Saturday 17 August 2013

The Golden Buddha of Bukhansan: Part 1

Last weekend Angela and I paid a visit to Bukhansan National Park, located in the north of Seoul. It is one of the most popular hiking spots in the city, and we'd been meaning to go there for some time. We were especially interested because we'd heard there was a giant golden buddha statue sitting somewhere in the mountains. Despite searching online, we couldn't find a great deal of info about it, apart from the fact that it was the largest sitting Buddha statue in East Asia. A few expats and travellers had made blog posts about it but for the most part it seemed very much off the beaten path, undiscovered by the tourist offices or travel books. Unfortunately we couldn't seem to find any detailed directions to this mysterious statue, and figured the national park was too big for us to try and find it ourselves.

Fortunately, Warren of Seoul Hiking Group came to our rescue, as he organised a hiking trip with a route that passed along the gates of Bukhansan Fortress and by the giant buddha that we sought. We signed up for the trip and decided to go along regardless of the humid summer weather which had been putting us off hiking for so long (hence the lack of recent hiking posts). Fortunately, while it was a very hot and sticky day, the weather improved as we ascended to the cooler peaks of the national park, and it was more than worth it for the amazing sights we saw along the way.

It's difficult to explain how to get to the statue, but I will try my best to recount the route we took. Alternatively, Bobo and Chichi provide some pretty good directions on their website.

We started off at Gupabal Station on Line 3 of the metro. From Exit 3 we crossed the street and took bus 704 to the national park. If in doubt, follow everyone else: there are nearly always hikers at Gupabal bound for Bukhansan.
After the bus ride we walked along a road that took us into the mountains.
As always, Warren starts the hike with a briefing on our intended route.
The small town - made up mostly of sportswear and hiking equipment shops - gradually gave way to forested foothills.
For a mile or so the path remained paved and at a gradual incline. However, due to the heat we were still sweating buckets in no time.
We passed under one of the old gates of Bukhansan Fortress.
Continuing up, past pretty temples and shrines.
The scenery grew more impressive the higher we climbed.

We definitely felt a Jurassic Park vibe at times.
Taking a break to drink water and replenish our strength.
On we went, past mystical Buddhist statues that guarded the forest pathways.

A local hikes barefoot style.

Before taking a right turn towards the Buddha statue, Warren took us up to see another one of the fortress gates. In other words, if you're trying to find the giant Buddha statue and you see the creek in this photo, then you've gone too far.
At the fortress gate, before heading back down the way we came.

In order to find the path towards the giant Buddha, we had to go behind these little shacks at the right side of the path (or left side for us, since we were retreating back from the gate).
The path up to the Buddha.

Soon we came to this small temple area, and before we knew it...
...there it was! The Giant Buddha!
Most of our fellow hikers stopped to rest, and honestly we could have done with a break ourselves, but with such a beautiful sight as this, we had to explore and take photos instead.

The Giant Buddha was surrounded by thousands of miniature ones.

The Buddha wasn't the only beautiful sight to behold.

Click here to continue the adventure in Part 2!


  1. u know what? ur blog is very interesting. I always exciting to see ur blog almost everyday. it's enjoyable.

  2. Thanks, duwie elf! I'm glad you like it. Sometimes I get tired of doing this blog, as it takes up a lot of my time, but comments like yours really motivate me to keep working at it. Thanks!

  3. Please don't ever stop post in this blog. Many people visit your blog. You give us knowledge by your blog, so many information about places and recreation areas there. I have never go to Korea, but I like the country. And even I visit your blog, I wish someday I can to be there. Keep posting Jim, don't ever bored.

  4. Thanks so much! I really appreciate your encouragement.

  5. Hi I just stumbled on your blog while researching hiking in Bukhansan. Thanks for the detailed post and great blog. We plan to follow in your footsteps to the giant Buddha in the coming weeks! I just wrote a blog on our first trip to Bukhansan. Check it out at :o)

    1. Thanks for your interest in my blog. I enjoyed your blog post on Bukhansan - very informative! - and I wish you luck finding the buddha in the coming weeks!

  6. We loved the Golden Buddha Hike.Current favorite in Korea! Now that it's spring we researched hikes & stumbled upon this blog and it looked great.

    Two things we thought you might want to know - it definitely is exit #704. If you go out exit 3 make sure to cross the street! We didn't and went the wrong way.

    We were inspired by your photos and took some ourselves- photos at
    Great job!

    1. Thanks so much for your comment! I will edit the post and include a link to the directions you provided on your site, if that's okay. :)

    2. That's definitely alright with us ;)!! Happy travels!