Hidden just beyond the line that divides Seoul from Gyeonggi-do is one of our favorite places in all of Korea. The Anyang Art Park is unlike any other park we’ve found in Korea, and it’s a place we find ourselves returning to whenever we get the chance. Filled with enough art, food, and entertainment to easily fill a Spring, Summer, or Autumn day, the Anyang Art Park is an unsung oasis for those weary of the typical destinations of Seoul or the greater Seoul Metro.
This park might just be a revamped and rejuvenated version of the Anyang Resort which was popular in the 1970’s, but it is also an amazing departure from the ordinary in Korea. For the nature lover who finds him or herself trapped in the confines of city life, looking for something new; the Anyang Art Park is an oasis of relaxed atmosphere, art, nature, food, and entertainment. A trip to this park just might be the perfect destination to escape the heat this summer.
Things To See
True to its name, the Art Park is filled with intriguing art installations of varying mediums. They are quite spread out, but there is a map of all of the installations near the entrance of the park on the walking path. Following the river through the park will lead you to most of them, including the iconic elevated tunnel that snakes its way toward back of the park, large clusters of flower sculptures, and an amphitheater with some pretty cool photographic seating. If you cross on of the bridges over the stream and head up towards the woods, you will find even more strange sculptures and installations hiding in the trees. We stumbled across a mirror maze, a strange home built out of crates, and some hybrid animals that looked rather odd peaking out from amongst the trees.
Also located in the wooded area north of the stream is The Peak. This is a modern sculpture that climbs asymmetrically into the sky to provide wonderful views of the Art Park as well as the towering peaks of the nearby Gwanak Mountains. The artist who built this tower also built one on the other side of the world and raised a blue flag at the top of both which appears to blend and touch the sky. His goal was to symbolize reaching out and linking the world together in harmony. The tower is one of my favorite spots because there are just so many cool angles for taking pictures and seeing the entirety of the park from above.
You may be aware of the saying most foreigners have of “seen one temple, you’ve seen them all” but we totally disagree with this sentiment. Perhaps they just aren’t looking close enough or maybe it’s just not their thing, but regardless in the springtime the Art Park’s temples come alive with their flowers and the mountain greenery surrounding their grounds. This park is enclosed on three sides by a mountain range and so you feel quite removed from the busy city here. Bonus for going before Buddha’s birthday celebration in May as the temples will have put out all the lanterns in a canopy of color.
The Cherry Blossoms
Most of the trees that line the walking path along the stream are cherry blossoms! If you are looking for a place to see some spring blossoms away from the crowds in the city, the Art Park is precisely where you should go! Around sunset the light hits the trees perfectly to and strolling under the trees with the sunlight dancing through the flowers is seriously nothing shot of magical. We were able to get quite a few shots along the walking path with no people in them which made us feel like we had the entire park to ourselves.
Things to Eat
Throughout the park there are a ton of different cafes and pastry shops to stop and grab a coffee or a small pie. Of course, we have our own favorite cafes that are inside the Art Park that we try to hit up every time we visit. Near the entrance of the park is a parking lot with a building next to it that has a ton of different cafes. The cafes on the top floors offer the best views of the area and the river below. The Anyang Art Park is littered with enough restaurants and cafes to satisfy even the most discerning visitor, so a decent cafe is never far away.
The best restaurant in the area, in our opinion, is located on the right side of the main street after you cross the river. Named “Pokposu,” (waterfall) this restaurant is split between regular floor tables and plastic tables and chairs situated in a man-made, shin-deep slow moving river. With your feet in cool water and delicious food on the table, Pokposu is required dining for all who visit this park in the sometimes unbearable heat of the summertime. We recommend the pajeon, makgeolli, or samgyetang soup as we have tried them all and each were quite good.
Things to Do
Located to the northeast of the park, Gwankaksan is a mountain you really shouldn’t miss. It was one of our favorite hikes in Seoul and you can access some of the southern trails via the Art Park. The Gwanaksan Mountain range surrounds the city of Anyang on the east side and covers a large area. This makes hiking through the trails feel very removed from the big city. At the peak of the mountain lies a hermitage precariously perched on top of a cliff. It is a small temple but it still holds services for all who make the 629 meter trek.
For those lucky enough to visit the Art Park during the high heat of summer, make sure to wear sandals and (for those spirited individuals out there) a swim suit. Thought mostly frequented by children and their parents, the cool waters of the river flowing through the middle of the Anyang Art Park are especially inviting during the sweltering days of South Korea’s summer months. As an added bonus, at a wide point in the river is a sculpture that moves and sprays jets of water in different directions to mist and entertain visitors. Many of the park’s visitors bring picnic supplies and even tents to set up along the waters edge and enjoy their summer weekends to the fullest.
If you are looking for something out of the heat, then try going to the Soul May Dog cafe! This little dog cafe has been around for quite a while and the dogs inside are all super friendly. 5,000 won buys you entry to hang out with the pups and get out of the high temperatures of the summer Korean sun. The dogs all are well taken care of and the owner takes them on walks quite often. Our favorite was this labrador who kept wanting to cool off by laying spread eagle out of the cool cement floor!
By subway, take Line 1 south to Gwanak Station near Anyang. From there you can walk, but it is a bit far and it will likely take you around thirty minutes to get to the center of the park. If the sun is too hot and walking isn’t your thing, exit the station and walk east toward the main highway and flag down a taxi. Tell the drive to take you to 안양예술공원 (Anyang Yesol Park). By bus, you can take bus 10, 12, 15, or 16 southeast from the main highway just outside of Gwanak Station.
We hope you are enjoying these hot summer days in Korea! Any other places we should check out this summer?