7 Places to be Dazzled by Fall Foliage in Korea
단풍 (Danpoong) – the Korean word for the changing of the leaves
In September, the grey skies, choking humidity and stifling temperatures of summer finally surrender to cloudless, cobalt skies and crisp air. It’s wonderfully refreshing and like most Koreans, autumn is, without a doubt, the season I look forward to most.
We take full advantage of the superb weather by spending as much time outdoors as possible. Days and nights are still warm and it’s easy to while away an entire afternoon simply basking in the glow of a perfect post-summer sun.
In October, the nights cool, and it’s time to cuddle up under the cozy comforters that have been stored away all summer. The days feel nostalgic and I start to crave the creamy richness of an expertly stewed seolleongtang.
During this month, hints of yellow peek shyly through the green growths, gingko trees begin dropping their foul-smelling fruits, and blue trucks loaded with persimmons ply the streets with their wares.
In November, the days and nights are equally chilly, the ingredients for kimjang appear in stores, and a wave of colour sweeps its way down the peninsula, dramatically transforming rocky mountains and monotone tree-lined streets into a prismatic orchestra of vivid crimsons, burnt oranges and mellow yellows.
So where can you be dazzled by danpoong in Korea?
Located 2.5 hours east of Seoul, Seoraksan is often one of the first places in the country to be painted in colourful hues. On peak weekends (when leaves are 80% turned), you might spend more time in traffic than on the mountain, so plan accordingly.
The best places to view danpoong in Seoraksan are: Cheonbuldong Valley, Osaek Mineral Spring, Osaek Jujeongol, and Baekdam Valley.
More information on various hiking routes can be found HERE.
The top of Namsan
From street level, it’s difficult to get a real sense of just how many trees there are in Seoul, but from the top of this mountain in the middle of the city, it’s easy to get a birds-eye view of Korea’s glorious changing landscape.
We took an easy stroll up to the North Seoul Tower last October, and were rewarded with the startling sight of autumn colour as far as the eye could see. If the walk’s not your thing, there’s also electric buses or a cable car up to the top.
Gwanaksan, with it’s rocky peaks, deep valleys, and easy subway access, is one of the most popular mountains in Seoul.
On a hike in late September, all I could think about, was how beautiful it would be when it erupted in a rainbow of fall colours, a month later.
The Secret Garden at Changdeokgung
Behind Joseon-era Changdeokgung lies the Secret Garden. Originally used by the royal family and palace women, the garden has a lotus pond, pavilions, flowers and over 100 different species of trees, some of which are over 300 years old.
There are more than 26,000 trees in the Garden alone, and that means one thing – an awful lot of leaves changing colour.
Named for the groves of pear blossom trees nearby, the striking modern architecture of Ewha Women’s University (Edae for short) is memorable in every season. In autumn though, the glass curtained campus centre forms a conspicuous contrast with the multi-hued riot of trees surrounding it.
Lined with majestic gingko trees, Garosu-gil is the place to enjoy danpoong, if mountains aren’t your thing.
Located in trendy Sinsa-dong, you might end up sipping a latte and shopping for designer clothes, instead of watching the leaves. 😉
In springtime, delicate pink Yoshino cherry blossom petals romance those walking along the shores of Seokchon Lake. In autumn however, the 306,000 Yoshino Cherry and pine trees ring the water with a dramatic kaleidoscope of colour.
While there, stop by one of our favourite places in Seoul, the Hosoo Bakery and Cafe, and indulge in a triple cheese tartine while watching the leaves float gently to the ground.
Are you in Korea? What’s your favourite spot to watch the changing of the leaves?