My family and I spent about 2 hours on a sunny autumn Sunday from mid-afternoon till just before sunset at Haneul Park, so named because this is a park in Seoul that is the closest to the sky (Haneul means "Sky" in Korean).
Getting there and entrance fees:
Take Subway Line 6 to World Cup Stadium Station (619). Upon coming out of Exit 1, turn right and walk along the World Cup Stadium. At the first main traffic light intersection along World Cup-ro (road), cross the road to Pyeonghwa (“Peace”) Park, continue in a diagonally-right direction through the car park and finally cross the blue arch bridge that links Pyeonghwa Park and Haneul Park and you would reach the Haneul Park entrance. We took about 15 minutes on this route. Alternatively, after crossing the traffic light intersection, turn right and walk along World Cup Road, cross Jeongsan-ro at the traffic light, turn left and walk past the car park and you would reach the Haneul Park entrance. There is no entrance fee. Haneul Park opens from 9am till 6pm to 8pm (depending on the sunset time, earlier closure timing for winter). During the annual Seoul Silver Grass Festival (which we missed as we visited Haneul Park after the festival date of 15-21 October 2022), the Park was opened till 10pm for visitors to enjoy the fabulous light shows and the night scenery.
Haneul Park is on top of a hill. There are 3 ways to get there from the Park entrance: firstly climb 291 steps up from the Park entrance or secondly take the golf-cart shuttle service departing from the park entrance (operating hours 10am to 6pm (December to February) and 10am to 7pm (rest of the year)) or thirdly, walk the 1.4 km hilly road that the shuttle service plies. For the shuttle service, one-way 7-minute trip fare is ₩2,000 while the round-trip fare is ₩3,000 with the return trip on a different route (past Nanjicheon Park to the park entrance). The shuttle service departs every 10 to 20 minutes. However, we saw long queues when we were there on a weekend afternoon. So rather than waiting for 30 minutes or longer, we climbed the steps with regular stops to enjoy the beautiful views of the World Cup Stadium and autumn foliage surrounding the Stadium (a non-stop climb would take 10-20 minutes depending on human traffic and fitness). Upon reaching the top, we turned right and walked along the tree-covered path until we reached the Visitor Centre.
The are 5 parks in the World Cup Park: Pyeonghwa (“Peace”), Noeul (“Sunset”), Nanjicheon, Nanji Hangang and of course Haneul (“Sky”). These parks were once part of a huge landfill from 1978 to 1993 until a Seoul Metropolitan Government’s decision to transform the entire area into a large-scale environment and ecological park. The end result was the World Cup Park (including Haneul Park) which opened in May 2002 to commemorate the 2002 joint South Korea - Japan World Cup.
Amongst the 5 parks, the highest and the most popular park is Haneul. When we were there, it was easy to understand its popularity particularly in autumn. This was because of the following reasons which we enjoyed:
(1) Autumn blooming of Silvergrass (also known as eulalia grass, pampas grass or Miscanthus (scientific name)): The entire Park was occupied predominantly by towering Silvergrass. The Silvergrass was proven to remedy polluted soil, improve the soil quality, and increase habitat biodiversity. The Silvergrass fully bloomed during October, in which the silvery white-purplish feathery flower plumes were such a refreshing contrast to the typical red, yellow and orange fall foliage. It certainly produced great moments in photography, selfie and wefie when amongst these elegant “crowning glory” residents of the Park. When I viewed the Park from the observatory deck, the Silvergrass gave me that feeling that I was standing on a large white feathery wing or floating in a magical land in my dreams, and when the occasional wind blew, the Silvergrass swayed in tandem in shimmering waves – what a mesmerising sight!
(2) Autumn blooming of Muhly Grass (also known as hairawn muhly or mule grass or Muhlenbergia (scientific name)): aside from the Silvergrass, Haneul Park also has a right rear section allocated to the popular Muhly Grass. These native to western and central United States Muhly grass plants produce beautiful pink and purple flower stalks during the autumn month of October. Visitors love Muhly Grass because the flower stalks collectively create a fluffy “cotton candy” appearance (except this “cotton candy” is not edible!) as well as a romantic pink cloud appearance. Like the Silvergrass, this is another mesmerising sight to behold! However, I was disappointed to see many Muhly Grass plants being trampled to the ground by visitors wanting to immerse themselves amongst the fluffy flower plumes for that selfie and wefie. Just next to the Muhly Grass section were the lovely multi-colour cosmos flowers.
(3) Autumn colour change of Kochia Broom Cypress (also known as Kochia Scoparia or burning bush or Mexican fireweed or Bassia (scientific name)) plants - in autumn (mid to end October), the leaves turned from green to dark pink or dark red. These unique round or oval shaped plants are located just in front of the Visitor Centre surrounding the sculptured word “LOVE” as well as next to the Muhly Grass section.
(4) Structured walkways and rest areas: there are 2 main broad walking paths in the form of a cross that intersect at the centre of the Park. There are also many smaller “tributary” walkways into the Silvergrass and other plants. Hence there is enough walking room for visitors. If you are tired, there are covered resting areas as well as small snack shops and convenience store.
(5) Besides the flora, there were several photo zones (with large photo frames) and lookout points. There was this Haneul Viewing Point at the end of the straight walkway from the Visitor Centre that has a fabulous panoramic vista of Bukhansan Mountain, metropolitan Seoul and the Seongsan Bridge and World Cup Bridge across the Hangang River. When I was standing at the Viewing Point observation deck, I could not help appreciating the contrast between the hustle and bustle city on one side and the peaceful and carefree flora in the Park on the other side. It’s a similar experience at the stand-alone "Bowl with the Sky" bowl-shaped observatory.
(6) The 5 wind turbines along the edge of Haneul Park contributed to the environment sustainability of this “trash to treasure” park
(7) Golden Silvergrass: just before the sun was about to set, we saw the Silvergrass flowers transformed from silvery-white to golden-orange. It was another awesome sight of Nature!
We really enjoyed the relaxing stroll and mesmerising scenery at Haneul Park and would love to return again some other time on a weekday. If you are in Seoul during autumn particularly in October, do wear comfortable walking shoes and create wonderful Instagram and photography memories at Haneul Park because this is one “must visit” attraction in autumn.