For those who are used to visiting only beaches and islands, escaping the heat by going to the mountains might sound strange. Why hike to escape the heat?
But the joy of dipping in brain-freezingly cold water after sweating buckets can be thrilling.
Under the layers of green shade, one can enjoy a cool swim away from the scorching rays of the sun. Though the valley streams are neither wide nor deep, the excitement is there, and the relaxation in the cold water.
Although it has somewhat fallen out of favor these days, it was once almost a summertime ritual for families with young children or groups of friends to head to valleys to escape the heat. Visitors enjoyed outdoor grills after taking a dip in the water, topping off the meal by sharing a cold watermelon they had kept underwater.
Nowadays, using fire is banned in almost all valleys. Instead, there are restaurants nearby, including some that allow diners to keep their feet in the water while they eat.
Here is a list of valleys near Seoul that you can visit before the summer fades away.
Situated in the Gapyeong area, Gyeonggi Province, an hour’s drive from Seoul, Myeongji Valley boasts an abundant body of water powerfully cascading down over rocks. For this valley, hiking is not needed as visitors can park their cars nearby.
Myeongji Valley is what vacationers expect from summer valleys. The valley is wide and open, inviting visitors for a swim. The water is clean, cool and fresh, as it comes down from Myeongjisan.
Many families with young children come prepared with tubes and snorkeling devices when they visit the valley.
As Gapyeong is often frequented by Seoul residents, the area has numerous lodging options and restaurants.
Uidong Valley has long been considered one of Seoul residents’ favorite destinations. It is especially popular with college students in the summer months, as it can be reached by public transportation.
Though the water is not deep, it is enough to cool the heat. Though it may not be adequate for a swim, visitors can still splash around in the water.
You do not have to pack anything before going to this valley. From the entrance, tents with vivid colors are lined up on one side, selling everything from water, chips and beer to broiled chicken and tofu with pork simmered in kimchi. But beware, it can be quite pricey as the tents are only in business in the summer.
A stone’s throw from Seoul’s concrete jungle, the valley is a sanctuary with untouched natural surroundings.
The place is ideal for people who want a relaxing getaway. The atmosphere is peaceful and calm, without vendors or restaurants.
Despite being a valley, visitors are asked to refrain from dipping their feet in the water to conserve protected species. But even without touching the water, visitors can still feel the cool water breeze and the scent of the forest.
As the valley is located in Buam-dong, an area known for its cafes with great views, visitors can re-energize themselves with coffee and sweet desserts on their way home.
By Im Eun-byel (firstname.lastname@example.org)