destinationsinkorea, korea, travel

Suncheon Bay Gardens: A Horticulturist’s Wet Dream

Winters in Korea are long and brutal so when spring finally arrives, it’s always with a big sigh of relief and the sacrifice of a small mammal to thank the gods for allowing you to see the return of the warmer days. I normally emerge from my annual winter hibernation sometime in early April, when the air outside no longer hurts my face. As summers in Korea can be nearly as brutal as the winters (very hot, very humid, and it’s kind of slutty to show your shoulders or anything lower than your collar bones) the spring and autumn are definitely the prime times to get out and explore the country.

In my humble (and quite biased) opinion, there’s no better place to see during the springtime than Jeollabukdo. Therefore, a couple of weeks ago, I decided to take full advantage of the spring and visit my friend Sam down in Suncheon.

Suncheon is roughly four hours away from Suwon (where I currently live) via train, down south in Korea’s agricultural region. It’s gorgeous, of course. Korea’s geography consists of roughly seventy percent mountains (the other thirty percent is convenience stores, makeup shops, and overpriced coffee), and in the early spring, especially, they offer great views.

However, the Suncheon Bay Gardens manages to elevate what Korea has to offer all the way up to eleven.

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If you watched the Olympic Torch Ceremony, you might remember these hills!

About the Gardens

The Suncheon Bay Garden was established in 2014 order to turn natural habitat into a conservation area. There are over five hundred species of trees and one hundred species of flowers, which bloom at different times so there’s always something pretty to look at, starting with the azaleas in early March and continuing to sunflowers in the late summer. Mid-May through June is one of the most gorgeous times to visit the Suncheon Bay Gardens. Korea is more obsessed with roses than the contestants on The Bachelor, and they plant them everywhere.

What to See

The Suncheon Bay Gardens are absolutely enormous. I spent over three hours there and my friend Sam informed me that we hadn’t even visited half of it yet. If you check out the map below, it’s not hard to see just how big the place is.

suncheon map

I stayed mostly in the East Gate area when I went. It’s here that you can find the famous world gardens, which are a little like going to Epcot only without the rides or tourists munching on turkey legs. There are thirteen world gardens in total, each representative of a different country.

The World Gardens

American Garden

To be honest, I skipped the American garden. I didn’t feel like I needed the guilt trip of how many plants back home I’ve killed.

British Garden

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The British Garden was one of my favorites! The roses were on fleek (are the young folks still saying ‘fleek’?), and so the entire area near the garden smelled better than a lotion shop.

Chinese Garden

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The Chinese Garden is pretty and zen. I’ve only spent one short layover in Shanghai (and longer trips to Hong Kong and Macau, but are those really China?), so I can’t tell you too much about the authenticity, but I can tell you this garden was lovely.

Dutch Garden

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I’ll be very honest. The only place I’ve ever visited in the Netherlands is Amsterdam, and that was only for a work trip one weekend so I missed out on the iconic tulips and windmills. Good thing I have the Suncheon Bay Garden to show me what they look like!

 

French Garden

I lived in Lille, France for one year when I was 21, so I’ve spent a good amount of time hanging around in gardens in France. (PSA, they are totally cool with you bringing a nice bottle of vin to your pique niques in France.  I’m not sure if you could get away with it in Suncheon, but if anyone has tried, let me know in the comments!

 

German Garden

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The Volkswagon crop is coming in nicely this year in the German garden.

 

Italian Garden

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The Italian garden is as extra as well, an Italian in a conversation about whose grandmother has the best pasta.

Japanese Garden

 I’ve been to Japan twice now during my time in Asia, and I can tell you that of every country I’ve been to (which is becoming quite the extensive list), Japanese-style gardens are my favorite.

Korean Traditional Garden

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Yes, I know you’re already in Korea if you’re in Suncheon and there are plenty of ‘natural’ Korean gardens to see. However, I will say that the Korean garden is lovely. Koreans really know how to make a nice Korean garden.

 

Mexican Garden

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Unfortunately, the Mexican garden does not come with Mexican food. And be forewarned: the best Mexican food to be found in Korea is mid-level Tex Mex.

Spanish Garden

I’ve never been to Spain (though I’m planning on being there quite soon!), but in the meantime, hanging out in the Spanish Gardens seems like a solid substitute.

Thai Garden

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Fool all your friends on Instagram into thinking you’re in Thailand for real!

Turkish Garden

Does not feature evil snow witches trying to feed you Turkish Delight.


Things To Know Before You Go

  • Name in Korean:
    •  순천만국가정원
  • Address: 
    • 전라남도 순천시 국가정원1호길 47 (오천동)
  • English Address:
    •  47, Gukgajeongwon1ho-gil, Suncheon-si, Jeollanam-do
  • Cost for the gardens: 
    • Adults 8,000 won / Teenagers 6,000 won / Children 4,000 won
    • There’s also evidently a ‘night ticket’ you can buy that’s half-priced!
  • Cost for Extra Stuff
    • Suncheonman Bay National Garden Ferris Wheel
      Adults / Teenagers 3,000 won
      Children (ages 4-13) & Seniors (ages 65 or above) 2,000 won
    • Sky Cube (railcars)
      Adults / Teenagers / Children 8,000 per person (round trip)
    • Suncheonman Bay Eco-Experience Line
      Adult 7,000 won / Teenagers 3,000 won / Children 2,000 won
  • Open: 
    • Operating Hours 
      January-February & November – December 08:30-18:00
      March-April & October 08:30 -19:00
      May-September 08:30 – 20:00
      * Last admission is one hour before closing, so make sure you don’t arrive too late! Also, the tourism website suggest seven hours to see it fully, so keep that in mind. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This place is big.

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