Tired of the crowds and hustle and bustle of Seoul? Are you on a budget and don’t have enough time to travel the length and breadth of the country? Then you should visit the historic city of Suwon!

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Why go to Suwon?

Suwon gate

First of all, its proximity to Seoul makes it the ideal place for a pleasant and enchanting day trip, just 30 minutes to 1.5 hours from the capital.

But that’s not all: the city is best known for its fortress (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), which is not only a work of art but also a site steeped in history that will transport you back in time!

Walk along the walls, admire the view and watch the sunset for a complete, free experience!

Main Sights

If you only have a day or half-day in Suwon, I highly recommend including them in your itinerary. In any case, the main attractions are all centered in one place, so it won’t be difficult to see them all. Visiting Suwon is so easy that you can take time to relax at each location, and it’s also the perfect place to get some exercise.

1. Paldalmun Gate (팔달문)

Paldalmun gate

Address: 780 Jeongjo-ro, Paldal-gu, Suwon-si

The “gate opening onto a road leading in all directions” is a perfect name, especially considering that it’s located right in the middle of a traffic circle. The southern gateway to the fortress, you can’t miss it, as you’ll almost certainly pass by the watchtower on your visit. Take time to take in the architecture and observe the contrast between ancient and modern in the heart of the city.

2. Paldal Park (팔달공원)

Paldal park

Address: Hwaseo-dong, Paldal-gu, Suwon-si

This is the start of your walk along Suwon’s beautiful walls and charming views of the city. Be prepared, as there are quite a few stairs before you reach the top of the mountain of the same name, but the calm environment and beauty of the place are well worth it.

3. Hwaseo Park (화서공원)

Hwaseo Park

Just before discovering the famous Hwaseong fortress, you’ll come to this part where your walk takes on a magical twist thanks to the pretty silver grass.
Breathe in the invigorating air, listen to the wind whistling through the grass and take a few photos! All seasons are beautiful here, so you can’t go wrong choosing Suwon!

4. Suwon Hwaseong Fortress (수원 화성)

Suwon Hwaseong Fortress

Address: 320-2 Yeonghwa-dong, Jangan-gu, Suwon-si

Built by King Jeongjo in honor of his father (Crown Prince Sado, who died after being locked in a rice chest by his own father), the fortress, despite its tragic history, remains one of South Korea’s greatest monuments.

Fortress in Suwon
Along the walls of Suwon's Fortress

The immense defensive walls will make you reflect on the situation that prevailed at the time of the Joseon dynasty, and on the engineering skills and technical knowledge required to build such a solid structure.
The finesse of the details, the architecture and the colors enhanced by the setting sun make this symbol a must-see on your trip!

5. Hwahongmun Gate (화홍문)

Hwahongmun Gate

Address: 33-4, Buksu-dong, Paldal-gu, Suwon-si

The great thing about Suwon is that you only have to follow the walls to come across some magnificent sites. Crossed by the Suwon River, this gateway is also very popular at night for its romantic vibes!

6. Banghwasuryujeong Pavilion (방화수류정)

Banghwasuryujeong Pavilion

Address: 44-6 Suwoncheon-ro 392beon-gil, Maehyang-dong, Paldal-gu, Suwon-si

I don’t think any other place in Suwon offers this kind of panorama, so of course this has become my favorite spot in the city!

It’s the perfect place to stop and see how the city and the historic site seem to blend quite perfectly.

7. Yongyeon (용연)

Yongyeon

Address: 190 Yeonmu-dong, Jangan-gu, Suwon-si

Tired after spending hours walking, taking photos and marveling at the beauty of the place? Why not take a well-deserved rest at Yongyeon? This park with its lake and peaceful atmosphere is a lovely place for a picnic.
And if you don’t have any accessories to do so, don’t worry, because in Korea you can simply rent picnic sets from certain stores (안녕피크닉숲 is one of them and is located just a minute from the park). As it’s rather popular and cheap (from KRW 10,000 ($7)), it’s also a perfect idea for a date, whether you’re with friends or your partner!

8. Stay for sunset

Sunset in Suwon

I love ending a day with a splendid sunset whenever possible, so Suwon was no exception. If you have enough time and want to discover the magic of the fortress, you should consider staying a while and taking a walk at night.

The atmosphere is definitely different and you’ll get another perspective of the architecture and the place. Magnificent views and charming landscapes, let yourself be enchanted by the beauty of this World Heritage site at night!

Places to Eat

락큐 (Rock gyu)

Address: 36 Paldalmun-ro 3 beon-gil, Paldal-gu, Suwon-si

If you’d like to try the local specialty: galbi (grilled ribs), here’s an address. Affordable, quality products, come and taste their sweet marinated meat and fill your stomach with this delicious meal. They also serve soybean paste stew or the famous cold buckwheat noodles (물냉면)!

Hanbongseok Halmeoni Sundubu (한봉석 할머니 순두부)

Address: 71 Haenggung-ro, Paldal-gu, Suwon-si

Have you ever heard of soft tofu stew? If not, here’s your chance to try it, and you won’t be disappointed. Comforting and tasty, it’s one of my favorite Korean dishes. Whether you like it with kimchi, mushrooms or seafood, its savory broth will warm you up in an instant.

How to get to Suwon from Seoul

View of Suwon at the summit
  • By Subway:
    Take line 1 (dark blue) from Seoul Station towards Seodongtan or Sinchang and stop at Suwon station. It will take you about 1 hour and cost you KRW 2,000 ($1.50). This is the cheapest option if you’re on a budget and don’t mind spending an hour on the subway.Be careful when using this line, as it has many stops and even an express line that doesn’t stop at all stations.
  • By KTX:
    The trip from Seoul station to Suwon station usually takes 30 to 40 minutes for a total fare of between KRW 2,700 and 4,800 ($2 to $4). Bear in mind that you may need to book your ticket in advance, as the final destination is usually Busan (and this is a very popular route).

How to get around Suwon

Suwon by night

Suwon is pretty easy to explore. So my best advice is to wander around and soak up its historic atmosphere. You can stop and relax at any time, as a visit to the fortress shouldn’t take you more than 4 hours in total, giving you plenty of time to relax in one of the parks, explore the surrounding area and grab a bite to eat before heading home.

Tips

South Korea is one of the least difficult countries I’ve visited so far, thanks to its efficient and extensive public transport. But here are a few simple tips to keep in mind when exploring Suwon:

  • Bring comfortable shoes, as you’ll probably be walking all day!
  • Keep water and snacks handy.
  • Try to avoid rush hour (7-9am and 6-8pm), especially if you decide to stay for sunset, as the subways will be packed! Have dinner first or take a stroll through the illuminated fortress and the streets of Suwon before heading home.

Final Thoughts

Suwon is the ideal city to visit if you’re looking for an authentic place that has had a great influence on Korean heritage. If you want to immerse yourself in one of the country’s symbols, Hwaseong Fortress is a must-see during your stay in Seoul. And it would be a real shame to miss it when it’s so close to the capital!

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