Dubbed ‘Korea’s Paradise,’ Oedo Botania is an island treasure that is an absolute must-visit on any itinerary to the country.
One of the most secretive islands in Korea’s past, Oedo (pronounced WAY-do), is a little bit of paradise less than two hours from Busan and offers nature at its best for anyone looking for a respite from the city.
The small, 14.5-hectare island, just a 20-minute boat ride south of Goeje Island, gives the impression that you’ve been transported to Southeast Asia. Made famous by the Korean drama Winter Sonata, the island was discovered 40 years ago by husband and wife Lee Chang-ho and Choi Ho-suk, who transformed the little island into a lush European-style garden, which houses over 3,000 species of plants.
The blue waters of the South Sea provide the backdrop for the immaculately sculpted gardens with walking paths weaving under tall palm trees and rare flowers from all over the world. Oedo Botania, which opened to the public in 1995, includes a Venus Garden with 12 sculptures, an observation deck and many other hidden gems, making each turn something special.
Getting to Oedo takes a little bit of work if you are using public transportation. From Sasang Bus Terminal, take an hour-and-15-minute trip to Jangseungpo Bus Terminal, followed by a short cab ride to Oedo Terminal. From there, you need to purchase a ticket to the island, which runs 27,000 won, but also includes the ferry to tour around the cliffs of Haegeumgang with a stunning view of the water glistening among the cliffs of Goeje.
The ferry that drops you off at Oedo unfortunately doesn’t give you a lot of time to enjoy the gardens – you only get 90 minutes to stay before it takes off back to Oedo Terminal – but it still leaves enough time to stroll around the grounds and enjoy the panoramic views around you. The only possible downside of the trip is the hilly terrain for those who have trouble walking.
For about 100,000 won for two, it is a great day trip for a romantic getaway or to view a different side of Korea and leave the hustle and bustle of the big cities behind.