Travelling with children might be seen as a hassle for most, but there are actually many family friendly things to do in Seoul. Have a nice picnic along the beaches or simply let your children run free with animals, the options are aplenty. Here are 10 options for a memorable and meaningful experience with your loved ones.
1. Modo Island
Located in Ongjingun with just over 20 residential homes, Modo Island is a small and quiet area that is perfect for a chill day out spent with your loved ones. There is a beach called ‘Baemiggumi’, and right across the beach is a sculpture park called 'Lee Il-Ho and Modo'. The sculpture park is a great place to snap some photos of your children as it is a beautiful exhibition of art works by sculptor Lee II Ho, who founded the park for visitors to enjoy.
Twice a year during Spring to Summer, the sea will be parted between the mainland of Modo and Jindo islands, revealing 2.8km long, 40m wide land bridge connecting the two islands for about 1 hour. Locals call this this the “Jindo Miracle Sea Road Festival” where visitors will be able to walk along the seabed and pick up sea shells on the way as memento. Don’t forget to bring a small basket to store your findings and this will definitely delight your little ones. Apart from enjoying the views of the beach, you can also choose to have a family picnic on the beach itself or simply head to the Baemikkumi Caffe for some home made seaweed bibimbap or cheesecake while gazing at the seaview.
Address: Modo-ri, Bukdo-myeon, Ongjin-gun, Incheon
Opening Hours: All year round
How to Get There: Unseo Station (Exit 1). Take Bus No. 201 or 307 at the bus stop in front of Lotte Mart. Get off at Sammok Dock Bus Stop (Sammok Seonchakjang).
2. Changdeokgung Palace
The Gyeongbokgung is probably the most popular palace in Korea for tourists but if you would like to have a more relaxed experience, the Changdeokgung could be a better option. The Changdeokgung is the second royal villa built after the construction of Gyeongbokgung in 1405, which makes this palace a much treasured entity in the eyes of the Koreans. As such, it was recognised as a World Cultural Heritage site by the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Committee in December of 1997.
Fall is perhaps the best time to visit the palace especially with the autumn foliage at it’s peak. An interesting thing about palace is that it is said to be uniquely built without following a regular system, compared to other palaces, which are built with much architectural precision. With this, the best way to explore the palace would be to enter every small gate available until you’ve encountered a dead end. If you observe closely, you will notice that the roof design includes “Japsang”, which are small figurines of humans and animals that are believed to ward off bad spirits. With green as the primary motif of the palace, it complements the greenery and Mt Bugaksan in the background, making it the perfect place for family portraits.
If you would like to learn more about the palace, English tours are available daily at 11.30am and 2.30pm.
Address: 99, Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Opening Hours: Feb-May, Sep-Oct 09:00-18:00, Jun-Aug 09:00-18:30, Nov-Jan 09:00-17:30
How to Get There: Anguk Station (Exit 3). Walk straight from the exit (towards east) for about 5-min to arrive at the palace entrance.
3. Namsan Park
Namsan Park has a variety of attractions for families to enjoy such as the Palgakjeong Pavilion, N Seoul Tower, Locks of Love, Maritime Aquarium and the Namsan Library. The gorgeous Palgakjeong Pavilion offers a view of the Seoul Tower, which makes this spot perfect for a snapshot.
To get a panoramic view of the whole landscape of Seoul and the West Sea beyond Incheon, you can choose to take the family up to the Seoul tower by cable car or hike up the stairway path. Enjoy a the charming night view while having a nice dinner at the rotating restaurant in the Seoul Tower. Many Korean dramas have been filmed at the Seoul Tower and being in the midst of everything will certainly be a surreal experience.
If you’re familiar with Pont de l’Archevêché in Paris, the Locks of Love pretty much works the same way. Unlike the governments in Paris and New York where the locks are removed, people are encouraged to leave their locks in specially designated areas. Such areas consists of metal trees and and hearts for people to leave their locks on, which created a huge space filled with love messages scattered around the base of the tower. Also, families can leave their keys in the Postbox of Love to contribute to the tower’s efforts of helping underprivileged children. Bask in the glory of the sunset that lights up the whole space in a bright faint golden colour.
Address: 231, Samil-daero, Jung-gu, Seoul
Opening Hours: All year round
How to Get There: Hoehyeon Station (Exit 4)
4. Namsangol Hanok VIllage
With five restored traditional Korean houses, a pavilion, pond and a time capsule, the Namsangol Hanok Village is a historical and cultural place for families to enjoy a nice mid day stroll. Since the Bukchon Hanok VIllage is simply a residential area, the Namsangol Hanok Village might be a better choice for learning as it is a re-creation of an old Hanok Village with useful information for visitors to have a deeper understanding of the culture.
Let your kids participate in some of the traditional Korean cultural activities, such as acts, plays and dance for a fun filled educational experience. During the weekends, there is also a traditional marriage ceremony at noon held at Bak Yeong Hyo’s Residence, which is an interesting sight for koreans and foreigners alike. If you’ve ever wanted to try on the Hanbok, try out calligraphy, make hanji (traditional paper) or try out some traditional teas, the cultural programs available here will fulfil your dreams!
Address: 28, Toegye-ro 34-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
Opening Hours: Closed on Tuesdays
How to Get There: Chungmuro Station (Exit 3 or 4). Walk along the road between oh!zemidong (Chungmuro Media Center) and Maeil Business Newspaper Building (150m).
5. Children’s Grand Park
Officially opening its doors on Children’s Day in 1973, the Children’s Grand Park is a child’s dream come true with its wide variety of attractions. Consisting of a small amusement park, bungee jump facility, two-story ecological aquarium, a large aviary and a musical fountain, the park certainly allows your kid to run wild. With a marine animal house that consist of seals and polar bears as well as a parrot village, the petting zoo is perhaps the best attraction at the park. There are also other animals such as goats and ponies by which you can feed with lettuce, carrots and chopped apples.
After the encounter with the animals, kids can play at Iland, the amusement park that has train rides, viking and jumper boat. End your day with the cooking and performance workshops at the museum. Do remember to register for it early as the workshops are pretty popular! The best part about the park is that there is no entrance fee.
Address: 216, Neungdong-ro, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul
Park - 05:00-22:00
Zoo Summer Season (March 16-October 15) 09:30-17:30, Winter Season (October 16-March 15) 09:30-17:00
Fun World - 10:00-18:30
Nature World -Peak Season (April-October) 09:00-18:0, Non-Peak Season (November-March) 09:00-17:00
How to Get There: Children's Grand Park Station (Exit 1).
6. Dream Forest
If you’re a big fan of IRIS, you will be delighted to know that some of the scenes of the popular K drama series is filmed at the Dream Forest Observatory. The observatory offers a fantastic view of Mt Bukhansan, Mt Dobongsan and Mt Suraksan as well as the N-tower and the Hangang River. As the fourth largest park after the World Cup Park, Olympic Park and the Seoul Forest, Dream Forest is the first large scale green park created in the Gangbuk area.
Besides the opportunity to take in breathtaking views, there are also other major attractions such as the Wolgwang Waterfall, Aewoljeong Pavilion and the Chilbokji, which is a confluence of 7 different artificial waterfalls. Kids can explore the Children’s gallery, Wild Grass Garden and the Deer Range that is home to 10 deers. The deers are accustomed to people and you can also choose to feed them.
Address: 173, Wolgye-ro, Gangbuk-gu, Seoul
How to Get There: Miasageori Station (Exit 1). Take Maeul Bus No. 9 or 11. (10 minute-ride) and get off at Dream Forest Bus Stop.
7. Olympic Park
The huge park not only houses Korea’s largest sports arena, it also has the legacy of the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Due to its vast size, you can expect to spend over 3 hours exploring the whole park on foot or you can choose to take the Hodori Train located next to Peace Square.
If you’re interested to find out more about the history of the Seoul Olympics, the Seoul Olympic Museum comprises of commemorative monuments which preserves the glory of the sporting grandeur. The Seoul Olympics Museum of Art (SOMA) is also another great option given that it is one of the world’s top five sculpture museums. A walk around the park will allow you to witness over 200 sculptures created by 155 world renowned artists.
Enjoy a nice family workout at the Leisure Sports Park, which comprises of an acupressure path, inline skating area and walking paths great for leisurely strolls. Take a break at the Environmental Eco Park, which is home to the spot billed ducks, white herons, korean squirrels and chipmunks.
Address: 424, Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu, Seoul
How to Get There: Olympic Park Station (Exit 3).
8. Seoul Forest
The main draw about the Seoul Forest is the opportunity to get close to the 50 Sika Deer and the Chinese Water Deer that roam around freely. Visitors can purchase a cup of feed for 1000 KRW from the small vending machines available in the vicinity. Tandem bike rentals are also available for a relaxing ride around the park or the Hangang River path that lets you enjoy the cool breeze amidst nature. Rentals costs per hour are 3000 KRW for a regular bike and 6000 KRW for a tandem bike.
Take a walk around the Butterfly, Insect or the Gallery garden, which offers you a wide range of pinned specimens of beetles and butterflies as well as flower beds for a educational experience. Head to the Wetlands Ecological Field to play at the ecological playground, or the bird observatory to do some bird watching.
Address: 273, Ttukseom-ro, Seongdong-gu, Seoul
How to Get There: Seoul Forest Station (Exit 3).
9. Coex Aquarium
Comprising of 3000 ton of water and 40 000 marine wildlife of 650 species, Coex Aquarium is Seoul’s largest aquarium. There are 12 different sections such as the Kid’s Aquarium where kids can see and touch frogs, gecko lizards and yellow tailed anemone fishes, which provides for a fun learning experience about life under the sea. The 2m long tunnel provides a wonderful view of sharks, stingrays and turtles. Jellyfishes, giant crabs and penguins can be viewed at the Deep Blue Sea Exhibition. Visitors can also have the rare opportunity to see the humboldt penguins, which are usually only found in Peru and Chile, at the penguins imaginary playground. Entrance fee for adults are 17,500 KRW, 14,500 KRW for teens and 11,000 KRW for children. A hands on experience of fish feeding is also available daily from 1-4pm.
Address: 513, Yeongdong-daero, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
How to Get There: Samseong Station (Exit 5 & 6)
10. Anseong Farmland
For a family day out surrounded by farm animals, the Anseong Farmland is the perfect place for visitors to experience some aspects of farm live in a safe and clean environment. Consisting of 5 different parts, the Moomoo Ville is perhaps the highlight of the farm. At Moomoo Ville, you can feed the free running farm animals as well as get up close with them at the petting zoo area. At Horse Ville, kids can experience horse riding while the adults enjoy a cup of draught beer at the semi authentic Gasthof. Roll around the vast grassland at Miru Hill in the midst of horses and sheeps. End your farm day at Food Ville which stocks up farm and organic produce. Admission fees for adults is 10,000 KRW for adults and 8000 KRW for children but for the different parts, there are separate fees.
Address: 349-11 Sindu-ri, Gongdo-eup, Anseong-si, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea
Opening Hours: 10-6pm, Closed on Mondays
How to Get There: From Seoul Express Bus Terminal or Nambu Bus Terminal take an intercity bus bound for Anseong and then take a taxi to Anseong Farmland.