You know sometimes you hear about or see a place through photos and vow to go but never actually get your act together to pay it a visit? Anyang Art Park was nearly one of those places for me until I finally made the most of a national holiday in June to make the (surprisingly short and easy) journey out there. It had been sitting on my ‘bucket list’ for at least a year, so it was about time I ticked it off.
Anyang Art Park is less of a park and more of a whole recreational area filled with restaurants, cafés and interactive areas set around the Anyang stream. It’s a busy, thriving area, particularly on days with beautiful weather like the one we went on, with families and groups of friends enjoying the natural spaces. Set at the southwest foot of Gwanak-san, Anyang Art Park is particularly famous for its various art installations which are both interactive and provide ample photo opportunities.
So, cameras in hand and suitably dolled up to take some nice photos, Fii, Chelle and I made our way down to Anyang-si on Memorial Day. The weather was beautiful, but very hot, so water and fans were at hand. We first met in a lovely little café, a franchise, outside Gwanak station, called Selecto Coffee – their Okinawa black sugar coffee was delicious and I highly recommend it. Two short bus rides later we were at the bottom of the hill comprising the Art Park and the area it encompasses, and we set up the hill to find some of the installations.
The first was the artificial waterfall which was all-too tempting to swim in considering how hot it was out (though this was not allowed – boo!), and next was the striking raised tunnel walkway ending in the trippy wooden plaza. (Fii definitely didn’t make me lay down here on the definitely not hot wooden floor to definitely not take some completely candid photos.) It was right here that we picked up a map of the park which included a fun task of collecting the stamps of all the installations you visit, and thus got our first stamps while avoiding a spider we had disturbed while it was resting in the map box.
We then made our way back down the hill, this time on the opposite side of the road, passing through a concrete structure akin to something one might stand in the centre of to make a sacrifice to the gods. The lighting in this area was perfect, and the contrast of the angular concrete and the surrounding nature made for a dystopian, eery backdrop.
The main part of the art park was further down the road, away from the main street and up into the forest on the side of the mountain. The first installation we can across was quite stunning – a maze of mirrored sticks reaching up towards the trees, creating a hall of mirrors effect spliced with nature. We spend an easy half an hour here taking photos and videos, and I still wasn’t ready to move on.
A little further up the path we found the ‘Anyang Box House’ – an entire hall made of bottled drinks crates (where we collected our second stamps). I had seen it in photos before, but it was quite striking in person. We arrived at golden hour, and luckily just before it was closed up for the night, and the late afternoon sunlight streaming through the holes in the crates was beautiful.
Passing the traditional Korean roof sunken into the ground and made to look like a dragon’s back, we headed up the hill to the observatory. We collected another stamp, and then set off up the winding structure for the panorama at the top. Not particularly tall in itself, but sat right at the top of a hill with the treetops finishing a little while below you, the observatory offered an amazing view of the surrounding mountains and made you feel like you were miles up instead of metres. We could see all the way into Anyang city, and all the way up to the top of the mountains and down to the waterfall from the start of our day.
A trip to Anyang Art Park comes highly recommended as an easy and cheap (pay for the transport only) half-day trip out of Seoul on a good-weather day! It’s great for adults and children alike, though it is not ideal for pushchairs or wheelchairs, unfortunately.
How to get there: Take the subway line 1 down to Gwanak Station. Out of Exit 2 walk 2 minutes to the main road. Then, take a bus 2 stops (numbers 1, 20, 5530, 5624, 5625, 5626, 5713) to Samsung Apartment stop, cross the street, and take bus number 2 (3 stops, to the end of the route) to Anyang Art Park.
For more information, check out Visit Korea.