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Exploring Suwon: A peaceful respite in South Korea

Longing for a respite from the bustling city of Seoul? Consider taking a day trip to Suwon, a stone’s throw away from Seoul.

During my summer exchange to South Korea this year, I visited Suwon three times in the span of eight weeks. Although it is a city, Suwon is reminiscent of a suburban area, where time seems to stand still.

Suwon has a rich history, dating back to the early Joseon Dynasty. Today, it is well-known for its Hwaseong Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage site completed in 1796. The fortress was constructed under the command of King Jeongjo, to act as a defence during the Korean War, and to honour his late father.

Travelling to Suwon

Embarking on my journey, I hopped onto the ITX train at Seoul station. A round-trip ticket cost me approximately SGD$9. The train ride is a pretty fast one, taking you to Suwon in 40 minutes, so you don’t have to worry about being bored.

Views on the train to Suwon!

Alternatively, you can take the Seoul Metro (to put it simply, the ‘MRT’ of Seoul) to Suwon station, but it takes about an hour longer and may be complicated to navigate, depending on where you are residing in Seoul.

Stepping foot in Suwon, I boarded the local bus service to Hwaseomun Gate in Paldal-gu, one of the gates of Hwaseong Fortress, reaching there in 15 minutes.

Beyond the gate was a quaint neighbourhood, nestled with cafes and souvenir shops, and traditional architecture reminiscent of the Joseon Dynasty. The streets remained tranquil, with only a few locals walking leisurely around the neighbourhood.

Activities and Cafe-hopping

One of my favourite activities to do in Suwon is making customised name tags at MyWappen, a 2 minute walk from the Hwaseomun Gate. The staff member, who was very welcoming, engaged in a pleasant conversation with my friend and I. We took our time designing our nametags, curating some for our loved ones back in Singapore as well.

Customising our name tags

The first cafe I visited was 수원의아침 (Morning Suwon). What I loved about this cafe is its huge window seat, offering a voyeuristic view of the outside, where I could freely watch people going about their daily activities. The air condition in the cafe provided a nice respite from the unforgiving summer heat.

Window view from 수원의아침 (Morning Suwon)

Another cafe which I really liked was Nuldam Space Cafe, located deeper in the neighbourhood, near the Suwoncheon Stream. This is a popular cafe, with a few outlets in Seoul as well. It is known for its unique concept where you can write a letter to your future self, and get it delivered to the address of your choice in the following year.

Writing a letter to myself, scheduled to receive before AY24/25 starts

I thoroughly enjoyed writing my personal letter, reflecting upon milestones and precious moments in my life, while also jotting down personal goals that I wish to achieve by the time I receive the letter. They also provide stickers for you to customise your envelope, and you can mould wax seals to seal off your letter.

Scenic Views

Something that I really appreciated about Suwon was its picturesque landscapes. I was mesmerised to see the Suwoncheon Stream, a sight that you would rarely chance upon in Singapore. The calming sound of water flowing downstream, and the greenery complementing vibrant blue skies made me feel at peace, and I captured many photos to preserve this moment.

Suwoncheon Stream

After crossing the bridge at Suwoncheon Stream, my friend and I walked through a mini gate along the fortress wall, which led us to Yongyeon pond. What laid past the gate was a scenery so vivid, that it is forever etched into my memory - to say that I was enchanted is an understatement.

Yongyeon Pond

The lush greenery immediately stood out to me. In the middle was a circular pond, reflecting the golden hour sun rays on its surface. At the pond’s edge, ducks sought solace from the summer heat under the trees. Despite the humidity, my friend and I allowed ourselves a moment to sit down and soak in the views that we would otherwise not be able to admire back home.

Excited to see ducks along the pond!

As our day came to an end, the sun slowly faded into the horizon, the golden sun rays enveloping the surroundings. Naturally, I wasted no time capturing the scenic view - I’ve always had a deep appreciation for the sky.

Sunset on my last Suwon trip

My Suwon trips were definitely some of my most treasured memories of my summer exchange. As someone who enjoys cafe-hopping and admiring scenery, these visits encapsulated the essence of what I love. If you share the same passions, do consider taking a day out of your Seoul itinerary to explore Suwon!

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