at earlier stops.

    Capturing Autumn Moments on My Namsan Dulle-gil Journey:

    Now that we’ve established Seoul Tower as our starting point, let’s dive back into the autumn photo spots. Here are the locations where I captured the essence of fall during my recent excursion on Namsan Dulle-gil:

    Namsan Octagonal Pavilion:

    Situated at the base of Seoul Tower, the Namsan Octagonal Pavilion (남산팔각정) stands as the second most visited spot on the mountain, second only to the iconic Seoul City Tower. A brief history of the pavilion reveals its original name as Unamjeong Pavilion, constructed in 1959 to commemorate President Syngman Rhee. In 1960, the pavilion fell victim to the 4.19 movement but was resiliently rebuilt on November 11, 1968. The surrounding area boasts deciduous trees that add to its allure during the fall season.

    Beyond offering views of the pavilion against the backdrop of Seoul Tower’s majestic structure, there’s an extra treat at 3 PM every day (except Monday). Visitors can witness a unique traditional martial arts demonstration and folk concert performed by Bongsugun (beacon mound soldiers). These performances take place at the plaza in front of the pavilion and last for an entertaining 40 minutes.

    Don’t miss the chance to capture stunning images of Seoul Tower framed by vibrant fall foliage in the plaza area. Look for the small line of maple trees, aim your camera skyward towards the tower’s summit, and voila! You’ll have a beautiful collection of Seoul autumn photos in an instant!

    Exploring Namsan Tower’s Vicinity:

    After you’ve captured the ambiance around the polygonal pavilion, be sure to venture a bit further into the surroundings—more breathtaking perspectives await! A notable bonus is catching a glimpse of the Lotte Tower through the clouds of vibrant, color-changing trees. I managed to snap this photo just as I was leaving the plaza area, making my way down Namsan Park Road toward the bus station.

    Namsan Tower Bus Stop:

    While lingering around at the bus stop, seize the opportunity to capture not only the cityscapes but also the additional autumn spectacles surrounding you.

    Namsan Dulle-gil Southern Course:

    To access the southern walking route from Seoul Tower, simply descend the main road from the Namsan Tower bus stop. If you’re aiming for the National Theater, stick to the main path and avoid diverting onto smaller dirt streets along the way. Along this route, you’ll encounter the following picturesque spots:

    A captivating autumn scene at a small three-way junction not far from the bus stop.

    A snapshot-worthy view from an observatory deck.

    Another stunning perspective from the observatory deck.

    An elegant capture of Seoul Tower admired from the observatory deck.

    A tranquil image of a tree tunnel along the route.

    A glimpse of Seoul Tower captured near the Namsan North Ring Road Bus Stop (남산북측순환로입구).

    The road in front of the National Theater adorned with ginkgo trees.

    My little fall adventure on Namsan Dulle-gil that day wrapped up when I hit the entrance of the National Theater. However, my enthusiasm persisted as I realized there are additional recommended walking routes to uncover. While these paths undoubtedly provide picturesque views of Seoul city and its iconic tower throughout the year, I must acknowledge that the autumn season imparts an extra layer of sensory delight and breathtaking charm to the landscapes. I eagerly anticipate delving into these other walking courses to discover more of autumn’s beauty. If you are visiting Seoul, especially to appreciate the fall ambiance, I highly recommend navigating one of these routes, whether ascending or descending. Awe-inspiring moments are guaranteed!

    Author’s Note: My visit on October 27 was evidently quite early for the autumn peak, as most trees had not yet begun the process of changing their leaf colors. Therefore, I recommend planning a visit in the first or second week of November for the peak autumn experience!

    Access Map:

    Quick info about Namsan Dulle-gil:

    Address: 서울 용산구 남산공원길 105
    Naver Map: Link
    Hours: 24/7
    Visit date: October 27, 2023
    Visit course: Southern Route (남산남측순환로)

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