Located in Jongno-gu in the north of Seoul is the Naksan Mountain Trail which is a city wall walk that takes you down towards Dongdaemun. I just happend to be in the area whilst going to an event and thought that I would spend the afternoon walking this mountain trail as it was on my list of places to visit in Seoul.
The northern part of Seoul is my favourite as you can see and are surrounded by mountains. I started off at Hansung University station and walked to where the wall started only a block or 2 away. The walk is easy and can be done in normal comfortable shoes. There is abit of an incline but it isn’t for very long and walking along the path makes it easy.
Going from Hansung University station rather than Dongdaemun station means that you will be walking uphill less and also means no stairs (if you start at Hyehwa station, you will need to go up many flights of stairs).
One of the nice parts of this route is that it will take you through the Ihwa Mural Village. It’s a small village with eclectic murals and some art installations. Similar to Busan Gamcheon Village, artists were brought in to revitalise the area and draw tourists there.
There is a popular cafe at the top called Cafe Gaeppul which has an entry fee of 7,000 won but you can exchange your ticket for drinks/cake and also get to sit in a cafe with a great view of Seoul. Downstairs, there is a lock museum and upstairs contains feature walls of teapots and moon jars. There is plenty of room in these areas as well as other nooks and an adjacent building with indoor and outdoor seating.
Walking around the village, it is clear that there are not as many murals/art installations as there once were. Whilst researching, I found that drawing tourists in meant that the locals who lived there had to contend with more noise and litter. Over time, there have been some murals which have been painted over.
There is not really a map of where to find the murals either, you will just need to wonder around a little. I was here on a Saturday afternoon and it was quite quiet. There are only a handful of cafes around and maybe 2 or 3 restaurants. All the shops selling knick knacks were all closed.
If you’re in the area, I would recommend doing this walk and going through the Ihwa Village. It is a unique area of Seoul albeit small. You could make a longer day of it and visit the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) which houses a great museum shop, Gwangjang Market for food or go to the Dongmyo Flea Market which are all nearby.
How to get there: If you want to avoid walking up stairs or uphill, you can catch the metro to Hansung University and start from there and walk down to Dongdaemun Station.
6 thoughts on “Naksan Mountain Trail and Ihwa Mural Village, Seoul”
Looks like the northern part of Seoul isn’t as touristy, but beautiful all the same! I had no idea that cafés had entry fees, but given Cafe Gaeppul’s location (and those views!), I can see why there’s a fee…despite the limited murals, the artwork you did come across look very creative! Looks like you had another great time out and about in town. 🙂
This was the only cafe I’ve been to that had an entry fee (I suspect for the view and also maybe up keep for the museums inside).
I did not get to this area on either of my visits to Seoul. The coffee shop has an amazing location, though I’ve never heard of a cafe that charges you an entrance fee (aside from those crazy themed cafes in Tokyo). At least they are giving you an option to convert that into drinks. The murals look very charming. I’m not surprised that the residents decided to cover some of the artwork, annoyed by visiting tourists. People love their peace and quiet. It’s a shame that this project aimed at reviving the area wasn’t really what the locals wanted.
I suspect it was also to help in the upkeep of the little museums within. I can understand the residents particularly if there are a few hundred visitors daily.
It looks like such a peaceful little village, and I love the idea of the murals, even though there weren’t as many as expected! It certainly makes a walk around more fun!
I’m glad I went to have a look whilst I was in the area anyway.