You might not have heard of Hwaseong Fortress, or even of the city of Suwon, but if you want a bit of advice – put this on your agenda if you’re ever in Seoul, Korea’s lively capital. It’s an easy day trip to do, as I did, or you can go one step further and actually spend a night in the city of Suwon, which sits south and in the shadow of the mammoth Seoul. Here’s a rundown on visiting Hwaseong Fortress.
How to get to Suwon
First of all you need to get to the city of Suwon. This is easily reached by rail from Seoul. Seoul has an immense rail and metro system which is very easy to follow for a foreign tourist. Head to Suwon station on the blue number 1 train line in the south of Seoul.
How to get to Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon
To be honest if you want you can walk it from the train station (I was there on a day trip and ended up walking back to the train station from Hwaseong Fortress – it’s a decent 30 minute walk). This is a good money saver, but the bus is also cheap enough. I got a bus out to Hwaseong Fortress from Suwon train station. There’s a very handy and well organised Tourist Information Office right beside the train station!
If you are going by bus, you have a wide choice of buses to get – hop onto a number 11, 13, 13-3, 36 or 39 which all go to Paldalmun. Get out of the bus at Paldalman (it’s at a roundabout with a monument in the middle of it – 10 minutes into the journey). All the above listed buses leave from Deokyyeongdae-rp Street which is right where the train station and tourist information office are. Please note that Suwon is actually quite big and there are a few other tourist information centres around – I used this one as it was handy to the train station.
Where is Hwaseong Fortress?
It’s in the middle of the city of Suwon. It’s actually hard to miss. But like I said above get a bus out to Paldalmun which is pretty much where the entrance to the Hwaseong Fortress.
What is Hwaseong Fortress?
It’s more than a fortress. It’s basically a massive wall in the middle of the city of Suwon that features guard posts, statues, bells, lookout points and temples. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was constructed in 1794.
Even my guide that I picked up (for free at the tourist information centre) doesn’t give entire details to what the fortress is. Basically it is stunning and very well worth a trip. There are four main gates on the walk round the walls and the entire place is littered with well built and maintained brick buildings, all serving a purpose of their own and adding to the glamour of what has to be classed as an unknown and undermined travel gem. Most people that visit Seoul don’t even bother heading out of Seoul to see it. I am glad I did and I strongly recommend it.
How much does it cost to visit Hwaseong Fortress?
I’ll be honest here and tell you that you COULD do it for free if you wanted. Just walk up the steps and join the walls at any point and walk around, I mean the locals often just pass through the walls on their way through the city.
That said, I did the full circle walk all the way round the walls as that’s what I wanted and I decided to buy a ticket, as it helps preserve the Fortress and I don’t mind paying for things on my travels. The ticket cost 1,500 South Korean Won (ignore the 9,000 figure on the above ticket by the way), which is about 2 US Dollars actually so by no means cheap. If you are really pushed for cash, just skip it. You will be asked for a ticket at various points on your walk round the walls, but at that point you can just leave if you want. I leave it up to you!!
What are the opening times of Hwaseong Fortress?
Please check on this website just ahead of your visit: Suwon Hwaseong Fortress but as I said before the walls are in the city so literally it’s open 24 hours a day! I’m not sure if it would be worth seeing at night however and during the days when it’s officially closed, some parts of the fortress may be inaccessible. My trip there was in December 2011 and the ticket office was open from 9am to 4.30 pm as a standard.
How long does it take to walk the whole way round the walls at Hwaseong Fortress?
I did the full walk, stopping at points, taking photos, savouring the view and I took about 2 hours to do the full circle. You could easily do it in an hour if you wanted, but I’d advise enjoying it!
Where can I stay while visiting Hwaseong Fortress?
I stayed in Seoul and did it as a day trip, and this is easily possible, but if you want to actually spend a night or two in Suwon, Hwaseong Guesthouse is recommended:
That’s about it folks! Hope you can get out to Suwon and see the marvellous Hwaseong Fortress as its definitely worthy of its place as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, I’ve included a few of my videos from my visit below for you to check out:
Arrival in Paldalmun in Suwon:
Arrival in Suwon:
Bus in Suwon:
My Videos from Visiting Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon:
Walking Through Suwon: