I booked the half day DMZ tour from Trazy a local Korea travel agent. Initially I wanted to book from Getyourguide but I found Trazy price is cheaper. Trazy and Klook pricing is around the same but I picked Trazy because it is a local Korea travel agent.
DMZ tour picked us up at 7.10am. Our hotel was open for breakfast at 6am so Bu Luci and I had early breakfast as it was going to be long trip to the DMZ area.
What is a DMZ area
DMZ or demilitarized zone is a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula. It is established by the provisions of the Korean Armistice Agreement to serve as a buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea. The demilitarized zone is a border barrier that divides the Korean Peninsula roughly in half. The DMZ was created in 1953 at the end of the Korean war as a result of the armistice agreement between the United Nations, North Korea, China and Soviet Union. It was agreed to create a buffer zone 4km wide with only a minimal military presence and patrols occurring within the DMZ area.
You can only visit the DMZ area with a Tour, as it has restricted civilian access and requires a mandatory military escort. Our passports were checked multiple times during the trip. In the peak holiday season you will need to book the tour ahead to get a spot because they do limit the number of tours.
If you have watched Crash Landing On You Drama, the male and female lead met when Captain Ri was on his patrol around DMZ area.
Imjingak Park and Freedom Bridge
Our first stop is Imjingak Park and we were given 30 minutes to look around while our guide registering our documents to the Authority. It is also a chance to go to the restroom. Too bad that that the restrooms were dirty and the queue was also long. There are many things to see in the park but too bad we didn’t have much time there.
Dora Observatory Tower
Our second stop is Dora Observatory Tower where we can see North Korea from the top of the tower. It was a clear day when we went so we could see the flag which marked a clear line where North Korea lies. I could see similar housing compound and plants in North Korea thru the telescope. Jun, our guide told us that there are still active mines around the area so we had to be careful not to wander off and walked in the designated path.
The Infiltration Tunnel
Our third stop is the infiltration tunnel which was built by North Korean for possible invasion to the South. But a defector revealed the location and South Korean was able to intercept before the tunnel was completed. We got the opportunity to walk inside the tunnel. But be aware that you have to be fit if you would like to enter the tunnel as we had to go down walking with a steep inclined. We also had to wear helmet and if you are taller than 150m, occasionally you would have to duck down. I have bumped my helmet few times because I forgot to duck down. We were not allowed to take pictures inside the tunnel and there was not any reception either inside the tunnel.
Outside the tunnel there is outdoor attraction for people to take pictures of.
This is our last stop and the end of our tour. Dorasan station is a railway station situated on the Gyeongui Line, which used to connect North Korea and South Korea and has since been restored. Dorasan station is located approximately 650 meters (710 yards) from the southern boundary of the Korean Demilitarized Zone and is currently the northern terminus of Korail’s Gyeongui’s Line, which is served by Tonggeun commuter trains. North of here the former Gyeongui Line continues as the Korean State Railway’s Pyoungbu Line, but this connection is not in regular service. The current purpose of the station is largely symbolic of the hope for eventual Korean reunification.
Back to Seoul
We head back to Seoul and arrived around 2.30pm. We were dropped at City hall where we then continued to Myeongdong for lunch. There was a Halal Restaurant in Myeongdong, so we stopped there for lunch before going to Namsan Park.
Namsan Park is the largest park in Seoul and is home to many species of trees, plants, and animals and is well-known for its beautiful walking trails. The park covers a large area and features a number of tourist attractions, including Baekbeom Square, the Namsan Cable Car and Namsan Seoul Tower, and statues of famous figures in Korean history. A number of events take place at the park and one of the biggest is the annual cherry blossom festival in April. The Cherry Blossom Path in Namsan Park is the longest trail of cherry trees anywhere in the city and is spectacular in full bloom. Namsan Park is free but you will need to pay to use the cable car to go up to the tower.
How to get to Namsan Cable Car Station
1. Free Namsan Shuttle Bus Service (5 mins). From Myeongdong Station (line 4, exit 1), take the half-hourly Shuttle Bus Service (operating hours 12:00 – 20:30) with “Namsan Cable Car” sign to Namsan Cable Car Station. OR
2. if you missed the shuttle bus from Myeongdong like us, take a taxi (4 mins from Myeongdong Station, exit 1-4) to Namsan Cable Car Station 남산 케이블카 OR
3. walk uphill (10-15 mins): From Myeongdong Station (line 4, exit 3), walk towards the left of 7-11 convenience store, go straight and walk towards the right of Pacific Hotel and walk uphill. Walk up the stairs to Namsan Cable Car Station OR4.
4. Via Free Namsan Oreumi Elevator (2 mins): From Myeongdong Station (line 4, exit 4), you will see McDonald’s in front. Walk straight 300m and turn left at the main junction (with Shinsagae Department Store diagonally-right). Go straight and you will see the Namsan Oreumi Elevator about 300m ahead. 10 mins walk. Take the outdoor inclined elevator (free, 9:00-23:00, closed on Mondays 9:00-14:00 for maintenance) straight to Namsan Cable Car Station, 2 mins.
Namsan Cable Car Station
Adult (1-way/return) – 11,000 won / 14,000 won
Child age 3-12 & Senior above age 65 (1-way/return) – 8,000 won / 10,500 won
After boarding off the cable car we still had to walk a few stairs to reach the tower. And in between you will come across the popular love locks
Popular Love Locks at N Seoul Tower
One of the most well-known attractions at Namsan Tower is probably the love locks. You can find love locks in all shapes and colours hanging at every outdoor railings at N Seoul Tower. The gift shops at Seoul Tower also sell many interesting looking locks.
N Seoul Tower
Namsan Seoul Tower was the first multipurpose tower to be established in Korea, effectively incorporating a sightseeing observatory to a broadcasting tower. For the past 40 years, Namsan Seoul Tower has served as an iconic landmark of Korea and a representative tourist attraction.
The top of the tower is at 479.7m above sea level with Namsan Mountain at 243m and the tower’s own height at 236.7m, making it one of the tallest towers in the East.
The tower’s observatory offers an unobstructed view of the whole city, allowing it to become one of the all-time favorite attractions of Seoul citizens as well as domestic and international tourists.
The view of the tower is amazing beautiful in different season. On nightfall, N Seoul Tower lights up in different colour to show the air quality that can be viewed from afar by the public. BLUE – Good, GREEN – Average, YELLOW – Bad and RED – Poor.
View from the Top. Too bad the sky was cloudy
Getting Down from N Seoul Tower
From Namsan Seoul Tower, take a leisure walk down the mountain (especially beautiful in autumn for its autumn foliage and cherry blossom in spring) in the same direction as the bus going down to reach the base with Namsan Shuttle Bus’s Bus Stop (@Namsan Public Library) right ahead. 30-40 mins walk.
Alternatively, from Namsan Seoul Tower, you can take Shuttle Bus #05 back to Myeongdong Station, Namsangol Hanok Village or any other Namsan Shuttle Bus to your next destination.