Seoul Travel Guide: N Seoul Tower

Seoul Travel Guide: N Seoul Tower

Our next destination, after spending almost three hours at Namsamgol Hanok Village was Namsan Seoul Tower or N Seoul Tower. Since it’s opening to the public in 1980, it recently got a name upgrade in 2005. With the new upgrade came a new name —Namsam was changed to N, which stands for ‘new’, after having received many renovations. An iconic of Seoul,  the N Seoul Tower stands 479.7m above Namsan hill and offers breathtaking views across Seoul and beyond. This tower was built in 1969 as Korea’s first integrated transmission tower to transmit television and radio broadcasts across the capital. Although it is still being used to broadcast signals for big Korean networks like KBS, MBC, and SBS, many people frequent it for many other reasons.

Today, it is the most recognisable landmarks of Seoul, South Korea, and is frequented by both locals and foreigners alike. And recently, due to the Korean wave, popularising the ‘love locks’ in many popular Korean dramas, and romantic comedy, it has become an integral part of the Korean popular culture.  To many people, and especially couples, this is an attraction that cannot be missed. Recently, after the huge success of ‘My Love From The Stars’, a hilarious romantic comedy that shouldn’t be missed, its popularity is raised once again. 

Seoul Travel Guide:
Namsangol Hanok Village to N Seoul Tower

From Namsangol  Hanok Village, we walked towards the main road to find a bus, specifically yellow bus number 2 for Seoul Tower.  Once we got off the bus, we were somehow sidetracked by some cute stores and ended up near Pacific  Hotel. Lucky for us, there was signage everywhere directing us to Seoul Tower. We made an upward trek towards the tower, stopping by cute cafes and unique street art along the way. My sister and I spent more than 30 minutes walking leisurely, enjoying the moment and capturing pictures to commemorate our very first ‘date’ towards the romantic Seoul Tower.

Seoul Travel Guide: Taking the Namsan Oreumi Elevator

FYI, There are two available options to reach the tower: walk as we did above, or shortcut. And by shortcut, I mean using the Namsan Oreumi Elevator. It is located at the entrance of Namsan Tunnel #3, near the Hoehyeong 119 Safety Center.  The Namsan Oreumi elevator is an ‘elevator‘ that is able to bring you to, and from the base of the hill up towards Nansam Cable Car and vice versa. The cable car is absolutely free. You just have to cram yourself, along with your friends or lover into the small elevator along with many other foreigners and locals alike. Depending on the hour, and the day, it does get crowded. It’s quite a neat concept. One that hasn’t been established anywhere here in Canada.  The elevator goes up/down an elevated track, much like a railroad, except upward. Although the ride was short, 3 minutes, the wait to get onto the elevator can be relatively long as only one elevator is in operation. 

However, if you want to explore the full Namsan mountain with all of its nooks and crannies, there’s a trail you can take which leads you directly to the tower. Being super fit, and completely refreshed even after walking the whole of Namsangol Hanok Village and more, we took this path. Okay. I lied. We got sidetracked, lost, and was only finally able to find our path after somehow ended up near Pacific Hotel. So we weren’t able to take the Cable car. It was around 4:00 pm and the sun wasn’t going to set anytime soon. So even though we somehow missed the Namsan Oreumi, we received the opportunity to explore Namsan mountain more fully.

I heard Koreans love to walk, especially the elderly. And as we made our way up a flight of stair to get to the walking trail, we realise this stereotype was somewhat true. We passed by a lot of older Korean men and women as we strolled up, but we didn’t encounter many people our age. We did, however, pass by this awesome restaurant called Mokmyeoksanbang –a traditional Korean restaurant, tucked away in Namsan Mountain.

Seoul Travel Guide: Mokmyeoksanbang Restaurant

One of the most scenic spots to dine in Seoul, the Mokmyeoksanban’s main attraction beside authentic Korean cuisine is its tranquil natural surroundings. The restaurant operates under these strict principles: high-quality food, no artificial seasoning, home-cooked Korean heritage food, serve with love and care. The name of the restaurant came from Namsan Mountain’s old name ‘Mokmyeoksan‘, and in my opinion serves up the best bibimbap in Seoul. With aromatic Nurungji (tea) served on the side, it was a dish that will stay in my memory for a very long time. Tucked away in Namsan mountain surrounded by tranquil nature, dining in a traditional hanok house setting, this is a great restaurant to start your date even before reaching Namsan mountain. I love my sister to death, but it’s moments like this that makes me yearn for my boyfriend while travelling.

 

The great thing about taking a leisurely hike up Namsan mountain instead of riding the cable car is the fact that every time you come upon a beautiful view of the city, you can stop for a moment and enjoy it. To take in all the sight, scent and sound this mountain has to offer. As you climb further and further up Namsan mountain, the forest will start to clear, and soon enough without realising how far you’ve climbed, you will notice N Seoul Tower as it stands majestically above the canopy. I love hiking, especially at high elevation, so when exploring a city, I always try to reach the highest point of each city I travel through. As I got nearer to the actual tower, my heart started beating a quicker rhythm. I couldn’t wait to see the urban sprawl of Seoul from the observation deck above.

Seoul Travel Guide: Love Locks at Seoul Tower

Before going up the observatory, we first absolutely HAD to visit the famous love locks popularised in many Korean dramas. As we walked up to the wooden observation deck overlooking Seoul, we saw thousands and thousands of locks attached to branches, trees, railings, fences and just about anything you can attach a lock to. Much like Paris’ love locks at Pont des Arts, here in Seoul, amorous couples have also decided to declare their undying love to each other by attaching love locks to this observation deck overlooking the scenic urban sprawl of Seoul. This tradition, popularised in many Korean dramas, and inspired by a Japanese tourist, believes that by locking the two lovers names together, their love will be secured forever. To double the magic, lovers can also strengthen their bond more by making a wish at the Wishing Pond atop N Seoul tower. 

N Seoul Tower Korea

If you rummage through the lock to take a closer look,  you will see that most of the locks are decorated with drawings and stickers. The lock varies in shape, sizes and type, while some cannot even be called locks. Some used chain locks for bikes, shaped as hearts as well as pink and red heart-shaped ribbons on their locks. Travelling with my sister, we both felt like lonely little birds as we watched couples take romantic vows, and locking their love. Surprisingly, there were also many older couples (40+) taking the vow. It was very adorable, but a little uncomfortable as I (who knows for whatever reason) imagined my parents doing the same. 

If you’re interested in purchasing a lock, to shout your love atop Namsan mountain, you can purchase them at the souvenir shop. Each set costs 10,000 won and comes with a permanent marker to write your love message. We didn’t make any lock purchase. Looking back now, I think we should have. Family love is just as strong, or even more so than romantic love, and is something that will last forever. 

Seoul Travel Guide: N Seoul Tower Observatory

After our senseless photo taking spree, and much-needed break at the love bench, we went up the observatory to catch a 360o panoramic view of the city during sunset. Admission fee for this attraction is 15,000 won (with Alive Museum), but due to our T-Money Card discount, we only paid 13,500 won.

The best way to save on transportation within Seoul is by using T-Money. It is a reloadable transportation card that you can use when riding the bus, subway, taxi, and can be used as a form of payment in numerous convenience stores. It can be bought at convenience stores and vending machines in subway stations. Discounts come in free transfers when you ride the subway and the bus consecutively. And depending on the colour of the bus, free transfer is allowed from bus to bus. The balance is refundable. When leaving Seoul and you still have some money on the card, you can get a refund for the remaining balance after a 500 won ($0.44) service fee. For more information, visit their official site.  

We waited in line for what seems like an eternity due to the crowd of tourists and locals interested in going up the tower to continue their sightseeing or date. Finally, we were able to go pass the entrance and rode the elevator to level 3F. Inside the elevator, you will be shown a short, but neat 3D presentation that will sure to keep you occupied while waiting to reach the third floor. 

As you step out the elevator and enter the third floor you will notice that the room is surprisingly tiny. However, there’s more than enough space to move around amongst all the other sightseers. On this floor, there are two souvenir shops, a small cafe and many seats for you to enjoy the view. The panoramic views from here, at this height, were absolutely stunning. Being able to walk all around the deck and have these unobstructed views of Seoul during sunset was an unforgettable experience. 

With the sun slowly setting, and beautiful shades of pink, red and purple hues washing the blue sky, it was very tempting to pay the extra fee to go up to the french restaurant above. We didn’t. But, if I were here with my special someone, I would have paid the extra fee. Bring a “love lock” to add to the giant collection atop, and maybe after some romantic yet pointless photo shoot, we would have spent some more dough to have a candlelit dinner at n.GRILL, a revolving restaurant at the very top of N.Seoul Tower, past the observatory. For the romance seeker, I believe, there’s no better way to catch the night views of Seoul than staring out the glass windows of this restaurant sipping fine wine, and dining on delicious french cuisine.

However, as I’m with my sister, and french cuisine is aplenty in Canada, we opted to enjoy the view where we were at, among the busy cafe, Weeny Beeny candy store, Ba:ng souvenir shop and love letter station. Yes. You heard that right. Another love station to shout out your love from the top of N Seoul Tower. This time, in the form of a letter. My sister and I didn’t write any love letters, but I think if I have the opportunity to come here again with Jose, I would write. He would write. And it’ll be amazing to receive those letters months later and see what we wrote to each other.

These guys writing love letters to their girlfriend, lover, or a family member are just too adorable. Oddly enough, I didn’t see any girls picking up a pen to write one too. 

Seoul Travel Guide: Alive Museum at N Seoul Tower

After enjoying the beautiful view of Seoul at sunset, our next ‘date‘ itinerary for the evening was the Alive Museum —an attraction we bought along with N Seoul Tower. Alive Museum or Trick Eye Museum is a special art gallery with numerous paintings created using ‘trompe l’oeil’ technique that gives each 2D art piece the illusion of being 3D. Surprisingly, unlike N Seoul Tower where you’re surrounded by tourists and locals alike, at Alive Museum, it seemed like we were the only one there. Which is awesome! More opportunity for us to take a TON of senseless photos to make more work for myself when I have to go through them at home. Hmmm…I think I need to give my trigger-happy finger a break once in awhile. 

 

By the time we left Alive Museum, the sun had completely set, and the sky was now pitch black. Street lamps and other lights had illuminated the streets as we made our way back to the Namsan Cable car. While we leisurely stroll toward our exit, we took a couple of moments to enjoy N Seoul Tower and its surroundings. The tower stood majestically bright against the pitch black sky. It was beautiful. 

Seoul City Guide: How to get to Seoul Tower

Seoul Tower Admission 

Adult  9,000 won | Children  7,000 won
With Alive Museum: Adult  15,000 won |  Children  11,000 won 

Seoul Tower Shuttle Bus

Option 1: Take the subway and get 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 which should be straight ahead, and wait for Bus #5. It should take you straight to Namsan Park.

Option 2: From Myeongdong station, take exit 2 or 3, and walk straight. When you see Pacific Hotel, turn right (there will be signs here and along the way to guide you). Continue trekking uphill towards N Seoul Tower. 

I hope you enjoy my recollection of our unromantic ‘date’ atop Namsan mountain. If you want to see more of our adventure in Trick Eye Museum, click here.

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48 Comments

  1. I am supposed to be there later this year! So, I love this post. Gives me some good ideas of where to go and what to expect. Beautiful pictures as well.

  2. I hope you don’t mind, but I enjoyed reading your blog and have nominated you for a Leibster award, here is my post on the award:

    http://prettypotato.co.uk/2017/05/25/a-leibster-award/

    Please don’t feel like you have to accept the award if you don’t want to, I simply nominated blogs that I enjoyed reading.
    Sophe recently posted…A Leibster Award!My Profile

    1. Thank you for loving my blog, especially my Cambodian food section. ! I accept your nomination and will acknowledge you as a nominator.

  3. I love the architecture and I love the quirky, streets. That bench is totally cool. I really love that 2D to look 3D art. I guess. You have to take the picture from a specific angle. Awesome. It’s already on my to go to list.

    1. The great thing is they mark the angle on the floor where you should be standing if you’re the photographer and where you should lay/be if you’re the one posing. Pretty cool. Glad to hear it’s going on your list. You’ll have a lot of fun!

  4. Great post! Do you know how long the love locks have been around? I wish I would have known about this when I visited Seoul back in 2004. It would have made my visit a lot more fun!

    1. It really got popular in 2008, but I wouldn’t know when it actually got started. It might have already been there in 2004, but not to the extreme like you’re seeing it now. Seoul is such a fun country. It never seems to sleep. Day and night there’s always something to do. It’s probably very different now than when you first went. Thanks for enjoying the post. 🙂

  5. All your photos look so lovely! Although you said it was an unromantic trip. I went to N Seoul Tower a few years back for the night tour. I didn’t know there is the love lock thingy! But fortunately I didn’t know, else I would have felt like a lonely bird, too as I went there for a solo trip. Haha..
    Tracy Chong recently posted…Torosiaje: Walking in the Bajo Village of GorontaloMy Profile

  6. Those love locks look so cute and colorful! Although Seoul hasn’t really been on my short travel list, you have now sparked my interest. The city seems amazing!
    Elena recently posted…An honest opinion about Berlin: Expectations vs. RealityMy Profile

  7. This observatory looks fantastic! I have never heard of it before. Your explanation of Love Locks and Korean dramas was also really informative to an outsider as well!

  8. I keeping this near and dear. I was supposed to go last year and my friend and I got sick so I hoping to get there soon. So I have to keep this to remember all the great things you have here.

    1. My sister went to Seoul a second time, alone. Seoul and Japan are one of those places you can stay out till after 4 am and still feel safe. I hope you’re able to go again, alone or with your friends. It’s just an amazing place!

  9. Your pictures and recommendations about Soul are wonderful. I’m a new reader and will follow your blog from now on. Congratulations!
    Warm regards!
    Julie Searle
    Julie Green and Keen recently posted…Hannah’s Movie Party Spectacular + Flavored Popcorn recipes!My Profile

  10. Wow! Thanks so much for sharing. I can’t travel and doubt I will for a couple of more years since my oldest started college and my youngest is about to start school (I know crazy gap ha) but seeing these images sure made me daydream. Thanks so much for sharing!
    Ellie Augustin recently posted…What To Get Your Graduate Heading to High SchoolMy Profile

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post. That age gap adds a little more interest in your life, for sure. Though I wouldn’t know. Hope you’re able to live your daydream soon! Thanks for dropping by 🙂

  11. i went to the tower in august – your photos are so much better than mine! It was super hazy when i was there. your sunset shots are lovely. and love those locks!!!

    1. Thank you! I actually want to go back during autumn. I heard it’s really beautiful at that time.

  12. This looks like so much fun! I would love to visit here! I definitely have to add this to my bucket list!
    Mommy Engineering recently posted…6 Helpful Tips to Help Your Kids Survive Allergy SeasonMy Profile

  13. I have never thought about traveling to Seoul:) You have inspired me looks like a magical place and food looks incredible.

    1. Glad to have piqued your interest!

  14. Wow! Seoul looks so beautiful. Next year, I plan to visit Asia and will add this

  15. Cool story – but I’m WAY too afraid of heights to feel comfortable right up the top of the tower!! Maybe the weight of the padlocks will topple it over one day! It’d be interesting to do a survey about how many of the couples with padlocks are still together 5 years later!! I like the idea of walking rather than taking the bus – that really is the best way to see a city. You’ve made this one sound VERY interesting!
    Marion Halliday (Red Nomad OZ) recently posted…See Australia Month by Month Part Two: July to December Travel Teasers!My Profile

    1. They’re so organised, they’ve probably considered that fact. I do hope they have, and that it wouldn’t topple considering the height it’s at. Would be quite dangerous. I doubt some people even stays together after the date! lol But it is nice for the couple who does. Would be neat to be able to go back and check it out later when you’re married or something. It’s like a time capsule in a way. Thanks for reading!

  16. Stunning photos! Makes me want to visit. Seems like an exciting place.

  17. Wow. That looks so fun and different. Lots to see and the art! Beautiful
    Tiffany Meiter recently posted…Tips to Create a Healthy LifestyleMy Profile

  18. Wow, this is Seoul?? Honestly, I had never really seen too many pics of it before, and I must say it looks gorgeous and not what I expected! The streets in the first few pics are so freakin cute! And everything looks so clean. I didnt really have Seoul on my list before, but I can tell you that now I do!!! Thanks for sharing an enlightening me!

    1. OH, their street is definitely cute, to say the least. They seem to take a lot of inspiration from European countries, but with an obsession for teddy bears and other cute things. They even have little France which is a perfect replica of Europe with french restaurants and bistros, cute flower shops. Just awesome. Like Japan, they’re very clean and super friendly. You should definitely add Seoul to your list!

  19. Now I want to go to Korea. All your photos are amazing. That Alive Museum looks like a lot of fun!
    Amber recently posted…Watching The Movie Now And Then With My DaughterMy Profile

  20. That is really a quirky and creative street art. Love exploring the art in cities like this.
    Gokul Raj recently posted…Things I avoided in Bangkok and Why You should tooMy Profile

    1. Me too. And South Korea got some amazing street art. I wish I had my camera at all time to shoot all of them.

  21. Looks so beautiful in the day and night. I’m actually going to have a 12 hour layover there this summer. Do you think that’s enough time to leave the airport and explore a little?

    1. Definitely, a lot of time to explore, if you use the namsan oreumi elevator instead of walking up the mountain. But you have to add in an hour 1/2 time to your schedule because from Incheon to Seoul it’s about 1-2hrs depending on your choice of transportation. Most people only spends 1-2 hours max at n seoul tower. Take a look at the different things near namsan tower and add it to the itinerary. There’s a large shopping district near namsan tower too if you love shopping. 12 hours is a good amount of time to explore some areas of seoul if you plan your itinerary to the t.

  22. Sounds like a vigorous and rewarding adventure. Not sure I’d do so well in the tower but those views look wonderful. I love traveling with my sister as well.

    1. It’s not bad at all if you take the elevator/tram which takes you directly up namsan mountain to seoul tower. The only walking then would be exploring the tower fully. It’s really worth the trip. Being able to have a sibling who loves to travel as much as you, and get along while travelling (having the same interests) is a blessing. We’re both very lucky 🙂

  23. I’ve visited Seoul a few times but you’ve listed quite a few things I haven’t done. I really like the uber modern focus of your travel list. Seoul’s highest post office is a cool concept and the Alive Museum looks pretty neat.

    1. They are, you should definitely explore them.

  24. WOW! SO much character in that area. That walk up the mountain looks like so much fun (even if it wasn’t romantic for you!) I loved the story behind the locks.

  25. So many surprises! I don’t know what I expected Seoul to be like, but it wasn’t this.I love so many things above, particularly the cute little village at the top. Maybe we’ll have to go!
    Alyson recently posted…Learning About Egypt, for Kids, by Kids.My Profile

    1. You definitely have to go! I would go again if I have the chance. If you like the traditional namsangol hanok village, you should also check out bukchon hanok village where it’s a mix of modern and old, with rolling hills and mountain backdrop. It’s beautiful, and people actually live there (in hanoks), its a residential area with many cute shops and amazing food joints.

  26. This is a very interesting article! I especially love the idea of the padlock trees – at least these are dedicated places where lovers can attach their locks instead of latching them onto bridges and the like (as in Europe). Stunning photos too, you’ve made me want to go and visit Seoul now!

    1. They made a couple of rules so that it doesn’t become destructive. Like some people used to throw the keys off the lookout points after locking their padlock, but now they added a box specifically for people who plans on throwing the key away. Good management overall I think. I do love the concept and I wish we have a place to do something like that here in Canada.

  27. Great info!! Super helpful. I haven’t been to Seoul yet but it’s high on my list as its many of my best friend’s favorite place! Pinning this for when I finally make it there

    1. Thank you. Glad you found it helpful. Seoul is a great city with so many things to do. It’s also one of my favourites. Hope you do make it there!

  28. I very much enjoyed the details of your trip. I hadn’t considered Seoul a part of my travel bucket list but now I shall!
    Terri Steffes recently posted…Meyer Lemon and Blueberry Soup #SoupSwappersMy Profile

  29. Seoul seems like a very interesting city! It’s hard to believe all these photos were taken in the same city! I’d love to visit the observatory tower. 360-degree views are always breathtaking.

    1. I absolutely agree. I need to go to any place that has a panoramic 360 degree view of anything! Especially at a super high elevation.

      1. One of these days I have to make it to Seoul! All these things look fun. Namsung mountain looked like an adventure. Love the pics!

        1. Thank you. It really is an adventure.

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