After Christmas, Justin and I decided to go for a short hiking trip to Gwangju for hiking Mudeungsan national park. We have stayed for 3 days in Gwangju. Although it was a very short time to wander all-around Gwangju, my impression of the city was really good. 🙂
Gwangju Metropolitan City and Gwangju Uprising
Gwangju(광주광역시 in Korean) is the sixth-largest metropolis and historically very important city in South Korea. Back in 18th May 1980, Gwangju Uprising(5.18 광주 민주화 운동 in Korean) has happened and many Gwangju people including young students and women have fought and killed by government troops. Still, in Gwangju, there are many historical remains telling us what Gwangju people have been through in the past. If you want to know more about Gwangju Uprising, there are many films about it (check this list – ‘10 Great Korean Movies about the Gwangju Uprising’). I personally recommend you to watch ‘A Taxi Driver’. You can see the life of Gwangju people in the past along with Uprising. After I watched this film I was very shocked and curious about Gwangju. So while I was staying there I couldn’t help to think about what had happened at where I am right now back in 1980.
How to get to Gwangju from Seoul
To get to Gwangju we took an intercity bus from the East Seoul bus terminal(동서울 터미널) to Gwangju U-Square bus terminal(광주 유스퀘어 터미널). It costs 30,400 won per person and took 3 hours and 40 minutes to get there. We stopped at a service station once in Jeongan and had little snacks and a short rest. Once we had arrived at the U-Square bus terminal we took a bus to Chungjangro where our accommodation is located.
Mudeungsan National Park
Mudeungsan National Park is designated as the 13th national park in Korea back in 2013. The mountain is located between North and East of Gwanju and South Joella Province(전라남도). We decided to start our hiking from the entrance of Wonhyo Temple(원효사 입구) which was very easy to get to from where we stayed.
We started by drinking a cup of coffee on the outside table of a cafe right by the bus stop and started hiking. This time, we actually took our time and walk slowly. We stopped a few times and had lunch and drank water, listened to the birds singing and breathed the fresh air. Especially we were so amazed seeing the white, cosy and beautiful scenery of snowy Mudeungsan a lot. Last year at this time of year, we had hiked Woraksan national park in Ghungju. I am getting to know how wonderful it is hiking in the snowy mountains in the quiet winter season!
During this time, we actually couldn’t get to Chenwangbong, the tallest peak, because it is a military installation protection area. The second tallest peak is called Shinseondae(1100m). But we hiked slightly different way this time to Nuebong Peak. From Nuebong we were able to watch the beautiful Chenwangbong peak covered by snow.
From Nuaebong we got down through Kkomakjae to Wonhyosa where we started hiking. We waited for our bus at the bus stop named ‘Parking lots of Wonhyo Temple(원효사 주차장)’ to go back to Chungjangro. Bus no.1187 comes every 20 to 30 minutes until 10:00 P.M during the weekdays. So we could enjoy hiking without rushing.
The secret of no.1187
To get to Wonhyo Temple, the hiking trail entrance of Mudeungsan National Park, you need to take bus no.1187 or 1187-1. And on your way, you will see some shops or cafes with the number 1187 in their name. Guess what does 1187 mean? Yes, it is the height of the mountain, the tallest peak of the mountain is called Chenwangbong(천왕봉) 🙂
Before I have visited Gwangju I had an expectation of what Gwangju would like. A quiet and old city. But I found that Gwangju is, specially Chungjangro, a seriously cool and modern place. There are lots of unique local businesses going on like Seongsu or Mangwondong in Seoul. So those who love visiting cute and unique cafes or restaurants Gwangju can be a very good place to visit.
Hiking Mudeongsan National Park was a lovely experience. It was very convenient to visit from the city. With bus no.1187 it only takes half an hour to get to the mountain from the main city of Gwangju. And the path we chose was very gentle and easy also beautiful. Next time I would love to visit Gwangju and Mudeongsan again in spring and hike to Shinseondae.