Tag Archives: parks in Seoul

Preschool Adventures in Seoul: Ichon Hangang Park

Ichon Hangang Park Playground

After having lived here for over a year and a half, I finally made my way over to Ichon Hangang Park, despite it being so close. Although in my defense, part of it is because we live so close to Hangang Yeouido Park. I wish we had found this place sooner! Hangang Yeouido Park is expansive and has a very open layout, which makes it great for activities such as flying kites, riding bikes, and throwing frisbees, but Ichon Hangang Park, while by no means small, has a much more cozy feel to it, particularly the playground area, and offers spaces for older kids who are past the playground age.

My kids and I made our way there around 10am on a weekday, as always, with the hopes that the playground won’t be too crowded. Unfortunately, I wasn’t aware that this particular day was Korean Labor Day and kids were out of school. Oops… Luckily, we were there early enough to claim one of the tables and for the kids to have free reign over the place for a little while before the masses of moms and kids started showing up and literally setting up camp. 😉

The playground at Ichon Hangang Park is definitely one of the best that I’ve been to. The Children’s Woodland Playground at Seoul Forest is also amazing, but this one is far more toddler-friendly. The large playground structure has a number of things to climb and slides (or “weeeeees” as my littlest one calls them), but the best part is, there are no gaping holes or areas without a railing for fearless toddlers to fall or jump from. And not having to hover over my child as she plays is worth A LOT. During our 2 hours there, my daughter still managed to tumble down a slide head-first and come home with a scraped knee and a few fresh bruises, but this is The Way of the Toddler.

Ichon Hangang Park Playground

For older kids, the playground features a zip-line and a large rope/climbing structure. And when your kids tire of running and climbing and swinging and sliding, there’s a large sandpit, otherwise known as Endless Fun because what child doesn’t love sand? My only mistake was not taking along our sand box toys, although I think I guilt-tripped a reluctant little girl into sharing her toys with my kids!

In addition to the expansive playground, there’s a large shaded area with benches for parents to sit and watch the kids play, and if you’ve got older kids who are into skateboarding or playing basketball–this place has it all!

There’s also a public bathroom nearby–always important when out and about with small children.

Getting There:

Ichon Hangang Park is within walking distance of Ichon Station (Yongsan Visitor Gate), but it is also an easy drive if the thought of navigating the busy Seoul streets with small children doesn’t overly appeal to you.

map to ichon hangang park

By subway/walking: from Ichon Station, come out Exit 4. Immediately to the left as you exit the station is a walking path that takes you out to a main road. Continue straight until you reach the riverside! There will be a parking lot and a 7-Eleven to the right. Take the path to the right and walk past the soccer field. There’s an additional field, then the playground on the right.

Driving: If you’re using a navigation system, here’s the address: 62, Ichon-ro 72 gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul

From post (Visitor Gate/Gate 13), make a right onto the street just outside the gate, then make the first left (over the railroad tracks). Continue down the road until you reach a T-intersection. At the T-intersection, make a left. At the 5th intersection (Ichon-ro 72-gil), make a right (there’s a sign for Hangang Park). Continue down the street, under the overpass and the parking lot is on the right.

Parking is plentiful and inexpensive. It’s 1,000W for the first 30 minutes, then 200W for each additional 10 minutes for a daily maximum of 10,000W

Preschool Adventures in Seoul: Seoul Zoo at Seoul Grand Park

Seoul Zoo

For this week’s Preschool Adventures in Seoul, we found ourselves at the Seoul Zoo (English website). The weather has been amazing lately, and the pollution levels have been the lowest we’ve seen in what feels like an eternity… So we ventured out to enjoy the fresh air and look at some animals. I did some quick research before heading out, and since it’s a short subway ride from Yongsan, I decided to take the subway although parking is also cheap and plentiful (4,000W). The website indicated that the zoo is out Exit 2 of Seoul Grand Park station, so we got off the train and made our way towards the zoo. There aren’t any signs (none that I could see, at least) that point you towards the zoo, but when you come out of the subway station, just walk straight. There is a large building-like structure directly in front of you–the Seoul Grand Park Information Desk. Up the stairs and on the other side of the “building” is the tram stop. And rather than making the mistake we made… TAKE THE TRAM (aka the Elephant Train). It’s 1000W for adults, 600W for 13-18yo, and 500W for 6-12yo and it gets you to the zoo (the first stop) in a matter of minutes. With a group of 4 moms and 9 small children, the walk to the zoo took nearly 45 minutes. And the kids complained. A LOT. 😉 There’s also a Sky Lift that looked like a lot of fun, but I wasn’t sure I could manage all 3 of my kids on the Sky Lift by myself!

Cherry blossoms were in full bloom, but even that wasn't enough to cheer up my boys up during the long walk to the zoo!
Cherry blossoms were in full bloom, but even that wasn’t enough to cheer up my boys up during the long walk to the zoo!

*Be sure to check out the zoo’s website. There’s a lot of very useful information on the site, and it’s actually written in English, not Konglish! 😉

Aside from discovering the merits of the tram a little too late, there’s quite a bit of information about “Seoul Grand Park” that I was completely clueless about before venturing out there. Seoul Grand Park, as the name suggests, is a grand park, and the Seoul Zoo is just one part of it. The park also includes a separate Children’s Zoo, botanical gardens, Seoul Land (an amusement park), camping, the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA), and Avion (an indoor children’s play park). Needless to say, Seoul Grand Park covers quite a large area of land, which is why it took is SO LONG to walk to the zoo!

We finally made it to the zoo, met up with some other friends, wrangled our army of children together and began our adventure. Our group of 8 moms and 13 children VERY SLOWLY made our way into the zoo. We somehow managed to see a few animals during our time there–zebras, giraffes, gorillas, chimpanzees, lions and elephants. According to the map, we only saw about a quarter of the zoo.

Map of Seoul Zoo

On the bright side, we took our own zoo to the zoo… 😉 Despite only being able to travel through the large park at a snail’s pace, the kids had an absolute blast. They were as excited about spending time with their friends as they were about seeing the animals, and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters. Running around Seoul, adventuring with preschoolers, I’ve definitely learned that even if things don’t work out as planned (such as seeing lots of animals at the zoo), fun happens at every turn.

On the bright side, only having seen such a small portion of the zoo, it’ll seem like a whole new zoo the next time we venture out there! As it came time for us to leave, my kids and I had to break apart from the group and hurry home to get my littlest one down for a much-needed nap and my big boys off to their hapkido class. We hopped on the tram and made it to the subway station in a matter of minutes (woohoo!). See how happy they are on the tram?

IMG_7186The ice cream may have helped.

Other tips about the Seoul Zoo:

  • Strollers are available to rent so if you don’t want to navigate the subway with a stroller, you can rent one to use in the zoo. Stroller rental is located just inside the main entrance of the zoo past the Visitor Center on the right.
  • There’s plenty of areas to sit and have a picnic if you choose to bring your own food, but food (restaurants as well as fast food) is available inside the zoo.
  • There’s a playground! We didn’t even make it that far…
  • If you have small children, consider taking them to the Children’s Zoo. It’s just before the main zoo, and it’s significantly smaller and more manageable with little ones. The tickets for the Children’s Zoo also allow admission into the Botanical Gardens, but it’s separate from the main zoo. Prices for the Children’s Zoo are listed here.
  • The Seoul Zoo and the Seoul Grand Park is not the same as the Children’s Grand Park, which also has a zoo! Here’s a post I wrote about the Children’s Grand Park–also a wonderful place to take your kids.

Getting to the Seoul Zoo:

By Subway: Take Line 4 to the Seoul Grand Park station, exit 2. There’s an elevator just before you get to exit 2 on the same side.

By Car: If you have a navigation system, you should be able to enter Seoul Zoo or Seoul Grand Park and find the address. The physical address for the zoo is Gyeonggi-do, Gwacheon-si, Makgye-dong, 159-1. Otherwise, directions to the zoo can be found here.

Tickets:

Adults: 3000W

Youth (ages 13-18/middle and high school): 2000W

Children (ages 6-12/elementary school): 1000W

6 and under: FREE

Hours:

Summer (March – October): 9AM-7PM

Winter (November – February): 9AM-6PM

There are special evening hours during the summer, but the dates for the summer of 2014 have not been posted yet on the website.