With summer having its last gasp, it is time to start thinking of autumn. And what better place to think of seeing vivid burnished foliage than in the Hallyu land of eternal love and melodrama?
Autumn in Korea normally begins around September to November and with its proliferation of national parks, tree-ringed universities and palaces, there is plenty to see and even more Instagram photos to take. Clear blue skies hanging over a silver sea of Pampas Grass on Mount Myeongseong and yellow Cosmo flowers at Olympic Park are just some of the things you can find when you visit Seoul this coming autumn.
This guide highlights some of the ultimate places and things to do when visiting Seoul in the autumn.
Image by Visit Seoul.Net
Coming from Malaysia, you will likely find Seoul’s autumn season to be quite chilly. September temperatures tend to vary between 15°C – 26°C , dropping to 7°C to 19°C in October and finally, winter-like temperatures of 0°C to 11°C in November.
A good rule of thumb, if you are unsure of how cold it might get, is to just pack extra warm clothes. Temperatures can drop below freezing point in November and the last thing you want is to be caught off guard!
Image by Visit Seoul.Net
Constructed in 1395, Gyeongbokgung Palace was the first and largest of the five grand Joseon palaces built and a must see when in Seoul. The palace grounds are vast and also contain the National Palace Museum of Korea and the National Folk Museum. While there is an entrance fee to be paid, we promise that it is worth it!
If you are planning a visit here, please note that Gyeongbokgung Palace is closed every Tuesday. There is also a Royal Guard Changing Ceremony that takes place on the palace grounds every 9.30am and 1.30pm which we would recommend all first-time visitors watch.
Top tip: Visitors can rent a hanbok (traditional Korean outfit) from one of the many shops surrounding the palace and gain free entry inside!
Image by Timothy Ries
Right around the corner from Gyeongbokgung Palace, you will find the Bukchon Hanok Village. Perched on a hilly terrain, this residential area has been flooding Instagram feeds for some time now due to their aesthetically pleasing hanok houses. These wooden hanok houses (with their hanji doors, which are made from the inner bark of the Paper Mulberry tree) were once used by noblemen in the Joseon era and is still considered to be somewhat of a posh urban place.
Perfectly suited to the millennial crowd, Bukchon Hanok Village contains plenty of galleries, quaint tea shops and guesthouses to satisfy all of your Instagram desires. At certain parts of the village, you can even see Samcheongdong and Namsan Tower! Again the perfect place to take photographs especially if you are still in your hanbok.
Image by Visit Seoul.Net
Samcheong-dong is a commercial shopping road that is definitely not to be missed. Full of shops selling cultural artefacts, galleries, cafes and restaurants, this popular, tree-lined road is perfect for a laidback shopping day or a romantic stroll with your loved one.
With all the autumn foliage that surrounds the buildings and occasional buskers lining the way, you are likely to will half your day away at this place. Other nearby attractions include the Cheongwadae (the Blue House and the official residence of the President of South Korea), Cheongwadae Sarangchae (a memorial museum that promotes Korean history and the legacy of past Korean presidents) and the Owl Art & Craft Museum.
Fun fact: If you are a K-Drama fan, you might recognise this as the filming sites for My Lovely Samsoon and Doctor Gang.
Image by Korea.net
There is no better place to appreciate autumn in Korea than with nature itself.
The Bukhansan National Park is known as Seoul's hiking paradise and can be accessed by taking the subway to Gupabal Station (Subway Line No. 3) before boarding a bus to the Bukhansanseong Information Center. If you are feeling peckish, have a meal at one of the local restaurants nearby before heading into the park to begin your "forest bathing" journey.
"Forest bathing" refers to taking a leisurely walk through the woods, breathing in the crisp fresh air and smell of decaying leaves while surrounded by birdsong. This aromatherapy is known to decrease stress and improve immune systems due to the chemical compound released by the surrounding trees and definitely not something to be missed.
At the same time, make sure you keep an eye out for the Yongamsa Temple, the Daeseomun Gate and the Muryongsa Temple. At the top of the forested hill, you will also find a 24 metres tall golden Buddha statue - the tallest seated Buddha in Asia, which is surrounded by thousands of smaller Buddhas that were donated by devout followers.
With so many things to do, we would recommend setting aside a day just for the Bukhansan National Park.
Image by One Day Korea
After all that time with nature, it's time for more shopping! Located in the posh Gangnam area, Garosu-gil means “tree-lined street” in Korean. True to its name, Garosu-gil is a famous shopping district filled with golden ginkgo trees and perfect for witnessing the autumn foliage in Seoul.
The nearest station is Sinsa Station (take exit 8) or Apgujeong Station (exit 5) and you will likely encounter some tourist ambassadors on hand to offer guidance. Enjoy this yellow-leaved street, and be sure to check out the many trendy, themed cafes and designer fashion shops located in the area.
Image by Farrel Nobel
Ewha Woman’s University is a private women’s university in Seoul and the largest female educational institute in the world. Catering to its large student population, there are plenty of trendy fashion shops, street food stalls and cafes around the university selling at affordable prices (including those famous 10,000 KRW bags!) so this is certainly one place you want to allocate more time for.
But before you disappear down the rabbit hole, make sure you visit Ewha’s university grounds. Often touted as one of the most beautiful universities in the world, Dominique Perrault, the architectural mastermind behind Ewha, has called it “sometimes building, sometimes landscape, sometimes sculpture”. A prime highlight of the university is the central valley which appears as a gentle slope between two buildings, forming a deep albeit intimate plaza that is perfect for lunching or hanging out with friends. Couple that with the glorious, ancient trees lining the area, and you can already guess why this should be on your must-see list!
To get here, take the subway to Ewha Woman’s University station (Exit 2 and 3).
It is impossible to overstate the beauty of Korea in autumn time and little surprise that this Hallyu country attracts a tremendous amount of tourists during this atmospheric season. If you’d like to experience Korea’s magical autumn for yourself, do check out the Seoul tour packages that are offered on Mayflower.com.my. There are numerous packages being offered and one that is bound to be perfect for you!
A faith-driven Sarawakian lawyer who believes that it is never too late to start crafting a socially impactful legacy. When not grappling with warranties and liabilities, she loves pursuing adrenaline-fueled adventures, improving her Español and playing the violin. You can find her at @vidadeliya or https://www.vidadeliya.com