Seocheon County 서천군 is located in the southwestern point of South Chungcheong Province 충청남도. There are lots of farms and fields here as well as a 72 km long coastline, so there’s a great mix of both farmed produce and seafood when it comes to local specialties. For this same reason, (proximity to the sea and abundant food sources) Seocheon is a passageway for many seasonal birds. I often go to Daejeon 대전 to see my in-laws, and this time around instead of staying home and watching tv like we usually do, we went on a day trip to Seocheon 서천.
TRAVEL ITINERARY: ONE DAY PLAN
1. Local Specialty Market (특화시장음식점)
2. National Institute of Ecology (국립생태원)
3. Shinsungri Reed Field (신성리갈대밭)
4. Maryangri Camelia Forest (마량리 동백나무숲)
We got there by car around noon, so we decided to get lunch first at a local market (서천특화시장). Vendors sell food here caught in the nearby Maryang Harbor 마량항 and Hongwon Harbor 홍원항. The first floor is an indoor marketplace specializing in fresh and dried seafood and on the second floor there were around twenty restaurants where you could take your food and have it prepared. We had some raw fish and spicy seafood stew (매운탕). Most coastal towns in Korea have places like this, but the restaurants were a bit larger than ones I had been to in places like Tongyeong (통영), and cleaner too!
After lunch, we headed to the National Institute of Ecology (국립생태원) which is a huge park great for both kids and adults. The institute has 30,000 plants from various climate zones from around the world, including 1,000 endangered species. It also hosts a zoo with 4,200 animals from 240 different species. It’s so huge that there were shuttle buses, but it seemed like it was mostly older people riding them, so we just walked. We quickly realized though, that it was too hot out today, so we spent most of our time indoors rather than looking around the park.
About ten minutes from the main entrance, there was a Visitor’s Center (방문자센터) which was an informative exhibition hall that explained how the park was built in an environmentally friendly way. It wasn’t too interesting, but I could see how it would be pretty informative to young kids. The panels were in Korean only.
On the far end of the National Institute of Ecology there was the Ecorium (에코리움) which is the largest greenhouse in Korea. The Ecorium is an is a combination of an ecosystem exhibition center and an aquarium that is organized into various types of ecosystems such as tropical, desert, mediterranean, temperate, etc. There were lots and lots of fish and some alligators, prairie dogs, and even penguins. Once again, the panels here were in Korean only, but you don’t really need to be able to read Korean, to enjoy this garden/zoo/museum, since there’s plenty to see.
National Institute of Ecology Admission Fee: 5,000 won / adult
Operating hours: 10 am – 6 pm
Average viewing time: 2-5 hours
Contact information: 041) 950 – 5300
After checking out the National Institute of Ecology (국립생태원), we took a short drive to The Munhon Confucian Lecture Hall (문헌서원). This school/lecture hall was established in 1610 in honor of two great scholars called Gajeong Lee Gok (1298-1351) and Mogeun Lee Saek (1328-1396). While doing maintenance, one of the employees here actually hit a beehive, so I didn’t get a chance to stay here long.
Munhon Confucian Lecture Hall Admission Fee: free
Operating hours: 10 am – 6 pm (Mar-Oct) / 10 am – 5 pm (Nov – Feb) / Closed Mondays
Average viewing time: 30 minutes
Contact information: 041) 953-5895 munheon.org
Unfortunately we didn’t have time to check out the last place on my checklist, but one other great place to visit in Seocheon is the Sinsungri Reed Fields 신성리갈대밭. There are reeds all over Seocheon but you’ll find a lot of them in Sinsungri. The reed field at Sinsungri is counted as the seven representative reed fields in Korea according to the Korea Tourism Organization. It was also a shooting location for the popular film JSA (2003).
Another great place for a walk is the Maryangri Camellia Forest which is in full bloom in April.