Looking for something to do in Seoul? Here is an idea! Nestled within the city limits is a hidden gem of Seoul Forest. Opened in June 2005, Seoul Forest is a sight to behold consisting of over 400,000 trees with a variety of animals it is the perfect place to visit in Seoul on a budget. Admission into the forest is free and it is divided into five different districts: Cultural Art Park, Ecological Forest, Nature Experiencing Studying Field, Wetlands Ecological Field, and Han River Waterside Park. Each district offers its own distinct opportunities, activities and sights.
The Cultural Art Park is located in the center of Seoul Forest and includes a waterside park, playground, Skate Park and a restaurant. There are open fields for leisure, sports, and plenty of areas to rest in the shade if visiting on a sunny day. Don’t want to buy a lunch? There are gorgeous areas to sit back and enjoy a picnic while enjoying the intoxicatingly sweet scent of flowers, and admiring the various sculptures. For those that are athletic or just want to have fun you can climb into the belly of the beast, a large metal humanoid sculpture that visitors are welcome to test their skills to see how high they can go. It is not uncommon to see young men trying to impress their significant other by bravely entering and climbing to the top!

If you have children or are an animal lover you will want to head straight for the back of the Ecological Forest. This is by far the most heavily populated district of Seoul Forest as it contains a sizeable area for feeding deer. Yes, that’s right for only 1,000 KRW you can get a cup of feed and let one of the fifty Sika Deer or Chinese Water Deer that inhabit the forest chow down. All around the high-pitched squeals of delight emanate from the excited children as the deer leave slobber on their hand after enjoying a delicious treat. It’s not hard to see why so many people choose this area for a date on a budget, it is not every day you get to feed and pet deer. The ordeal is like a whimsical adventure, the path back to the deer corral is lined with trees that have breathtaking cherry blossoms in the spring, and there is a pond with a dainty waterfall set off to the side. The perfect area to take a memorable photograph of your day, of course you cannot forget to grab a shot of the deer either. However, the deer corral is not the only place to view animals in the Ecological Forest; it is also home to over 90 different wild animals including elk, roe deer, and mandarin ducks. If you want to sit back, and watch the animals frolic or if you’re an artist looking for a setting to draw in, this is certainly worth a visit.
Another district of the park that draws a rather large crowd is the Nature Experiencing Studying Field, the name might seem like a mouthful but it is actually quite entertaining! What was once an education building has been redesigned to include an insect garden, butterfly garden, wild flower garden, and a themed flower garden. The building is home to a variety of plants, flowers and insects one would not encounter normally such as the carnivorous Pitcher Plant. Unlike the commonly known Venus Fly Trap this plant looks like it has a pitcher hanging off of it, which acts like a pitfall trap for insects. A few people usually are seen hanging around this plant waiting to see something fall into it. Each section of exotic plant and insect has a wooden fact sign near it, however it is only in Korean and if you wish to read it a translation app may be required.
As you venture into the depths of the structure the foliage becomes lush and vibrant, making it easy to forget that you are inside an old building. Eventually you will come across a clearing that leads to a bustling room featuring a variety of animals. In the center sits a low tank that mimics a sandbar and reef that features tiny crabs that scuttle about and hide from children that dunk their hands in to grab them. Fat, squishy bullfrog tadpoles race around the crabs and it is hard not to laugh at the ones that only have back legs formed as they swim in an odd manner compared to the others that streak by like little jets. Larger tanks featuring tropical fish in a dazzling array of colors can be found there as well. Children are frequently seen leaning over the edge of the tortoise pen trying to pet them, while teenagers and young adults pose in front of the axolotls referring to them as Mudkips from the popular game Pokémon.
A smug looking iguana judges you from its perch atop a log; it is content that it is left alone in favor of its neighbors, three small hedgehogs that run in and out of oven mitts that are designed to be their beds. Stepping outside the building there is an enclosure featuring various sized huts and handmade dens, with the cutest little rabbits hopping about. Going early in the spring will give a good chance to see some of the fuzzy baby bunnies before they grow up. If you did not get enough satisfaction from the deer at the Ecological Forest, the Nature Experiencing Studying Field will surely give the everyday animal lover something to enjoy!
The last two districts were the least populated despite there being a playground in the Wetlands Ecological Field. One would expect to find an abundance of children at the playground but it was unnaturally quiet. A few people wandered about in the refreshing silence taking the time to photograph the area without people walking through their shots. The water of the wetlands is clean and clear, an obvious sign that the area is healthy and the reason behind the lush forestry’s majestic foliage.
Towards the south of the main section of Seoul Forest is the Hangang River Waterside Park. It features a riverside marina and a rest stop, and is popular with couples as the view of the water is breathtaking. Visitors are also able to take the Han River cruise from Yeouido or Jamsil and use bike trails to venture into the main part of Seoul Forest. Don’t have your own bike? No problem! You can rent a bike for 3,000 KRW or a tandem bike for 6,000 KRW, the rates are hourly and it can be an exciting experience! Especially trying a tandem bike for the first time, it may start off a bit shaky, but once a proper rhythm is established the thrill is exhilarating, something everyone should try at least once!
So if you’re looking for a fun and exciting day out on a budget Seoul Forest is the place to go! It’s a beautiful hidden gem amongst the busy city life; it is like going on an adventure without having to go too far from home, peaceful, relaxing, yet full of exciting places and animals to see.
Directions: On the Bundang line (yellow line) get off at Seoul Forest Station, Exit 3 (5 min walk) or Ttukseom Station, Exit 8 (15 min walk) on Line 3 (dark green line)