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Seoul’s Popular Bukhansan Hike: What You Need to Know

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a girl at the summit of Bukhansan National Park, Seoul
Hiking to the summit of Bukhansan, South Korea
Want to find out more about Seoul’s popular Bukhansan hike? You’ve come to the right place! On my recent trip to Seoul, South Korea, I had the opportunity to reach Seoul’s highest peak in Bukhansan National Park. The experience most definitely did not disappoint! Bukhansan hike is a MUST DO while in Seoul! Located just north of the city, the park offers an amazing, and easily accessible, escape from Seoul’s hustle and bustle. In the five days that I spent in Seoul, hiking in Bukhansan National Park was by far my favorite activity! Once you reach the summit of Baegundae Peak you will feel as if you’re up in the clouds, rewarded by both city and mountain views all around.

Bukhansan Hike

What you need to know about the Bukhansan Hike

How long is the Bukhansan hike? Baegundae is Seoul’s highest peak, and an easy day trip from the city. It takes most hikers between 2-2.5 hours to reach the summit of Baegundae Peak, however this could really differ based on speed and fitness level. I recommend spending some time at the time, taking in the views and enjoying a picnic lunch. My lunch consisted of some hard boiled eggs and a granola bar, but many of the locals had mini stoves and hot noodle lunches! Total hike time? It took me a total of 6 hours to hike the 14 mile path. I entered through the Western Entrance and after reaching the Baegundae Peak summit, I attempted to hike across and exit through the Eastern side. However, at some point I became lost and ended up back on the Western side of the park. I think that if you enter and exit through the same side, the trek should only take between 4.5-5 hours total. I found the trail on the Western side (closest to the Gupabal station) to be well marked and very manageable as a solo hiker. You will simply follow signs towards Baegundae (Peak) throughout. The Eastern side of the park, however, I found to be not as well marked, as well as less beautiful. You will get to see some of the old fortress walls though!
views from the top of bukhansan
Views from the top of Bukhansan
Difficulty level? I would rate this hike as intermediate. While it is not impossibly challenging, it does require a fair bit of physical fitness. The beginning is rather flat, however the last hour is almost completely straight up! Fortunately, there are cables drilled into the rocks that you can use to pull yourself up during the steepest incline. Personally, I definitely should have done a bit more research, before attempting this hike solo on an evening after far too much soju. There are no opportunities to purchase food or water once you are in the park, so many sure that you bring enough water for your journey. If you are hiking during the summer months, then I recommend packing 2 liters.

How to get to Bukhansan National Park

In order to reach Bukhansan from Seoul you can take subway line 3 to Gupabal station. From here there will be a series of buses departing for the park. I found that I simply had to follow the locals, fully decked out in their trekking gear, and it was clear which bus to take. This hike is extremely popular with both locals and tourists. If you are hiking on the weekend, you can expect the trails to be quite packed.
trail signs on a hike in seoul, south korea
Well-marked trails in Bukhansan National Park

What to pack for the Bukhansan hike

I must say, I was feeling quite worried when I saw how prepared all the locals were in comparison to my Nike running sneakers and cotton shorts. While it was completely doable without proper hiking boots, if you have some along then I would opt to wear those as they will provide a bit more grip for the steep areas closer to the summit. If you’re traveling during the rainy season then I would suggest bringing along a lightweight raincoat or poncho as well, as the weather can be quite unpredictable.
Girl at the summit of the Bukhansan hike
Enjoying the views in Bukhansan National Park

Layers

I always recommend packing layers when hiking in the mountains. When I hiked to the summit of Bukhansan, it was above 90 degrees so a jacket wasn’t necessary. However the weather can be unpredictable, and change quickly.

Here are a few of my favorite hiking layers for any season:

Water

Always pack enough water when planning a hike, especially in a foreign destination. I always use Vapur water bottles when I travel. These are my favorite travel water bottles because they fold up after use. I recommend packing at least 2 liters of water for this hike, more if you can carry it, since there is nowhere to purchase water along the way. The sun was strong with temperatures well over 90 degrees on the day of my hike, so I finished off my first 2 liters of water quite quickly. You can also add a DripDrop ORS to your bottle to combat dehydration.  

Sunscreen/Hat

There is a decent elevation gain, and not much coverage on this hike towards the top. You’ll want to make sure that you’re protecting yourself against the strong sun. While on this trip,  I used BioClarity SunFilter on my face and BioClarity SunShady on my body. BioClarity is an amazing vegan skincare brand that I’ve been using for years.

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Food

Either pack your own food for lunch or pick it up right at the entrance of the park. I purchased a bag of hard boiled eggs for $2 from a local vendor, which provided some much needed energy throughout the hike.
Views of Seoul from the peaks
Bukhansan National Park, South Korea
Following the trail in Bukhansan National Park, Seoul, South Korea
Following the trail in Bukhansan National Park, Seoul, South Korea
If you enjoy hiking, here are some other helpful posts:  

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