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7 Places to be Dazzled by Fall Foliage in Korea

단풍 (Danpoong) – the Korean word for the changing of the leaves

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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?

Seoraksan
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.

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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
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.

Ewha University
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.

Garosu-gil
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. 😉

Seokchon Lake
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?

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22 Comments Post a comment
  1. I’ve never been to Korea before but it looks gorgeous. And I am super jealous of the weather you have there!! The weather in Jakarta just stays hot and humid all the time 😦

    October 9, 2014
    • Autumn is definitely the most gorgeous season here. It and spring are what everyone waits for! I’ve never lived anywhere that has no seasons, and I honestly don’t know how I feel about it. I do want to live by a beach one day, but I’m not sure how I would deal with hot and humid all the time. I think I’d have to take vacations to cooler destinations to cope. Ha! 😉

      October 10, 2014
  2. Gorgeous pictures! I’m definitely missing the classic New England fall while in Italy and far from foliage this year. There are a couple of trees near one of the buildings where I go to class, and I always walk through the few leaves on the ground there haha. It looks like I’ll have to make a point to go to South Korea in the fall when I finally get there, though.

    October 9, 2014
    • Thanks Michael! Lol, really? Walking through the few leaves on the ground…. you must really be desperate. 😉

      When I lived in Canada, we hardly had any autumn at all.. It was basically 2 weeks and then winter, so I really love it here, where the leaves slowly change across the country. There’s a REAL autumn feeling. And yes, when you make it here, I def recommend visiting anytime from mid-September to November. It’s the best time for sure…

      October 10, 2014
  3. Lovely! I definitely want to go to Korea one of these days 🙂

    October 9, 2014
    • Hi Cecilia! 🙂 It’s sooo beautiful right now! I just want to spend every single day outside just walking around and enjoying the atmosphere.

      October 10, 2014
  4. Absolutely beautiful shots, Shelley! Made me want to run out the front doors of my school and go for a hike right now!! 😀
    ~ Andrea ❤

    October 17, 2014
    • Here in Seoul, the average temperature just dropped about 5 degrees over the last few days, so full fledged danpoog may be upon us soon! Things are still pretty green, but I’ve definitely been crunching through a few leaves here and there… now if we could just skip the winter part! 😉

      October 18, 2014
  5. I’m glad you liked my post cause this one was so magical to come across! Autumn is absolutely gorgeous and you couldn’t have put it better!

    October 26, 2014
    • Thanks Chantelle!! 😀 LOVE autumn in Korea, it’s definitely my favourite season (though spring runs a close second). Leaves seem to be really changing now…

      October 27, 2014
  6. Beautiful post and some incredible images 🙂

    Thank you so much for sharing…

    October 28, 2014
    • Thanks for your kind words Sreejith! 🙂 Can’t wait for all the leaves to change here so we can see the beautiful colours in person!

      October 28, 2014
  7. Ahh this post really has made me feel nostalgic! There are all places I visited in Korea and I have so many memories from all of them. Seoraksan was definitely an autumn favourite of mine as was Changdeokgung. I usually ended up shopping in Ewha… no matter what time of year!

    Beautiful photos 🙂

    October 30, 2014
    • Hi Natalie! Thanks for dropping by and glad the post reminded you of your time here. 🙂 Would you believe I’ve lived in Korea for 5 years and still haven’t made it to Seoraksan?! Yeah, I’m a bad expat. 😉 But I’ll be remedying that soon and heading there in the next few weeks… and funnily enough I was just at Changdeokgung yesterday!

      October 30, 2014
  8. Awesome! I wish I can see all of those beautiful foliage on this autumn. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

    September 19, 2016
    • Glad you enjoyed! It just started to get a bit cooler here in the last week, but the trees are all still green! 🙂 Soon enough though, I’m sure the leaves will starts turning.

      September 22, 2016
  9. So many beautiful places! Sigh! We climbed Namsam on Sunday, but we were too late. It was dark by the time we reached the tower. 🙂

    November 15, 2016
    • Especially since it’s getting dark by like 5pm these days. Ugh. Thank god it’s sunny today…all the grey was starting to get me down. 😦 Apparently Nami Island is gorge for fall colour too…

      November 15, 2016
      • Exactly! It was only 5:40 by the time we were somewhere near the top! I’m feeling so much positive today with the sun! Let me see if we can go to Nami island. If it’s raining I feel too lazy! lol! Did you check the moon yesterday? Not as big as the online portals claim, but fantastic anyway! 🙂

        November 15, 2016
        • The sun makes such a difference doesn’t it? We didn’t do anything in the rain either…just laid around the apartment, staring listlessly at each other and trying to make it through the day. 😉

          November 16, 2016

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. 7 Places to be Dazzled by Fall Foliage in Korea | The Korea Blog
  2. Travel-Stained Monthly Recap: September 2015 | Travel-Stained

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