N Seoul Tower (also known as Namsan Tower) is probably one of the attractions that most tourists in Seoul will visit. Although I wouldn’t consider it as my favourite tourist attraction in Seoul, I think it is worth a visit for every first-time visitor to Seoul.
Being the highest point in Seoul, going up to the observatory at the top of the tower will give you a bird’s eye view of the city. I wouldn’t call the scenery “breathtaking” since most cities should look about the same. Going up the Singapore Flyer or Victoria Peak in Hong Kong should give a relatively similar experience too. Enjoying the scenery behind glass windows without the thrill of experiencing the wind blowing against you at the peak of the mountain also made the experience a less exciting one, as compared to, say, standing at the top of Sunrise Peak at Jeju Island.
There is a gift shop at the observation deck and binoculars for you to have a closer view at certain parts of the city, but I don’t think one will be spending much time here. During the two occasions that I was at Namsan, I spent less than 15 minutes at the observatory each time.
There are other things to see at Namsan though besides the observatory.
There is a Teddy Bear Museum located within the tower. The exhibits here are slightly different from those found at the Teddy Bear museum in Jeju Island. I think this one at Namsan has more exhibits on Korean history.
The museum is divided into several galleries. First, there is the Hall of Historical Seoul. Upon entering, you will see a bear dressed as the legendary founder of Korea, Dangun. Here, you can read up on the legend of the origins of Korea.
Then, you will see many exhibits depicting palace life during the Joseon period.
The exhibits in the second gallery depict modern Seoul.
Just like the Jeju museum, there is a section displaying the bears featured in the drama Princess Hours.
Outside the tower, there is a traditional-looking pavilion that fans of Running Man may be able to recognise.
There are also colourful locks that couples leave along the railings. Fans of shows like Running Man and We Got Married may have seen this on TV before.
If you are lucky, you may even catch a traditional cultural performance at the area in front of the pavilion. I managed to record a performance that I saw during my visit in May 2013.
Admission fees to Namsan Tower are not too pricey. There is a package deal for those who wish to visit the observatory and Teddy bear museum.
Alight at Chungmuro station (Line 3 or 4), Exit 2 in front of Daehan cinema. Take Bus #2 at bus stop in front of subway station.
Alternatively, take Bus #5 at Myeongdong Station Exit 3.
Buses arrive every 15 minutes.
Bus fare is 950 won by cash, or 850 won if you pay by T-money card.
The bus will take you right to the top of Namsan, which is also the last stop of the journey.
By cable car:
Directions are more complicated. Please refer to the official website for instructions.
(Do take note that the instructions for taking the bus stated on the website are outdated as of 18 May 2013)