Before this trip, I hand’t been able to enjoy my favorite season in a long time. That’s why I had a lot of expectations about spending my first autumn in Seoul (and in Busan too for that matter). And even though it wasn’t technically fully autumn in the South Korean capital yet at the time, fall was clearly in the air and that alone made me happy.
Autumn affects me in a way I can’t explain. It brings a different feeling compared to springtime. I know poets write about how sad falling leaves are and whatnot, but maybe sometimes they forget that you can’t have the renewal in springtime without fall. It almost seems like nature uses autumn to remind us that you can shed your old self to give way to a new you, and you can do it in a poised manner.
Romanticism aside, it’s simply a fact that autumn is a fully gorgeous season. I think we can all just admit this instead of trying to search for a deeper meaning. And so I thought I’d make this list just to highlight exactly how much I adored spending my first autumn in Seoul, and out of Seoul as well! (The day-trips were the main events, if you ask me!)
1. Bukchon Hanok Village
The Bukchon Hanok Village is always a famous location among tourists hoping to take memorable photos in rented hanbok. I imagine it’s even more popular during the height of spring and autumn. Aside from being picturesque however, it’s a location that offers a glimpse into the history of South Korea. Here you will find hundreds of well-preserved hanok, or traditional Korean houses, that date back to the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910). If you’ve watched your fair share of sageuk or historical dramas, this place is enough to transport you into the world of one of them. No wonder people love coming here no matter the season.
Although autumn had not quite touched this place yet when we visited, you can make your way to the higher areas of the village to glimpse the season slowly taking over the city. It’s a gorgeous view that allows you to appreciate the shifting seasons quite literally. From this vantage point, you will notice how the trees gradually change colors starting from one direction of the city to the other.
[READ MORE ABOUT BUKCHON HANOK VILLAGE]
HOW TO GET HERE: Alight at Anguk Station (Seoul Subway Line 3); take Exit 3.
2. Gyeongbokgung Palace Grounds
A typical city tour for first-time visitors to Seoul usually includes a stop at Gyeongbokgung. And so even though I’ve been here before, I’ve never been to this area within the palace grounds. We entered through the gate where the National Folk Museum of Korea is located, although I reckon you’ll be able to find some lovely foliage no matter where you choose to go within Gyeongbokgung grounds. This particular area had ample foliage framing an old palace that’s been converted into a museum. The sight highlights a very postcard view of autumn in Seoul.
If you want to avoid the crowd at Bukchon Hanok Village, you may want to come here and use the open air exhibition of a hanok for photos instead. We spotted a pair of girls in hanbok doing just that, and they practically had the place to themselves!
[READ MORE ABOUT GYEONGBOKGUNG]
HOW TO GET HERE: Alight at Gyeongbokgung Station (Seoul Subway Line 3); take exit 5. OR alight at Anguk Station (Seoul Subway Line 3); take exit 1. OR alight at Gwanghwamun Station (Seoul Subway Line 5); take exit 2. OR alight at Jeongdok Library Bus Stop or National Folk Museum of Korea Bus Stop.
One of my personal favorite spots in Seoul is the Cheonggyecheon, or the Cheonggye Stream. I think it’s one of the most peaceful locations within this bustling city. I make it a point to visit every time I’m in Seoul and set aside some time to take a stroll here. It’s very difficult to do this in the wintertime because Seoul gets pretty damn cold, but when it’s autumn, you’ll find yourself looking for any excuse to come here.
It’s too lovely to miss.
Cheonggyecheon looks very different depending on the season, mostly because they decorate the stream with ever-changing themed installations. (Wait until you see how they deck this place out during Christmas!) It ensures you get to see something different when you visit. But aside from that, I just really like the stream itself and all the surrounding foliage to boot. Again, the trees had not yet fully turned when we visited, but it’s not hard to imagine how much vibrance autumn colors can add to this calming place.
[READ MORE ABOUT CHEONGGYECHEON]
HOW TO GET HERE: Alight at Gwanghwamun Station (Subway Line 5); take exit 5. OR Alight at City Hall Station (Seoul Subway Line 1 or 2); Take exit 4.
4. Haneul Park
Easily one of the most stunning parks I’ve ever been to, Haneul Park’s crowning glory is its field of silver grass that stretches as far as the eye can see. There’s an almost ethereal quality to this place that I really love! It’s a stunning place to take memento-style photographs. You can stand literally anywhere among the reeds and it will look picture-perfect.
During October, when the silver grass are at their peak growth, Haneul Park hosts the Silver Grass Festival. The festival isn’t the only thing that draws people to this place however. There’s a viewing deck here at Haneul Park that showcases the Seoul cityscape to stunning effect. The spot (and the view) has featured heavily in certain K-dramas so some people come here to check it out after seeing those shows. Haneul Park may be a little far from Seoul city center, but it’s totally worth the commute, especially in October. It’s part of a park system made up of three other adjoining parks that are also worth visiting!
[READ MORE ABOUT HANEUL PARK]
HOW TO GET HERE: From SEOUL STATION, take AREX Line (Incheon Airport-bound) to DIGITAL MEDIA CITY. Switch platforms to LINE 6, then ride Bonghwasan-bound train to WORLD CUP STADIUM. Alight at WORLD CUP STADIUM. Take Exit 1. Turn right from top of escalators and go around the stadium. Follow the big road and turn left to cross the street at the 4-way intersection. You’ll see the Haneul Park signage in Korean [하늘공원] at the parking lot.
Lovers of theme parks rejoice! I’m giving you yet another reason to visit Everland! If you’ve been to Everland before, you’ll know that a lot of foliage is incorporated into the park’s design and landscaping, which means when the fall season swings around, the park turns into a literal autumn wonderland. (If you go in October, it’s an autumnal Halloween-land lol.) The fall colors make the park look extra pretty, and the weather makes it a perfect time to explore this outdoor theme park.
Case in point:
Keep in mind that there tends to be a lot of visitors around this time too, so the lines for the good rides are often ridiculous.
[READ MORE ABOUT EVERLAND]
*We booked our tickets and transportation through Klook.
We have come to the highlight of the entire trip, and as I mentioned, it’s actually a location several hours outside of Seoul, in Gangwon-do!
Seoraksan National Park is possibly one of the most stunning parks I have ever been to, made ten times more beautiful by the red and orange hues all around! (Okay, maybe I’m biased. Maybe I’ll say this about all future national parks of this scale that I visit in the fall in the future lol.)
Hiking towards the peak of Seoraksan was an especially magical moment for me. It’s a memorable experience involving carefully navigating the rocky incline while inevitably gawking at literally everything around you. There are so many different kinds of trees here that seeing them standing side by side with their unique leaf shapes in different shades of yellow, orange, and red almost feels surreal. Like you’re stepping into a painting! The breeze carries a great symphony too– that of rustling leaves and chirping birds. They sounded melodious against the crunching of fallen leaves underneath my feet as I walked about.
I suppose I don’t need to tell you that reaching the peak is well worth the effort. The view is GORGEOUS. Even if you’re not an outdoorsy person, it’s practically impossible not to fall in love with Seoraksan. It’s a worthy day-trip when you spend autumn in Seoul.
[READ MORE ABOUT SEORAKSAN]
*We visited this place as part of a KKDay tour package.
7. Hongcheon Gingko Forest
This last location is a private haven about 30 minutes away from Seoraksan. It’s a gingko forest located at the foot of another mountain in Gangwon-do, and it’s owned by a man who planted these trees some 30 years ago in the hopes that they would help improve the state of his wife’s health. Because it is private property, the Hongcheon Gingko Forest only opens to the public in October, when the gingko trees are at their best.
A romantic place with a romantic backstory, I’m really glad this lovely forest is included in the day tour package we bought from KKDay. We wouldn’t have known how to come here!
[READ MORE ABOUT HONGCHEON GINGKO FOREST]
*We visited this place as part of a KKDay tour package.
To see my favorite food experiences in Seoul during my October 2019 visit, check out this video:
Other posts in the SEOUL AUTUMN 2019 SERIES:
- Bukchon Hanok Village, Gyeongbokgung, & Cheonggyecheon
- Halloween at EVERLAND South Korea
- The breathtaking Haneul Park
- Stunning Seoraksan (Part I)
- Stunning Seoraksan (Part II) & Hongcheon Gingko Forest
- Gwangjang Market & Mangwon Market
- 8 Food experiences I loved during Autumn in Seoul 2019
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