Hiking Achasan

Want a great view of Seoul that doesn’t require a challenging hike, but don’t want to brave the crowds at Namsan tower? Achasan is an excellent option. It has a great view of Seoul and the Han River, especially the almost finished Lotte World Tower which really dominates Seoul’s skyline.

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Achasan is not a difficult or long hike, and it isn’t even necessary to hike to the top to get the views. I took the easiest path there is, and started at¬†Gwangnaru Station on line 5. Leaving exit 1, There’s a bit of a walk uphill to get to the entrance. Currently there’s some construction going on as Gwangnaru station is being expanded. I had to cross the street and then walk across a bridge to get to the entrance. I started at Achasan Ecological Park, which is small, but nice.

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From the ecological park, there are signs pointing to the trail. Achasan was once the site of an important battle during Korea’s 3 Kingdoms period, that was used to protect Hanseong (Seoul’s former name), the capital of the Baekje kingdom, from Goguryeo and Silla. Not much of the fortress is left, only some bricks. The fortress path is a bit off the main path, and I didn’t bother walking there since I heard most of the fortress is gone, but there is some information in English about the history of the wall.

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After the fortress area, it isn’t long before the viewing pavilion can be reached.

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Enjoy the view!

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The way down is also easy and doesn’t take very long, although it was on solid rock so the first part of the way down was a bit steep for me, luckily an old man let me use one of his hiking sticks for that part. On the way down I passed through the ecological park again and a residential area. Not too far away was Gwangnaru station again.

As mentioned before, the viewing pavilion is not at the peak of Achasan so it’s an option to¬†follow the signs and continue to the peak. A nearby mountain on the same trail is Yongmasan, which can be combined with Achasan for a longer hike.

For me personally though, I was happy to just stick to the pavilion view. I wanted to possibly stay after sunset to see the city lights, but then realized I might have more of a problem climbing down in the dark, so I left at the beginning of sunset.

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Accommodation Review: Ayutthaya

I didn’t plan on staying in Ayutthaya as long as I did, but because I stayed so long, I stayed in three different places. They were all different, so I decided to make a seperate post and review them, giving the pros and cons of each.

Ruen Tubtim Hotel/Resort

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First place I stayed in was the Ruen Tubtim. It had really good reviews on Agoda and Tripadvisor, and the hotel is a family-run traditional Thai house with antique furniture that was visited by King Rama VII. It is located on a very small island in Ayutthaya, a short boat ride away from Ayutthaya’s main island. Room was $27 per night for a single room, which was a large bed on the floor in one of the rooms. Hotel has a restaurant and bar and breakfast was pretty good. Bathroom is shared, there are two for the rooms upstairs and two for the rooms downstairs.

What I probably should have anticipated is that the location on a small island a boat ride away from town turned out to be very inconvenient for me. The hotel’s reviews made it sound like it wasn’t that big of a deal but for me it was why I stayed somewhere else the next night. When I went to Thailand I didn’t get a phone or sim card, instead deciding to just rely on public wifi and the wifi in my accommodations. But in order to get the boat to the island from the dock in the city I needed to call the owner. So because of that I had to rely on payphones or borrow someone’s phone. Not only that but Ayutthaya is absolutely scorching in August and I couldn’t go back to the hotel to lay down and take a break for awhile before going to another temple in the heat because that would involve calling the owner, waiting for the boat back, laying down for a bit, and then having the owner call the boat again and waiting again.

Pros: Beautiful house and area, good breakfast, nice owners.

Cons: Out of the way location and a boat needs to be called to get to and from the hotel. Too inconvenient without a Thai sim card.

Goodmorning Guesthouse by Tamarind

This was the second place I stayed at and I stayed two nights. As far as budget accommodation goes this was very good. Location is great, near the city center and the main temples on the island, as well as a few restaurants and a 7-11. I booked a twin room with a private bathroom for only about $15. They didn’t have any single rooms left, but the twins were so cheap that it didn’t matter. They had free coffee, tea, small cookies and bananas. Room was very clean.

Pros: Location, price, clean room, nice staff.

Cons: Bed was a bit hard, and the staff had limited English.

PU Resort

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My last day in Ayutthaya, I chose to stay in the PU Inn because it had a pool, and I really wanted a swim in all the heat (without putting my head in since I couldn’t get my stitches wet). The hotel had mixed reviews, but the location was great, right in the middle of town, so booked the night before on booking.com. When I arrived, the owner showed me to a room in PU Inn, which is a separate building from PU Resort. She gave me a key for a single room with bathroom, which cost 600 baht or $16. The room looked okay except for the fact it had some small ants running around. I don’t mind ants but it did make me nervous for whatever else I might be sleeping with that I couldn’t see yet (though I don’t remember reading about excessive pest control problems in the reviews). However, the lady that gave me the room then realized I had made a reservation on booking.com, which was actually for the Resort and not the Inn, as the Inn isn’t listed on booking.com but the Resort is, which I didn’t realize when I booked.

The room in the resort was a little over double the price, at 1400 baht or $39. But it was also a much nicer room with a balcony, and no ants, so I was willing to pay the extra. The bed in the resort was super soft, a bit soft for me but would be great for people who like really soft beds as they are rare in Asian hotels.

Location was the best out of all of them for sure, it was right next to most restaurants, the city center, and the stop for the vans to Bangkok. The pool and breakfast were great as well. Owner spoke pretty good English.

Pros: Pool, breakfast, nice owner, nice room, and location especially.

Cons: Price is higher than other rooms in the area but also much nicer. TV only had a few channels, all English news stations.