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[Travel Bits] Festivals, sights across Korea

By Choi Si-young

Published : Jan. 5, 2024 - 09:01

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All-in-one park in Paju

At First Garden Park in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, visitors can try everything from riding a train that runs across the park to fishing for smelt. Street food is available too. The festivities run through the end of February.

All-inclusive tickets, covering up to six attractions and sledding without snow, are priced at 27,000 won for admissions starting at 11 a.m., and 23,000 won for those entering the park after 1 p.m. The fees are the same for adults and children.

For those who only want to go sledding, prices are down to 15,000 won for weekday visits and 18,000 won for weekend and holiday admissions. Smelt fishing is priced at 6,000 won for 20 minutes. Visitors are charged the same fees regardless of age.

The park opens at 11 a.m. Attractions are closed on weekdays. For more information, visit firstgarden.co.kr/firstgarden/event/151.

Gwanghwamun Square Market

Potentially the largest winter market in the capital is taking place at Gwanghwamun Square through Jan. 21. Open from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., the market not only sells seasonal goods including crafts, but also offers street food from food trucks.

The Seoul Lantern Festival is taking place concurrently, across Gwanghwamun Square and just to the south at Cheonggye Plaza and Seoul Plaza. The Gwanghwamun Square Market and lighting show are open during the same period in the evening.

Both events are free. More information is available at stolantern.com.

Racing & virtual games

Jeju Island’s 981 Park is the place for go-karting, both indoors and outdoors. Four outdoor tracks with different levels of difficulty are available, along with a virtual, indoor experience.

Indoor programs include shooting arcade games and 3-point contests. For those who still want to feel their hands on the wheel but are not keen on the chilly winds outside, bumper car racing is also available.

Fees are 49,500 won for adults, or 79,500 won for an adult and one child.

Those born in the Year of the Dragon -- 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976 and 1964 -- are eligible to receive gifts if they visit the park from Feb. 9-12. More details are available at 981park.com.

Ganghwa Smelt Festival

Ice fishing for smelt, a small bony fish, is available on the Incheon island of Ganghwado through February.

Ice sledding is offered for those bringing children with them, and families can enjoy street food at nearby eateries. Shinseonji Fishing Park is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.

The entry fee is 13,000 won for middle schoolers and older, and 7,000 won for those younger. Toddlers 3 or younger are not charged, but ID is required. Fish bait and gear such as chairs are sold separately. Check for updates at ssfestival.co.kr.

Jeju Camellia Festival

Winter on Jeju Island would not be complete without camellia flowers, a symbol of the island itself. The resort island invites visitors tired of the freezing cold to its Camellia Festival, which runs to the end of the month.

At Hueree Park, visitors will be surrounded by blooming camellias in lush greenhouses, gardens and trails. Jeju tangerines add a flavor that makes the trip all worthwhile. Fees for adults are 13,000 won, or 10,000 to 11,000 won for those younger, depending on age.

Tickets do not include the citrus fruit, sold additionally for 8,000 won. The park opens at 9 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m., though visitors often leave the place a little past 5 p.m., as the sun sets earlier on the island in the winter. Visit hueree.com for updates.