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Family Travel in South Korea

As an expat and mom living in Asia with my husband and young daughter, I find traveling in South Korea with children far easier than in many countries. Family travel in South Korean can be an educational feast for all family members with its wealth of cultural traditions.

Throughout the country, you can find plentiful spaces in which kids are welcomed to play and learn. The abundance of nursing rooms available throughout Korea (Incheon Airport has several) is just one example of the South Korean acceptance of families with children.

Here are some of my favorite spots for family travel in South Korea.

Family travel in South Korea

Family travel in South Korea

Seoul and surrounding areas

There are a number of activities for parents and kids alike in South Korea’s capital city, Seoul.

Insadong, a Seoul neighborhood (or dong) once known as the largest market for antiques and artwork in Korea, is a delight and very safe. Children will enjoy looking at traditional Korean crafts here such as Buddhist sculptures and masks.

Ilsan, not too far from Seoul by train, offers incredible parks that are popular with Korean families. Our favorite is Lake Park, which offers plenty of space and nature for toddlers to explore.

About 25 miles south of Seoul is Yongin, home of one of the world’s largest theme parks, Everland. After a day of amusements, restaurants such as Han-ga-ram and Holland Village offer a fun ambience for kids as well as great food.

Families can connect with nature in South Korea

Gangwon-do Province

Perhaps one of South Korea’s most well-known family destinations is Gangwon-do Province. Nature lovers will find plenty of activities here, including exploring natural caves in the national parks near the Taebaek Mountain range.

The region along Gangwon-do’s East Sea is where approximately 77% of Koreans vacation for summer holidays. Families love Mangsang Beach (in Donghae City) for its white sand and shallow water.

Paju

Lesser known Paju (about one hour from Seoul in Gyeonggi province) is known for its amazing dubu (tofu) and insam (ginseng). Paju is home to a few must see places for families, such as Honey Land (an amusement/water park) and Book City (a center dedicated to publishing and literature).

One of my favorite places in Paju is Heyri Art Village, a sister of Book City, where over 370 writers, artists, cineastes, architects, and musicians maintain artistic spaces, houses, work rooms, museums, and galleries. Stroll through Heyri’s cafes, art exhibits, book stores, antique shops, a cinema, theater, and music hall.

Geumchon district

My family lived in Geumchon for one year and experienced first-hand the inviting nature of this region, with children welcome in every restaurant. The Gaeseong Ginseng Festival happens every October and draws families from all over the country. Kids especially love the Imjingang kite flying festival in February, where they can play traditional Korean folk games.

South Korean coffee shop

Busan

The second largest city in South Korea after Seoul, Busan (formerly spelled Pusan), is another fabulous family-friendly destination. Every Saturday in Yongdusan Park there is Traditional Folk Performances featuring music, dance, and elaborate costumes.

On our honeymoon in Busan, my husband and I went to a traditional dado tea ceremony at the Tea-Ceremony Museum at Pusan Women’s College. All of the staff were dressed in vibrant hanboks (ornate, traditional Korean dresses), which made me long to buy a hanbok for myself and my daughter! Many traditional tea houses in South Korea offer some caffeine-free varieties (such as sweet ginger and red ginseng) for children to enjoy.

During our stay in South Korea, the local coffee shop we frequented basically adopted our family; we even referred to the owners as our daughter’s Korean grandma and grandpa. They adored her. Children were often running around and causing chaos in their café but no one seemed to mind. This put my mind at ease since it can be a challenge to go out with toddlers (let alone travel with them!).

Truly, Korea is the most kid-friendly country I have ever visited in my extensive travels. Korea has so much to offer the world; I hope more families will bring their children to discover this amazing country.

Are there any countries or cities that you have found particularly child-friendly in your travels? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Elizabeth Kelsey is part of a British-American nomadic, unschooling family, currently residing in Phuket, Thailand. Their blog, Sattvic Family, details their lives as a homeschooling family as well as their travels throughout Europe and Asia.

About Elizabeth Kelsey, Travel Mamas Guest Blogger

Comments

  1. Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

    Elizabeth – I had no idea South Korea was so family-friendly. Thank you for writing a guest post for Travel Mamas!

  2. I don’t remember any stories about travel in South Korea. This really enlightened me. Who knew!

  3. Hannah Roux says:

    Hey Elizabeth –
    I had no idea you went to Korea. It sounds really beautiful and much different than gross LA. 🙂

  4. I’m guessing your South Korean vacation was a great experience for all the members of your family. I think I’ll take my family and go for a vacation there too. To be honest, I really can’t wait to do this!

  5. Yooree Losordo says:

    Thank you so much for this post! Question – how stroller friendly is Korea? Is public transportation wheelchair (therefore stroller) accessible? Are there narrow or cobblestone streets that make might umbrella strollers not a great option?

  6. Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

    Yoree – Thanks for your comment! I have forwarded this to Elizabeth, the Travel Mamas Guest Blogger who wrote this story since she is the expert. Hopefully we can get you an answer soon! 🙂

  7. Wow! Great to see all the comments! @Yooree yes it is very stroller friendly, although the area I was in in Geumchon had gravel in some parts. But in general it is fantastic for strollers.

  8. @Hannah yes we lived there for a year! Don’t I know you from LA? @Jessica we had a great time, save my husband’s job was not optimal; he was very overworked. @Ellen glad to help!! One of my goals in life is to put Korea on the map as a must-see destination!

  9. We just got to Seoul, Korea and are already loving it! Thanks for the list! We will have to check them out!

  10. BunniesPicnic says:

    Wow, this is the best article on travelling to Korea with kids that I’ve read so far. Thanks so much for the information. I’d love to see even more detail and recommendations too!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      BunniesPicnic – So glad you found these tips for family travel in Korea helpful. Hope you have a wonderful trip!

  11. helen raine says:

    hi there, I am thinking of coming with my family to korea. we’d like a relaxing spot to base ourselves within easy reach of lots of attractions for the kids without being too hectic. we love hiking, nature, birdwatching. any ideas?
    thanks
    helen

  12. Hi, My sister is participating in the World Championship of Rowing to be held in Chungju, South Korea. I am thinking of taking my toddler with me to see her Aunt compete. Any advice for kid friendly places to stay or activities in the area? Thanks! Your post made me excited to make this a family trip!

  13. Very nice post! Reminds me of when I went to South Korea, definitely a life changing experience.

  14. How about during winter season? We will be in Korea by December for Christmas vacation we have a 1 yr old baby with us.. any suggestionS?

    • Winter is lovely in Korea! It depends on what part you are in ( aka how cold it gets) but regardless you’ll find playgrounds and parks and in general eating out with a baby is quite welcomed, from my experience.

  15. Hi!

    we booked an impulse trip to Korea this January with our 2 year old son. Im trying to get as prepped as i can for the winter (we live in very tropical Philippines). Do you have specific places which are best to see during Winter? would you suggest that we shop for winter clothes for our son when we get there (of course we will bring at least 2 sets to tide him over).

    thanks in advance

    • Hello Portia! Great question. Well, Korea in general is lovely during the holiday season, and winter in general. We drove around Seoul when we lived there, and all around the countryside in Paju ( close to the DMZ) which I thought was particularly beautiful. It’s off the beaten track though. I would also consider going to Gangwon do as it has many winter activities and sports.

  16. Great tips about travelling in south Korea especially seoul and Busan. We are planning trip to Seoul and Busan with our toddler and was wondering what hotel/accommodation that is also family friendly in Seoul and Busan? close to amenities/attractions within stroller distance, nice and clean hotel etc.

  17. H! Just a question on logistics when traveling to Korea. So my family and I are thinking about traveling to Korea in the summer time. Any tips? We somehow have to get from Incheon to Seoul…I know there is a bus that will take you from Incheon to Seoul, but will a convertible car seat work on a big bus? Just wondering. Any helpful tips would be appreciated!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Sarah – Thank you for your question. This post was written by a guest author. I suggest reaching out to her directly via her blog: http://www.sattvicfamily.net/

    • Elizabeth says:

      Hey Sarah! Korea is lovely in the summer, although it can get really hot! I’m not sure regarding the car seat. I had my daughter on my lap whenever we took the bus or train.

  18. Pepe Esquivel says:

    Thanks for the info. I will be traveling to Korea with my 11month old baby and I wasn’t sure how family friendly it was.

    Last month we traveled around Europe and both me and my wife where amazed on how kid friendly Lisbon, Portugal was. Everywhere we went we would have priority for having a baby. I had never had so many random people be so friendly and loving to my baby. It was a great experience and I recommend it to anyone traveling to Europe.

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