You can easily escape the stifling city by hopping on the Gyeongui-Jungang Line of the Seoul Metropolitan Subway system and heading to Yangpyeong and Namyangju. Located on the Bukhangang and Namhangang Rivers where they converge into the larger Hangang River, the area is filled with botanical gardens, arboretums, riverside parks, and more. Thanks to the convenient transportation, these two cities are popular for healing day-trips, suitable for picnics, riding bikes, or simply spending time in the company of loved ones.
Dumulmeori is a top attraction in the Seoul metropolitan area, having remained on the KTO’s 100 Must-Visit Tourist Spots in Korea for ten years running. Just one visit is enough to see why; the lush greenery, early morning fog, and weeping willows bent over the flowing river evoke a sense of serenity not often found in daily life. The area has often appeared in dramas and television commercials thanks to this beauty. Being located where the Bukhanggang and Namhangang Rivers meet, it has long been considered the connection point between Seoul and the western region, being an active river port in the past. These days, the port is no longer used, but there is still a traditional sailboat docked in the river for photo ops.
In summer, Dumulmeori is resplendent in lotus flowers and lilies blooming throughout the park. After a walk along the riverside taking in their beauty, head to the plaza for a break. Tall, 400-year-old zelkova trees provide welcome shade, made even cooler by the breeze blowing off the river.
As strange as it will sound, another experience you can’t miss when visiting Dumulmeori is eating a Korean hotdog! The hotdog shop here adds lotus leaf powder to the breading, giving it a green tint. They also come with the option of a mild or spicy sausage. Buy one (or two!) to enjoy as you walk around the park.
From Dumulmeori, cross the 250-meter-long pontoon bridge to reach Semiwon, a botanical garden centered on the themes of water and lotus flowers. The bridge is made from many small boats all tied together. Enjoy the breeze and feeling of walking on the river itself as the bridge moves as you walk. The colorful flags along the way also make it a great photo spot!
The best time to visit Semiwon is in summer, when the 205,000 ㎡ park is filled with lotuses in full bloom. The green lotus leaves provide the perfect background for the many delicate blossoms in varied hues from white to deep pink. In addition to the ponds, Semiwon has many walking paths, a lotus museum, and traditional games for a fun time no matter when you visit.
The Water Garden, as the name implies, is a waterfront eco park that blends the beauty of plants with the flowing river. The garden of flowers and trees along with grassy fields stretches over a vast 484,188 ㎡ and is a popular picnic spot. The park is often visited by families, and people looking for a short break when biking along the riverside path. When here, be sure to snap a souvenir photo at the picture frame photo spot. You’ll stand out with the green trees and blue sky reflecting in the river behind you.
Other instagrammable spots in the Water Garden include the covered benches that face the river, and the ferry bridge, which offers a view of the calm river waters.
The Water Garden also features well-maintained walking paths and bicycle paths. On weekends, the park is visited by people who have walked and biked from far away! The path along the river can be quite therapeutic, with your worries seeming to drift away. While exploring the garden, try and keep count of how many traditional ferry boats you see on benches throughout the park!
Yangpyeong has many restaurants and cafés that face the river, making it a common location for dates. Among them all, Café Gangida is exceptionally popular. The café is located between Semiwon and the Water Garden, and features a selection of desserts and brunch options.
The café, like all the cafés in the area, faces the beautiful scenery of the river and mountains beyond; the view of the Gyeongui-Jungang Line as it crosses the river is what makes Café Gangida special. If you’re fast enough, you can get a photo of you with the train as it passes!
* This column was last updated in July 2021, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details before visiting.
* Column content provided by TRAVELHOLIC writer Jolly Kim (김지영)