During my first jaunt through Korea in 2004, one of the things on my to-do list was to see Seoul’s Namsan Tower. It’s not the tallest tower in the world (or even the tallest tower in Asia), but when it first opened in 1980, it was quite the attraction and remains the #1 tourist destination in Seoul to this day. Sadly, I didn’t make it to Namsan Tower and shortly after I left Korea in 2005, the tower underwent huge renovations and was renamed “N Seoul Tower,” the “N” being for “new.” Fast forward to 2014 and I finally made it to N Seoul Tower, still often called Namsan Tower as it sits at the base of Namsan mountain.
The tower sits at 236 meters tall, less than half the size of Taiwan’s Taipei 101 (508 meters) and almost half the height of Toronto’s CN Tower (553 meters). Despite it’s lack of skyward reach, it’s still a beautiful beacon in the city of Seoul with lots to see and do at the base of the tower too. Many people recommended we go at night to see the city lights of Seoul, so we did. The observatory hours are Sunday-Thursday 10am-11pm and Friday and Saturday 10am-midnight.
As for getting there, my friends and I got off at Myeongdong station (line 4) and walked up the hill to the cable car building to hitch a ride. You can walk all the way up to the observatory admission desk if you like, but we opted for the cable car view as night was falling and we wanted a bird’s eye view of the city at dusk. For more details on how to get there, click here.
Admission is 9,000 won (approx. $9.50 CAD) to take the elevator up to the observation deck. For a lift up in the cable cars, a round-trip ticket is 8,500 won (approx. $9 CAD). One of the things that makes Namsan Tower cooler than the CN Tower (sorry Toronto! I still love you) is that there is a convenience store right next to where the cable car line up begins so you can grab some popcorn, snacks, drinks and even a beer if you felt so inclined and they are priced like they would be at any outside convenience store. This is very cool because it breaks up the monotony of waiting in a giant snaking line for almost an hour and they don’t gouge you for a bottle of water as many tourist attractions tend to do.
Once you get to the observatory there is a 360 degree viewing deck, (much like that of the CN Tower) where you can take in the full view of Seoul. The night view was beautiful but unfortunately none of our cameras really did it justice so I will keep those shots to a minimum.
Fun fact: In 1975, five years before it was open to the public, Namsan Tower was actually South Korea’s first general radio wave tower, emitting TV and radio waves to most of the metropolitan area of Seoul.
Anyway, once you’re up in the tower, there is a big Korean buffet-style restaurant called HanCook Restaurant on the 1st level, 2 levels below the observation deck. Above the observation deck on the 5th floor is a high-class French restaurant called n.GRILL that boasts a view from “the highest point in all of Seoul.” There is also a sky lounge on the 5th floor called NTerrace with 360 degrees of windowed walls for optimal viewing.
Namsan Tower is an extremely popular destination for couples and date-goers. The sky lounge is one of the most famous places for a unique night out and the 5th floor rotates all the way around every hour and 40 minutes so if you’re looking to impress, you’ll have to check it out.
And so it was, with love in our hearts and pain in our legs, we left the tower in search of warm subway seats and something cold to drink. For more information on NSeoul Tower/Namsan Tower in English, click here.