CONTRIBUTED BY JULIA WERTS
The weather has been amazing lately, and the pollution levels have been the lowest we’ve seen in what feels like an eternity… So we ventured out to enjoy the fresh air and look at some animals at the Seoul Zoo. I did some quick research before heading out, and since it’s a short subway ride from Yongsan, I decided to take the subway although parking is also cheap and plentiful (4,000W). The website indicated that the zoo is out Exit 2 of Seoul Grand Park station, so we got off the train and made our way towards the zoo. There aren’t any signs (none that I could see, at least) that point you towards the zoo, but when you come out of the subway station, just walk straight. There is a large building-like structure directly in front of you–the Seoul Grand Park Information “Desk.” Up the stairs and on the other side of the “building” is the tram stop. And rather than making the mistake we made… TAKE THE TRAM (aka the Elephant Train). It’s 1000W for adults, 900W for 13-18yo, and 700W for 6-12yo. It gets you to the zoo (the first stop) in a matter of minutes. With a group of 4 moms and 9 small children, the walk to the zoo took nearly 45 minutes. And the kids complained. A LOT. 😉 There’s also a Sky Lift that looked like a lot of fun, but I wasn’t sure I could manage all 3 of my kids on the Sky Lift by myself!
*Be sure to check out the zoo’s website. There’s a lot of very useful information on the site, and it’s actually written in English, not Konglish! Woohoo!
Aside from discovering the merits of the tram a little too late, there’s quite a bit of information about “Seoul Grand Park” that I was completely clueless about before venturing out there. Seoul Grand Park, as the name suggests, is a grand park, and the Seoul Zoo is just one part of it. The park also includes a separate Children’s Zoo and botanical gardens, Seoul Land (an amusement park), camping, the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA), and Gilinara (an indoor children’s play park). Needless to say, Seoul Grand Park covers quite a large area of land, which is why it took us SO LONG to walk to the zoo!
We finally made it to the zoo, met up with some other friends, wrangled our army of children together and began our adventure. Our group of 8 moms and 13 children VERY SLOWLY made our way into the zoo. We somehow managed to see a few animals during our time there–zebras, giraffes, gorillas, chimpanzees, lions and elephants. According to the map, we only saw about a quarter of the zoo.
On the bright side, we took our own zoo to the zoo… 😉 Despite only being able to travel through the large park at a snail’s pace, the kids had an absolute blast. They were as excited about spending time with their friends as they were about seeing the animals, and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters. Running around Seoul, adventuring with preschoolers, I’ve definitely learned that even if things don’t work out as planned (which seems to happen quite frequently here in Korea…), fun happens at every turn.
On the bright side, only having seen such a small portion of the zoo, it’ll seem like a whole new place the next time we venture out there! As it came time for us to leave, my kids and I had to break apart from the group and hurry home to get my littlest one down for a much-needed nap and my big boys off to their hapkido class. We hopped on the tram and made it to the subway station in a matter of minutes. Much better than the 45 minute walk there!
Other tips about the Seoul Zoo:
• Strollers are available to rent so if you don’t want to navigate the subway with a stroller, you can rent one to use in the zoo. Stroller rental is located just inside the main entrance of the zoo past the Visitor Center on the right.
• There are plenty of areas to sit and have a picnic if you choose to bring your own food, but food (restaurants as well as fast food) is available inside the zoo.
• There’s a playground! We didn’t even make it that far…
• If you have small children, consider taking them to the Children’s Zoo. It’s just before the main zoo, and it’s significantly smaller and more manageable with little ones. The tickets for the Children’s Zoo also allow admission into the Botanical Gardens, but it’s separate from the main zoo. Prices for the Children’s Zoo are listed here (http://grandpark.seoul.go.kr/Eng/html/seoul/0105_price.jsp).
• The Seoul Zoo and the Seoul Grand Park is not the same as the Children’s Grand Park, which also has a zoo! Here’s a post I wrote about the Children’s Grand Park–also a wonderful place to take your kids.
Getting to the Seoul Zoo:
By Subway: Take Line 4 to the Seoul Grand Park station, exit 2. There’s an elevator just before you get to exit 2 on the same side.
By Car: If you have a navigation system, you should be able to enter Seoul Zoo or Seoul Grand Park and find the address. The physical address for the zoo is Gyeonggi-do, Gwacheon-si, Makgye-dong, 159-1. Otherwise, directions to the zoo can be found here.
Google Coordinates: 37.4356627, 127.0058245
Youth (ages 13-18/middle and high school): 2000W
Children (ages 6-12/elementary school): 1000W
6 and under: FREE
Summer (March – October): 9AM-7PM
Winter (November – February): 9AM-6PM
There are special evening hours during the summer.