Relax at Sanjeong Lake, Recharge at Jainsa Temple

From Seoul to the DMZ, the often underrated Northern region  provides spectacular scenery, beautiful mountain sights and many hidden treasures. This is just what you can find at Sanjeong Lake and the nearby zen-atmosphere Jainsa Temple. Time to both relax and recharge!

Sanjeong Lake, Gyeonggi-do

Sanjeong Lake is hidden a bit out of the main road past beautiful valleys and steep mountain passes. Though within only 90 km from Seoul downtown, the drive  is demanding as the whole Northern region’s roads infrastructure remains limited. It took us about 1h45 in average traffic conditions.

The area has been developed in the 80’s with a few pensions, cafes and restaurants. Most Korean visitors head there during weekends for an outdated attraction park. To be frank: while there were kids-intended attractions such as Viking boats, carousels and alike, we at Kidsfuninseoul would gladly see this old-fashioned theme park closed and removed from an otherwise beautiful area!

Instead, we recommend walking in the central area where you will find several impressive sculptures. You may also enjoy good Korean food in the local restaurants. We then took on an easy hike around the lake. This will take you about 1h30 – a bit more if you are with small kids. Most of the path is easy, flat and you shall likely manage it with a sturdy stroller.

Mid-way along the walk, we enjoyed taking a detour to the nearby Jainsa Temple – about a kilometre away from the lake path. The temple was particularly peaceful, well maintained. The views of the mountainous background were just so spectacular! We took many photos, walked around the various temple buildings and recharged with a full tank of energy.

Just check if you can in advance the water level in the lake. It should be fine by end Summer and in Fall. Depending on precipitations, it may be at low level at other times of the year.

Overall, this is a great day-trip destination for a warm weekend. Certainly not a must-see attraction, but nice to combine with other family sights if you are already in the region.

For more information, check Sanjeong Lake website (Korean only)

How to get there:
Uijeongbu Jungang Station (Uijeongbu Light Rail) Exit 2. At the Myeongmul Jjigae Geori (명물찌개거리) Bus Stop, take Bus 138-6 to Hanhwa Condo (한화콘도) Bus Stop.  Sanjeong Lake (산정호수) ticket office is on the left side of the Hanhwa Condo building.

79, Sanjeonghosu-ro 411beon-gil, Yeongbuk-myeon, Pocheon-si, Gyeonggi-do
경기도 포천시 영북면 산정호수로411번길 79

For localisation check Seoul Map for Kids & Families

Sanjeong Lake, Gyeonggi-do

Seodaemun Prison History Hall (서대문형무소역사관)

Symbol of Korea’s political resistance and its liberation, Seodaemun Prison History Hall is a captivating museum. Clearly not the usual ‘kids attraction’ but definitely worth a visit with older kids and for all those with an interest in Korea’s eventful history

Seodaemun Prison History Hall (서대문형무소역사관)

Foreword: this museum is not “fun” or totally recommended with very small kids. The prison memorial depicts very rough times of Korea’s history and provides clues to understand it. You should expect to see prison’s cells, torture rooms and more. Still, it is open to all public subject to parents’  discretion. Our younger kids (6 and 5 years old) had a great time. 
A little bit of history

Built in 1907, the Seodaemun Prison bears a special significance for all Koreans. During the Japanese annexation 1910-1945, the prison was used primarily to intern (and often eliminate) Korean political opponents to the Japanese authorities. After World War II and until 1987, the facilities continued to be used as a regular prison. Beside common-law criminals, political dissidents to the regime also contributed in high numbers to the prison’s population. The prison finally closed in 1987 before reopening in 1992 as a Memorial and Museum to celebrate all Korean patriots.

Start with the exhibition halls: walking through Korea’s tumultuous path towards Independence and Democracy

After entering the complex, you will start your visit with the Exhibition building. A lot of attention has been put to provide comprehensive yet synthetic information on the country’s history and main events related to Seodaemun prison. In the multiple rooms, you will learn about the end of Joseon Dynasty and the following Japanese occupation, the liberation and long quest to full democracy during the second half of 20th century.  The history of the Prison and the in-prison life occupy each one room.

Additional exhibits await you in the basement floor with wax figures model showing life in prison cells, police investigation, tortures, etc.

A walk through Seodaemun Prison’s buildings

You will likely be very impressed with this part of the visit. This is where you get to walk through the carceral buildings themselves. Check out the guards rooms, the prison cells, the isolation/punishments cells (reserved for the toughest cases). This looks like in a movie… except this was for real.

Several corridors are dedicated to the memory of Korean dissidents who served time in the prison in the 60’s, 70’s or 80’s. This helps greatly understand how South Korea became what it is today.

Continuing your visit, you may also check out the Execution building (or skip), the Women prison, outdoor exercise area and more.

Opening hours: 9:30 AM ~ 6:00 PM (Mar~Oct) or 5:00 PM (Nov~Feb)
Closed: all Mondays, Jan1, Seollal, Chuseok

Admission fees: 1,500 KRW Adults; 1,000 KRW  13~18-year-old; 500 KRW Children 7~12-year-old

How to get there:
251, Tongil-ro, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul
Tel. 02-360-8590~1

By subway, line 3 until Dongnim-mun Station, exit 5.

For more information, check Seodaemun Prison History hall website.

For localisation, check Seoul Map for Kids & Families

Seodaemun Prison History Hall (서대문형무소역사관)



Ara waterway on bike: Easy family ride from Gimpo Marina to the Waterfall

Enjoy the 21km long bike path connecting the Han River with the Yellow Sea. Ride along the canal surrounded by a unique landscape with wildflowers, waterfalls, terraces and docks

Ara Waterway Gimpo Marina

Last week-end we rediscovered the Ara Waterway biking path – this time starting from Ara Gimpo Marina and going until the Ara Waterfall.

The Ara Marina is a nice place to start the trip – taking pictures by the docks and the main sailing basin or just watching yachts and sailboats before renting our bikes. There you can rent canoes, kayaks, pedal boats or even take some classes for yachting and sailboating. We’ll definitely be back next time for some boat adventure ;-)

We rented our bikes at the marina and followed the biking path in the direction of Incheon. Unfortunately there are some construction works around this area right now, so you have to take a short detour by road for the first 500m before connecting to the real biking lane. Starting from there everything was perfect. We loved biking on the wooden platforms watching the yachts, fields of flowers and airplanes taking off from the nearby Gimpo airport. We passed by the Suhyangwon- Korean traditional garden with its eight-sided pavilion and continued until the Ara Waterfall and then all the way back.

All in all we had a great time with our little ones biking at their own speed on this easy path and in a beautiful natural environment. Next time we want to try the other portion connecting from the Ara Waterfall until Incheon. See you there!

How to get there:
Gimpo Airport (Line 5, Line 09) – Exit 1 and take the Ara Marina convention shuttle bus

Arayukro 270-73, Gochon-eup, Gimpo-si, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea
주소 경기도 김포시 고촌읍 전호리 130-3번지 마리나클럽하우스
TEL 1577-8764
FAX 031-984-6730

For localisation, check Seoul Map for Kids & Families

Rent a bike:
3,000KRW/ hour

For more information go to Ara Waterway

Ara Waterway