South Korea is a rocky piece of terrain, such that you can even see mountains towering behind the city landscapes of Seoul and universities (such as Hanyang) are located on top of an exhausting-ly elevated peak. Therefore, one of the must-do’s when going to Korea is going hiking! There are plenty parks to go to but I think one of the biggest, and closer ones to Seoul is a mountain called Bukhansan, which is about an hour away.
There are a lot of temples in the area as well so make sure to be respectful and lower your voice if you pass one.
One thing that many people do while hiking is pack some food (the traditional food being Korean pancakes (pajeon) and rice wine (makgeolli) and have a picnic in whatever area you choose. It could be on a cliff, under a rock, by the river, wherever really.
An exchange student created a group just for hiking so that was the group I went with. Before going, I knew there were going to be plenty of elderly people hiking as well but I was still surprised to see that about 90% of the population going hiking were of that demographic. If you stand out as a foreigner, expect to be stared at but don’t take it personally. However, one of the best things about the attention is the motherly and fatherly treatment you’ll get from the elderly here. We had taken a detour once and gotten a little roughed up but elderly hikers were the first to make sure we were okay. Also, it was great to encounter a few every now who excitedly said hi to us. Some even asked to get a picture with our group which we happily accepted.
Our group was on the adventurous side so we went up as many cliffs as we could. It definitely seemed pretty dangerous, one mistake and someone could slip off a rock, which is why I would recommend to make sure you are especially prepared for hiking in Korea. I think one of the most important things, and the biggest mistake we made, is to make sure you wear appropriate shoes that has enough of a grip to avoid slipping. Whenever I have gone hiking in America, this is usually not as necessary as the trails aren’t too steep but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Overall, it was an amazing experience and I hope to go hiking again and be able to show off another must-see location!