Yes, I absolutely have more posts to share about our Vietnam vacation, but I’ve had this post in my lineup for a while! It’s my busy month for my photography business with all the cherry blossoms, but we managed to do some exploring in the past months before the weather began to warm. One of those adventures was a day trip to Geumgan Nature Biennale in Gongju, South Korea. We needed a break from indoor life, and the AQI wasn’t terrible, so we decided to make the trek, and it was so worth it.
Geumgang Nature Biennale (금강자연미술비엔날레)
South Korea’s weekend traffic tends to be abysmal, so if we’re not venturing up to Seoul, we try not to hit the more populated areas on weekends. Thankfully, we’re outdoorsy people, and most of those adventures that appeal to us are somewhere in the mountains like this little hidden gem in Gongju. There are a lot of art installations in South Korea, but the Geumgang Nature Biennale was such a fun and really unique one.
Established in 1881, it’s actually an international art exhibition hosted by the Korean Nature Artists’ Association, and it completely breaks the mold – literally. Focused on nature-based art, guests walk (and actually hike, in some areas), through the woods to view and interact with a number of different exhibits. Truth? I went for the giant bear (you’ll see it soon), but there is so much more to see and do.
What to Do at Geumgang Nature Art Biennale
When you arrive at Geumgang Nature Biennale, immediately after parking, you’ll receive a map at the entrance that details out the different exhibits. We didn’t grab one and, instead, did a kind of freeform sort of adventure around the park, but we could immediately see the bear up the hill. The kids absolutely wanted to see that first, but we like to save the best for last (or almost last), so we made them walk down the hill first.
The best part of the park is that guests are meant to interact with these exhibits. That means you climb in the them, walk around them, peer through them and, yes, sit on. The paths around the park lead to and from the different exhibits, creating a sort of maze through the woods with all these little gems to experience as you go. Our kids’ favorite exhibits were absolutely the bear, which you can climb in to the top, the sinking ark, and the face that we stood in, naturally!
What Else Can I Do in Gongju?
Gongju flies pretty under the radar with its distance from Seoul, as well as the fact that it’s a little further removed from the military bases and, therefore, tourists. Gongju is definitely worth the visit though! Right by Geumgang Nature Biennale, you can hike the Yeonmisan Mountain trails, and there are access points for hikes directly across the street. It was really muddy when we went though, so we decided to forego those. There’s also a café right onsite (because Korea), so if you don’t feel like packing a lunch, you’re golden!
Other attractions in Gongju include the Gongju Gongsanseong Fortress, Magogsa Temple, the Gongju National Museum, the Gongju Hanok Village, the Buljanggol Reservoir, and so much more. While Gongju may not jump to the forefront of travelers’ minds, it’s absolutely worth the visit.
Tips for Visiting Geumgang Nature Biennale
Address: For Naver – 충청남도 공주시 우성면 연미산고개길 98 ; For Waze –98 Yeonmisangogae-gil, Useong-myeon, Gongju-si, Chungcheongnam-do
Price: Adults – W5,000, Children – W3,000
Hours: The park is open Tuesday – Sunday weekly from 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM; note that it is seasonal and usually closes for the season around November (it’s open now!)
Parking: There is a small parking lot directly across the street adjacent to the hiking trails, but it fills up fast. People resort to street parking thereafter.
Amenities Onsite: There is a café onsite right by the ticket stand as you enter, and bathrooms are located once you’ve paid admission and entered the park.
Accessibility: Because of its location within the forest, I wouldn’t call this an accessible installation. Like most parks in Korea, the paths are well-marked and covered with woven rugs, but strollers and wheelchairs will struggle here.