If you are going on a holiday with your kids, you should consider traveling to Seoul, Korea. Seoul is one of the safest places to live and travel to. Everything is well-organized and easy-going. The public transportation works perfectly, the city is very clean, and Korean people are very nice and helpful — plus they love kids. With young kids, parents will also appreciate the restrooms usually conveniently built with children in mind (with either changing boards or kids’ seats).
Here are some of the places you and your kids can visit when in Seoul:
1. The Five Grand Palaces of Seoul
If you watch Korean dramas, then you know that Korea was under Imperial reign, and you are most likely intrigued about the impressive palaces built during that time. The good news is that you can visit them, as the five grand palaces of Seoul are open to the public. For those looking to explore the history and culture of Seoul, a tour of the Five Grand Palaces is a great way to spend a few days. Here’s a rundown of all five for those planning a trip to Seoul:
The Gyeongbokgung Palace was the first to be built and also the largest. King Taejo had this palace built in 1395 and gave it the name “Gyeongbokgung,” meaning “Palace Greatly Blessed by Heaven.” This auspicious name didn’t exactly work out, though, as the palace has been ransacked by the Japanese twice throughout the centuries. Restoration efforts began in 1990 and continue to this day, but so far they’ve done an excellent job of bringing this former royal palace back to life.
In addition to the historical architecture and beautiful gardens, you can check out the National Palace Museum of Korea and the National Folk Museum of Korea here. Also of interest is the changing guard ceremony that takes place outside of the main gate every hour from 10a.m.-3p.m., featuring guards in traditional Joseon attire.
Another must-see palace is the Changdeokgung, which means “The Palace of Prospering Virtue.” Built in 1405, it was the second royal palace in Seoul and was actually home to the kings longer than any of the others. This was partly due to political strife within the kingdom, but also due to the fact that its construction was more harmonious with nature and it retained many traditional elements that the other palaces were missing. It too was destroyed and repaired on many occasions through the centuries, but even through so many reconstructions it has managed to retain much of its original design. This palace’s most notable feature is its “secret garden,” a beautiful place to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The Deoksugung Palace was not originally a palace. However, after the Japanese invasion in 1592, all of the royal palaces had been destroyed or at the very least heavily damaged. A temporary palace had to be chosen from the royal houses, and this was it. King Gwanghaegun named it Gyeongungung, and made it an official royal palace. It didn’t get its current name – Palace of Virtuous Longevity – until 1907 in a doomed attempt to ensure the longevity of Gojong. He was the last Joseon king, and first emperor of Korea, and he died in 1919 at the palace. This palace is unique among the five for having many western-style buildings. It also has lovely forested gardens and an art museum on site.
Perhaps the most overlooked of the five thanks to its small size, the Gyeonghuigung or “Palace of Serene Harmony” was built in 1623 as a secondary palace – that is, the place the king moves to in case of an emergency. Once upon a time, this palace was quite large, composed of around 100 buildings. It even had an arched bridge connecting it to nearby Deoksugung. However, it was levelled during the Japanese occupation in order to build a middle school.
While there may not be a lot to see here these days, it’s a great place to experience local culture – more locals than tourists come here to go for a walk, practice martial arts, or just chill out. Inside the palace grounds, you can also visit the Seoul Museum of History. Entrance to this palace is free.
You can buy separate entrance tickets to each, or you can just buy an all-inclusive ticket that gets you into them all. These can be bought at any of the palaces and you have a month to use them.
2. Children’s Grand Park
The Children’s Grand Park in Seoul is the ultimate place to take your kids for a fun and memorable day. Here, you can find a zoo, a botanical garden, playgrounds, a newly-opened museum, and an amusement park.
The Grand Park is a nice and green place perfect for relaxing, picnicking, playing, watching animals, or just simply taking a walk. There is also a water playground that is perfect for when you visit in the summer.
3. Seoullo 7017
Seoullo 7017 Walkway was once known as the Seoul Station overpass, constructed in 1970 as a response to the growing traffic congestion in Seoul. For decades, the highway connected the eastern and western halves of the city. It is now a pedestrian walkway that offers a one-of-a-kind experience for both tourists and locals. There are a 17 different pathways to walk at Seoullo 7017. Seoul City Walking Tours now offer three Seoullo-centered courses. Visitors to Seoul can reserve tours online and learn more about the hidden stories of Seoul.
Course 1 takes you from Hanyang to Seoul, Course 2 allows you to explore the modern and contemporary architecture at Seoullo, and Course 3 is a night tour of Seoullo. Choose all three tours for a truly memorable experience.
Apart from the walking tours, Seoullo also offers numerous facilities for you to enjoy. Visitors will be able to use the various facilities to get tourist information, rest, and to have a light meal or snack. Seoullo 7017’s eight eateries and information centers all have different themes and concepts.
Seoullo 7017 features the world’s indoor/outdoor tourist information center, a comprehensive tourist information center and cafe called Seoullo Travelers’ Cafe (located at Toegye-ro Traffic Island), a Seoullo gift shop (located near the start of Toegye-ro Road), and a variety of eateries and cafes.
4. Theme Cafes
If you don’t want to limit your experience of seeing and interacting with animals while in Seoul, a trip to any of their pet cafes should be interesting both for you and your kids. Pet cafes are gaining popularity nowadays, and for good reason – not only do you get to sample the cafes’ culinary offerings, you also get to cuddle and play with the furry in-house pets. If dogs and cats are not your thing, you can visit theme cafes for a unique experience.
Here are some of the most popular theme cafes in the areas:
Charlie Brown Café
If you are a fan of the Peanuts entourage, you will love Charlie Brown Café. The character is so popular all over Korea, he doesn’t just get a café, he has an entire chain! The café serves cakes, cookies, and pastries decked decorated with characters such as Snoopy, Lucy, and Charlie Brown himself.
Bau House Puppy Café
Dog cafes were born in Korea because not a lot of people have the luxury of space to raise one in. These fun cafes are where people go to just hang out with dogs both big and small. Most places require you to buy a drink, and if you want you can also buy snacks for your canine friends.
It’s a fun way to spend an evening by bribing cute dogs to be your friend for a few hours. Your kids will surely love it! One of the most popular dog cafes is Bau House Puppy Café in Hongdae, known for its delicious menu and super cute dogs.
Lily Cat Café
Cat cafes have the exact same concept as dog cafes, only they cater to people who prefer cats over dogs. Like dog cafes, you need to buy a drink and some food for yourself, which allows you a few hours of cuddling and playing time with their very cute cats.
Of course, you are encouraged to buy snacks for your feline friends, too. Lily Cat Café in Meongdong is a very popular cat café you shouldn’t miss.
Thanks Nature Café
If you’re not a cat or dog person, you might want to consider Thanks Nature Café, which has sheep! This cafe has real live sheep. They don’t roam around the cafe where you can pet their super soft merino coats all night long.They are kept in pens in a separate area. As with other pet cafes, you need to purchase refreshments so you can hang out, feed, and play with these adorable sheep. Keep in mind that this concept is not as popular as dog or cat-themed cafes, so if you have the chance, go to Thanks Nature Café.
With all these exciting activities and places to visit in Seoul, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t take your family on a vacation soon. You will definitely not regret it.