This year fall started pretty early and was cut short by temperatures plummeting in November. However, we managed to do some short trips (mostly subway rides) around the city and capture the best views of Seoul in this season.
Seokchon Lake (석촌호수)
Bora (my friend) and I had never visited Lotte World Tower before. It was unusually chilly for October. But the reward of the views from the top — made the hour long journey to the other end of Seoul — worth it. Seokchon Lake is one of the top spots for fall views. I had visited it in spring when the trees were bursting with cherry blossoms. The lake is split into two halves and has a walking path around each half. The leaves had started to turn and we forgot how cold it was. Lotte World Adventure was alive with squealing children and Bora wanted to join the fun — on the other side of the lake.
Lotte World Tower literally cuts into the blue sky above. The tower looks pretty spectacular under the canopy of autumn leaves and makes a good picture.
Lotte World Tower (롯데월드타워)
Markers & Sights
We had our lunch at the food court of Lotte Department Store. Lotte Complex, at Jamsil, is pretty confusing with the department store, mall, and subway station all intersecting at a point. We followed the arrows that lead us to Lotte World Tower, but entered the business building instead. A security guard was kind enough to help us find our way to the ticketing area — a level below the mall. Security is pretty tight before entering the elevator and bags are screened. There were hardly any people in the afternoon and we didn’t have to wait to get to the top.
Seoul Sky Observatory
The view from the 117th floor of the observation deck, of Seoul Sky, was fantastic. The Han River cuts through the dense concrete jungle and creates patches of green along its banks. We were a little early to enjoy the true beauty of fall.
Sky Deck & Indoor Glass Floor
The Sky Deck, on the 118th floor, has the highest indoor glass floor and is a litmus test for anyone who has a fear of heights. Clearly, it would be challenge for me to walk over this patch — without feeling lightheaded. After repeatedly trying to convince my brain that I wouldn’t fall through and that I had absolute control over my fear; I crossed over. Bora wasn’t very different from me and it was fun when the two of us tried to click selfies with our eyes closed.
View of Seokchon Lake from the Sky Deck
Seokchon Lake looked stunning with pops of colour and bursts of green. The view diverted my mind from the fact that we were standing on a glass floor at height of 478m.
There’s a Sky Terrace on the 120th floor and it gets pretty windy up here. The views keep getting better and after we had overcome our fear of heights — it was good fun.
My Korean friends had introduced me to Nosapyeong when we moved to Seoul in 2016. It’s quieter (at least during the day) than Itaewon and has an eclectic mix of quirky cafes and restaurants. I rarely come here though. The street outside the subway exit was bursting with colour and was a sight for sore eyes. It was a pleasant surprise because I don’t remember seeing it during the day.
The Royal Food & Drink
Bora wanted to have brunch at one of the trendy eateries in Noksapyeong. Apparently, many bloggers had written rave reviews about the eating options here. Clearly, I was either living in oblivion or in isolation from anything cool in the city. So, I let Bora take the lead, and Yiping helped us find the route because she spoke fluent Korean. The view from the outdoor seating area was quite nice, but it was warmer indoors.
TIP: There’s a shortcut to Namsan (& N Seoul Tower) from here. I would have liked to explore Namsan in fall, but we had decided to visit Huwon (Secret Garden) from here. Namsan is also famous for its fall colours.
Yeouido Park (여의도공원)
In November, Basil had a conference at Yeouido and he called me to join him after he wrapped up. I cut short my evening walk in the park and took the subway to Yeouido. Now, Yeoiudo is famous for the Hangang River and Yeouido Park. But, I forgot that it’s also a hub for the financial district. It was strange to be surrounded by suits and glitzy towering buildings when I was dressed in sweatpants.
Basil and I walked towards the river. The streets and park were popping with colours. Unfortunately, the light wasn’t too great.
TIP: The National Assembly & Han River can be easily explored from here. The lawns of the National Assembly looked stunning with yellow ginkgo trees. It was too dark to take pictures and we didn’t have the time to come back again. Yeouido Park is also famous for the cherry blossom festival.
It was the first weekend of November and Bora had already left Seoul. Basil and I were leaving for a trip on the following weekend and we knew that it would be our last chance to enjoy Seoul’s fall colours. Generally, fall lasts till December, but I had my doubts this year.
Basil’s work often takes him to different universities in Seoul. I remember visiting Yonsei University two years back. It was summer and the leaves were green. Universities are also pretty popular for cherry blossoms. We missed our stop and had to take a cab to the university. The driver checked if we really wanted to stop the cab in the woods. It was spectacular and I was surprised to see so much beauty around us. Seoul always has something new to offer.
Yonsei University is one of the top universities in Seoul and getting in can be quite tough. The horror stories of academic stress and dejection aren’t pleasant to hear. As a visitor, I was far removed from those stories. I was a child in a world of beauty and fantasy. I couldn’t have been happier. I almost wanted to go back to college and was open to take those dreaded examinations again.
Few tourists choose to visit this university. In the morning, the campus was deserted and it was a treat to take in the beauty around us.
Quiet pathways were lined with flaming red trees that were brought alive by the morning sun.
A bridal couple took advantage of the sun and were in the midst of their pre-wedding photoshoot.
Ehwa Women’s University
Ehwa Women’s University is pretty close to Yonsei University. We took a cab to get there and surprisingly the driver agreed without a fuss. Ehwa is on the tourist radar and was swarming with tourists from all over. I had a brief moment of regret and tried to go with the flow.
The university looked smaller and seemed to me more modern. There are few trails with thick tree cover though.
By noon the crowd had started to pour in and I knew it was time for us to leave. We went around the main stairs and got a good view of the iconic front entrance of the university.