Namsan (Cable Car / Tower)
Namsan is not a hiking destination per se, rather a mountain that easy hiking can be done on. There are trails criss-crossing the mountain, but most of them have a singular purpose---to deliver the hiker to and from N Seoul Tower. Basically, hiking on Namsan should be treated as a means to an end.
Let's face it: Namsan is a mountain that should be enjoyed with ease and convenience. It is a popular tourist destination, and so it caters to this clientele well. As such, this particular route up and down Namsan is perfect for anyone wanting an easy and convenient way up and down the mountain. Ride the cable car up, enjoy the views from the top, and then walk down the mountain along a well-marked trail.
The Scouting Report
This route is perfect for anyone wanting an easy way up the mountain and a casual stroll back down. It starts off with a ride up the mountain in the Namsan Cable Car (not much of a hike...). Then, the route descends from N Seoul Tower back to the cable car. It is a great way to experience Namsan Park in a non-strenuous way.
A lot of stairs. A lot of stairs. Almost nothing but stairs. Be prepared for stairs.
(1=easy, 5=difficult): 2
-This route is extremely easy as it is almost all downhill. However, sometimes going down can be quite a workout. Remember: "Going up, you get tired. Going down, you get hurt."
How To Get There
Find your way to Namsan Cable Car. The easiest way to get there is to take a taxi. If you'd prefer to not take a taxi, find your way to Myeongdong Station on Line 4.
From Line 4 - Myeongdong Station (명동역):
-Walk about 200 meters straight out of exit 4. Turn left when you get to an intersection that has the Sinsegae Department Store on the corner.
-Walk another 300 meters slightly uphill. You will see a small railcar/tram that takes you to the Namsan Cable Car.
What signs should I follow?
N Seoul Tower and the Namsan Cable Car are two very popular locations on Namsan. If you ever get confused about where to go, find a sign that has one of these landmarks. They will guide you to your destination.
The first stage is the easy stage. The only test you may face is that of patience. The cable car is a popular method of ascending the mountain. Be prepared to wait for a long time if you arrive in the afternoon. Get there early for the best chance of avoiding long lines.
Buy a one-way ticket up the mountain. A one-way ticket will run 6,500 won (Children=3,500 won). If you decide you want to ride the cable car back down, you can always buy a return ticket at the top.
Once you get to the top, you have just a short climb up a series of stairs. Don't worry, it's not that bad.
At the top, take your time and enjoy the sights. There are a number of restaurants at the tower and a few museums and exhibitions. There are various combo ticket packages available. If you just want to visit the tower's observation deck, an adult ticket costs 9,000 won and a child's ticket costs 7,000 won.
When you're ready to leave, walk down the stairs that you climbed after getting off the cable car. Once you get back to the cable car house, just keep walking down. Go down, down, down, and down.
Look for the 'Photo Island' halfway down the long series of stairs. It is a deck that provides nice views of central Seoul.
The trail does not fork much. At the bottom of the stairs, you will be deposited directly across from a small outdoor workout area. At this junction, follow the path to the right.
You will soon have to descend one last flight of stairs. At the bottom of these stairs, you will find yourself at a road that you must share with vehicles. Don't worry, there are sidewalks. Turn right and follow this road for about 100 yards until you get back to the cable car house.
The descent will take about 30 minutes. It is only 1 kilometers long and all downhill.
There are a few limited options at the top of the mountain at the base of N Seoul Tower. Just downhill from the cable car's lower house, there are various cafes and restaurants. If you truly want a lot of options, Myeongdong is a mere 15-minute walk away. Myeongdown is a very popular shopping destination with lots of food options.
Elsewhere on the Web
Extra Tips and Info
Go early. There are less crowds. Avoid the mid to late afternoon. There are too many people then.
Hydrate plenty. Then relieve yourself in The Best Restroom in Seoul.
To see more photos, check out the Namsan photo album.
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Originally posted September 24, 2015
Updated October 22, 2015