Like many great cities Seoul has multiple public green spaces and parks, one of which, Seoul Forest Park, can in numerous ways be equated to Hyde Park in London, or Central Park in New York. It is a large green area within the densely populated city and as such has many purposes, many of which center on enjoyment, and learning about the nature found within its boundaries.
Easy to get to from 2 different subway stations Seoul Forest Park is very popular with Seoulites, and somewhat less so with tourists. So if you want to experience some of the activities that regular Koreans do in their down time, Seoul Forest Park is a perfect place to spend a few relaxing hours away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
From small touches like a free library near the entrance, to numerous water features throughout the park, relaxing is one of the park’s goals. But if you want something more vigorous there’s a whole sports area with a basketball court, skate park, a soccer field, and badminton courts. You can also rent bicycles.
You can even camp in the park.
Originally a royal hunting forest, time has seen it change to being a water purification plant, a racecourse, and a golfing area. All that’s left to show it was a racecourse is a lovely sculpture of racing horses. It opened as a park in 2005 after thousands of trees were planted to create the lovely park we see today. Large as it is it is only the third largest park in Seoul.
The water purification plant has been turned into a learning and educational area. We saw a school field trip here of the cutest kindergarten kids all dressed up like they were going on safari. (No photos to respect their privacy.) They made our day when they very seriously, and politely made their bows to us.
Inside they have a lovely butterfly garden,
a cactus area,
along with space for some aquariums and display pens for small reptiles etc. Although not very large it was a perfect reuse of the old purification plant.
The park has a large sculpture area, with some evocative and interesting pieces.
Our favorite being the large wire piece that you could actually climb inside.
There are also multiple play, and learn through play areas. It is always fun to play with water so I’m sure the Archimedes Screw is always popular, we had to stop and try it out. There’s also a play fountain over near the racehorse sculpture, but we didn’t want to get that wet!
Rows of fruit trees, and hidden gardens among the ruins of parts of the water purification plant were unexpected pleasures.
As were the artworks created by students and visitors.
A snack overlooking a wetlands area was a nice break. Most locals seemed to bring picnics, or headed to the cafes and restaurants in the two large tower buildings you can see from the park. We might try that next time, but we did enjoy having the cafe almost to ourselves.
I haven’t mentioned the obvious, the multitude of walkways and paths that meander throughout the park, the nature and wildlife that can be seen, to include some deer in outdoor pens, and the beautiful Han River which marks the southern edge of the park, but that and a whole lot more is available to discover and enjoy. More a park than a true forest the Seoul Forest Park is a wonderful place to relax and unwind, and get away from it all. Well, almost all, as you can still hear some of the sounds of the surrounding city, muted reminder of what exists beyond the borders of the park.
We had a great morning in the park, and plan to visit it again in a different season to see what colors it shows then.
Have a great day everyone.
Please to do not copy or use without permission and accreditation. All photo credits to original owners. All except map to Elle and Debora Marzec.