Austin’s work had a random Friday off, so we took a long weekend in Seoul. On our way into the city from Samgilpo, we stopped off at Seoul Grand Park. Even after living in Seoul a whole summer, I only visited Seoul Grand Park once to go to the Gwacheon Science museum (I highly recommend it!). It was exciting to explore a different attraction in the park with all of my boys.
Many visit Seoul Grand Park via subway from Seoul. We drove and entered from the south, so we did not know where to park. Seoul Land, an amusement park, is on the other side of the lake from the zoo, so first, we made sure we were away from the amusement park. Along with the amusement park and zoo, Seoul Grand park has many hiking trails and walking paths, so to get to the zoo, one can either ride the elephant train or walk up the road for 5-10 minutes from the parking area.
The elephant train station is prominently labeled and is the first thing you see when walking from the parking lot. There is also a ticket booth for buying tickets to get into the zoo, which may be helpful on a busy day. (There are also ticket booths next to the zoo). The elephant train was only 1,000 won/person, and who can say “no” to a $1 train ride with a transportation-loving boy around? The only negative of the train was that we had to fold up the stroller, which typically becomes our vehicle for all of our things. Coincidentally, it was a little hectic trying to unpack the stroller to fold it up for the train ride! When I heard there was an elephant train, I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it was not this modern version of an elephant. I think I was thinking of something more cutesy. This train moved relatively fast, and the zoo was just one stop of several around Seoul Grand Park.
Seoul Zoo was the first stop after the parking lot. Because it was threatening rain when we visited, it was virtually empty. Landon was very excited to check out all the animals, and pick where to go on the zoo map! Seoul zoo reminded me a lot of the zoo in Ningbo, China. Situated in a hilly area, the paths to see the animals went up and down hills and there was beautiful natural scenery from the mountains all around. Along with the animal exhibits, there were indoor natural history-type exhibits with taxidermied animals, animal skulls and skins, and information on the animals in each region along with their habitat and conservation efforts. I had not seen this mixture of live animals and natural history done to this extent before. Landon loved going through the exhibits and seeing the skulls and skeletons. It led to some great questions and discussions. Landon’s main question today was, “Mom, what does __________ animal do all day?” UMMM… eat? We had to look up what wolves did all day for homeschool preschool when we returned from Seoul, I’ll just leave it at that.
Near the zoo entrance was a kid’s area with a giant tree. There were also interesting animal statues, presumably for photo ops. I could not resist putting Owen in the hippo’s mouth! I appreciate how kid-friendly the amenities and playgrounds were at the zoo. There were nursing rooms with changing tables, microwaves, comfy chairs, air conditioning and high chairs. It was legitimately the most comfortable I have felt nursing Owen since we came to Korea! There were a few play areas at the zoo, including an area by a small creek for wading during the hot summer months.
The hippos were out! I had never seen hippos out of the water, but all four hippos were walking around and going in and out of the water. It was cool to see them on water and land! The elephants were interacting as well, with one of the elephants giving the other a hug at one point. Landon is finally at an age where he will stop and observe the animals for a few minutes if they are doing something interesting. It was so fun to be there with Austin and Owen as well. Owen broke out his big smile when he spotted the animals.
After checking out the African animals, it started raining pretty hard. We tried to do indoor exhibits, including a neat dolphin and sea lion show, but ultimately skipped a few areas so that Landon could have some time to play on the playground. There were dinosaurs, rock walls, an elephant slide, and other playground equipment. We had to finally lure him away from the play area with a treat- he chose cotton candy.
There were several bundled ticket options. One of them included the Children’s zoo. It was hard to tell from the website what the children’s zoo was all about, so we bought the bundled ticket and briefly walked through the Children’s zoo after finishing up at the main zoo. The Children’s zoo is across the road from the main Seoul Zoo, and the ticket to the Children’s Zoo also includes entrance into the “Theme Garden.” We found the Theme Garden to be a slightly overgrown, scraggly rose garden with a hodge podge of statues. The Children’s zoo was deserted because of the rain, so for our particular visit, I don’t think the bundled ticket was worth it. The Children’s zoo had all sorts of farm animals, some baby animals, and monkeys. On normal days, I think there is a petting zoo section. Next to the sheep are several vending machines selling sheep food for 1,00 won. Landon had a fun time feeding the sheep until a feisty sheep stole the feed bag.
The Children’s zoo wrapped around the road to the zoo via a tunnel, so once we got to the end, we had to turn around and go back the way we came. It was also right next to this beautiful lake and mountain. Seoul Zoo was worth the trip and has a low ticket price in comparison to other zoos of its caliber. The Children’s zoo, however, is not worth it in my opinion. Skip it unless you really like farm animals!