In South Korea, there’s hardly a shortage of beautiful places. From beaches to forests, outdoor buffs will find all sorts of natural sites to visit. Gwanggyosan Mountain is one such place. It’s the largest mountain in Suwon city, located in the Gyeonggi Province.
Gwanggyosan is one of the area’s main natural landmarks. If you’re going to Suwon, the mountain is only a two-hour bus ride away. Many locals enjoy visiting the mountain for day trips with friends or family. However, Gwanggyosan also has a large tourist following.
Well, there are five main reasons. Let’s check them out.
1. Gwanggyosan Mountain’s Rich History
Scenery at Gwanggyosan Mountain
Firstly, Gwanggyosan is one of the oldest natural landmarks in Korea’s eastern region. In fact, the mountain got its name in the Goryeo period, during King Taejo’s rule. The mountain connected Suwon and Yongin, helping traders and merchants move from one place to another.
However, Gwanggyosan’s history doesn’t stop there. For more than 500 years, locals have called the mountain Suwon’s jinsan. Jinsan means guardian. Here, it means guardian mountain.
According to a traditional Korean belief system called pungsu, cities with a jinsan are more favorable places to live in. Why? Well, jinsans (as the name implies) protect and heal the city. In this context, Gwanggyosan protects Suwon from harsh winds and storms in the winter.
Thanks to its natural beauty and tranquility (as pictured above), both locals and tourists recognize a healing element to the mountain.
You can learn more about Gwanggyosan’s history from the local guides.
2. The Yummy Korean Mountain Food
A cafe near Gwanggyosan
Of course, when you’re on a leisure trip, you want good food. Luckily, there are multiple cafes, restaurants, and Korean food stands below and on top of the mountain.
If you’re looking for authentic Korean street snacks, you should try mountain makgeolli. Makgeolli is a Korean rice wine. It’s both sweet and tangy, giving you a nice rush of warmth in the cold mountain air.
People also enjoy soju, tteokbokki, eomuk, and bungeo-ppang on top of the mountain. Moreover, if you’re visiting in the summer, you also get a bunch of ice-cream options.
Picnic and resting spots
You can enjoy your food and the scenery. Consequently, the area is a good location for a family picnic.
3. The Gorgeous Natural Topography
Pathway along the Gwanggyo Reservoir
Another reason you must visit Gwanggyosan mountain is the gorgeous topography. From ponds and reservoirs to forest trails and scenic parks, everywhere you look is an Instagram post waiting to happen.
In the springtime, you’ll find lush greenery and exotic flora. In winter, you’ll find a winter wonderland with snow-covered trees.
The Gwanggyo Reservoir (pictured above) is one of Suwon’s best attractions. You get to see it before you go up the mountain summit. It’s a nice place to take pictures and relax as you’re passing the mountain.
Moreover, the mountain summit offers spectacular views of Suwon, Bundang, and Yongin. Most locals recommend going up the summit near dawn. Watching the sunrise over the hills is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
However, there’s a reason Gwanggyosan’s landscape is so beautiful. Suwon City Council takes the maintenance and preservation of the land very seriously. Therefore, they close public access to the mountain every three years.
4. The Gwanggyosan Bridges and Hiking Trails
Thanks to its topography, Gwanggyosan is highly popular among hikers. There are three main hiking courses, including the Gwanggyo Reservoir course, the Kyunggi University trail, and the Baeknyun Fountain trail.
Most tourists prefer the Gwanggyo Reservoir course because it’s much easier, especially for beginners. However, there are some areas in all three courses where you need a rope or harness for your safety.
The Gwanggyo Reservoir course is marked by steps (as seen above). There are more than 1400 steps along a 10-kilometer trail. If you’re a tourist or new to the area, it’s better to take the Gwanggyo course because you won’t get lost.
Once you’re up the mountain, you’ll see a marker such as this:
Also, once you’re on the top, you can see Haogogae Bridge, which connects each mountain summit.
As long as you’re not afraid of heights, the Haogogae Bridge is a great place to take pictures and relax.
5. Fun Attractions Near Gwanggyosan
Lastly, there are many fun locations near Gwanggyosan Mountain. You don’t have to restrict yourself to the summit area. You can explore the multiple museums, temples, and guesthouses around the mountain.
For example, the Suwon history museum is an excellent tourist spot. You can learn more about local history without climbing the mountain.
Moreover, there’s the Suwon amusement park, which is perfect for families with small children. If you’re on a picnic, your little ones will undoubtedly enjoy a visit to this park.
As you can see below, the Buddhist temples are also quite beautiful:
You can see more pictures by me on my Instagram.
All in all, Gwanggyosan is one of the go-to places for hiking and day-time exploring in South Korea. For those who love outdoor beauty, the mountain and its surrounding areas are the ideal vacation spots.
However, if you’re looking for more options, you’re in luck. Don’t forget to check out this travel guide to the Gwanaksan mountain range in Seoul.