The daily grind can really wear you down in a workaholic city like Seoul. Fortunately, the city is surrounded by natural beauty and easy escapes. Katie Fumerton contributed this guide to night hiking in Seoul with some great suggestions for safety and how you can meet up with other weekday night hikers.
More often than not, I find myself getting stuck in a weekday routine of work, eat, sleep, repeat. The weekend can never come fast enough. That’s when I plan my adventures out of the city, climbing a new mountain, going to new places, eating new foods, meeting new people. Just anxiously awaiting the weekend got to feeling super depressing.
Despite what I’d been telling myself, it’s never too late for a walk, a run, or just getting out of the house. After months of feeling confined to my apartment and succumbing to my usual weekday excuses, I decided to change my mentality. Just because I had a long day doesn’t mean I am resigned to “relaxing” in my bed, eating junk, and feeling sorry for myself.
So, I began night hiking. Now, I’m no stranger to hiking, but I had never even thought about hiking on a weeknight. But, I thought to myself…why can’t I? As it turns out, it is one of my favorite ways to unwind and enjoy the massive city I live in.
Seoul at night is beautiful. A sea of apartments and office buildings lit up as far as you can see. The silhouette of every mountain and hill interrupting the rows of streetlights and neon signs. Seoul is surrounded by numerous mountains, all reachable by public transit. Many have trails that can be completed in 2 hours or less. I can’t describe how rewarding the views are. Suddenly, my stress is gone and I’m reminded of where I am and what I’m doing.
I often hike alone at night, but only on Ingwansan near Gyeongbokgung Palace. Solely because it’s so close to the President’s house (the Blue House) and military facilities, there are always soldiers stationed on the mountain keeping track of where I am and police roaming the surrounding areas. For those reasons, I always feel safe there. But it can get lonely. So, I joined a group that meets once a week to go night hiking together!
At 8 pm we set out on our 2 and a half hour trek, through city streets until we meet the mountain trail. Sometimes we hike two small mountains close together. Often times we find a valley with a stream that we can dip our feet into as we finish. And always there is a rewarding view of the monster city we live in, a cool refreshing breeze, and the satisfaction of reaching the summit of the mountain.
I always meet new like minded people, see new places, and feel fantastic. I highly suggest trying it at least once on your adventure in Seoul. All you need is a flashlight, water, snacks, and an open mind.