You can also make exciting day tours from Seoul. We had decided to go to Suwon, to visit Hwaseong Fortress, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Suwon is the only remaining walled city in South Korea.
So, we walked from our hotel, the Hotel Manu, to the Seoul Subway Station. You can also go to Suwon by train, but we decided to take the subway and went to Guro Station first and then changed trains to Suwon Subway Station with our T-Money-Card. Actually, it took quite some time, and we had to wait for ages at the Guro Station, where we first felt a bit stranded, due to the lack of information in English. So, if I would do it again, I would instead take the much quicker, regular train.
We already had lost some time and wanted to finally start the sightseeing, so we skipped our plan to take the Bus 11 or Bus 13 from Maesan-ro, northeast of the station, to the Paldalmun Gate and took a relatively cheap taxi instead. The Paldalmun Gate is the southern gate of the Hwaseong Fortress and also the starting point for a round trip of the walls.
The walls were built in the 18th century by King Jeongjo to protect his father’s grave. And you can follow them for about 6 kilometers up and down in a circle until you eventually come back to the Paldalmun Gate. From the roundabout, in which the Paldalmun Gate is located, we followed the street to the left into the West, after a short stop at a fast food restaurant (some kind of Korean McDonalds).
The ticket booth for the circular walk along the walls was just a few steps away and we started by climbing the stairs up to the mountain. When we reached the top of the hill, we went a few steps to the left for a short excursion to the Seonamichi Bastion. We returned to the wall and then followed the walls, past a monument and a restaurant and soon came to Hyowon’s Bell which you can ring three times for good luck if you pay an extra fee.
We enjoyed a great view of the Seojangdae Command Post.
From the Post, the path along the wall lead downwards, and eventually, we came to the Hwaseomun Gate and then to the Janganmun Gate.
The Hwahongmun Gate is especially impressive, as it is above the river.
At the Yeonmudae Post, we bought some cold drinks and took a break, while watching fellow tourists learn archery.
Next up was the Changnyongmun Gate.
We soon reached the end, after enjoying the view, including the massive Suwon Jeil Church, and walked down. After crossing the river, we took a look at the Paldalmun Market, before we returned to the Paldalmun Gate, where we rested with coffee and cake.
After our little rest and the fantastic tour of the walls, we, of course, had to take a look at, what the barriers are protecting and went to Hwaseong Haenggung Palace. We walked the same way from the Paldalmun Gate as at the beginning of our tour. And this time just took the first street to the ticket office to the right into the north (Haenggung-ro), which offers art, souvenirs, and food.
At the end of the street, we came to the Palace and quickly entered, as it was getting late. We just roamed around there a bit, in between many school groups. It is a rather vast site and also offers some figurines to give a glimpse of how life used to be there.
We had planned to walk further to the Suwon Hwaseong Museum. Unfortunately, it was too late already. So, we also had to skip the Wolhwawon Garden, which you can reach from Suwon Station by taking the subway to City Hall Station. Even reachable from Suwon Station is the Korean Folk Village, which offers displays of traditional Korean life and culture and also shows. You can either take a shuttle bus from Suwon Station or take the subway from Suwon Station to Sanggal Station and take a bus from there.
For us, it was time to go back to Seoul, so we walked back to the Paldalmun Gate and took a taxi from there to the Suwon Station, where we took subways back to Seoul Station. At the Seoul Station, we also exchanged our e-tickets for a 4-Day-Train-Pass, that we had bought ahead online. There, they registered on which days we wanted to use it, as we had purchased a flexible pass (you can also buy one with consecutive days of use). To be honest – I wouldn’t buy one again. After all, it didn’t seem to really save much money, and on one day of use, we still had to pay, when we took two different journeys (unlike the excellent train pass we used in Japan). You also still have to go to the ticket counter each time you take a train (at least if you don’t want to stand).
We got tickets for an early train to Busan, our next destination, for the following day and then had dinner at the Seoul Station, before we started to pack our bags!