South Korea beyond Seoul: The Garden of Morning Calm
Imagine a valley of flowers nestled in between lush, green mountains. A place where you bump into butterflies more often than you do other people, a place so far removed from the hustle of modern life that it’s been used as a shooting location for the Korean period drama Love in the Moonlight.
That’s the Garden of Morning Calm (아침고요수목원) in South Korea’s Gapyeong County in Gyeonggi Province – an underrated, affordable day trip destination from Seoul.
What to do:
- Escape into a different world
At 30,000 square meters, the Garden of Morning Calm is the grandest private garden in all of South Korea. You could spend a whole day visiting each of the 20 themed sections connected by colorful flowerbeds and winding pathways. Not usually into hiking? Don’t worry, the gentle slopes and rich landscapes will have you walking farther than you expect.
Photography enthusiasts will find plenty of inspiration in the intersections of the natural greenery and man-made landscapes. But while every angle is worth a photo, the scenery isn’t just beautiful to look at.
Each area carries meaning, like Sukgeun Garden, which is shaped like the Korean peninsula. The blooms lining each side represent the desire to unite North and South Korea. This garden also includes 300 varieties of plants native to Baekdusan, an active volcano in North Korean territory.
- Hang out like a Crown Prince
The Garden of Morning Calm’s Seohwayeon Pond appears in the K-Drama Love in the Moonlight – or if you know it by the Korean title, Moonlight Drawn by Clouds – as a lotus pond inside the royal palace.
You can sit on one of the benches bordering the water while having a snack, or make your way to the café and open-air restaurant overlooking the view.
- Pass by the garden shop on your way out
The Garden of Morning Calm’s friendly, English-speaking staff offers free samples of their all-natural products. Grab a bottle of their unisex “Flower Rain” cologne, loose-leaf teas, scented candles, or dried herbs.
If you’re like me and are a sucker for beautiful postcards, they also have gorgeous photo cards of the landscape throughout the different seasons.
How to get there:
- From Seoul, take the subway to Cheongpyeong Station (Gyeongchun Line, Exit 1).
- The bus station is right outside the train station. Take either the 31-7 bus or the Gapyeong City Tour Bus to the Garden of Morning Calm. You should see green signs counting down the distance along the way. You can use the same reloadable transport card that you use for subways to pay for the bus ride.
- After touring the garden, take the same bus going back to Cheongpyeong Station.
Operating hours: 08:30-19:00 (Last admission is one hour before closing)
Entrance fees: 9,000 KRW for adults / 6,500 KRW for teenagers / 5,500 KRW for kids
When to go:
The garden evolves all year round, with different flower festivals scheduled from March to November. (All the photos in this article were taken in June.)
The hottest things get is during noontime in the summer, but even then, it’s still breezier and way more comfortable than tropical heat.
I like to tell friends the weather feels like summertime in Baguio or Tagaytay. In winter, it’s better to go from late afternoon to night, when colorful lights turn the park into an otherworldly scene.
- Spring: Spring Garden Festival
- Summer: Festival of Roses, Hydrangeas and Roses of Sharon
- Autumn: Festival of Chrysanthemums and Autumnal Tints
- Winter: Lighting Festival
Can’t decide which season to choose? Well, that’s one more reason to keep coming back. – Rappler.com
Ceej Tantengco is an NCAA courtside reporter, television producer, and 3-time Palanca Award-winning essayist. As an advocate for gender equality in sports media, she visits schools to discuss how to create better environments for female athletes and female sports journalists alike. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.