Major Public Parks in Seoul
Just when you thought there couldn’t possibly be any more Parks (박) in Korea, here are a few others… Ba-doom-CH!..
Dream Forest – 북서울 꿈의 숲
Dream Forest is the fourth largest park in Seoul and home to plenty of animal and plant wildlife. The 50 meter-high observatory tower provides a view of both Mount Byeogosan and Opaesan, which surround the forest. The park’s attractions include a concert hall, performance hall, deer garden, cultural plaza, and arts center as well as:
Hangang Park - 한강공원
Hangang Park is huge. It stretches about 40km each side of the Han River and, according to its website, remains from the Old Stone Age and the Neolithic Age have been found there. Now, it’s unlikely that Korean cavemen were concerned with renting and riding bikes alongside the Han River – they had more pressing concerns. Whether they would be impressed by the Hangang Park of today is dubious, too. The sight of couples gleefully taking pictures of themselves on their smartphones would have been met with, at best, confusion. They would presumably be more impressed by the football, tennis, basketball and volleyball facilities, if we were able to explain the rules to the old guys. It might take a while. Don’t even get me started on any attempts to take our hunter-gatherer friends to the Aquatic Leisure Sports Center. The water-skiing, surfboarding, yachting and water-sleighing offered would surely have been infinitely too dangerous and may have resulted in completely unnecessary loss of life. Not worth it, just for a day in the park.
Namsan Park - 남산공원
Home to one of Korea’s most iconic images, the 236 meter tall N Seoul Tower (formerly Namsan Tower) is on a lot of people’s ‘must see/do’ lists. You can see a large portion of Seoul from the tower observatory, which is nearly 500 meters above sea level, and the view at night is particularly impressive. There are two ways to get to the base of the tower: either by cable car or on foot via the stairway path. The park itself is pretty cool though, and doesn’t get spoken about enough. There are plenty of walkways to explore, as well as places to go in the Yejang, Jangchung, Hannam and Hoehyeon districts.
Olympic Park - 올림픽공원
The Olympic park was built prior to the 1988 Games in Seoul. More recently, extra features were added to the park, meaning it was closed to the public for a year. Attractions include the spectacular peace gate, which serves as the entrance to the park, and the museum where you can learn about the Olympics in three different exhibition halls. It is the largest park in Seoul and a favorite meeting place for families and friends who can stroll around its vast grounds.
Seoul Forest - 서울숲
Seoul Forest first opened nearly eight years ago and reportedly cost more than 230 billion KRW to complete. Before work on the park began, the planning phase of the project was worked on by contributions from professionals and the general public. The public continued to assist with the project. Today, the park has a 220,000㎡ culture and arts park, an ecological forest, a marsh plants garden, and a park next to the Hangang river. Highlights also include: an outdoor theater, insect garden, bird observatory, sports park, skate park and deer park.
Seoul Zoo in Seoul Grand Park - 서울대공원 어린이동물원
The zoo in Seoul’s Grand Park is apparently the tenth largest in the world, home to 360 species and 3,400 animals, altogether. There are actually two zoos. The first is a children’s zoo where kids can get close to the animals (that aren’t likely to eat them whole: lambs, llamas, goats). The second, on the right hand side, is the larger of the two and includes rare species such as lowland gorillas. On top of this, there is a 7.4km hillside trail that circles the zoo’s gardens. The Rose Gardens are also a must-see when paying a visit.
World Cup Park - 월드컵공원
World Cup Park is made up of five main parks: Pyoungwha, Haneul, Noeul, Nanji Hangang and Nanjicheon. It was built in time for the World Cup of 2002, which Korea co-hosted with Japan. An interesting fact about this park was that it was built on an old landfill site that had previously held 92 million tons of waste! Of the parks, Noeul has a 9-hole golf course, Nanji Hangang has a soccer pitch and basketball court, Haneul provides a great view of Seoul’s mountains Namsan, Bukhansan and Gwanaksan. Nanjicheon has an outdoor staging area, and Pyeonghwa has a forest, playground and garden.
Yeouido Park - 여의도
Located on the southern bank of the Han River, this is one of the hotspots for summertime bike riding or rollerblading. Renting bikes here is cheap (3,000KRW per hour) and a great way to spend a day. During high season, 50,000-60,000 people come here each day, making it one of the busiest spots in Seoul. Other than renting bikes, you can check out the traditional Korean forest (where only Korean trees have been planted), the cherry blossom festival, which starts in mid-April and goes for two weeks, and the ecological park.