Travelling with children can be difficult, but the rewards are aplenty. To keep the kids happy, it’s important to pick a destination that has a slew of family-friendly activities. Seoul is one. Here are 10 family-friendly things to do in Seoul for a memorable and meaningful holiday with your loved ones.
1. Enjoy the beach at Modo Island
Modo, a quiet island in Ongjingun, is perfect for a laid-back day out. This sparsely populated island has less than 20 residential homes.
Twice a year, from spring to summer, locals here host the “Jindo Miracle Sea Road Festival”. During this festival, the sea parts to reveal a 2.8km long and 40m wide land bridge connecting Modo and Jindo islands. Walk along this seabed and you can collect seashells to keep as mementoes. Also, across the island’s Baemiggumi beach, you’ll find the beautiful ‘Lee Il-Ho and Modo’ Sculpture Park. Take lots of photos here!
If you’re feeling famished, find a spot on the beach with nice views and unpack your picnic basket. But if bringing food is too troublesome, the nearby Baemikkumi Cafe serves a hearty fill of seaweed bibimbap.
Address: Modo-ri, Bukdo-myeon, Ongjin-gun, Incheon
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. Visit Changdeokgung Palace
As far as sprawling palaces go, Gyeongbokgung is the most popular for tourists. But if you prefer a more laid-back and less crowded alternative, Changdeokgung Palace is the place to go. The second royal villa built after the construction of the former in 1405, Changdeokgung Palace is held in high regard by Koreans.
If you observe close enough, you’ll notice that the palace’s roof sports intricate “Japsang”, small figurines of humans and animals believed to help ward off evil spirits. The floor plan of this palace includes several “trap doors” so don’t be surprised if you run into dead ends.
Changdeokgung nestles beautifully in the surrounding greenery so be sure to take some family photos. The best time to visit Changdeokgung is during autumn when there are golden fallen leaves to serve as a backdrop. English tours are conducted daily at 11.30am and 2.30pm.
Address: 99, Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Opening hours: Feb to May & Sep to Oct: 9am to 6pm; Jun to Aug: 9am to 6.30pm; Nov to Jan: 9am to 5.30pm
How to get there: Anguk Station (Exit 3). Walk straight from the exit (eastbound) for about five minutes to arrive at the palace entrance.
3. Explore the attractions in Namsan Park
Namsan Park boasts an impressive array of family-friendly attractions, namely the Palgakjeong Pavilion, N Seoul Tower, Locks of Love, Maritime Aquarium and the Namsan Library.
Palgakjeong Pavilion offers unrivalled views of the Seoul Tower. For an even better view, the peak of Seoul Tower itself treats you to the Seoul skyline and stretches as far out as the West Sea beyond Incheon. For all the K-drama fans out there, from all the iconic scenes you’ve swooned over, I’ve no doubt that Seoul Tower is high up your to-visit list! While you’re at it, you might as well tuck into a lovely dinner at the rotating restaurant on the peak.
The Locks of Love has a similar concept to the Paris’ Pont de l’Archevêché. Only unlike France, where the locks were removed due to various concerns, people in Seoul are encouraged to leave their locks in specially designated areas. These appear in the form of clanking metal trees and hearts dotting the tower’s base. If you’re feeling generous, then don’t forget to donate in the Postbox of Love to support underprivileged children.
Address: 231, Samil-daero, Jung-gu, Seoul
How to get there: Hoehyeon Station (Exit 4)
4. Take part in cultural activities at Namsangol Hanok Village
Complete with five restored traditional houses, a pavilion, a pond and a time capsule, Namsangol Hanok Village is a cultural hotspot just oozing with history. Enjoy a pleasant afternoon strolling through this re-created Hanok Village to learn more about Korea’s rich culture. You can dress your kids in a hanbok, try calligraphy or make hanij (traditional paper). There are also interactive cultural activities like plays and dances for your children to participate in! Visit at noon during the weekend to witness traditional marriage ceremonies at Bak Yeong Hyo’s Residence.
Address: 28, Toegye-ro 34-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
Opening hours: Daily: 9am to 9pm. 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. Feed animals or try rides in Children’s Grand Park
For the ultimate place to entertain your kids, look no further than Children’s Grand Park. With a small amusement park, bungee jumping facilities, a two-storey ecological aquarium, aviary and musical fountain, this is the one-size-fits-all playground for your child to run wild.
If your child is too young to appreciate rides and bungee jumps, the Marine Animal House will keep them busy. Almost every kid rushes straight to the petting zoo. For a nominal fee, you can purchase some chopped lettuce, carrots and apples for your child to feed the goats and ponies.
For the more adrenaline charged rascals, the amusement park has a slew of train rides and viking boats. Thereafter, end off the perfect day with a cooking and performance workshop at the park’s museum. But don’t forget to register in advance since the classes are pretty popular.
Oh, I almost forgot the best part: entrance to the park is free!
Address: 216, Neungdong-ro, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul
Opening hours: Park: 5am to 10pm; Zoo: 9.30am to 5.30pm during summers and 9.30am to 5pm during winters; Fun World: 10am to 6.30pm; Nature World: 9am to 6pm from Apr to Oct and 9am to 5pm from Nov to Mar.
How to get there: Children’s Grand Park Station (Exit 1)
6. Soak in stunning views at the Dream Forest
Any IRIS fans out there? Some of this K-drama’s most popular scenes were filmed at the Dream Forest Observatory! The fourth largest park in Korea, Dream Forest offers amazing views of Mt Bukhansan, Mt Dobongsan and Mt Suraksan, N-tower and Hangang River. Within the park, major attractions include Wolgwang Waterfall, Aewoljeong Pavilion and the Chilbokji, which is a confluence of seven artificial waterfalls. Kids can explore the Children’s Gallery and Wild Grass Garden or play with the animals at the Deer Range.
Address: 173 Wolgye-ro, Beon 3(sam)-dong, Gangbuk-gu, Seoul,
Opening hours: 24/7 daily. Certain exhibits are closed on Mondays.
How to get there: Miasageori Station (Exit 1).Take Maeul Bus No. 9 or 11. (10 minutes ride) and get off at Dream Forest Bus Stop
7. Get active in Olympic Park
Korea’s largest sports arena, Olympic Park, takes a staggering three hours to explore on foot! But if you’re as lazy as I am, just hop aboard the Hodori Train which will take you around the stadium.
Highlights include the Seoul Olympic Museum, where commemorative monuments from the world’s greatest sporting event are on display. It’s also home to the Seoul Olympics Museum of Art, one of the world’s top five sculpture museums. Dotted around the sprawling grounds are over 200 amazing sculptures pieces together by 155 renowned artists around the world. For the fitness buffs, activities like walking on an acupressure path and inline skating at the Leisure Sports Park promise great fun. But if you’d rather take it slow, the Environmental Eco-Park and its spot-billed ducks, white herons, Korean squirrels and chipmunks will keep you fascinated.
Address: 424, Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu, Seoul
How to get there: Olympic Park Station (Exit 3)
8. Meet friendly animals in Seoul Forest
The main attraction in Seoul Forest has to be the animals that roam freely in it. Over 50 Sika Deer and Chinese Water Deer call this park home. Visitors can purchase food to feed these animals for KRW 1,000 from small vending machines available in the vicinity. Stroll along the Hangang River or rent a bike to discover this area on two wheels. Rental for regular bikes and tandem bikes are priced at KRW 3,000 and KRW 6,000 per hour respectively. For an educational experience, 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. There’s also the Wetlands Ecological Field to roam around and 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. View magnificent marine wildlife in Coex Aquarium
Brimming with 40,000 marine wildlife from 650 different species, Coex Aquarium is Seoul’s largest aquarium. Start off by gliding on a conveyor belt through a glass tunnel to view sharks, stingrays and turtles swimming around. Then, proceed to the Deep Blue Exhibition, which houses jellyfishes, giant crabs and the Penguin Imaginary Playground, where the rare Humboldt penguins reside.
There’s also a Kid’s Aquarium where children can splash about playing with frogs, gecko lizards and yellow tailed anemone fishes. The entrance fee is an affordable KRW 17,500 for adults, KRW 14,500 for teenagers and KRW 11,000 for children. A hands-on fish feeding experience is also available daily from 1-4pm.
Address: 513, Yeongdong-daero, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
Opening hours: Daily: 10am to 8pm. Admission is available until one hour before closing time.
Directions: Samseong Station (Exit 5 & 6)
10. Experience the countryside in Anseong Farmland
Anseong Farmland is the perfect place for visitors to experience some countryside farm living. Of the farm’s five different sectors, Moomoo Ville is perhaps the biggest highlight. Here, you can get up close and personal with the farm animals and feed them at the petting zoo area. At Horse Ville, kids can experience horse riding while their parents enjoy a cup of draught beer at the semi-authentic Gasthof. The Miru Hills are a vast grassland dotted with horses and sheep. End your farm day at Food Ville, which stocks up farm and organic produce. Admission fee for adults is KRW 10,000 for adults and KRW 8,000 for children but there are separate fees for different parts.
Address: 349-11 Sindu-ri, Gongdo-eup, Anseong-si, Gyeonggi-do
Opening hours: 10am to 6pm. Closed on Mondays.
Directions: From Seoul Express Bus Terminal or Nambu Bus Terminal, take an intercity bus bound for Anseong and then take a taxi to Anseong Farmland.