Seoul, Republic of Korea --
At this point in my tour, I’m pretty well versed with exploring and finding events. I like to pretend I’m an expert on navigating the subway lines and I even impress some of the local nationals with the new phrases I’ve learned. But there’s still so much to discover in Korea!
It’s been below 30 degrees on most days, so I decided to do none other than ice skating. But where was I going to go?
Sure, there’s tons of outdoor ice rinks around but I wanted to go somewhere indoors with restaurants and potentially shopping afterward.
And like some magical fairytale, I learned of this amazing place called Lotte World.
When I first arrived, I was kind of shocked. Well, let me paint the picture.
You walk out of the Jamsil subway station and immediately you’re in a shopping mall. Not just a regular shopping mall, not even a typically large, Korea-size shopping mall. I mean humongous, it makes Mall of America look like the Delaware of the U.S.
The signs to navigate were really easy to understand and they’re all over the place. If by chance you do manage to get lost, there are tons of information booths with fluent guides to assist. From the train area, it’s about a five-minute walk to the entrance, well that’s if you’re not distracted by all of the stores.
If you can manage to get through the gauntlet of sales, you’ll suddenly see an abundance of giant vinyl cartoon characters smiling at you. Luckily they don’t move so families with small children won’t be as traumatized as I was growing up with the giant rodent who served pizza.
Getting past all of the signs and happy characters, you suddenly come to an opening that is none-the-less, the grand entrance to Lotte World; an entire indoor theme park with roller coasters, trains, restaurants, a kid-friendly zone and yes, ice skating.
Talk about the ultimate bang for your buck worthwhile site-seeing trip.
The ice rink is massive, and extremely safety conscious. They provide helmets to check out along with safety penguins (used to help balance you while you’re skating).
The center of the rink is blocked for only the professional skaters, who you can catch conducting pirouettes or gliding in their speed skating suits. Okay, I may have exaggerated. It’s not professionals, but those six-year old kids were pretty amazing. I think I fell about 15 times trying to go forward without holding on to the wall. But that’s a story for another time.
The Lotte World Ice Rink is separate from the rest of the theme park but you can still enjoy the view from that level. There are makeshift hot air balloon rides that glide across the ceiling so it really does provide a great view from any direction.
Hopefully you can enjoy it as much as I did. It feels good to be a big kid for the day.
Location: Lotte World B3F (롯데월드)- 240 Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu Seoul (서울특별시 송파구 올림픽로 240)
Directions: It's located in Seoul, approximately an hour and 45 minutes north of Osan AB. This is extremely easy to get to by bus or train.
Bus- (No transfers) Go to Songtan Bus Terminal. Purchase a ticket to Dong Seoul, you will not go all the way to Dong Seoul. You will need to get off at Jamsil Station. The bus ride is about an hour and 30 minutes and costs ₩4400 (about $4). The bus will drop you off about one block away from the entrance. You’ll pass by Lotte World and the mall right before it stops so pay attention to your surroundings.
Train- (You will be on three separate trains) Go to Songtan Train Station and take Line 1 (dark blue line) to Geumjeong. Transfer here to Line 4 (light blue line) and go to Sadang. Transfer here to Line 2 (green line) and go to Jamsil Station. Once here, you are already in the building. The ice rink is located near exit #4.
Cost: The entrance fee and rental to the ice rink is ₩16,000 (about $13) however, they do offer a foreigner discount, so you only pay ₩11,000 (about $9).
Time: Honestly there’s so much to do here, you can spend a few hours or a whole day at your leisure.
Documentation required: None.
Food: There are dozens of restaurants to choose from including traditional Korean, American, Japanese, Italian and more.
Who it's for: Anyone in the family. There is a lot of walking, but there’s plenty of seating as well.
Activity required: Simply walking. Unless you choose to go on the ice, then it involves balance.
What to travel with: You can travel light because you'll be close to home, and there are plenty of places to get food. Make sure to take your status of forces agreement and military ID card as well as a functioning cell phone. You can bring a camera take pictures, in fact I recommend bringing one. There are no photo restrictions.
There are lockers in the ice rink area if you do travel with anything or went shopping.
Things to remember: Be respectful of taking pictures of people outside of your group. Being courteous and asking permission is important to maintaining a good bond with our host nation. Do not stray from the group unless you go with someone or have them in close sight and bring a friend with you to enjoy the sites. Good luck on your next adventure in South Korea!
Author's Note: This is part of articles about recreational travel, dining and other cultural opportunities throughout South Korea. Each article will highlight a specific destination, attraction, event or restaurant within the authorized travelling distance for U.S. forces in S. Korea. The aim of this series is to encourage everyone to safely and enthusiastically explore their surroundings, develop an appreciation for the history, culture, and customs of their host nation, as well as showcase the diverse activities available to service members, and their families, near and far. Each article will conclude with an approximation of the money and time required for each location, as well as directions (if transportation is not provided) and amount of physical activity required. Many opportunities to travel in groups are available through the base's Information, Tickets and Travel office as well as Outdoor Recreation.