Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon is one of Korea’s most famous and well-known tourist spots.
According to my guidebook, it was built during the Joeson Dynasty when the king was planning to move the capital from Seoul to Suwon. The move didn’t happen because the king died before the fortress was built, but his son had the fortress completed anyway.
I read on Chris from South Korea’s blog that I should plan on spending four to six hours at the fortress. This turned out to be some pretty solid advice.
I took the 10:30 a.m. bus from Chungju to Suwon and arrived at about 12:15 p.m. I met my friend Jennifer and we headed out in a taxi for the fortress. We asked for the south gate or Paldalmun. The driver dropped us off at the foot of the mountain and the South Gate opened straight up a flight of stairs. The picture frenzy began and was in full force for the next four hours.
We slowly walked our way around the fortress stopping to ring a giant bell for 1,000 won, take photos and discuss hagwon life. Around five or so, we arrived at the archery field. Jennifer wanted to test out the bow and arrows so we stopped for dinner at the diner downstairs. We had bibimbap and seafood pancakes for about 10,000 won each. The food was hearty and good after a long day of walking. We finished the walk around the fortress as the sun was setting and walked back down to the street in the dark. In the end it took us about six hours to meander our way through all that the fortress has to offer a wandering waygukin.
My legs were tired from the stairs and my camera went through two sets of batteries, but it was completely worth the won and bus trip to see such an amazing part of Korean history and culture. If ever you find yourself in Korea, Hwaseong Fortress is more than worth the visit.