Namsan: Autumn in the South Mountain

Tiếng Việt

A little slice of nature in the middle of Seoul, Namsan is a popular destination for both locals and foreign tourists. The mountain is well-known for its beautiful hiking trails which allow visitors to experience the local wildlife and to enjoy the view over the city. When autumn comes, Namsan is blanketed with vivid golden and red leaves, turning it into the city’s most scenic location.


Lying south of Myeongdong, Namsan (남산), meaning “South Mountain”, is one of the four major mountains in Seoul. Together with Bugaksan in the North, Inwangsan in the East and Naksan in the West, it is believed to form a protective circle surrounding the historic core of Seoul. For this reason, Namsan was considered a sacred shamanistic site during the Joseon dynasty.

As ordered by King Taejo, the first king of Joseon, a massive fortress wall was built along the range of these mountains to protect the city from invasions. And the wall that ran through Namsan marked the southern boundary. Some sections of this wall still exist to this day, including five beacons at the mountain peak.

Namsan – A sacred shamanistic site
A wall segment in Namsan

Although Namsan (262m) is the lowest of the four mountains, its popularity far surpasses the other three. Each day, the mountain welcomes around 20,000 visitors. Most people come here to enjoy nature, go for a hike, or to catch a view of Seoul downtown. Others travelled here to seal their love forever. A collection of “love locks” hanging on a wall close to the peak is the evidence for their (wishful) endless love.

Autumn foliage
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N Seoul Tower

At the peak of Namsan, I found myself standing in front of another landmark, the N Seoul Tower (also known as Namsan Tower or Seoul Tower). Soaring 236 metres to the sky, this tower was first constructed in 1969 as a broadcast tower to send out TV and radio signals. Eleven years later, it was opened to the public as the first tower-type tourism spot in South Korea. After extensive remodelling in the 2000s, N Seoul Tower has become an inseparable part of Seoul’s skyline and one of the city’s most symbolic buildings.

View of Seoul downtown
Sunset in Seoul

Practical Information about Namsan

  • Fall is an ideal time to visit Namsan as the weather is pleasant. The whole area is also transformed into a carpet of golden and red autumnal leaves.
  • Namsan peak is easily accessible by three Namsan Circular Shuttle Bus routes. The bus departs from Chungmuro station (No. 02), from Seoul station (No. 03) and from Myeongdong station (No. 05). Payable by Korea Tour Card.
  • Alternatively, you can take the cable car which runs from the base of the mountain. The cable car station is 15-minutes walking from Myeongdong station. A one-way ticket costs ₩7,000, while a round-trip costs ₩9,500.
  • I would recommend taking the bus or cable car to the peak, then walk back to the town. In this way, you can experience the park and enjoy the spectacular view of Seoul without the crowd. It’s a fairly simple walk and the trail is very well-maintained.
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31 thoughts on “Namsan: Autumn in the South Mountain”

  1. Robert J Jr. – Savannah, Georgia – Retired Army Veteran, photoblogger, photographer. I love taking a good picture as much as editing pictures in Lightroom and Photoshop.
    Robert says:

    Insightful and beautiful

  2. Aradyasd – Bangalore – I am Business Development Executive at FuGenX Technologies in Bangalore, looking forward a good response from you all. Thank you. Keep responding, will update new interesting technology related blogs.
    mobileappdevelopmentbangalore says:

    Beautiful

  3. Jolene – Sydney, Australia – Jolene is a banker by trade, a writer at heart, and is a contributor to Thought Catalog. You are welcome to peek into her adventures and reflections on films and life at "SoMuchToTellYou", her ultimate love affair with words.
    Jolene says:

    Love the colours of autumn, arguably my favourite season. So serene and poetic at the same time… Are you travelling again?

      1. Jolene – Sydney, Australia – Jolene is a banker by trade, a writer at heart, and is a contributor to Thought Catalog. You are welcome to peek into her adventures and reflections on films and life at "SoMuchToTellYou", her ultimate love affair with words.
        Jolene says:

        How long did you spend in Korea? Did you go to the military zone between North and South?
        I have been doing a few short trips in Aus… Now in Hong Kong. Maybe thinking of Vietnam sometime (will dig out your previous posts for inspiration!)

      2. Is autumn a good time to visit Hong Kong? I visited Hong Kong when I was 13-14. Hardly remember anything, except the unbearable heat. I spent 2 weeks in Korea. I was in Seoul, Busan and Jeju. Also took a mini-trip to Seoraksan National Park. A very beautiful place, especially in autumn. During my trip, all tours to Panmunjom were suspended as they were prepared for a meeting or something like that.

      3. Jolene – Sydney, Australia – Jolene is a banker by trade, a writer at heart, and is a contributor to Thought Catalog. You are welcome to peek into her adventures and reflections on films and life at "SoMuchToTellYou", her ultimate love affair with words.
        Jolene says:

        Absolutely, early/mid November is the best time. After the typhoon season and before winter sets in. But it’s soo crowded, not great for people with claustrophobia.
        2 weeks is a long time, you must have had a very in-depth tour! I hear Jeju is beautiful, pls post about that in the future. Panmunjom would have been an interesting experience.

  4. Wow incredible photos as always Len! I can never be tired of autumn photos. Autumn looks beautiful in South Korea. My favorite photo is the one with TV tower. Did you take that panorama of Seoul from the tower?

    1. Nope, I made it at the peak of Namsan 🙂 There was a huge crowd in front of the tower, so I skipped it. Besides, it would be difficult to make photos from the top of the tower. Everything would be too small, and there were the (dirty) windows.

  5. Bama – Jakarta, Indonesia – Based in Jakarta, always curious about the world, always fascinated by ancient temples, easily pleased by food.
    Bama says:

    Sooo beautiful! I didn’t have enough time to go to Namsan, and now I really regret it. But my visit was a very short one anyway and it was mostly cloudy during my stay in Seoul. I guess next time I go to the South Korean capital I should time my visit with the peak of autumn foliage. It must have been really cold, though?

    1. Not really. It was 6-7 Celsius degree. But it was sunny, so I didn’t feel cold at all. If you want to keep yourself warm, you can hike the mountain 🙂 I saw some people do it, only wearing short and a light jacket.

  6. Arundhati Basu – New Jersey, US – The great affair in my life is to travel. I count myself immensely fortunate that my partner shares this passion. We are a team that likes to spend time planning and plotting out places to go. Destination check, flights check, accommodation check, cheesy grins check. Off we go.
    Dippy Dotty Girl says:

    You have shot autumn in Namsan beautifully and that one of the love locks is special.

  7. Forestwood – A philosophic Australian writes here, one who admits to loving Scandinavia. I'm interested in global politics, but scratch the surface and you'll find I am a practical Environmentalist with an Egalitarian bent trying to unleash a little creativity. Scandinavian culture, literature and traditions are close to my heart, even though I am Australian. Travel broadens the mind, so I travel whenever I can. I am an avid reader, I enjoy photography, writing and a variety of crafts, particularly traditional art forms. You are always welcome to stop by at S.t.P.A.
    Forestwood says:

    And here are the Autumn shades in all their mesmerizing glory.

  8. Beautifully captured and written! I’ve always missed visiting Namsan in autumn. I know it’s so strange because we’re barely 30 minutes away from there. 🙂 I hope we don’t have distancing this autumn. 🙁

    1. *fingers crossed* I hope so too. This autumn might be a good chance to visit Namsan, because the crowd will be minimal 🙂

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