Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Seoul Grand Park

Grand Park Zoo in Seoul currently stands as the 10th largest zoo in the world. It’s houses some 3,400 individual animals from about 360 different species from around the world. With its extremely spacious layout and variety of attractions and sites, Seoul Grand Park Zoo is great day out if I ever saw one.

I have personally enjoyed a number of fantastic days out in the splendour that is Grand Park Zoo. The fresh air and greenery is intoxicating and beyond compare. Now, coming from South Africa you will excuse my feelings of being a little underwhelmed by the site of animals in such confinements. But with that being said Seoul Grand Park Zoo is largest Zoo I’ve been to and the conditions in which the animals find themselves in of a high standard. And I strongly feel that in a country like Korea, such places offer an enormous opportunity for people to be exposed to some of fascinating and wonderful animals we share this world with. Okay, lets move on and see exactly what the park has to offer!

When you get off at Seoul Grand Park station (exit 2) you will have no problems locating this mammoth zoo. To get to the actual Zoo you can either take a short tram ride up or, as I prefer, a scenic cable car ride up to its main entrance. In which you can view a lot of areas beautiful vista. The zoo is comprised of a number of areas. There is the Children Zoo, a beautiful Rose Garden, the Nature Immersion Area (where you walk along its 7.4km hillside path), zoological gardens, insect pavilion, a greenhouse plant garden, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the amusement park Seoul Land.

As you can see there is plenty here to warrant a trip. If there is one major criticism I had when visiting the park it was the lack of food variety. You will easily find a number of small vendors scattered around the park offering cool drinks, cotton candy, ice creams, and the popular Spanish snack churros. But in terms of restaurants there is a surprising lack of choice. There are a few Korean restaurants (e.g. Solbiar and Girin restaurants) around but if you aren’t in the mood for that you might have to settle for the very average flavours of a Lotteria. The have burgers, fried chicken, soft drinks, ice cream and red-bean sherbet but I have always found this chain to be of poor quality. My suggestion is go prepared with a delicious sandwich or even a full-out picnic and sit under a tree, on a bench or by the river and enjoy your lunch.

The park can be brutal under a mid-summer sun, so take the necessary precautions. Lucky, Seoul Grand Park has year round seasonal events. There is the Spring Festival and the INDI Cultural Festival (March~June), for all those wishing to gaze upon the gorgeous array of flowers. The cherry blossoms are particularly stunning. There is a Rose Festival in May and June, an Animals Starry Night Festival during July and August, and the Autumn Flower Festival and Chrysanthemum Festival in the fall. In the winter the Park plays to the Kids imagination with the Tale of the Winter in Animal Kingdom (December~February).  A visit to Seoul Grand Park Zoo is truly an year round affair. The Zoological gardens are open between 09:00~19:00 (April~October) and 09:00~18:00 (November~March) and they are open 365 days a year.

For more information about Seoul Grand Park and its attractions, visit their official website at http://grandpark.seoul.go.kr

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