Green spaces are restorative and nurturing, and the forests and gardens of Korea are no exception. Vast, lush and filled with beautiful sights, sounds and smells, they’re a treat for all the senses.
One of the best ways to take in the beauty of a forest or garden is simply to walk through them, stopping every now and then to admire the unique plants and creatures you spot along the way. Some green spaces in Korea also have dedicated facilities and programmes that give visitors the chance to appreciate their natural surroundings even more.
Whether you’re looking to relax outdoors, hike, try nature-inspired therapies, meditate amongst the trees or discover what makes Korea’s forests and gardens special, these five destinations will not disappoint.
Opened in 2019, this health facility comprises accommodations, an exhibition centre, a “healing” centre, a red clay sauna, a spa, a yurt and forest trails.
The Ecorium is known for its Rebirth wellness programme, which includes a range of restorative activities like yoga, forest trekking and Chahun meditation, which involves inhaling warm steam from a cup of hot tea to purify your skin.
Nestled within a pine forest, the Geumgangsong Ecorium takes its inspiration from the hardy and fragrant pine tree. The accommodations, for example, are made from Geumgang pine timber, which fills the room with a refreshing pine scent. You can also take walks through the Geumgang pine colony at Sogwang-ri, Uljin-gun, find out more about pine trees at the exhibition centre, and learn how to make pine leaf soap.
552, Sibiryeong-ro, Geumgangsong-myeon, Uljin-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-do; Tel: +82-54-783-8904
Jeju Herb Dongsan (Herb Garden)
Jeju Herb Dongsan is a lush and colourful garden located in a small village called Pyoseon, on Jeju Island. Visitors flock here every month to admire the hundreds of varieties of flowers and herbs that flourish throughout the beautifully landscaped park.
But there’s more to do besides enjoy the scenery. Why not try the 20-minute foot spa treatment? It begins with a foot soak in hot water to which aromatherapy oils have been added. After five minutes, you can scrub your feet with sweet-scented rose salt while a therapist massages your neck with peppermint oil. The session ends with a misting of rosemary-scented water all over your face.
Jeju Herb Dongsan also gives visitors the chance to learn how essential oils and floral water are produced, and there’s an option to stay overnight in one of the second-floor bedrooms.
170, Donoreum-ro, Pyoseon-myeon, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do; Tel: +82-64-787-7362
National Center for Forest Therapy, Daeunsan
Instead of just walking through a forest, why not turn the experience into something therapeutic? Forest therapy is ideal for anyone who wants to escape the city, de-stress and feel closer to nature. At the National Center for Forest Therapy, Daeunsan, there are 10 programmes to help you do just that.
“Go Healthy and Go Happy” is one of the most popular. You get to walk barefoot in a red clay garden, which awakens all your senses. After washing your feet, your forest healing leader will guide you through a meditation session. Other programmes include “Heat and Cold Circulation Therapy” and “Thermal Therapy”. All programmes are carried out in small groups and led by a forest healing leader.
225-92, Daeunsangdae-gil, Onyang-eup, Ulju-gun, Ulsan; Tel: +82-52-255-9800
This expansive farm is filled with countless varieties of herbs, wildflowers and aquatic plants, organised into a total of 10 gardens. Each garden has a different theme, enhancing visitors’ enjoyment. For example, the stonewalled Rose Garden features nearly 80 species of roses; the fragrant Lavender Garden is home to lavender and thyme; La Petit Prince Garden resembles something out of a fairy-tale, with water fountains and sculptures; and Cake Garden looks like a slice of cake, with its colourful flowers.
After touring the gardens and taking a few photos of Mongsanpo Beach from the observatory on Windy Hill, make your way to the Herb Shop, which displays rows upon rows of herbs and wildflowers. You’ll also find products like oil, tea and jam, made with herbs grown and harvested on-site. If you have extra time, sign up for one of their programmes, like herbal soap making or cooking with herbs. At the end of your visit, relax with a warm herbal footbath.
56-19, Uun-gil, Nam-myeon, Taean-gun, Chungcheongnam-do; Tel: +82-41-675-3636
Jeongnamjin Cypress Forest
Located at the bottom of the 518m-high Eokbulsan Mountain, this dense cypress forest is special for the phytoncide produced by its trees. Phytoncide is an organic compound produced in abundance by cypress trees and other conifers. It is said to be a potent antibacterial and antifungal agent, plus, it has stress-relieving properties and may help soothe irritated skin. As you trek through the forest and breathe in the pure air, you’ll notice a difference in the way you feel – invigorated and recharged, thanks to the phytoncide in the atmosphere.
You’ll come across several facilities here, like a traditional hanok (house) and a wood culture experience hall. There’s also a 3.8km-long hiking trail that leads to the summit of Eokbulsan Mountain.
There are numerous programmes designed to improve your wellbeing. For an interesting experience, spend time in the Cypress Salt Sauna where you can try a salt detox, or “bathe” in enzyme-rich cypress sawdust.
180, Udeuraendeu-gil, Jangheung-eup, Jangheung-gun, Jeollanam-do; Tel: +82-61-864-0063
This post was brought to you by the Korea Tourism Organization.