As my father-in-law would say, “If it’s free, it’s for me!” and since we have a baby on the way, we could use as many free options around the city as possible. Note to potential parents: things that make poop are expensive (who knew?). We wanted to save some money for a nice dinner at Shim’s Tapas, so we decided to check out Seonyudo Park near Yeouido.
Yes, that is a bridge, and yes, you have to walk over the bridge to get to Seonyudo because it’s in an island in the middle of the Han River. Now, for those wondering how to get there, I won’t lie, it’s a bit of a hike. If you are looking to get somewhere quick and easy, you might want to avoid this place until you become a little more familiar with the city. I don’t think I would recommend it to first time travelers.
Lonely Planet Description: Seonyudo was a the site for an old water-filtration plant. Now, however, it has been adapted to form new landscape and gardens, including lily ponds, exhibition halls and some planet nurseries.
How to get there: Don’t be a cheapskate and do what we did to save a lot of time. Just get into a taxi around Yeouido and say (양화 한강 공원) or “Yanghwa Hangang Gongwon” which translates into Yanghwa Hangang Park, and it will take you about 5 – 10 minutes to get there and cost 7000KRW, but it will add some years to your life. I didn’t see a subway, but the Visit Korea website suggests taking Seonyudo Station (Line 9), exit 2 and walking for 10 minute or take Dangsan station (Line 2), exit 4 and walk for about 5 – 10 minutes. These options will get you to the park, then you have to find the bridge and walk over it. All in all, it’s about a 15 minute walk to the bridge depending where you are in the park.
Now you are on the bridge. Take some time and enjoy the lovely view from atop the bridge. On a clear day, you can see the mountains, and an excellent view of the skyline. This is truly one of Seoul’s nicest views, and not too many people know about it. My wife and I just chilled on top of the bridge, taking in the view for several minutes. I suggest you do the same.
Ahh the beautiful Han River. Well, in size, not in water quality. There were actually people swimming in the Han when we went down. Please don’t do that. Ever. Unless you want an extra limb.
Things to do: The park was once a water-treatment plant, but has now been restored into an ecological wonder, and has variety of options. Below is a map, outlining the basics of the park.
We decided to stroll around and explore the island. There were some jungle gym contraptions for the kids to play on, made out of old steel parts formerly of the plant. I didn’t see too many kids on there, so I don’t really know if it was totally safe to play on. My wife has been here before on a school trip, and she confirmed that yes, children actually do play on these things. There is also a botanical garden and lily pads, which are actually really calming and relaxing. We just chilled out there for a bit, taking in the nice weather and had a water break.
We walked around a bit more and found an environment studio. There was a former Korean Air pilot named Mr. Kim, who spoke pretty good English and gave us a brief tour of the place. It had some nice exhibits of insects and was a good little resting spot with some air-con, while we regrouped. A group of kids were working on a project, and the studio, although small, was open-spaced and easy to walk around.
After that, we walked around for some more. We found the amphitheater, but it appeared to be closed. However, we did see some cosplay kids! That made the day a little more entertaining.
Food and Drink: There is a restaurant called cafeteria NARU, which has a nice view of the Han River. There is the standard selection of Korean delicacies such as Dunkas, Nangmyeon, Pork and rice, seafood fried rice and U-don soup. However, there is a convenient store attached to the cafeteria, and a guy outside selling hotdogs and sausages if you are not feeling Korean cuisine. Try to get a hotdog and a beer and watch the world go by on the Han. Unfortunately it was packed, so we had to head to a bench to eat. However, the park was pretty tranquil, minus the sounds of cicadas looking for love.
Who should go to Seonyudo Park: It was a nice relaxing walk around the park, with some excellent scenery. Couples looking for a romantic walk, and a quick bite to eat, while overlooking the Han River, I would definitely recommend this place. If the kidlets like bugs and stuff, I would check out the environmental studio. Also, great for cosplay kids to hangout and re-inact their favorite animes!
Who should avoid Seonyudo Park: I found the park to be a little rigid. It wasn’t as though you could run around and play a game of soccer or something. You have to follow the paths that are assigned. So, if you have kids who want to burn off some steam, I would suggest you stay in Hangang Park, and have them go crazy. The playground equipment looked weird, kind of depressing. It’s how I would imagine Soviet-era industrial playgrounds to look like. Kids really didn’t seem to be enjoying them either.