Suwon (Hwaseong Fortress + Haenggung Palace)

Suwon is in Gyeonggi-do and approximately,1.5 hours away from Seoul by train.

Thanks to the sisters (Kel and Steff), I got off to a day-trip to Suwon to visit its famous fortress. This time once again, it was with another big group of exchange students after the Nami-Seon trip. Seriously, I was in shock when i saw the number of people because i thought we were just going in a small group.
Just look at this, we could totally pull off as a small tour group:

Mini-tour group picture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to Wikipedia, Suwon is the only remaining walled city in South Korea, meaning that it contains fortification from the past, to keep enemies away. Which is why, the main tourist attraction, is the Hwaseong Fortress, which happens to be a UNESCO heritage site.

First off, directions to Suwon.

We headed to Suwon early morning 8am from Ewha station on Line 2 and we swapped to Line 1 at Sindorim station towards Suwon station (P155).

The easier way of transportation is definitely by subway because the lines are very clear on the subway maps whereas buses are confusing to navigate around because Seoul’s such a big place. But of course, if you want to try taking a bus from anywhere to Suwon, refer to the link above (:

We headed out of the station,totally at a lost where to head to because we originally thought it was possible to walk over to the fortress from the subway station.turns out,it takes close to 40mins to walk there and we were all tired out from the long train ride and lack of sleep.

Thank god for a tourist information counter a few steps away and we got exact directions how to get to the fortress (:

Bottom-line, make sure your T-money is fully topped up because a transfer from the subway to the bus gives you rebates,small savings make big money especially if you are a poor exchange student who is trying to travel as much as possible (:

According to Wiki, Hwaseong Fortress was built in the 18th century in the Joseon Dynasty by King Jeongjo, to honor his father. The fortress has four main gates with Janganmun and Paldalmun being the largest of the four. And luckily, we managed to get directions to Paldalmun (:

Admission ticket price-chart

Admission tickets for adults to the fortress is an affordable 1000won but form a group of 20, and you can get it at 700won.
If you are prepared to stay at Suwon for the entire day, immersing in its historical heritage, I recommend getting the 3500 won ticket which encompasses entrance to the fortress, two Suwon museums and the Haenggung (which i will talk about later).

One interesting fact: Suwon residents get to visit all these places for free!

The weather was pretty good that day, with the bright sun and occasional winds. Though i wouldn’t really consider it ‘mountain climbing’, but viewing the fortress still require some physical strength which includes conquering several flights of stairs + slopes.
But like what i have mentioned, for the view, all is worth it.
Furthermore, it is something you can never experience in Singapore!!

The starting of the uphill climb

Just a quarter up the stairs, the whole group of us were already starting to snap pictures furiously. (PS: just too many for me to edit on photoshop and upload)

The view from a quarter up the climb:

View of Suwon from 1/4 up Hwaseong

This, to me, was already breath-taking.I am such an urban kid~

At the top(?), there are a lot of structures, which regrettably, i am unable to name due to my poor knowledge on korean history.
I tried reading through Wiki about Hwaseong, but all the structures look too similar to a noob like me.
So in a nutshell, I am unable to differentiate between the structures and their meanings.
Sorry! >.<

Anyways,posing with the structure, a watch tower(?) i suppose, after climbing up the flight of stairs.

the whole trail continues on and we walked past this exercising area in the middle of the fortress.
how cool is that?!!
the older people in Korea, climb mountains to exercise!
and by the way, mountain climbing is a VERY POPULAR sport for the ahjummas and ahjussis in Korea. I think they might even be fitter than me ;/

this was taken in early April where the flowers have yet to bloom. I imagine it to be really pretty with all the flowers now~! (:

:
Bronze bell of the Paldal gate
According to the lifeinkorea website:
Daily Bell Tolling
The Bell of the Filial Piety Garden (at the top of Paldal-san) rings each day between 10:00-18:00 on the hour. Each of the three tolls each hour represent different wishes:
1) for gratitude and respect for ones parents
2) for ones family’s health and happines
3) for ones realization of dreams 
 
I did, ring the bell on my own but we missed the bell-ringing times ):
right at the top of Hwaseong
on the way down, towards Haenggung Palace
we climbed all the way to the top and of course, mass-spamed a lot more photos. once again, too much for me to upload everything.On our way down, we also took a glimpse of the rounded fortress wall.
Seriously, like i always say, photos don’t do the scenery justice. Head to Suwon for a day and experience the fortress for yourself! (PS; do tell me about the history of the fortress! there is still a lot that i don’t know :/)
 Our next stop to visit is Haenggung Palace, which is a detached palace, which basically means, the place where the king rested at during his long trips.
Though not as significant a palace as that of Gyeongbokgung or Cheongdukgong, this palace is actually one of the filming locations for the hit drama, Dae Jang Geum or The Jewel in the palace or 大長今.
Main characters for Dae Jang Geum
This palace is much smaller in scale,but i personally liked it more that the big palaces i have visited so far.
For some reason, I felt that its small size actually worked to its advantage.
I wasn’t that overwhelmed when I visited it and could instead, stroll and enjoy the architectural and ornaments on display.
Haenggung Palace at Suwon
There are several activities lined up in the palace. Besides trying your hands on traditional games, you can also try wearing the traditional korean consume (Han-bok), at a small fee of 3000won. If you are looking to be special, dress up as one of the guards or the warrior, just like what my wacky trip-companions did:

You can also experience the traditional korean way of life e.g. how they prepare food by hitting it using a wooden mallet. Just don’t try to hit your friends with it,just like what my friend is doing now.the mallet is seriously heavy!! 😛

if everything bores you, then just be a typical tourist. Posing and taking pictures at every interesting landmark or ornament. Before you leave, don’t forget to write down your wish on the paper provided and hang it around the big tree at the courtyard. Don’t know how well it works but since you are abroad, embrace new culture and do it the way they do (:

oh…and a commemorative shot for a fantastic day is a must before heading back to Seoul:

Great company on a great trip
All in all, like I have mentioned, Suwon is definitely a place worth visiting while you are in Korea. The journey down is not that long and unlike Seoul, Suwon seems to have a slower pace of life. More relaxed, more at ease.
So, if you want to have a moment of rest and just relax while at the same time, learn about the history of Korea, head down to Suwon (:
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