Hwadam Forest: Monorail Adventure in Gyeonggi
Hwadam Forest (화담숲) is a stunning botanic garden with a scenic monorail trail located just one hour from Seoul near Gwangju in Gyeonggi Province. It’s great for a day trip from Seoul and a great place to enjoy the outdoors.
How to get to Hwadam Forest
Address: 278-1, Docheogwit-ro, Gwangju-si, Gyeonggi-do
경기도 광주시 도척면 도척윗로 278-1
Hwadam Bontanic Garden is located about 52 kilometers southeast of Seoul, and there are many convenient ways to travel to the forest.
By bus: Coming from Seoul, you can take different buses:
- 1113-1 from Gangbyeon Station to Konjiam Bus Terminal (1:30 min)
- 500-1 from Jamsil Station to Konjiam Bus Terminal (1:30 min)
- 500-2 from Samseong Station to Konjiam Bus Terminal (1:40 min)
If you’re coming from a different city in Korea, you can take a bus to Gonjiam Terminal (closest), Icheon Bus Terminal, Yongin Bus Terminal or Seongnam Bus Terminal and take another bus from there to Hwadam Forest.
By train/subway: Take the Sinbundang Line from Seoul to Pangyo Station, change to Gyeonggang Line and get off at Gonjiam Station. From there take a taxi to Hwadam Forest
By car: There are several parking lots at the entrance of Hwadam Botanic Garden. No parking fee.
Korean name: 화담숲
Hours: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM on weekdays, 8:30 AM – 6:00 PM on weekends
CLOSED ON MONDAYS
Special hours in November: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM on weekdays, 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM on weekends (reservation required in advance for October and November admission, book tickets here.)
Special hours from December to February: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM on weekdays and weekends (last admission at 3:10 PM)
Admission: Individuals – Adults 10,000 won, Children 8,000 won (Monorail boarding pass NOT included in the ticket price)
Hwadam forest is easily accessible for people with physical and mobility impairments. There are ramps all throughout the park.
What is Hwadam Forest?
Hwadam Botanic Garden is an eco-friendly arboretum located within Konjiam Resort in Gwangju, Gyeonggi-do, a 40-minute drive away from Seoul. “화담” (hwa-dam) literally translates to “friendly communication,” a name chosen for the park to create harmony between people and nature.
LG Evergreen Foundation created the forest in 2010 to celebrate Korea’s forest ecosystem planting over 4,300 different types of domestic trees and plants. Hwadam Forest is also a habitat for many different local species who call this place home.
The Best Time to visit Hwadam Botanic Garden
Hwadam Forest is a great place to visit all year round, but it’s a must-visit destination for fall foliage in Korea. During this time, the whole park glows in all different shades of yellow, orange, and red. It’s truly a beautiful scenery.
Visit in the winter, and you’ll find tall pine trees decked in snow. In fact, Hwadam has one of the largest pine gardens in all of Korea, with over 1,300 trees. Gonjiam Resort at the foot of Hwadam Forest is also a ski resort. This means you can enjoy Hwadam Forest and also engage in winter sports in one trip!
In the spring, the park is also stunning as you can see over 200 species of Rhododendron and more than 150 cherry blossom trees. Other spring blossoms you can spot here include plum, apple, and pear trees, as well as azaleas, daffodils, primroses, and iris.
If colorful hydrangeas and water lilies are your thing, a visit in the summer will not disappoint. During this season, you should also go and check out the firefly observatory.
Taking the Monorail at Hwadam Forest
The monorail is probably the biggest draw to Hwadam Botanic Garden. The twin cars not only make it very easy to explore the park (especially is you only have limited time available) but they are also very photogenic and make for interesting photo subjects.
When I visited the park in late October 2021, the monorail pass was not included in the admission ticket. I have read different articles mentioning the monorail was included in their tickets, though. However, it wasn’t when I visited.
There are three monorail stations throughout the park numbers 1, 2, and 3. Station number 1 is located right next to the park entrance. This is also the most “competitive” station in terms of snatching tickets. There was a 1.5-hour wait for the monorail leaving from station 1 when I visited. We decided to walk up towards station 2 first to avoid the annoying waiting time. Taking the monorail from station 2 worked out great and there was no waiting time at all.
Taking the monorail is very flexible. You can hop on and ride the full circle for 8,000 KRW (6,000 KRW for children), which takes 20 minutes.
The second option is taking the monorail from one station to the next (station 1 to station 2, station 2 to station 3 or station 3 to station 1) for only 4,000 KRW (3,000 KRW for children). This takes about 7 minutes.
The third option is to take the monorail for 2 stations, which costs 6,000 KRW (5,000 KRW for children) and takes about 12 minutes.
You can purchase the monorail tickets at a machine at each station.
What You’ll See At Hwadam Forest
This botanic garden is very large and divided into 17 different areas. Near the entrance at the bottom, you’ll find a restaurant, café and souvenir shop. There are no other cafés/restaurants throughout the park, so be sure to bring along some water and snacks. Picnic and rest areas are available all throughout the garden.
The moss garden is located near the entrance on the left side on the way up to monorail station 2. It’s a fairy-like forest that’s truly a one-of-a-kind in Korea.
The birch forest and silver grass areas are beautiful during the fall season. You can find this area after the moss garden when continuing your walk up towards station 2.
Near station 2, you’ll see a large greenhouse-like building. This is where you’ll find the bonsai exhibit. Bonsai are ornamental trees or shrubs that are grown in a pot and artificially kept very small.
This section of the park is the largest collection of pine trees in South Korea. In total, you’ll find over 1,300 pine trees here. These evergreen trees are especially beautiful in winter when they are snowcovered.
Best Photo Spots at Hwadam Forest
Before I visited Hwadam, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to get great shots as I had seen on Instagram. However, there was nothing to worry about. There are picturesque views of the monorail trail and trees/plants all around. Some of my favorite viewpoints include:
- The love bridge overseeing monorail station 1
- The small path on the top of the bonsai garden
- The monorail at station 2
- The wall in front of the large pond near station 3
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