Seoul, a megacity of over 9 million, is definitely a concrete jungle literally covered in people. Amidst all the cool cafes, restaurants, jjimjilbangs, and swarms of k-beauty shops, it’s definitely needed to get away from it all and enjoy some time in nature. Good news: there are plenty of places where you can (somewhat) escape the concrete jungle and enjoy nature right here in Seoul.
- Seeing the cherry blossoms at Seokcheon Lake.
This one was a no-brainer for me, as it is right in my own neighborhood. If you’re willing to brave to hordes of people strolling and taking selfies along the lake, this is a perfect locale. It’s totally free, and you can go at anytime. It’s spectacular both during the day and night. If you go at night, there are fewer people, and you can even try and get a nice shot of the cherry blossoms with the Lotte World castle all lit up like I did. If you’re hungry, you can just go right into the Lotte World Mall and grab a bite to eat (or go shopping). There are also a couple of cafes along the lake, and there are often a variety of food trucks nearby as well. Also, there is a small rose garden you can check out as well,
2. The Gunpo Azalea Festival
About (technically? I’m not entirely sure here.) one hour south of Seoul (but still accessible on the subway line!) in the Gunpo Royal Azalea festival. This one is also totally free. There are all these pathways you can explore and take photos from many different angles. This is my second time going, and each time I am just baffled at how there’s all these giant 30 floor apartment complexes and then–boom!–this massive hill filled with azaleas. There’s also little vendors and food stalls and the like, but in my opinion, it was nothing too memorable. However, like all of the greater Seoul metropolitan area, any area near a subway station will have a variety of places to eat at or enjoy a coffee.
Of all the festivals, day trips, weekends, what have you, I honestly and truly found this one to be the coolest. Hands down, no questions asked, it was worth every penny, and it only cost 12,000 won. In addition, you could use your admission ticket to get 1,000 won off a plant. This worked well for me as I was able to get three decent sized succulents for 4,000 won. I often find little pop-up shops and florists here in Korea to have succulents to be way overpriced, and I found all of the plants and flowers to be much more reasonable here.
Oddly enough, the actual vendor section is so large that I actually had no idea that it wasn’t the festival itself but just before the festival. I have a weakness for candles. I’m a total sucker. Just like a lot of things in Korea, I find a good candle to be rather pricey. I was able to get a large chakra candle and two smaller candles for a total of 30,000. While there were definitely more expensive vendors with their plant artwork, the fact that I was able to get something I love for so cheap totally made my day in itself. I know, I know, I’m quite easy to please.
So, when you go inside the actual festival, it is absolutely insane. There are both indoor and outdoor sections just covered in plants and flowers. My photos cannot do this thing justice. If you’re into instagrammable flowery things, this will be your paradise. The creators really took the time to painstakingly make these adorable little scenes of anything you can imagine. There were also giant indoor pavilions as well advertising flowers from around the world. It was truly seeing art.
Oh, and by any chance, are you a book hoarder? Do you get an adrenaline rush hunting for a second-hand book? Not to worry, there’s a super nice Aladdin bookstore right next to the park. I have to be honest, though. While there was a nice, organized English section, I personally just didn’t find anything for me, but seeing as it’s a used bookstore, inventory is always changing. I recommend you give it a try.
4. Bonus: The Seoul Grand Park Rose Festival
This was such an incredible experience to walk around and see all the different roses and trellises. It seems to just go on, forever. If you are into roses, this is definitely a better option than the small rose garden at Seokcheon Lake. When the sun has hit down on you for too long or you would like a break from taking hundreds of photos, there are many shaded areas where you can relax and have a nice picnic.
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