Visiting the Suwon Hwaseong Fortress in Winter
Suwon is often referred to as the beauty of Joseon architecture and has thus been declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. Most people visit the fortress and palace area in Suwon during the warmer months of spring or summer. However, winter can be a very fascinating time to go and check out Suwon!
You can get to Suwon easily from Seoul via subway getting off at Suwon Station. If you’re not in Seoul, you can either take a KTX to Suwon Station or a bus to the Suwon Express Bus Terminal. The fortress area is located about 15 minutes from Suwon Station by bus. You can take bus 11, 13, 13-3, 36 or 39 at Exit 4, Suwon Station (North square) and get off at Hwaseong Temporary Palace.
What to See?
Everything you need to see is in the same area. You could start off at Paldalmun in the South and walk up the street to Hwaseong Palace. Behind the palace is a small hill which you can hike to get up to the observatory platform from which you can see the entire city. Halfway up the hill is a tourist trolley stop where you can purchase a ticket for 1,500 KRW ($1.50) which takes you across the cultural area along the city wall to Changnyongmun, one of the 4 big gates. You can easily explore all of Suwon in a day.
Hwaseong Fortress and Palace
This palace was built in 1789 by King Jeong-jo 13. The king planned to move the capital of Korea from Seoul to Suwon. However, before his plans were realized, the king passed away. The Japanese invasion during the Joseon dynasty left the palace almost completely destroyed until the recovery project started in 1996. Until today, the restoration of 94 of the original 600 rooms has been completed.
Observatory View Point
Hiking up the hill behind the palace area, you will reach an awesome observatory view point from which you have a stunning view of the entire city. Half way up the hill, you will find a tourist trolley stop. Take the trolley for 1,500 KRW ($1.5) to the other side of the city wall to Changnyongmun. You will pass some awesome views of the city wall and other gates along the way! An absolute must!
City Wall and Great Gates
The city wall passes through 4 great gates around the center of the city: Paldalmun, Hwaseomun, Janganmun and Changnyongmun. Taking the tourist trolley to the other side, you will find another tourist information, restaurants and the Korean archery center. Changyongmun is also a great place to watch the sunset, since I saw dozens of people setting up tripods and taking pictures when the sun went down.
The Perfect Day Trip
Suwon is the perfect destination for a day trip if you’re looking for culture and beautiful scenery! Even in winter, it can be a beautiful site to check out, especially in the late afternoon with the sun hitting just the right spots.
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