Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Best of Korea - N Seoul Tower

One of the most significant landmarks when you visit Seoul is of course the N Seoul Tower. I was frustrated that my first visit to Korea didn't include that. It focused too much on the shopping aspect and neglected this beautiful landmark. 
The tower at nightThe tower in the day

To get to N Seoul Tower, there are a few ways. So far, I've gone the cable car route. I took the Namsan Cable Car bus, which was free to get to the station eventhough where I stayed was like a short hike up the road. Then we bought the return tickets for KRW8,000 for the cable car. The car itself is big and can fit a whole group so you don't really feel like you're dangling or swinging back and forth on this thing. The last time I went last June, they've in fact renovated the boarding area. Looks newer now. I also read you could take a bus to the entrance and then you would have to hike a bit. Not sure how much.

The was a pavilion at the base of the tower
When you arrive at the cable car station also, you'll have to climb a few stairs to get to the base of the tower. I guess this is why Koreans look so healthy. Their landmarks emphasize a bit of walking. Luckily the weather is breezy enough not to make us sweat too much. At the base of the tower itself you can see the view of the city at every direction. So if you're on a budget, hang around here and you can still get a nice view. 
A bit of hike after the cable car ride
During my 2nd trip to Korea in November 2012, my travel partner expressed desire of visiting one of the Teddy Bear Museums in Korea. So I figured let's save time and go to both the Teddy Museum at N Seoul Tower and visit the tower itself. They even have a package entry fee at a discounted price. At that time the sky was already turning dark. I thought of experiencing both day and night view but we were told we have to visit the museum first. I've already been to one in Jeju on my first trip so I would say this is kind of a smaller version of it but still enjoyable.
One of the displays at the Teddy Bear Museum
Another displat at the museum

After the museum visit, we head to the lift to go to the observation deck of the tower. On the way to the top, we were treated to a video presentation on the lift's ceiling so as to make us feel like we're flying off to space. This reminded me of the time when I visited Top of the Rock at Rockefeller New York. Luckily the ceiling (or even floor) wasn't see-through or else I would have freaked out.
Trying to take a picture of the view but the light from the souvenire shop is too bright
Pictures are better if taken during the day
The observation deck gives you a 360 degree view from the tower's viewpoint. They creatively add world city names on the glass wall to make you try to look for them in that direction. The north part of the tower overlooks the city center. Namdaemun, Myeongdong and Dongdaemun are all visible and brightly lit at night. The one beef I had here was when trying to take pictures from the tower at night. The lights from the Souvenir Shops are too bright that you will definitely catch your reflection when taking picture inside of seeing anything from outside. This is why I would recommend going during the day, which I did on my next visit with my family. Taking pictures from there during the day is much better.

Send postcards from the tower!
Don't forget to also visit the infamous Sky Toilet (I think that's what it's called). When nature calls, enjoy the view. There are also cafes and restaurants on the observation deck level as well as one level below where you would have to go to go back down. While I'm writing I just remembered one thing you have to visit. It's of course the Locks of Love along the base of the tower (How could I forget??). That's where you'll see people putting locks as memories of their visit there. Trust me, the amount of locks there is a lot. It made the area much more colorful. Of course you'll enjoy this more during the day as there's limited lighting at the area for you to see anything.
Locks of love at night...had to use the flash
Locks of love...I don't want to leave!
buzz KOREA