Bukansan National Park: Finding Serenity in Seoul

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Bukansan holds a Guinness World Record for the most visited national park in the world, with five million visitors a year. Today, I decided to be one of them and I’m glad I did.

You get to Bukansan by taking Line 4 to Gireum Station, then getting on some random bus (I can’t remember which one; I just followed someone who was going to the same place.) The closer and closer you get to Bukansan, the more the city changes from sleek and Westernized to traditional and calm. Surrounding the national park are high tech hiking clothes outlets, like Black Yak and North Face. It’s interesting to me that practically no Koreans would even consider hiking without their matchy-matchy pants and long sleeve shirts. How do they not pass out from heat exhaustion?!?!!!!  To them, I must’ve looked pretty crazy hiking alone in vans and casual street clothes. Oops.

Oh, and entry to the park is free!!! You just pick a route and go for it! Woo-hoo!

Since there were almost exclusively either young children or older people hiking the route I chose, I expected it to be really easy.  But it was actually quite challenging with steep uphills and downhills. My legs were shaking by the end of it. Definitely wear hiking boots if you’re thinking about tackling this national park, and bring a lot of snacks. I had neither, and would’ve done a lot more exploring if I had been better prepared.

I am so glad I got to see this side of Seoul! If I hadn’t, my impression of the city wouldn’t be as positive as it is now. Personally, I prefer relaxed, traditional vibes to hustly-bustly Westernized megacity vibes, like those of Gangnam and Hongik.  If you visit Seoul, GO TO BUKANSAN! It’s kind of hard to find if you know very little Korean (practically no English in that part of town). I actually ended up getting extremely lost on my way back. But it’s well worth it, and surprisingly uncrowded for the world’s most visited park.

Here are some pictures. I’m a bad photographer, so they don’t really do justice to the splendor of this park.

 

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