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I kicked off the day with some breakfast before going to Geongbokgung Palace and National Museum. I have allotted my whole afternoon to see the N Seoul Tower because I wanted to witness the metamorphosis of the mega-city at dusk. (I will do a separate blog on the grand palaces and will concentrate on the N Seoul Tower and Namsan Park for today’s entry.)
Mt. Namsan is a symbolic mountain located at the center of Seoul. Although not as high as the other surrounding mountains, Mt. Namsan is a popular resting site. Rising up from its summit is the famous N Seoul Tower – an iconic landmark of South Korea . It measures 236.7 m (777 ft.) in height from the base and tops out at 479.7 m (1,574 ft.) above sea level making it the highest point in Seoul. This landmark offers a panoramic view of the city and can be seen equally visible from a range of places. Aside from that, the colors of N Seoul Tower also signify certain meanings. The official website of N Seoul Tower provides a 4-part explanation of the changing colors of the tower. When I was there, I witnessed 2 color changes as seen below. So next time you’re there, remember to take a look at the color changes!
N Seoul Tower in blue and green lights. The green color represents the “love for the earth” and the blue color represents a better air quality that is suitable for outdoor activities.
HOW TO GET THERE:
There are several ways to reach the top of Namsan Park or N Seoul Tower, either you take a bus, taxi, cable car or you walk up. I opted to ride a bus since the bus stop going to the tower is just outside the hotel where I’m staying. One thing to note, however, is that the bus timings are not fixed. These are probably due to road congestions and are only advisable if you’re in no particular hurry. Bus No.5 will get you to the park, remember to alight at the last bus stop. Once you are there, the remaining distance to the tower needs to be covered by foot. This path is characterized by a steep slope, so it is advisable to wear comfortable shoes. You can often see kids and youngsters racing uphill to the tower grounds, to be there first and claim the glory. Along the way up, on the right side, you can see parts of the city, more like teasing glimpses only, but impressive all the same. On the left side of the path, there’s a wall that looks much like a little sister of the Great Wall of China.
Fortress wall at Namsan park
When you reach the top of the park, you will see the Observatory and package ticket booth in the middle of the complex along with some restaurants. Before you buy your ticket, make sure you already know where to go and what to see. I purchase only the ticket for the observatory. There is Teddy Bear Museum, but I chose not to see it. Information leaflets are also available in Korean, English, Chinese and Japanese to provide better convenience.
N Seoul Tower Ticket counter
N Seoul Tower was actually much smaller than I expected it to be. The entrance is on the left side of the complex. You have to go down a flight of stairs, walk through a short green hallway and take the elevator. There was a queue for the elevator going up. Inside was a pretty cool 3D presentation projected onto the elevator’s ceiling that will surely keep you occupied during the entire time you are there, on your way to the third floor, which is less than 15 seconds. It seems to me that the Koreans love a good tease and they are not shy to show it. At the top of the tower, there is a Digital Observatory with a high-powered telescope providing a 360° view of Seoul for the fee of 500won. But you can also contemplate the mesmerizing metropolis below simply through the window, for free.
N Seoul Tower Observatory room – See Manila on the right? 🙂
If you do not wish to head to the observatory, or do not have the sufficient time for it, another way to view the city of Seoul is by dining at one of their many restaurants in the tower. Probably the most famous one is the rotating restaurant (N. Grill) on the 5th floor. It is fine dining, but you need to reserve in advance to be accommodated. I decided to eat at HanCook – an elegant buffet-style restaurant serving the traditional beauty and tastes of Korea in a comfortable setting. While having a good Korean meal I was waiting for the Seoul’s visual metamorphosis. The dusk came and the slow-motion show begun.
HanCook Restaurant – this abalone porridge is the best!
Munching on fruits as the city lights started to appear
As the mountains surrounding the city still kept glowing in the last rays of the setting sun, the entire valley gradually begun to twinkle with neon lights. At first, dozens of them popped up in clusters, then hundreds, thousands, finally millions of lights of the city sparkled below me like a Christmas carpet (if there is such thing), with the Han River reflecting the rising moon to complete the dazzling spectacle. From the high vantage point of the Seoul Tower, it’s a truly spectacular sight to behold.
Seoul at sunset
Seoul at night
You don’t have to dine in a restaurant to see all that. If you prefer the outside Rooftop Terrace or any other place, the view will be equally impressive.
For me, another thing that makes the area special is the romantic feel to it. It feels like love is in the air for everyone who is around here. Oh well, N Seoul Tower is indeed a popular place for couples and their ceremonial declaration of unfailing love. Have you heard of “Locks of Love”? How about “Love Message Tile”? Yes, all is here! Talking about romance, this place really rubs it in your face if you happen to be single! LOL
You can also spend time at the lobby which is particularly popular among young couples with its attractive red and white seating. The seats are large enough for two people and located by windows. What’s even nicer is they are equipped with monitors for viewing free movies and music videos. Since there is no admission, this always becomes a hot spot for couples on a tight budget.
N Seoul Tower’s lobby
After walking out of N Seoul Tower, I wandered into the gift shop located on the first floor. They sell popular N Seoul Tower souvenirs. You will also find some great designer items such as key holders, diaries, and accessories. This is a great place to buy gifts for your friends. I didn’t buy anything, though.
I went to the Roof Terrace – an expansive outdoor observatory on the annex building of N Seoul Tower which also offers an impressive view of Seoul. Lovers come here and put a lock on the fence to symbolize the eternity of their love. They then throw the keys away – often off hillsides or into water – to ensure no one finds the key to unlock the padlocks.
Tens of thousands of love locks at the Roof Terrace
Today, tens of thousands of love locks can be seen hanging on the terrace with new locks appearing each day. The Love locks come in different shapes and sizes – some were made from genuine locks, some were made from mobile phone covers or scraps of paper. I’m not really sure how love and padlocks are connected (bondage?) – But it was an impressive view. And in case you didn’t bring a lock, you can always buy one on site although unreasonably overpriced.
And of course, the heart-shaped sculpture has very little chance of escaping the padlock onslaught.
Overall, I’d recommend visiting the Seoul Tower before dusk for the sunset and the city lights waking up, but any time is good. Even when we were leaving at around 8:00 PM, many people were just arriving. There’s no problem with that, the park is well lit.
I soon headed down the park, took a bus and continued my amazing Seoul-tour.
If you don’t feel like shelling out a few thousand won to enter the observatory, you can still overlook Seoul on the Roof Terrace, or stay at the cafe called Twosome place inside the tower. A great place to grab a cup of coffee and admire the view from the Mt Namsan.
How to get there:
- Take the subway and drop off at Chungmuro Station (Line 3 and 4).
- Once you go out of Exit 1 at Chungmuro Station, you should see the Daehan Cinema.
- Look for the bus stop and wait for Bus #5 that goes straight to Namsan Park.
- Alight at the last bus stop.
N Seoul Tower Operating hours:
- Sunday-Thursday Observatory: 10:00-23:00
- Friday-Saturday Observatory: 10:00-24:00
- Observatory: Adult – 9,000 won; children – 7, 000
- Teddy Bear Museum: 8,000 won
- Package (Observatory + Teddy Bear Museum): 14,000 won
You may also want to check my blog on: N Seoul Tower and Namsan Park, Gyeongbukgong and Changdeokgung Palace, Hanok Village, My First Impressions of Seoul,Budget Travel in Seoul , Korean BBQ Experience, 15 Must try Street Food in Seoul, 15 Must try food in Seoul, Places to Visit in Seoul, Lotte World