Haneul Park: A garden with 4 seasons

Have you heard of Haneul Park? I have many friends who have been to Seoul (once or even more than 3 times in the last 5 years) but only a couple has actually heard of this green space in the city. Surprisingly, none of them have visited it before! It is one of my favourite hangout spots in Seoul yet its beauty remains unknown to only a few?! Come, let me introduce Haneul Park to you!

Haneul Park translates to “Sky Park”. And its no surprise why its a vast garden which offers a spectacular view of Seoul from its height. The park is located on the highest park of the World Cup Park and overlooks the city. On a clear summer day, one can enjoy breathtaking views of the World Cup Stadium, Hangang River and even across to Bukhasan.

Do note that because of its height, one would first have to conquer 291 steps up to reach Haneul Park. Alternatively, one can look out for the electric tram which offers ticketed rides up and down the hill.

However, the most attractive feature of the park is its changing foliage according to 4 seasons.

Starting with spring and summer, the garden presents a sea of lush greenery as wild flowers decorated the picture with specks of red, pink, white and yellow colours. And under the vast blue sky, every sight is a beauty. In fact, summer is quite the appropriate time for one to capture some Insta-worthy shots with the little photo corners all around the garden.

Pick a spot and let nature form the backdrop of your pictures.

And on the opposite end of the park, take a seat on the swing for a picnic and watch the clouds go by over Hangang River.

Summer is probably the time to enjoy this scenery with minimal disturbances from overcrowding of visitors. Because when fall comes…

In September and October, Haneul park is teemed with visitors, especially locals, who are here to catch a glimpse of the sea of silver grasses.

Credits: @belindaong

Isnt the view completely different than it was in summer? Now the summer foliage is taken over with the crisp silver grasses dancing in the wind~

Credits: @belindaong

A photo in Haneul Park with the silver grasses is probably THE photo to signal for autumn. Check out this comparison of summer and autumn:

Summer 2018

Autumn 2018 Credits: @belindaong

And when the snow falls on Haneul Park, it covers the field white as the grasses turns golden and dries up in the cold. It is no surprise that many Korean couples do visit Haneul Park in the winter for couple or even wedding photo-shoot!

For frequent visitors to Seoul who have yet to check out this place, do have it added to your list when you make your next visit!

Address: 487-48 Sangam-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea

How to get there: World Cup Stadium (Line 6, Exit 1). Cross the carpark and road over towards the park area and continue walking till one come across a blue overhead bridge. One should notice the zig-zag stairs leading up to Haneul Park.

Summer time = Festival time in Korea

Indeed, frequent visitors to Korea are probably aware that summer time = festival time! All around Korea, many regions would host various types of summer festivals, such as the university festivals in Seoul, the spectacular flower festivals and the refreshing water festivals in coastal towns.

Today, allow me to present two popular summer festival events in Korea: Buyeo Lotus Festival and Boryeong Mud Festival. Both cities are less than three hours of traveling distance from Seoul hence I would highly recommend visitors to take a day trip down for a visit.

Welcome to Buyeo Lotus Festival where one can enjoy the beautiful scenery of vast lotus ponds. Speaking about all the Instagrammable moments of one in a flower field?

That is probably behind time. After all, flower fields can be found in most places of the world. Instead, hop onto the new trend with photo moments around numerous lotus flowers blossoming from the depth of the ponds. Admission is free.

The festival is held annually in mid July in the city of Buyeo and attracts thousands of visitors annually. Although the actual festival often lasts within two weeks, visitors can stroll through the public park anytime during the lotus season. This also implies that one can enjoy the lotus flowers anytime from late spring to summer.

During the festival, one can learn about the history about the Buyeo lotus ponds. It all began with King Mu, the 30th King of the Baekje dynasty, who appreciated lotus flower and dug these ponds during his reign in AD634. One can also visit booths which host cultural activities and sell local products.

In the past, King Mu used to enjoy a boat trip around his lotus ponds with the Queen. To replicate this moment, the festival also provides a short kayaking experience around a shallow lotus pond for ₩5000 per pax.

Take a relaxing stroll around the park and one will arrive at Gungnamji 궁남지 which is transformed to a floating pavilion enveloped by a huge lotus flower.

Head towards another area of the park and one would be surprised by a hidden sunflower field too!

After the festival, one can then enjoy a city tour around Buyeo on the city tour bus. Less known to foreign visitors, Buyeo used to be the capital of the Baekje Dynasty. The city contains four UNESCO-listed heritage sites of the Baekje Historis Areas, including the above Jeongnimsa Temple Site. Hop onto the city tour bus and one can visit all the four historic areas conveniently.

How to get here from Seoul:

Take a intercity bus from Seoul Nambu Terminal and arrive at Buyeo Bus Terminal. The bus journey would take between one and a half hour to two hours. From there, take a 20 minutes walk to SeoDong Park or grab a taxi over in less than ten minutes.

Visitors with private transport are advised to check for free public parking areas around the park. Free shuttle buses are also available to fetch passengers to and fro these parking areas.

Special note:

For visitors who wish to take the intercity bus from Nambu Terminal, be ready to head early to purchase your ticket on the spot. The return ticket can be purchased directly at Buyeo Bus Terminal instead. I would advise one to secure one’s return seat immediately upon arrival in Buyeo.

Next up, the famous Boryeong Mud Festival which attracts not just locals, but also foreign visitors for a stay to experience the refreshing mud baths, games and even wrestling matches in mud pools!

Recall those wrestling games played in Running Man? Yes, have a go yourself to experience a muddy splash in Boryeong!

Indeed, hot summer is all about refreshing dips, water fights, and suntanning by the beach. However, in Boryeong, it is all about their nutrient-rich mud. For an all-day admission of ₩12,000 (Mon-Thurs)/₩14,000 (Fri-Sun), one can splash around in all the mud games organised in the venue.

Located by the beach, the Mud Festival also welcomes beach lovers to Daecheon Beach. Take some time away from one’s hectic schedules and laze by the beach for the entire day. What is a summer vacation without getting a good suntan?

And for those who do not want to miss out on other activities, plan well for your visit to conincide with the music performances in the evening. This year, the Mud Music Performances invited guests like BewhY and Jessi.

Boryeong is famous for its mud that in fact, it produces its own mud-related skincare products, from mud masks to mud scrubs and even hair-related products. During the festival, booths are set-up around the venue to offer tax-free shopping at discounted prices too. Isn’t summer fabulous?

How to get here from Seoul:

Take an express bus from Seoul Express Bus Terminal to Boryeong 보령. The journey takes approximately two hours to two and a half hours. From Boryeong Bus Terminal, take bus 100 bound for Daecheon Beach. This bus journey is approximately 30 minutes to 45 minutes. The bus stop is located right inside the bus terminal parking lot.

Take the KTX, Mugonghwa or SRT trains headed towards Daecheon Station. Duration of train journey varies. From there, take bus 100 bound for Daecheon Beach.

Planning a visit to Korea the next summer?

Why not consider taking a day trip out of Seoul to experience the summer joy Buyeo and Boryeong have to offer. Seize the sunny moments to enjoy summer time at Korea’s festivals too!

Returning to Jeju: Cafe-hopping around the picturesque island

Remember the last time I introduced to you about how to travel around Jeju via public transport? The article focused mainly on the natural scenery one can enjoy during a short stay on the island, including visits to the Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak, Manjanggul Cave, Cheonjiyeon Falls and more.

This time, allow me to present another side of Jeju: Cafe-hopping around Jeju. Indeed, following the cafe-hopping trend in Seoul, there are also many cafes around in Jeju for cafe-hoppers to enjoy. One can choose to appreciate a cup of Jeju green tea by its own green tea garden, pop into one of the most-visited cafe in hope of chancing upon G-Dragon himself, or just laze by the beach with an Iced Americano.

Here are some of my recommendations:

1. Innisfree Jeju House 이니스프리 제주하우스

Innisfree skincare and cosmetics brand prides itself with the use of natural ingredients from Jeju in their products. As such, it is no surprise that one can find its stores all around Jeju. However, Innisfree Jeju House is more than just a store. It also houses Innisfree Café which serves drinks made from Jeju ingredients like the Hallabong orange and Jeju green tea leaves.

View from Innisfree Jeju House on a rainy day

Not to mention, the view from the café overlooks one of the green tea gardens in the vicinity.

One of their signature menu items has got to be the Hallasan cake. Shaped like a mountain, it depicts the highest mountain on Jeju, Hallasan mountain.

Wondering what’s the flavor?

The cake is a green tea cake on the inside, topped with green tea cream hidden in the peak. It also comes with “volcanic cookies” and “white melting cream” which one can add according to one’s preference.

This presents as an engaging way for café-goers to play around their own Hallasan cake while planning for one’s Instagrammable moments.

You can also their Hallabong Orange Tea and the Honey Yuchae Tea (above).

There will always be time for shopping. Head over to the Innisfree store to browse its products, but be attentive to some of its Jeju special edition products. These products can only be found in the Jeju House. Some include Jeju-themed hankies, pouches, hand cream and also a DIY hand soap set. You can also make your own hand soaps too!

How to get here:

Address: 425, Sinhwayeoksa-ro, Andeok-myeon, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do (제주특별자치도 서귀포시 안덕면 신화역사로 425)

Public transport: O’sulloc Bus Stop. Bus No. 150-1, 250-3, 771-1, 771-2, 784-1, 820-2

Parking facilities are available for free.

2. O’sulloc Tea Museum 오설록 티뮤지엄

From Innisfree Jeju House, one can easily stroll to the next door to visit the O’sulloc Tea Museum. So do remember to plan these two locations together on the same day.

O’sulloc Tea Museum on a rainy day

O’sulloc is THE tea museum one have to visit to appreciate the Korean tea culture on the island. Gifted by its geographical locations, and thus climates, Jeju island is able to cultivate the best types of Korean tea leaves. O’sulloc Tea Museum presents a holistic tea experience to visitors. One can begin the visit through the tea exhibitions which showcases the types of tea cultivation in Jeju and Korean tea culture.

At the end of the short exhibition, one enters straight into the gift shop with tea products made from harvest tea leaves in Jeju. There are various gifts one can choose to purchase back. In fact, do take note that some of the gifts sold there are exclusive to Jeju stores only. Alternatively, visitors can also visit their branchs in MyeongDong to complete one’s shopping list. At times, when the cafe gets too crowded, one can opt for takeaways instead or just get back to Seoul to visit the O’sulloc cafe in MyeongDong too.

O’sulloc green tea garden on a rainy day

During one’s visit, do leave some time to explore the green tea gardens around the museum. One can easily reach them on the opposite side of the road.

How to get here:

Address: 15, Sinhwayeoksa-ro, Andeok-myeon, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do (제주특별자치도 서귀포시 안덕면 신화역사로 15)

Public transport: O’sulloc Bus Stop. Bus No. 150-1, 250-3, 771-1, 771-2, 784-1, 820-2

Parking facilities are available for free.

3. G-Dragon’s cafe: Untitled, 2017

Yes, it is THE cafe opened by G-Dragon in Jeju. Kpop-lovers, or VIPs, would not want to miss this opportunity to drop by his cafe.

Named as Untitled, 2017, the cafe has moved to a new address, just by Jeju ShinHwa world where YG Republique can also be found.

Other YG-owned restaurants, like 3 Birds, 3 Butcher and 3 Fisherman’s Wharf, and a bowling club named AC.III.T are also located around Untitled, 2017. Together with the ShinHwa Theme Park, one can probably enjoy a day of fun in the YG way.

Enter the café and viola, fans are definitely reassured that they are in the right place inside the Untitled, 2017 – themed café.

Every corner just writes of GD’s presence, from his music works to his interior planning such as the iconic flowers hanging from the ceiling above. Fans can also purchase some of his merchandises from the store too, like coasters, bags, tumbler and mugs.

However, be forewarned that some of the menu items may be slightly more expensive than one would expect.

How to get here:

Address: 38, Shinhwayeoksa-ro 304bun-gil, Andeok-myeon Seogwipo-si, Jeju Phone: +82 64 908 8888

Public Transport: Sinhwayeoksa Bus Stop. Bus 255 serves from Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal

Parking facilities are available for free. Airport shuttle buses are available from Jeju airport to Jeju ShinHwa World.

4. Cafe Morebi (@moraebi_jeju)

Summer is all about the Sun and of course, BEACH! While some desires to dive straight into the cool waters, others, like me, prefer to relax by the beach with a refreshing drink in hand. Here, do check out the variety of cafes located by the beaches of Jeju.

For instance, I visited Cafe Morebi in north Jeju, near Jeju City. The cafe receives numerous positive reviews from Korean netizens and were mentioned multiple times in Korean travel blogs.

Fresh pastries are baked at regular intervals to ensure that customers enjoy the best of their baked goods like croissants, cookies and in-house specials like cheese pretzels.

Customers who prefer the beach can take their drinks out by the waters for a spectacular view. Some who prefer sun-tanning can lay back on their beach chairs located right outside of the cafes. Others who prefer the indoor cool can remain under the shelter instead. Isn’t that amazing how considerate the cafe owners are to their customers?

Wait, did i not mention that for those who prefer a quiet time, one can even proceed upstairs where there are “No kids zone” to prevent the chaos and screams from reaching one’s ears.

How to get here:

Address: 472 Haemajihaean-ro, Gujwa-eup, Cheju, Jeju-do (제주 제주시 구좌읍 해맞이해안로 462 월정리 536-4)

Parking facilities are available for free

5. Cafe Eong (@jeju_eong)

Last but not least, I included this cafe/pub which is situated at the start of the Jeju Olle Course Route #5.

It has an interesting name Eong because Olle Course 5 is known as KeunEong. This Olle route brings one from Namwon Port to Soesokkak through a total distance of 14.7 km.

Right before the start of the course, one can enjoy a short break in the cafe with some drinks and dessert to replenish one’s energy.

And when the night comes, perhaps one can also head over for a drink too!

How to get here:

Address: 1398-7 Namwon-ri, Namwon-eup, Seogwipo, Jeju-do (제주 서귀포시 남원읍 남원리 1398-7)

Parking facilities are available for free

So, be it by the beach to enjoy the waves, or serenity within the lush green tea garden, or to experience heart tingling feeling in G-Dragon’s cafe, these are my recommendations for cafe-hopping in Jeju. After all, what’s a holiday without a cup of drink to lay back, relax and enjoy!

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