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[Seoul] City at Night

Published Date : Jul. 04, 2017 / Edited Date : Feb. 13, 2019
Written and photographed by Robert Koehler

City at Night_1

Cities are creatures of the night. No matter how beautiful a city may be during normal working hours, a skyline comes alive only after the sun dips below the horizon. Every city has its places to take in the nightscape. Hong Kong has Victoria Peak, New York has Rockefeller Center. Surrounded by mountains, Seoul is blessed with an abundance of excellent overlooks to take in the city’s inspiring nighttime cityscape. We introduce four vantage points located in the heart of the city.

City at Night_2

National Museum of Korean Contemporary History: eye over Gyeongbokgung
The National Museum of Korean Contemporary History is located in the former Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism building in Gwanghwamun, just across from the landmark Gyeongbokgung Palace. Opened in 2012, the museum’s exhibits sheds light on Korea’s dramatic and sometimes tragic modern history, from the opening of the country at the end of the 19th century to the prosperity of the present day, with pride of place given to the Korean War and the nation’s post-war economic development and democratization.

In addition to its permanent exhibits, the museum also hosts regular special exhibits, lectures and other educational events. In addition to its role as a repository of modern Korean history, the museum also functions as an observatory over the Gwanghwamun area in general and historical Gyeongbokgung Palace in particular. Located on the eighth floor, the museum’s roof garden is usually open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, however, it is open until 9 p.m., allowing visitors to take in the old downtown area’s inspiring nighttime scenery.

The best time to visit National Museum of Korean Contemporary History’s roof garden is when Gyeongbokgung Palace is lit up at night. Gyeongbokgung and Changgyeonggung palaces host regular “moonlight walking tours” during the spring, summer and autumn months. These special events, which usually last a week or two at a time, let visitors experience the charms of Seoul’s old royal residences under the light of the moon. It’s an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed.

For photographers, the moonlight tours offer an opportunity to capture the nocturnal beauty of the palace, one of the city’s most iconic sites. As the sun sets over Mt. Inwangsan and the sky turns violet, the wood halls and stone walls of Gyeongbokgung come alive in the warmth of the spotlights. Traffic races in front of Gwanghwamun Gate, the historical entrance to the palace, the old portal’s eaves glowing green, gold and red. In the distance, the outlines of Mt. Bugaksan and Mt. Inwangsan compliment the curved roofs of the palace’s grand halls below.

If you’re photographing Gyeongbokgung at night from the National Museum of Korean Contemporary History, bring both a wide-angle lens – the palace complex is quite expansive – and something with a bit of zoom to capture the details. During periods when the palace is open at night, the museum’s rooftop is popular with local photographers, so arrive early if you’d like to place your tripod in a prime spot.

[Getting to the Museum]
- Walk 250 meters from Gwanghwamun Station (subway line 5, exit 2). The museum is right next to the U.S. embassy.
Tel. +82-2-3703-9200
www.much.go.kr

City at Night_3
City at Night_4

Mt. Namsan: one mountain, many views
While many spots in Seoul offer dramatic night views over the city, nowhere offers as many options as Mt. Namsan. Standing 262 meters in the heart of the city, Mt. Namsan once marked the southern limits of Korea’s old royal capital in the days of the Joseon Dynasty. Today, it is one of Seoul’s most widely recognized scenic spots and one of its most popular tourist destinations. According to a 2015 report by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the mountain was the fourth most visited place in the city by foreign tourists, behind Myeong-dong, Dongdaemun Market and the royal palaces.

City at Night_5

Standing in the middle of the metropolis, Mt. Namsan offers captivating views in virtually all directions. Dropping 10,000 won for a ticket, many visitors head straight for the indoor observatory deck of the landmark Namsan Seoul Tower. To be sure, the views are jaw-dropping, weather cooperating, but a sunset seen through glass is not the same as one seen under the open sky. This is where Namsan’s outdoor observation decks shine. Throughout the mountain are several wooden observation decks, called “photo islands,” which offer spectacular, sweeping vistas over the city. One of the best ones is located a short walk below the Namsan cable car’s upper terminus. Overlooking Myeong-dong, the desk provides views over downtown’s urban forest, its skyscrapers bathed in fluorescent and LED light. While overgrown trees block the view a bit, what you can see between the trees is more than enough.

On the south side of Mt. Namsan, on the road connecting Namsan Seoul Tower and the National Theater of Korea, are two wooden observation decks. The one closer to Namsan Seoul Tower is, by far, the better of the two. From here, you can enjoy panoramic vistas over Yongsan, the Hangang River and Yeouido. On a clear day, you can see as far as World Cup Stadium. It’s also a good place to photograph Namsan Seoul Tower itself. At night, the orange lights of Haebangchon, an old, low-rise hilltop neighborhood just below the mountain, provide a surreal contrast with the yellows and greens of the skyscrapers beyond. The other observation deck, closer to the National Theater of Korea, looks out over Hannam-dong towards Gangnam.  You can enjoy yet another pleasant nighttime view at Baekbeom Plaza, near Namsan Library and the An Jung-geun Memorial Hall. A stretch of Seoul’s old city wall snakes its way down the mountain from the plaza to Sungnyemun and Namdaemun Market. Lit up at night, the historical wall contrasts sharply with the futuristic skyscrapers beyond, a microcosm of Seoul’s defining tension between old and new.

City at Night_6

Mt. Ansan: Seoul’s best cityscape?
With its unobstructed views of downtown, Mt. Namsan, Bukhansan National Park, the Hangang River and the city beyond, the peak of Seodaemun’s Mt. Ansan is arguably the best vantage point in Seoul. It may also be one of the least known. While within easy walking distance of Yonsei University and Seodaemun Prison History Museum, Mt. Ansan is not as accessible as the other locations mentioned here. Getting to the vantage point requires a hike to the top of the 300 meter high mountain. The 30-minute walk along mostly gentle, well-maintained trails won’t trigger traumatic memories of scaling Annapurna, but it’s not the simple bus, taxi or cable car ride needed to reach the other viewpoints in this article, either.

The peak of Mt. Ansan is crowned by an old beacon fire station, or bonghwadae. The Joseon Dynasty maintained a national system of beacon fire stations to warn the capital of impending threats. While Mt. Ansan’s beacon fire, a reconstruction, no longer functions, it does function as an excellent observatory. For the photographically minded, the stone station also provides a nice, stable platform on which to put your tripod.

Begin your hike in the late afternoon, when there is still plenty of light to illuminate the path. When you reach the beacon fire station, just sit back with a thermos of coffee and wait for the show to begin. As the sky turns violet to blue to eventually black, the city below awakens, transforming into an ocean of artificial light. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Jamsil, the landmark Lotte World Tower rising out of the distance like a rocket on its launch pad. On hazy days, the lights diffuse, bathing the city in a ghostly fog of fluorescent and LED luminescence.

City at Night_7

With its sweeping, 180-degree views of Seoul, Mt. Ansan is a good spot to take stunning, panoramic photos of the city. You’ll want to bring a lens that lets you zoom into the city, especially the area around Mt. Namsan. Besides nightscapes, Mt. Ansan is also one of Seoul’s best sunrise spots in winter, when the sun rises directly over downtown Seoul.

While lights illuminate much of the path to the peak, the section at the very top is dark, so be sure to bring a flashlight for the hike down the mountain. During the day, the mountain is a popular park for local residents and students from the nearby universities. A network of easy hiking paths, the Ansan Jarak-gil, rings the mountain’s waist. When the weather is good, these paths – really a system of wooden decks - are an oasis of green in the heart of the concrete jungle. You’ll get some good views, too.

[Getting to Mt. Ansan]
Mt. Ansan’s access points include Seodaemun Prison History Museum, Bongwonsa Temple, Yonsei University, Seodaemun-gu Office, Muakjae Station and Hongje Station. Of these, Bongwonsa Temple and Seodaemun Prison History Museum are probably the easiest.

City at Night_8

Naksan Park: Shimmering dragon in the moonlight
In the days of the Joseon Dynasty, Mt. Naksan was one of the four guardian mountains of Seoul, along with Mt. Bugaksan, Mt. Inwangsan and Mt. Namsan. The mountain got its name, which translates as “camel mountain,” because the massif was said to resemble a camel’s back. The peak, which marked the eastern limit of the city, was already a popular scenic spot in the Joseon era, when local aristocrats built villas on its slopes. Seoul’s old city wall, which protected the city from attack, ran along the entirety of the mountain’s ridge line.

Today, Mt. Naksan is a popular leisure spot for local residents and tourists. Overlooking the Daehak-ro district, a lively neighborhood of theaters, cafes and restaurants, the mountain is crowned by Naksan Park, a green space with views of downtown Seoul, Dongdaemun, the hilltop neighborhood of Changsindong and Mt. Namsan. Many locals come here to do a bit of exercise and get some fresh air. It’s a very pleasant spot, especially in summer, when you can sit back and enjoy the cool breeze.

Mt. Naksan’s real draw, however, is its preserved section of the old city wall. The Naksan segment runs from the landmark Heunginjimun Gate, a.k.a. Dongdaemun, to Hyehwamun Gate. It granite wall, which snakes along the entire ridge, is lined by easy walking paths. Architectural lights illuminate the historical wall at night. Under the moonlight, it looks like a shimmering dragon, slithering through the undulating landscape. The beautiful spot frequently appears in TV dramas and films.

City at Night_9

While Naksan Park provides excellent views at night, so does Ihwa-dong Village, a hilltop community on the mountain’s western slope. Originally a working class neighborhood, Ihwa-dong has gentrified due to its many colorful murals, the result of a public art project that was either a raging success or a bane on the locals, depending on who you ask. Its alleys are now filled with workshops, museums and cafes as well as homes, although many of the businesses close at night out of respect for the locals.

City at Night_10

Nevertheless, its an interesting place to walk around at night. One spot in the village that is popular with nightscape photographers is the so-called “Ihwa-dong P-turn,” a p-shaped twist in the road that lends itself to long-exposure photography when cars pass through – a 30-second exposure usually suffices.

[Getting to Naksan Park]
- Naksan Park is just a 10 minute walk from Hyehwa Station (subway line 4, exit 2).
- You can also take bus no. 03 from Dongdaemun Station (subway lines 1, 4; exit 5).
 
Tags

#Night Life #Namsan #Naksan Park #Seoul at Night #Summer #Seoul #City #Nighttime #Dongdaemun #Night Views #Seoul #Culture

예약 전 안내사항

  • 예약은 관광일 기준 최소 3일 전까지 가능합니다.
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  • 해설 진행 시 발생하는 안전사고에 대해서 도보관광 사무국과 서울문화관광해설사는 책임을 지지 않습니다.
  • 보호자가 동반하지 않는 만 14세 미만의 하동 관광객의 경우 현장에서 취소됩니다.
  • 미세먼지 비상저감조치 발령 및 기타 기상악화(폭염, 태풍, 폭우 등)로 인해 도보관광 운영이 어려운 경우 모든 예약은 일괄 취소됩니다. (관광일 전날 기준)

예약 전 안내사항

  • 예약은 관광일 기준 최대 6개월 전부터 최소 5일 전 까지 신청 가능합니다.
  • 희망하시는 날짜 및 코스에 활동가능한 해설사가 없는 경우 예약은 취소될 수 있습니다.
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  • 예약확인을 위해 도보관광 사무국(02-6025-0777)에서 확인 연락이 진행됩니다.
    (최소 5일~한달 전)3회 이상 전화통화가 이뤄지지 않을 시 예약이 취소될 수 있습니다.
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  • 해설 진행 시 발생하는 안전사고에 대해서 도보관광 사무국과 서울문화관광해설사는 책임을 지지 않습니다.
  • 보호자가 동반하지 않는 만 14세 미만의 하동 관광객의 경우 현장에서 취소됩니다.
  • 미세먼지 비상저감조치 발령 및 기타 기상악화(폭염, 태풍, 폭우 등)로 인해 도보관광 운영이 어려운 경우 모든 예약은 일괄 취소됩니다. (관광일 전날 기준)

예약 전 안내사항

  • 예약은 관광일 기준 최소 1주일 전까지 가능합니다.
  • 덕수궁의 경우 복지카드를 지참한 관광객에 한하여 무료입장이 가능합니다.
    ※ 중증(1~3급) 동반인 포함 2명 무료※ 경증(4~6급) 장애인 본인 1인만 무료
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  • 희망하시는 날짜 및 코스에 활동가능한 해설사가 없는 경우 예약은 취소될 수 있습니다.
  • 예약확인을 위해 도보관광 사무국(02-6025-0777)에서 확인 연락이 진행됩니다.(최소 5일~한달 전)3회 이상 전화통화가 이뤄지지 않을 시 예약이 취소될 수 있습니다.
  • 해설 진행 시 발생하는 안전사고에 대해서 도보관광 사무국과 서울문화관광해설사는 책임을 지지 않습니다.
  • 미세먼지 비상저감조치 발령 및 기타 기상악화(폭염, 태풍, 폭우 등)로 인해 도보관광 운영이 어려운 경우 모든 예약은 일괄 취소됩니다. (관광일 전날 기준)

예약 전 안내사항

  • 예약은 관광일 기준 최소 1주일 전까지 가능합니다.
  • 덕수궁의 경우 복지카드를 지참한 관광객에 한하여 무료입장이 가능합니다.
    ※ 중증(1~3급) 동반인 포함 2명 무료
    ※ 경증(4~6급) 장애인 본인 1인만 무료
  • 본 프로그램은 수화해설 중심으로 진행되며, 수화가 불가능한 경우 이용이 불가합니다.
  • 희망하시는 날짜 및 코스에 활동가능한 해설사가 없는 경우 예약은 취소될 수 있습니다.
  • 예약확인을 위해 도보관광 사무국(02-6025-0777)에서 확인 연락이 진행됩니다.
    (최소 5일~한달 전)3회 이상 전화통화가 이뤄지지 않을 시 예약이 취소될 수 있습니다.
  • 해설 진행 시 발생하는 안전사고에 대해서 도보관광 사무국과 서울문화관광해설사는 책임을 지지 않습니다.
  • 미세먼지 비상저감조치 발령 및 기타 기상악화(폭염, 태풍, 폭우 등)로 인해 도보관광 운영이 어려운 경우 모든 예약은 일괄 취소됩니다. (관광일 전날 기준)

예약 전 안내사항

  • 예약은 관광일 기준 최소 1주일 전까지 가능합니다.
  • 본 코스는 보행약자(거동이 불편한 고령자, 장애인, 유모차 이용자 등)를 위한 코스입니다.
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    희망하시는 날짜 및 코스에 활동가능한 해설사가 없는 경우 예약은 취소될 수 있습니다.
  • 예약확인을 위해 도보관광 사무국(02-6025-0777)에서 확인 연락이 진행됩니다.(최소 5일~한달 전)3회 이상 전화통화가 이뤄지지 않을 시 예약이 취소될 수 있습니다.
  • 해설 진행 시 발생하는 안전사고에 대해서 도보관광 사무국과 서울문화관광해설사는 책임을 지지 않습니다.
  • 미세먼지 비상저감조치 발령 및 기타 기상악화(폭염, 태풍, 폭우 등)로 인해 도보관광 운영이 어려운 경우 모든 예약은 일괄 취소됩니다. (관광일 전날 기준)

Read before Reservation

  • Reservation shall be made at least 3 days before the tour day.
  • Reservation for the next month is available after 15th of the previous month.
  • Reservation may be closed early during weekend, holiday, and peak season in spring and fall.
  • Seoul Guided Walking Tour Office and Seoul culture and tourism guide are not liable for the safety accidents during the Seoul Guided Walking Tour.
  • Reservation for unaccompanied tourist under 14 will be canceled on site.
  • All reservations are canceled when Seoul Guided Walking Tour is unavailable due to Particulate Matter Reduction Measure or other weather conditions (heat wave, typhoon, heavy rain). (As of the date before the tour day)

Read before Reservation

  • Reservation shall be made at least 1 week before the tour day.
  • The course is for tourists with mobility problems (Senior, people with disability, stroller user).
  • You may not use the course without an assistant (or companion)
    ※ At least one assistant shall accompany a tourist with mobility problem
    ※ In case of electric assisting device users (electric wheelchair, electric scooter users), one assistant may accompany up to 4 tourists with mobility problem
  • Reservation may be canceled when a guide is unavailable on the desired date and course.
  • Seoul Guided Walking Tour Office (02-6025-0777) will contact you to confirm reservation.
    (At least 5 days~1 month before tour day) Reservation may be canceled when Seoul Guided Walking Tour Office cannot reach you for more than 3 times.
  • Seoul Guided Walking Tour Office and Seoul culture and tourism guide are not liable for the safety accidents during the Seoul Guided Walking Tour.
  • All reservations are canceled when Seoul Guided Walking Tour is unavailable due to Particulate Matter Reduction Measure or other weather conditions (heat wave, typhoon, heavy rain). (As of the date before the tour day)

予約前の案内事項

  • 予約は観光日を基準として少なくとも3日前まで可能です。
  • 翌月の予約は、前月の15日から可能です。
  • 週末及び祝日、春秋シーズンには予約が早めに締め切られる場合があります。
  • 解説を進行する時に発生する安全事故に対し、徒歩観光事務局と
    ソウル文化観光解説士は責任を負いません。
  • 保護者を伴わない万14歳未満の児童観光客の場合、現場でキャンセルされます。
  • 微細ホコリの非常低減措置発令及びその他の気象悪化(猛暑、台風、暴雨など)によって徒歩観光の運営が困難な場合、すべての予約は一括キャンセルされます。
    観光日前日基準)

予約前の案内事項

  • 予約は観光日を基準として少なくとも1週間前まで可能です。
  • 本コースは、移動弱者(移動が不自由な高齢者、障害者、ベビーカー利用者など)のためのコースです。
  • 補助人(或いは同行人)を伴わない場合は利用できません。
      ※歩行弱者1人当たり少なくとも1人以上の補助人を伴う
      ※電動補助具(電動車椅子、電動スクーターなど)使用者の場合、補助人1当たり歩行弱者最大4人まで同伴可能
  • ご希望の日付及びコースに活動可能な解説士がいない場合、予約はキャンセルされることがあります。
  • 予約を確認するため、徒歩観光事務局(02-6025-0777)で確認のための連絡が行われます。
    (少なくとも5日~1ヶ月前)3回以上電話が通じない場合、予約が取り消されることがあります。
  • 解説を進行する時に発生する安全事故に対し、徒歩観光事務局とソウル文化観光解説士は
    責任を負いません。
  • 微細ホコリの非常低減措置発令及びその他の気象悪化(猛暑、台風、暴雨など)によって
      徒歩観光の運営が困難な場合、すべての予約は一括キャンセルされます。
     (観光日前日基準)

预约前说明事项

  • 观光日基准最少3日前方可进行预约。
  • 下个月的预约可从前月15日开始。
  • 周末及公休日、春秋旺季的预约可早期结束。
  • 进行解说时,对于有可能发生的安全事故,徒步观光事务局和首尔文化观光
    解说员概不负责。
  • 未伴随保护者的未满14岁儿童游客,会在现场取消观光。
  • 因发布微尘紧急低减措施及其他气象恶化(暴热、台风、暴雨等),无法运营 徒步观光时,所有预约会批量取消。
    (观光前日基准)

预约前说明事项

  • 观光日基准最少1日前方可进行预约。
  • 本线路是为了行动不便者(行动不便的高龄者、残疾人、婴儿车利用者等)的路线。
  • 无辅助人员(或同行人)伴随时,不可利用。
    ※ 步行不便者1名至少需要1名以上的辅助人员陪同。
    ※ 电动辅助器具(电动轮椅、电动独轮车等)使用者时,每一位辅助人员最多可陪同 4名步行不便者。
  • 希望观光的日期及线路上无解说员时,预约有可能被取消。
  • 为了确认预约,徒步观光事务局(02-6025-0777)会致电进行确认。
    (最少5日~一个月前) 3次以上无法连接时,预约将被取消。
  • 进行解说时,对于有可能发生的安全事故,徒步观光事务局和首尔文化观光解说员概不负责。
  • 因发布微尘紧急低减措施及其他气象恶化(暴热、台风、暴雨等),无法运营 徒步观光时,所有预约会批量取消。
    (观光前日基准)

預約前說明事項

  • 觀光日基準最少3日前方可進行預約。
  • 下個月的預約可從前月15日開始。
  • 周末及公休日、春秋旺季的預約可早期結束。
  • 希望观光的日期及线路上无解说员时,预约有可能被取消。
  • 進行解說時,對於有可能發生的安全事故,徒步觀光事務局和首爾文化觀光解說員概不負責。
  • 未伴隨保護者的未滿14歲兒童遊客,會在現場取消觀光。
  • 因發布微塵緊急低減措施及其他氣象惡化(暴熱、臺風、暴雨等),無法運營 徒步觀光時,所有預約會批量取消。(觀光前日基準)

預約前說明事項

  • 觀光日基準最少1日前方可進行預約。
  • 本線路是為了行動不便者(行動不便的高齡者、殘疾人、嬰兒車利用者等)的路線。
  • 無輔助人員(或同行人)伴隨時,不可利用。
    ※ 步行不便者1名至少需要1名以上的輔助人員陪同。
    ※ 電動輔助器具(電動輪椅、電動獨輪車等)使用者時,每壹位輔助人員最多可陪同 4名步行不便者。
  • 希望觀光的日期及線路上無解說員時,預約有可能被取消。
  • 為了確認預約,徒步觀光事務局(02-6025-0777)會致電進行確認。
    (最少5日~壹個月前) 3次以上無法連接時,預約將被取消。
  • 進行解說時,對於有可能發生的安全事故,徒步觀光事務局和首爾文化觀光 解說員概不負責。
  • 因發布微塵緊急低減措施及其他氣象惡化(暴熱、臺風、暴雨等),無法運營 徒步觀光時,所有預約會批量取消。 (觀光前日基準)