I didn’t know that a nearby cave exists near the metropolitan capital of Seoul. The Gwangmyeong Cave Theme Park is easily accessible by public transportation from downtown Seoul. It took me less than 2 hours to get there on a Sunday morning ~ by myself. My visit took place on July 25th, the start of the heat wave.
I promise I took photos of how to get there but I lost them somehow. I immediately felt the difference in temperature at the entrance of the cave. It was cool despite the thousands of visitors that day. As I would say in Filipino “box office ang pila!” ~
Gwangmyeong Cave is a product of the Japanese colonial times ~ it started operating in 1912 until 1945 as a gold mine. When the Japanese left and Korean War happened, it became a refuge for the civilians. From 1955 to 1972, it was operated as a metal mine during the industrial era. It was abandoned but the citizens of Gwangmyeong used it as a storage for salted shrimp from 1972 to 2010. The government decided to turn it into what seems to be a profitable cave park and a memorial to those who worked inside from the Japanese colonial era to Korean industrial times.
Inside the Gwangmyeong Cave, there are different themes that visitors of all ages would enjoy. This cave is not like the others I have visited in Korea, the last one being the Hwanseon Cave in Jeongseon which is just unexpectedly magnificent.
Some of the themes you’ll find inside Gwangmyeong Cave Theme Park are:
– Cave Plant Factory (an indoor facility for ginseng and other plants like lettuce are grown)
– Golden Plaque (for a fee, visitors can write down their wishes on a “plaque” and hang up on a wall)
– Cave Aqua World (different species of fish in aquariums)
– Light Space (modern sculptures covered in light)
– Cave Art World (photo exhibit)
I saw a long line of people beside the “Ghost House” ~ ticket costs 3,000 won per person. And yes, it’s located inside the cave.
Perhaps my favorite part of the cave is “Cave de VIN” ~ the wine cave where I got to taste a half ounce of a sweet red. They have a Saturday activity at the wine cellar for a fee.
If you have more time, you could go around the Gwangmyeong Cave Theme Park. There are activities for gold panning, art exhibits, observatory, and there is also a park for kids. The facilities are good ~ lots of food kiosks and outdoor dining tables and convenient restrooms.
There are other places to see in Gwangmyeong ~ IKEA, Costco, Lotte Premium Outlets. Just take bus 17 on the way back and get off at Costco or IKEA. And did I say it’s easily accessible from Seoul?
To get there by public transportation:
– Take the subway line 1 to GWANAK STATION. There are trains to GWANGMYEONG STATION BUT they only run early in the morning and late in the afternoon.
– Get out through exit 1 and you’ll find a bus stop for 1-1.
– Take the bus 1-1 and get off at Gwangmyeong Jonghap Terminal (Gwangmyeong KTX) – about 15 minutes
– Look for the bus stop “3” and wait for bus 17, ride takes about 20 minutes
– Get off exactly at Gwangmyeong Cave Theme Park.
TAXI from Gwanak Station to the cave is about 8.9km or about 9,000 won.
To go back to GWANAK STATION:
– Take bus 17
– Get off at Costco Gwangmyeong bus stop
– Cross the street
– Wait for bus 1-1 that will take you back to Gwanak
– Adults, 4k won
– Teens, 2.5k won
– Kids, 1.5k won
– Seniors and kids below 3, FREE
– Discount for GWangmyeong residents and groups of 20 or more
TIPS for exploring:
– In the peak months of July and August, it’s better to take public transportation. The line to the parking area was about 3 kilometers long when I visited.
– Wear comfortable shoes and bring a bottle of water. There are stairs inside the cave.
– Bring food if you don’t want pizza, hotdogs and other fast food fare offered at the food court.
– Park hours: Until August 31, 9:00am ~ 9:30pm, From September 9:00am ~ 6:00pm
Visit the website of Gwangmyeong Cave Theme Park for activities and performances.