Autumn Foliage Tours in Seoul, Korea
Korea’s autumn (fall) foliage is absolutely magnificent. Mountains showing off their rich assortment of reds, golds, and oranges are incomparable symbols of autumn scenery in Korea. Every year, thousands of visitors willingly travel 3-4 hours from Seoul for a colorful spectacle at mountains such as Seoraksan and Daedunsan, just to name a few.
But did you know that you can enjoy the stunning sight of autumn foliage, WITHOUT having to sit a good 3-4 hours on the bus and then hike uphill?
Here’s a heads-up to all of you who want to enjoy Korea’s famous autumn foliage, yet not travel too far from downtown Seoul!
First, let’s quickly review the weather forecast for Autumn 2017.
Looking at last year’s foliage near Seoul (referring to Bukhansan), in 2017, the period from mid-October to mid-November would be perfect for the most impressive scenery.
Around this period, the weather is perfect for sightseeing – not too hot, not too cold. Normally, temperatures range from about 10 ℃ – 25 ℃ in October and then 0 ℃ – 15 ℃ as it gets cooler in November. At this time of the year, the daily temperature range tends to fluctuate greatly. So, it’s best to wear layered clothing. For example, carry around a light-weight outer garment that you can easily put on whenever you feel a bit chilly 🙂
And now, here are 3 tours near Seoul that will let you conveniently explore autumn foliage wonders!
1. Nami Island and More: Autumn in Nature
Location: Chuncheon, Gangwon-do
Time it takes from Seoul: 1-1.5 hours
1) Nami Island
Nami island is a man-made island shaped like a crescent. Created in 1944, the island became popular in 2003 as the filming location of Korean Drama Winter Sonata. Nami Island’s famous tree-lined roads that appear in the drama are the absolute must-visit photo spots that everyone should stop by.
You can also immerse yourself in nature – hundreds of tall trees and the fresh cool air will welcome you. Feel free to choose among various forest trails that will let you fully take in the vibrant autumn colors, but we also recommend renting bicycles to explore more. The island is not too small, spanning more than 450,000 m². Enjoying water activities such as motorboats and water skiing is a great option too!
3-4 hours on Nami Island should give you a decent amount of time to look around. We highly recommend visiting during weekdays. On weekends, the place will most likely be crowded with so many people trying to catch a glimpse of the island’s beautiful autumn foliage.
Petite France is a French cultural village where you can get a taste of France for a change. Its theme is “Flowers, Stars, and the Little Prince.” To keep up with this dreamy theme, the village features Saint-Exupéry Memorial Hall, Orgel (music box) House, Marionette Dance Performance, and so much more, letting visitors experience traditional Europe. Petite France is also the filming location of several popular K-dramas including You Who Came from the Stars, Secret Garden, and Beethoven Virus.
Garden of Morning Calm is perhaps the place for a truly rejuvenating moment in the hands of nature. The Garden derives its name from a poem written by Indian Poet Sir Tagore (1861-1941), who described Korea as “The Land of the Morning Calm.”
Spanning over 30,000㎡, this beautiful garden was designed by a professor of horticulture in 1996, and since has been attracting many visitors in all four seasons with its poised elegance and classic landscape. In autumn, the Garden holds the Wild Chrysanthemum Exhibition, Chrysanthemum Exhibition, and Maple Festival that accentuate its seasonal scenery. For those of you looking for picturesque photo spots, we couldn’t recommend this place more!
Autumn Foliage Festival in the Garden of Morning Calm
Gangchon Rail Bike used to be an actual train track connecting Seoul and Chuncheon that stopped operating as of December 20, 2010. The Rail Bike trail, between the old Gangchon Station and Gimyujeong Station, is about 8 km long and takes about 50 minutes of easy pedaling through variously themed tunnels. Bukhan River flows right next to the tracks, so the Rail Bike is yet another superb activity to view the amazing natural scenery.
Funtastic Korea offers a number of tours that will take you to Nami Island and other nearby destinations. Once you choose where you would like to visit, be sure to check out the tour of your choice from the list below. For your convenience, all of these packages include round-trip transportation from Seoul, English-speaking staff, as well as entrance fees.
A.Nami Island & Petite France Shuttle Bus Package
B.Nami Island & Petite France & Railbike Shuttle Package
C.Nami Island & Petite France & Garden of Morning Calm Shuttle Package
D.Nami Island & Railbike & Garden of Morning Calm Shuttle Package
E.4 In A Day! Petite France & Nami Island & Rail Bike & Garden of Morning Calm Package
2. Seoul Palace Tour: Traditional Scenery and Hanbok
Location: near Gwanghwamun and Jongno
Time it takes from Seoul: (less than) 30 minutes
Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, Deoksugung, Gyeongheegung, and Changgyeonggung. Many of you reading this post right now will probably have heard of these palaces at least once. But did you know that these palaces look even more classic and grandiose amidst the reds, oranges, and golds of the autumn foliage? Plus, they’re right in the city, surrounding Jongno and Gwanghwamun Square area, thus easily accessible via public transportation.
To give a brief history lesson, these 5 palaces are from Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). Of these, the 2 most well-known palaces would be Gyeongbok Palace and Changdeok Palace. (FYI, “gung” means palace in Korean.)
1) Gyeongbok Palace
Gyeongbokgung Palace in the evening
Gyeongbok Palace is the largest and perhaps the most beautiful. It was built in 1395, in the very early stages of Joseon Dynasty, and was used as the main palace. Although it was greatly damaged by fire during the Japanese Invasion in 1592, the palace was reconstructed towards the end of Joseon Dynasty and once again used as the main palace. The grandeur of Gyeongbok Palace indeed reflects the strict yet dignified aura of the Joseon royalty.
2) Changdeok Palace
Aeryeonji (Pond that blooms lotus flowers)
Among the 5 palaces, Changdeok Palace is the only one enlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage site. This palace is known to be the least destroyed of the five. The architecture arguably holds the deepest touches of original Korean mood and thought – Changdeok Palace is one of the most environment-friendly palaces in Northeast Asia. That is, this palace was built with the very least amount of modifications to surrounding nature.
Palace tours would be great for a half-day trip, just as offered in the list of guided tours below. Together with traditional palace walls in the background, the autumnal tints look especially marvelous. Although the palaces are right next to downtown Seoul, you’ll feel as if you’re so far away from the bustling city.
- 2.5 hr Seoul Palace & Antique Street One day Walking Tour
- Seoul Palace & Temple Half Day Morning Tour
- UNESCO Seoul Palace & Shrine Half Day Morning Tour
- Seoul Palace & Antique Market Half Day Afternoon Tour
- Seoul Palaces & Temple & Markets One Day Tour
Here’s our tip to you: definitely consider renting Hanbok when you visit these palaces! Admission tickets are included in the above FunKo tours, but if you decide to visit the palaces on your own, admission to Gyeongbok Palace is free for those wearing Hanbok.
Wearing Hanbok will be perfect for an even more traditional moment at the royal palaces, as well as creating a great photo shoot experience. Also, Hanbok has just the right thickness for the cool autumn weather!
Rent your Hanbok with a Gyeongbok Palace Hanbok Rental Discount Ticket 🙂
3. Suwon Hwaseong Fortress: Moment in History
Location: Suwon, Gyeonggi-do
Time it takes from Seoul: 1.5 hours
Yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Suwon Hwaseong Fortress was built in late Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). As a carefully constructed planned city, the Fortress is an exquisite combination of Korean aesthetics, science, and economics. Because even the smallest details regarding the architectural structure were meticulously recorded, it was possible to perfectly restore the Fortress to its original state every time it was damaged due to war or other disasters.
Suwon Hwaseong Fortress looks great any time of the year, but the warm, luscious hues and clear blue skies of autumn make the place even more majestic. One of the most popular photo spots in the Fortress is the Banghwasuryujeong, the North-east Pavilion, which sits above Yongyeon Pond.
With picturesque scenery and the dazzling sky precisely reflected on to the polished waters, any photo taken here would look absolutely striking.
Another must-see photo spot would be the Hwahongmun Gate, under which the Suwon Stream flows through the 7 arches. The resulting cascade and the surrounding brick walls will make you feel like you’ve momentarily stepped into the past.
Cascades before Hwahongmun Gate
Of course, you’ll get to visit more of these gorgeous sites with our one-day guided private tour, Suwon Hwaseong Fortress Castle & Korean Folk Village Tour 🙂
Additionally, this private tour will take you to Korean Folk Village in Yongin, Gyeonggi-do. Here, you’ll get to experience realistic daily lives of Koreans of the late Joseon Dynasty. This will be another journey to history!