Hwadam Botanic Garden is an arboretum located in Konjiam Resort in Gwangju, Gyeonggi-do, 1 hour with public transport from Seoul.
wadam means “friendly communication” and indicates the park’s goal – to connect visitors with nature. And you can genuinely connect with nature here, even though the park is very well attended, and there’s almost no chance you will be left alone to admire the beauty of nature.
An excellent way to escape the crowds and have a couple of peaceful moments is to arrive early. If you plan to travel by metro or by public bus, you have to get to Gonjiam Station and from there take a taxi to the Gonjiam Resort, costing around ₩10,000.
A free short lift will get you to the ticketing booth and entrance of Hwadam Forest Park. Here it would be best if you decided what time you want to ride the monorail and book your tickets as most likely they will be sold out, and you might not be able to get on the monorail. My advice is to leave some time to look around, have coffee once you are inside, then take the monorail, and have a comfortable ride around the park. Then you can decide what areas of the park you will like to explore further on foot.
What to see at Hwadam Botanic Garden
There’s a convenience shop at the entrance (there’s no inside, just a coffee shop, and Korean style restaurant) so if you need snacks or drinks, make sure to get it there. Hide it deep into your backpack as food is not allowed inside the park. There are also lockers where you can leave luggage or items like tripods that are also not authorized to be used inside the park. Make sure to get your stuff at the end, but if you forget, there’s a service where you send them the keys via post, and they send you back your belongings.
At the park entrance, you will be greeted by a majestic pine tree surrounded by colorful maple trees. From here, you will be tempted to either indulge yourself with a coffee and enjoy a beautiful pond from the hanok building of the coffee shop or kickstart your exploration further in the forest. Whatever route you chose, all your senses will be served, and soon you will forget about the worries of the world.
The park has 17 zones defined by the primary vegetation type. There is a Japanese cherry tree forest, oak tree forest, pine tree forest, and birch tree forest, to mention a few.
A great variety of mammals inhabit the forest too. It will not be surprising to see wild boar, squirrels, and different kinds of birds, as well as two of the protected in Korea spices – mandarin duck and tortoise.
If the weather is not great or you get cold, check out the Natural Ecology Center, where you can find displays of freshwater fish or learn about the species inhabiting Korea’s forests.
If you get hungry, there’s a small restaurant at the bottom of the park where the lake is. Note it offers only Korean style food, but it’s freshly prepared and delicious.
Four Seasons at Hwadam Botanic Garden
The park is beautiful all year round but stunning during fall foliage. In autumn, the numerous maple trees spread around the park make the garden stunning for the eyes. Do not miss the moss garden, carefully planted, one of a kind in Korea. Birch forest and the silver grass areas are also beautiful during this season. For best views of the colorful autumn foliage, go to the love bridge overseeing the monorail station, or find the small path on the top of the bonsai garden for even more scenic views of the park and monorail.
Even though the park is located on a slope, the paths leading to the main areas are well designed and accessible for disabled people in most parts. Even the most remote areas are made accessible with wide paths and wooden platforms getting you slowly up.
Over 4,000 species of plants grow in the forest park. In spring, you can enjoy 210 species of Rhododendron and 150 cherry trees, as well as plum, apple, and pear trees, azaleas, daffodils, primrose, iris, and beautiful roses. During the summer, you will be able to enjoy a wide variety of hydrangea and water lilies. A popular activity during the hot summer nights is firefly observation. If you are lucky with snow during the winter, the pine garden would be the main point of interest, as it’s one of the largest of its kind in Korea with over 1300 pine trees in the park.
K-Drama Filmed in Hwadam Forest Park
There are several K-drama movies shot in Hwadam Forest. Little Forest | 리틀 포레스트 (2018) telling the story of a young woman that got tired of city life and moved back to her hometown in the countryside in pursuit of happiness. Be with You | 지금, 만나러 갑니다 (2018) is a story of a father taking care of his son after his wife passed away. Just before passing away, she promised she would be back on a rainy day, so she appears, but doesn’t remember anything from her previous life. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring |봄 여름 가을 겨울 그리고 봄 (2003) tells a story of a Buddhist monk boy who is revised in a floating temple where the years pass as the seasons go.
Fall in Hwadam Botanic Park
How To Get There
Hwadam Forest is around 20 km southeast of Seoul.
By public transport/metro
Metro: Take Sinbundang Line to Pangyo Station, change to Gyeonggang Line to Gojiam Station. From there take a taxi to Hwadam Forest
1113-1 from Gangbyeon Station to Konjiam Bus Terminal (1:30 min)
500-1 from Jamsil Station to Konjiam Bus Terminal (1:30 min)
500-2 from Samseong Station to Konjiam Bus Terminal (1:40 min)
Spring (March – June) – Weekdays 09:00 ~ 18:00 Weekends 08:30 ~ 18:00 (last addition 17:00)
Summer (July – August) – Weekdays 09:00 ~ 18:00 Weekends 08:30 ~ 18:00 (last addition 17:00)
Autumn (September – October) – Weekdays 09:00 ~ 18:00 Weekends 08:30 ~ 18:00 (last addition 17:00)
Autumn (October – November, reservation required) – Weekdays 09:00 ~ 18:00 Weekends 07:40 ~ 18:00 (last addition 17:00)
Autumn (November) – Weekdays 09:00 ~ 17:00 Weekends 08:30 ~17:00 (last addition 16:00)
Winter (December – February) – Weekdays & Weekends 10:00 ~ 16:00 (last admission 15:10)
화담숲 | Hwadam Botanic Garden
278-1, Docheokwit-ro, Docheok-myeon, Gwangju-si, Gyeonggi-do
경기 광주시 도척면 도척윗로 278-1
곤지암 리조트 | Konjiam Resort
278, Docheokwit-ro, Docheok-myeon, Gwangju-si, Gyeonggi-do
경기 광주시 도척면 도척윗로 278
Spring, Summer, Autumn
Adults – ₩10,000
Senior/Youth – ₩8,000
Kids – ₩6,000
Monorail boarding pass sold separately (first-come-first-serve)
Adult/Senior/Youth – ₩10,000
Kids – ₩8,000
Monorail boarding pass included in the ticket price