As the year comes to a close, Seoul is transforming itself into a city of light, and many elevated places offer spectacular views over the festive capital.
◆ Bukak Skyway, Mt. Umyeon, Naksan Park
For a romantic night drive with a lover, Bukak Skyway is the place to go. The 10 km-section along the Seoul Fortress Walls on Mt. Bukak is well lit, and a 15-minute drive leads to the octagonal pavilion on the mountain top, which offers a rare opportunity in a city to feel nature and appreciate Seoul's nocturnal scenery. For more information, call (02) 739-5572.
Mt. Umyeon behind the Seoul Arts Center in Seocho district also offers a good view of the city at night. It can be reached by getting off at Nambu Terminal Station on Subway Line No. 3. From the Opera House at the center it's a 30-minute walk along the mountain trail. The tower at the top of the mountain offers splendid view of the upscale Gangnam area, and is a favorite spot for many amateur photographers. Although the mountain is comparatively low, night climbing can be perilous, so a flashlight is a must. For more information, call (02) 570-6395.
Named for its resemblance to a camel's hump, Naksan Park in Dongsung-dong is another good spot for a night view. Visitors reach the park from Exit No. 2 at Hyehwa Station on Subway Line No. 4 or walk along the 2.1-km Seoul Fortress trail connecting to the park, which provides a glimpse into the past of the city. For more information, call (02) 743-7985.
◆ Mt. Nam, 63 City, Dream Forest Observatory
Built in 1969, N Seoul Tower has now become landmark spot to appreciate nocturnal views of the city. The yellow local shuttle bus No. 5 at Exit No. 1 of Myeong-dong Station on Subway No. 4 stops right in front of the tower. Looking down from the observatory, it appears all the roads and buildings in the city radiate from Mt. Nam. The tower opens from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. For more information, call (02) 3455-9277.
63 Sky Art at 63 City in Yeouido is on the 60th floor and can be reached by taking one of the transparent elevators. From here, views as far as 50 km radius can be seen, and even the sea off Incheon on a fine day. Visitors are allowed from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The so-called "Love Elevator" has become the talk of town as couples take in the view surrounded by heart-shaped LED lighting. It operates three times on weekdays at 8 p.m., 8:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. and costs W33,000 for a ride (US$1=W1,149). For more information, call (02) 789-5663.
The observatory at Dream Forest in Beon-dong is also worth a visit. It can be reached by taking Exit No. 3 at Mia Samgeori Station on Subway Line No. 4. Famous as a location for the hit TV series "Iris," the 139-m observatory building features an elevator rising at a 45 degree angle. The third floor offers overall views of the forest and scenery including Bukhan, Nam and Surak mountains. The observatory opens from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, call (02) 2289-4001.