Top 7 things to do with kids in Seoul
From fun parks to city parks, here are the best family-friendly things to do and places to go in the South Korean capital.
- May 2019
Seoul and its neighbouring city Incheon (where the international airport is located) is a hectic blend of mindful tradition and fast-paced modern life. With a bigger population than New York City in Seoul alone, there’s never any shortage of things to do or places to visit. If you want to keep your kids entertained, however, here are the top seven family-friendly things you should definitely put on your South Korea itinerary.
Lotte World Theme Park
Seoul has plenty of theme parks to choose from, including dedicated water parks, so there’s something to suit all tastes. However, Lotte World opens in new window has the advantage of being conveniently located in the city and is easily reached via the subway. Its indoor section is one of the largest indoor theme parks in the world. There’s even a giant ice skating rink and a folk museum contained within the complex. The outdoor section has the larger thrill-seeking rides to suit bigger kids and adults, such as the Gyro Drop (great view of the city before you plummet back to the ground), Atlantis rollercoaster (watch out for the acceleration at the start) and the indoor French Revolution rollercoaster (true to its name, there are a lot of loops). There’s even an onsite hotel with kids-themed “character rooms” opens in new window – some with views of the indoor section of the park if you prefer to stay.
Seoul N Tower
Seoul N Tower opens in new window and its surrounds offer breathtaking views of the city. Take the cable car up Mt Namsan and let the kids run around in the open spaces of the forecourt where there are water sprays in summer and, occasionally, cultural shows and demonstrations taking place. There are shops, cafes and food outlets surrounding the bottom of the tower as well as special exhibits to explore. Hello Kitty fans should check out Hello Kitty Island before heading up to the observatory decks where you get unobstructed 360-degree views of Seoul. Be sure to visit the “Sky Restroom” for the best public loo with a view in the city.
Central Park, Incheon
New Songdo is an entirely new city built from the ground up on reclaimed land off the coast of Incheon. It’s main green space is Central Park, which stands in stark contrast to the gleaming high-tech skyscrapers surrounding it. Even the mainly wooden structures on the edge of the park are designed as an antidote to all the modernity, harking back to the traditional designs of hanok villages. The spectacular Gyeongwonjae Ambassador Incheon hotel opens in new window sitting at the fringe of the park is a beautifully-crafted example of this. Take a stroll around the park and visit some of the resident animal life, such as rabbits and deer, or hire a bike or pedal car and let your kids burn off some excess energy. To cap off the day, try renting an electric-powered boat and cruise around the canal that runs through the middle of the park.
Wolmi Theme Park, Incheon
This amusement park on Wolmido Island in Incheon is famous for being the filming location for several Korean TV dramas, probably for it’s more romanticised, old-school carnival-by-the-sea feel than its city-based counterparts. The large, sprawling theme park has all the rides you would expect, in a more relaxed environment where you can just sit and enjoy the ocean view if you need to take a break. There’s a dedicated indoor play centre with smaller rides for younger children as well. It’s free to wander around and you can either pay for the individual rides or just get a day-pass.
Mega Luge, Ganghwa Seaside Resort
It’s a little out of the way and best reached by car, but the newly-opened Mega Luge opens in new window is worth the effort. The “luges” are basically wheeled karts you steer down a winding mountain track. Take the gondola up the mountain, jump on a luge and let gravity do its thing. There are two tracks to choose from and you can roll down the mountain as a group, meaning you can race your friends (or kids) all the way to the bottom. Don’t worry, you can go as fast or slow as you like just by pulling back on the handlebars to brake. Get a multiple ride pass (trust me, you’ll want to go again) and visit the revolving restaurant in the tower at the top of the mountain before your final run.
If the weather isn’t cooperating, don’t worry, there are plenty of indoor places to take the kids. Try out a VR café for a start. These let you rent rooms or rides where you get to experience everything – from extreme sports to rollercoasters – through the mind-trickery of virtual reality goggles. Some are more elaborate than others, with basic ones allowing you to experience familiar video games in a totally immersive way, while fancier facilities have motion-equipped rides. The largest of these arcades is the Fanta VR Dongdaemun, but there are VR cafes all over Seoul to check out. If you prefer something a little more real-world based, look for an indoor screen baseball centre. It’s like a batting cage, but you hit the ball into a screen where there are virtual fielders. While the pitcher and players are digital, the ball, bat and your swing are very real.
One of the great joys of exploring Seoul is in visiting its large traditional outdoor markets. The most famous of these is Namdaemun Market – the oldest and largest in South Korea. Here, you can find just about anything and it’s easy to lose yourself in the labyrinth of stalls and stands. There’s an entire multi-storey section dedicated to children’s clothes here – thought that’s probably something parents will be more excited by than the kids. What the kids will love, however, is the variety of toys, souvenirs and fun accessories on display. And definitely don’t miss the fantastic street food, like mandu (Korean dumplings) and hotteok – a sweet pancake with an oozing filling made from honey, brown sugar, peanuts and cinnamon.