Traveling with kids in Korea? Do it right
Don’t let your kids slow you down in terms of exploring Korea. In fact, embrace the opportunity. Across the peninsula, there are many educational and cultural facilities designed for children, including museums, sky observatories and theme parks. Kids’ cafés and family restaurants, which feature play rooms and cartoon character decorations, are commonplace in major cities. Challenge yourself to add to your child’s education by getting out and exploring the wonders of Korea.
Mega discount stores like Lotte Mart or E-mart provide free strollers or shopping carts with baby seats for use while in the store. These types of stores usually have fairly large nursing rooms. Department stores also provide free stroller rentals at the customer service center on the first floor and most stores even have children’s play areas.
Clothes for infants and children can be expensive in Korea, so if you’re looking for children’s clothing at discounted prices, check out Namdaemun Market. You can also buy goods at 30% to 50% off regular retail prices at street-front clothing stores in Dongdaemun Market.
Most large restaurants, family restaurants, and fast food restaurants provide highchairs, but you’ll need to make sure to ask for one as you’re seated. Restaurants in Korea typically provide chopsticks, so if you are dining with a child, ask for special plates and forks. Nowadays, an increasing number of larger restaurants offer special play areas for children.
Children Travel Free!
When traveling in Korea with children, trains are one of the most comfortable and economic transportation options. Children under the age of 4 (accompanied with an adult) ride free of charge, while children ages 4-13 are eligible for a 50% discount. For parents’ convenience, train stations in Seoul, Yongsan, and Busan provide nursing rooms; high-speed KTX trains come equipped with both nursing rooms and baby-changing rooms.
Most subway stations in Korea are equipped with escalators or elevators, allowing those with strollers to easily move about the station. Children under the age of 7 who are accompanied by an adult can ride buses and subways for free. This special discount is limited to one child per adult; adults traveling with multiple children will be asked to pay additional transportation fees.
There are a number of museums for children with themes including transportation, robots, and natural history. Some museums organize hands-on educational programs for children.
Samsung Transportation Museum
Samsung Transportation Museum is located near Everland in Yongin, Gyeonggi-do Province. Housed in a two-story building, the museum has an automobile gallery, a discovery center, and an exhibit on automobiles in films. The Motor Sports Gallery on the second floor offers children a chance to learn more about automobiles through hands-on exhibits.
Address: Gyeonggi-do Yongin-si Cheoin-gu Pogok-eup Everland-ro 376-gil 171 (Pogok-eup Yuun-ri 292-4)
Homepage: www.stm.or.kr (Korean, English)
Theme parks are exciting places for children to play and have a good time. There are general theme parks like Everland and Lotte World, and some with specific themes such as the Wax Museum or Kidzania, where children can experience different professions. The theme parks can be visited any time of the year as they offer seasonal play facilities and programs.
Lotte World is a family theme park located in Jamsil, Seoul. It is fun to visit at any time of the year. There are many fun rides and entertainment facilities for children, as well as convenience facilities and services such as toddler rest areas and stroller rentals.
Address: Seoul-si Songpa-gu Olympic-ro 240 (Songpa-gu Jamsil-dong 40-1)
Homepage: http://www.lotteworld.com/ (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
Everland is located in Yongin, about an hour’s drive from Seoul. The park has thrill rides as well as the Carribean Bay waterpark and Safari World. There are many child-friendly rides and an animal show, so it attracts a large number of family visitors.
Address: Gyeonggi-do Yongin-si Cheoin-gu Pogok-eup Everland-ro 199 (Pogok-eup Jeondae-ri 310)
Homepage: www.everland.com (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese)
Located in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi-do, Seoul Land is a theme park nestled in a natural environment. The theme park offers many rides and entertainment facilities for children and families. Nearby are the Seoul Grand Park Zoo and forest trails for another enriching family-friendly experience.
Address: Gyeonggi-do Gwacheon-si Gwangmyeong-ro 181 (Gwacheon-si Makgye-dong 33)
Homepage: www.seoulland.co.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
63 Wax Museum
Located on the third basement level of the 63 City building, the 63 Wax Museum has on exhibit 70 or so life-size wax figures of celebrities. Come and meet Einstein, Picasso, Edison, and Korean athletes captured in wax. There is also a Chamber of Horror and Mega 5-D Theater for an experience that is sure to stimulate all the senses.
Address: Seoul-si Yeongdeungpo-gu 63-ro 50 (Yeongdeung-gu Yeouido-dong 60)
Homepage: http://www.63waxmuseum.com/ (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
Kidzania is a place where children can learn about and experience various professions. Here, children dress up and work as police officers, flight attendants, firefighters, or chefs. After work, they are paid in virtual money with which they can purchase goods at a department store. Shops, buildings, restaurants, and broadcast stations are reproduced at two-thirds of their actual size, making children feel like they are in a real city. A variety of events are organized on a daily basis.
Address: Seoul-si Songpa-gu Olympic-ro 240 (Songpa-gu Jamsil 3-dong 40-1)
Homepage: http://www.kidzania.co.kr/ (Korean, English)
Science Exploration Facilities
There are many places for children to explore science in Korea, including museums, observatories, and nature centers. These facilities offer both educational and hands-on programs. Visitors are advised to check in advance as some programs require reservations.
Seoul National Science Museum
At the Seoul National Science Museum, children learn the principles of science through experiments and other fun exhibits. The museum offers a number of science classes for both children and adults. Most of the exhibits are designed to be touched and manipulated. Some auxiliary facilities include the Natural History Gallery, Space Gallery, and Workshop.
Address: Seoul-si Jongno-gu Changgyeonggung-ro 215 (Jongno-gu Waryong-dong 2-70)
Homepage: www.ssm.go.kr (Korean, English)
Yecheon Astro Space Center
Visitors can observe space through a high-powered telescope and experience zero gravity and other cosmic conditions while visiting Yecheon Astro Space Center. At the space projection room, visitors can watch a video on constellations and space on a dome screen. The space center also offers an astronomy gallery and auditorium.
Address: Gyeongsangbuk-do Yeocheon-gun Gamcheon-myeon Chunghyo-ro 1078 (Gamcheon-myeon Deogyul-ri 91)
Homepage: www.portsky.net (Korean, English)
Children’s theaters host quality performances for children to enjoy with their families. The theaters have pleasant facilities and rest areas. Some also offer educational programs.
Located in Gangnam, Seoul, Yerimdang Arthall is a theater for children and hosts plays, cultural events, and performances. The seats are convenient for children as they are designed to fit their size. There is a nice rest area for parents accompanying their children.
Address: Seoul-si Gangnam-gu Eonju-ro 337 (Gangnam-gu Yeoksam-dong 772, 2F)
Homepage: http://www.i-pmc.co.kr (Korean)
1m Classic Art Hall
1m Classic Art Hall organizes cultural programs related to music. It offers hands-on programs where participants can see and listen to classical performances at a mere one-meter distance. The genres include Western music, Korean classical music, and musicals. Some rehearsals are also open for public viewing. Children can also take part in musical instrument lessons.
Address: Seoul-si Jongno-gu Daehak-ro 12-gil 31 (Jongno-gu Dongsung-dong 1-45 Jayu Bldg. 4F)
Homepage: http://www.1mclassic.com (Korean)
Facilities of Convenience
There are facilities specifically for children, including kids’ cafés, family restaurants, hair salons, and photo studios. These places feature fun interior designs and play facilities. Some large-scale marts and department stores also have indoor playgrounds for children to enjoy while their parents shop. Other types of facilities designed for children are hair salons and photo studios.
Kids’ Cafés & Family Restaurants
Kids’ cafés are for children and their parents. They are brightly decorated and equipped with various play facilities and spaces for children. Cafés such as “Pororo Park” and “I like Dalki” have such extensive indoor playgrounds they could be considered theme parks for toddlers (ages 1-5). They also have spaces for parents to enjoy beverages or snacks while watching their kids being cared for by qualified childcare experts. “Never Land”, “Little Orchard”, “Hello Kitty Town”, and “Toread Kidscafe” also offer food for children and adults, as well as play facilities and gathering spaces for children’s birthday parties and parents” gatherings. They offer a child-friendly atmosphere, enabling customers with children to enjoy their meal while having children’s playrooms and nurseries available for their convenience.
Children’s Hair Salons
Children hair salons are decorated with various dolls and characters to make children feel at home. The young customers sit on chairs shaped like automobiles and airplanes and get a haircut while watching movies or other entertainment. These hair salons use shampoos, rinses, and hair products that are safe for children. Some even have book cafés and play facilities. Simple snacks and beverages are also available. The most well known children hair salons are Jiamo Hair and Bubble Story.
Children-only Photo Studios
Parents take great pleasure in capturing cherished memories of their kids in photos. In Korea, it is customary to take a child’s picture at Baegil (the one hundredth day after birth) and Dol (the first birthday). Some parents even take pictures on their child’s fiftieth and two hundredth day mark. This is why there are many children photo studios throughout Korea. Photo studios have dozens of costumes for children on hand and take pictures in various themes. Many of these facilities can be found near department stores and marts in big cities.
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