Dream Forest, Hwagyesa Temple, Bukhansan And More In Gangbuk-Gu
The North of Seoul is often forgotten when talking about tourist destinations, but has actually quite a lot of stunning sites which could interest foreigners. The Dream Forest, Hwagyesa Temple, the Modern history memorial hall, the April Revolution National Cemetery, Yi Jun Tomb and trails leading to Bukhansan Mountain. Read on to find out more about what to do in Gangbuk-Gu.
Things To Know About Gangbuk-Gu
- Gangbuk-Gu, or the district of hope, is one of the districts of Seoul. Located in the North, on the right side of Bukhansan Mountain. Suyu subway station, lies in the center of the district.
- Voluntary tour guides are working in Gangbuk-gu. The level of English of these guides is very high. A tour can be booked by doing an online reservation. Reservation form only in Korean, but is quite easy to figure out using the google translate chrome extension.
- The name of the district is derived from the fact that it lies north of the Han river.
Places To Visit In Gangbuk-Gu
All the different sites listed below are easily accessible by bus or subway. Most of the sites lie withing walking distance of each other. Including the Dream Forest, Hwagyesa Temple, the Modern history memorial hall, April Revolution National Cemetery and Bukhansan Mountain.
1. Dream Forest Seoul
The stunning dream forest in the north of Seoul is the 4th biggest park in Seoul after the World Cup Park, Olympic Park and Seoul Forest. It is beautiful all year around but especially in spring and autumn in Seoul.
At the edge of the park lies the Northern-Seoul Art Center, a beautifully slanted building housing an observatory, a performance hall, a book cafe, gallery, a restaurant and a children’s playground. A great place to go for young and old.
The observatory provide great views of the different mountains surrounding Gangbuk-gu, namely Bukhansan, Dobongsan and Suraksan. In the far distance you can see the N-tower and the Hangang River.For fans of Lee Byung-hun, then this is the place to be. As in the Dream Forest Observatory ‘IRIS’ was filmed. This action drama which has great success is said to be the most expensive Korean drama ever produced.
Other major attractions in the park are Wolyeongji Pond, Grass Square, Wolgwang Waterfall, Aewoljeong Pavilion, Chilbokji, Event Garden, Children’s Gallery, Wild Grass Garden, Deer Ranch, Exploring Path, Forest Rest and a water park.
Directions To Dream Forest Seoul
Take Subway Line 4 to Miasamgeori Station (Exit 1). Transfer to the Bus 9 or Bus 11 for about 10 minutes until you get to the park.
Take Subway Line 6 to Dolgoji Station (Exit 3). Transfer to Bus 147 for 5 minutes until you get to the park.
2. Hwagyesa Temple Seoul
Hwagyesa Temple, which is part of the Yogye Order of Korean Buddhism, just like Yogyesa, Bulguksa Temple and Golgulsa Temple. The temple is located at the foot of Samgaksan mountain in Gangbuk-gu. As it’s located on the outskirts of the city, there is a calm and relaxing atmosphere.
The temple was built in 1522 by the monk Shinwol. Unfortunately the temple was destroyed in a fire and rebuilt later on under the rule of King Gojong in 1866. Hwagyesa Temple houses the main sanctuary, Myeongbujeon shrine, Samseonggak pavilion, a temple bell and pavilion, the Cheonbulobaekseongjeon shrine, Bohwaru tower and Hakseoru tower.
Legend say that the small water spring created by a crow pecking away rocks has supernatural healing powers for stomach and skin diseases. The spring is located in the valley near the temple.
Hwagyesa Temple Stay Program
Similar to other temples, this temple offers a temple stay program to foreigners and locals. The program at this temple is quite unique as the temple owns its own Buddhist College and International Zen Center. The standard temple stay program is only available on Saturdays and includes on the first day a temple tour, hiking the Samgaksan mountain, a vegetarian dinner, evening chanting, the bell-tolling ceremony, 108 bows and Buddhist rosary making, meditation. The second day is morning chanting, zen meditation, a vegetarian breakfast, morning labour and tea meditation.
A recuperation temple stay is available from Tuesday to Friday, this is a less intense version of the standard temple stay program. Kids younger than 6 can join for free. An interesting activity to do when in Seoul with kids.
Book Temple stay: here
Directions To Hwagyesa Temple Seoul
Suyu Station (Seoul Subway Line 4), Exit 3. Transfer to bus 2 and get off at Hansin Univ. Bus Stop. From the bus stop, the temple is about 580 meters away.
3. April Revolution National Cemetery
The stunning cemetery at the foot of Bukhansan was built in memory of the 224 people who passed away during the April 19th Revolution back in 1960. On the cemetery ground are a memorial hall, a traditional wooden gate and different grave stones. The historic figure Yu Yeongbong is buried on this same cemetery. A 2 part pond is surrounded by sculptures representing the brave patriots who have lost their lives during this revolution.
The cemetery is also a great place to enjoy the autumn foliage and sunsets over Bukhansan. Great for the perfect Instagram picture!
Each year on the 19th of April a festival is held on these grounds to commemorate the event. Find more info here.
Directions To The April Revolution National Cemetery
Suyu Station (Seoul Subway Line 4), Exit 6. Transfer to bus 1119 and get of at the entrance of the April 19th Revolution National Cemetery.
4. Modern History Memorial Hall
The modern history memorial hall is located in the same street as the April Revolution cemetery and gives an insight to the modern history of Seoul and South Korea. The museum focuses on freedom, democracy and equality, something the activists dreamed of.
Most sings in the museum are in Korean only, so booking a free guide is necessary when visiting. The guides speak excellent English and are very knowledgeable about the subjects. Find more info about the museum here.
Directions To The Modern History Memorial Hall
Suyu Station (Seoul Subway Line 4), Exit 4. Transfer to bus 1 and get of at Baengnyeonsa Temple.
5. Yi Jun Tomb On The Chodae-gil Trail At Bukhansan Mountain
The Chodae-gil trail is one of the trails on Bukhansan Mountain. The trail starts at the Modern history memorial hall. At the foot of the trail, important graves and tombs are located. These are tombs of patriots, religious leaders or activists. Find more info about the trail and the different tombs here.
Tomb Of Yi Jun
Yi Jun graduated from the Korean Empire judicial training center and joined the last Joseon King, Gojong, to The Hague for a Peace Conference. Yi Jun was commissioned to announce to the public that Korea was an independent state and to tell the truth about the Japanese invasion. Unfortunately he never achieved his mission as he was killed in the process.