Mt Bukhan, also called Bukhansan, is a mountain just north of Seoul with three distinct peaks. It is not only an easily recognizable landmark overlooking the city, but also part of the Bukhansan National Park and a popular hiking, bird watching and rock climbing destination. Climbing Mt Bukhan is one of the more popular day trips from Seoul and every Saturday and Sunday morning, Seoul’s air-conditioned metro cars are crowded with hikers decked out in colorful hiking equipment heading in that direction. At the base of the mountain, spicy fragrances saturate the air where countless food stalls are selling everything from dumplings and bulgogi to hardboiled eggs and kimchi. Sustenance for the steep climb to the main peak Beagunbong and refreshments for the returning hikers.
The South Koreans not only visit Mt Bukhan for the nature and a breath of fresh air, but also for the many temples and shrines spread throughout the national park. They visit partly due to religious conviction, partly to stop and catch a break surrounded by incredible scenery. Also popular are the Bukhansanseong Fortress, a fortification built along the mountain’s ridges to stop foreign invasions and Seungasa Temple on Bibong Peak with its Buddhas carved in rock.
To get to Bukhansan National Park take subway line 4 to Gireum Station, then take bus 110B or 143 and get off at the last stop. Be aware that the trails are very steep, the popular Baegundae Course is 1.9 kilometers long and takes one and a half hours to hike, the trail to Bukhansanseong Fortress is 3.4 kilometers long and roughly three hours to complete. Getting around Mt Bukhan can be a bit difficult, as most signs are in Korean, but don’t hesitate to ask the local hikers for help.