Discovering the Byukchoji Gardens in Paju in the Rain

Byukchoji Gardens in Paju

It was 6:05 and the ajusshi, an elderly man at the entrance of the Byukchoji Gardens, was friendly but didn’t allow me to enter. We spent too much time cafe hopping— the botanical garden in Paju closes at 7:00 pm, and the last tickets are sold at 6:00 pm. The next day, we arrived early in the morning. As expected, the ajusshi recognized me and reached out to shake my hand. Steven stayed in the car while I packed up my camera gear and umbrella. He isn’t excited about getting wet to see some flowers. I didn’t come all the way to Paju to not see the gardens, so I bid him adieu and made my way into the gardens.

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Where is Paju?

If you visit the city of Paju, make sure you take the time to stroll in the Byukchoji Gardens. Paju is a little more than 5 hours from Daegu, an hour north of Seoul. Paju, South Korea, is not only known for its proximity to North Korea but also for its rich cultural history. From its significance during the war to being a prominent area for filming movies, commercials, modeling, and even inspiring books, there is a wealth of attractions to explore in this region– especially the botanical garden in Paju.

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With its expansive size, covering all the popular places in Paju in a single day was a challenge. Especially because we visited in the rain. While a day trip to Paju is possible, I would highly recommend allocating at least two full days to fully experience some of the major spots in the area. We visited a museum, went for a hike, and ate some delicious food in some of the most beautiful cafes. And despite the constant rain, my visit to the Byukchoji Gardens stood out as one of the highlights of this trip to Paju.

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Byukchoji Gardens

The Paju Byukchoji Gardens, also known as The Botanical Garden BCJ, is a famous and stunning tourist attraction in South Korea. It was established in 1965 and is situated in the village of Changman-ri in Paju’s Gwangtan Township. Covering an expansive area of 130,000 square meters, the BCJ Gardens feature a blend of Eastern and Western garden styles as its main theme. It is also a popular filming location for K-Dramas.

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The botanical garden in Paju is divided into six themed areas, each named to evoke a different raw emotion. I was particularly interested in visiting Sensational, Mythical, Mindful, and Breathtaking. If time allowed, I would also check out Adventure and Freedom. So let me now take you through the different sections of the gardens.

Sensational

The Queen’s Garden, Sunken Garden, and Pine Tree Garden are part of the Sensational theme. When you enter, you’ll be greeted by a pine tree-lined grove filled with seasonal wildflowers. The vibrant flowers create a stunning contrast against the cone-shaped pine trees rooted in the black basalt soil. The Queen’s Garden is majestic, with wildflowers, a sunken garden of potted herbs, tall grasses swaying in the wind, and carefully planted shrubs. The scenery is fit for a queen and attracts butterflies fluttering from one flower bulb to another.

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Mythical

Moving on from the provincial wildflower gardens, I followed the tree-lined path until I reached Marley Castle’s gilded gates. Stepping inside, I discovered sculpture gardens inspired by ancient Greece and Italy. There are tributes to the Greek God Apollo and the Italian Renaissance artist Michelangelo. This area of the gardens is authentically designed, allowing you to immerse yourself in the giant chess garden and marvel at the 7.5-ton boulder spinning in a fountain. You can also relax by the beautiful fountain and wander through the maze of sculptured hedges.

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Mindful

One of my favorite parts of the botanical garden in Paju was the Mindful theme, with its forested paths and a wooden bridge over a lotus-filled pond. As I gazed at Byukchoji Waterfall in the distance, I felt comforted, and the tension from the previous day washed away. I noticed the serene silence, only broken by the rustling of leaves and raindrops creating ripples in the dark water below. For the first time, the rain became a source of tranquility instead of an annoyance. I realized that the weather had kept other visitors away, allowing me to enjoy the moment in solitude. Despite being soaked, I felt content.

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Breathtaking

The Byukchoji Pond, even in the rain, is truly breathtaking. The picturesque garden features a short winding wooden walkway surrounded by pink and yellow lotus flowers. This area was the highlight of my visit to Byukchoji Gardens. The Bridge to Empty Mind and the Paryun Pavilion are equally beautiful and contribute to the garden’s reputation as one of the top ten most beautiful spots in Korea, according to some polls. The planked walkway allows you to explore the waterfall and admire the intricate roots of the lotus flowers up close. The sounds of water cascading over rocks, footsteps on the creaky wooden path, and the sweet fragrance of lotus blossoms created a captivating experience, heightened by the light rain.

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Adventurous

Although the rain had stopped, I wasn’t particularly thrilled about exploring the muddy playground. Moreover, the presence of gnats prevented me from staying there for long. However, I believe children would enjoy exploring this small birch forest playground. It’s hard to resist climbing, swinging, and playing on the charming attractions in this garden. Just be mindful of potential splinters and don’t forget to bring some bug repellent.

Freedom

After spending nearly two hours in the gardens, I received a call from Steven, a reminder that there were other things on our list. Finally, I had come full circle to the Freedom gardens, located next to the park exit. This section features flower-covered arches made with Paju stone, a grassy field, and a road symbolizing the peaceful reunification of North and South Korea. I gazed into the distance, wondering if the road extended all the way to North Korea. However, apart from these symbolic elements, there wasn’t much else to see. I took a few pictures, bid farewell to the gardens and the ajusshi at the entrance, and continued our journey.

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Hours & Entrance Fees

The botanical garden in Paju is open daily from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm. Unfortunately, if you arrive after 6:00 pm, you won’t be able to enter. Adult tickets cost 9,500 KRW. It’s advisable to allocate at least two hours to leisurely explore all the attractions.

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Address:

Byukchoji Gardens
242, Buheung-ro, Gwangtan-myeon, Paju-si, Gyeonggi-do

http://kko.to/Q-scAjlpaw

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