HOURS: Daily 24 hours
SUBWAY: Ttukseom (Line 2)
Visitors expecting acres of shady trees may be a tad disappointed—Seoul Forest doesn’t really live up to its name in that respect—but anyone else is sure to be delighted by one of Seoul’s most extensive and best-designed parks.
Developed on a patch of land jutting into the Han River that served centuries ago as a royal hunting ground, Seoul Forest opened to much fanfare in 2005 as a leading example of the government’s drive to make the metropolis more environment- and recreation-focused.
Covering over one million square meters, it’s actually made up of several smaller parks, each with a unique theme and attractions. The one that attracts the most attention is the Eco Forest, a grassy area home to resident populations of Formosan deer, ducks, birds, and chipmunks that visitors can observe (and sometimes even feed) via a network of trails and raised walkways.
At the heart of the compound is the Cultural Art Park, which boasts beautiful flower gardens, a skate park, playgrounds for children, and an outdoor stage. Also close to the center is a former water treatment facility that’s been transformed into a Nature Experience area, complete with an indoor insect botanical garden and wildflower exhibits. The northern reaches of the park contain miniature wetlands that attract a number of bird species and an observatory that allows visitors to take them all in.
The entire forest can be circumvented on foot in a couple of hours, and there’s also a good system of bike paths and rental bicycles available for those who’d like to negotiate it faster. Concession stands, rest areas, and washrooms are found throughout the park, and it’s easily accessed and well signposted in a number of languages, making for a very convenient, albeit highly sculpted, encounter with nature for residents and tourists alike.
© Jonathan Hopfner from Moon Seoul, 1st Edition