If you visit the city of Paju, make sure you make time to stroll in the Byukchoji Gardens. Although it rained the entire time I was there, the Byukchoji Gardens was one of the highlights of my Paju trip. Byukchoji Gardens is arranged into six themes where each one is named to evoke a different raw emotion.
The Six Themes of the Byukchoji Gardens
The ajusshi, the old man at the entrance to the Byukchoji Gardens, was nice, but he wasn’t letting me in either. Even though the gardens close at 7:00 pm, the last tickets are sold at 6:00 pm.
So when we arrived bright and early the next day, I wasn’t surprised that he remembered me and reached out and shook my hand. Steven (my husband) doesn’t like rain or bright sunshine, so he waited in the car while I packed up my camera gear and umbrella. He wanted to map out the rest of the trip and stay dry.
The garden was divided into six themes, four of which I wanted to visit: Sensational, Mythical, Mindful, and Breathtaking. I would check out Adventure and Freedom if I had time.
The rain slowed us down for sure. But Steven, always cautious, played a huge part in why we didn’t arrive at the gardens until after 6:00 pm. We have always traveled differently. He likes things like agendas, itineraries, and logistics. I don’t. I usually prioritize what I want to see, and I hit it from top to bottom. Yeah, it was raining off and on, but I was here, so damn it, I’m going in. However, by the time he mapped it out, there was no way I was going to do everything on my list.
The Queen’s Garden, Sunken Garden, & the Pine Tree Garden
As soon as you step through the entrance, you are greeted with a pine tree-lined grove full of seasonal wildflowers. The beautiful flowers are dramatic next to the cone-shaped pine trees planted in the black basalt soil.
As you’d expect, the Queen’s Garden is majestic. Wildflowers, a sunken garden full of potted herbs, tall grasses blow in the wind, and shrubs are dynamically planted- offering a beautiful display fit for any queen as well as the butterflies that flutter from bulb to bulb.
Marley, Castle, Apollon, Chess, and Oasis Gardens, Chapel Dome
I left the provincial gardens of wildflowers and followed the tree-lined lane until I found Marley Castle’s gilded gates. Step through to find ancient sculpture gardens of Greece and Italy. Find tributes to the Greek God Apollo and the Italian Renaissance artist Michaelangelo.
This area of the gardens is pretty darn authentic. Let your imagination loose in the giant chess garden and marvel at the 7.5-ton boulder spinning in a fountain of water. Sit on the edge of a beautiful fountain and wander through the maze of sculptured hedges.
Path to Empty Mind, Slow Garden, and Enlightening Garden
I loved the themed area called Mindful due to its forested paths and wooden bridge over the pond filled with lotuses. As I stared at Byukchoji Waterfall in the distance, I felt comforted and felt the tension of the day before leaving my body and melting away.
Then it dawned on me – it was quiet, very quiet. I heard the wind and rain rattle the leaves of the trees. I saw the rain drops create ripples in the dark water below me. But I didn’t hear any people.
And for the first time, the rain wasn’t an irritation or a burden. I realized the weather kept people away, so I could have this moment all to myself and I was happy. And I was a wet, happy person.
Byukcho Waterfall, Willow Tree Path, Bridge to Empty Mind, & Lilly Garden
The Byukchoji Pond is breathtaking– even in the rain. This bucolic garden, with a short winding wooden walkway and its pink and yellow lotus flowers either, was the highlight of the day at Byukchoji Gardens. As a matter of fact, the rest of the garden, like the Bridge to Empty Mind and the Paryun Pavilion are beautiful– examples that explain why this garden makes the top ten on some polls of the beauty around Korea.
The planked walkway allows you to explore the waterfall and the intricate roots of lotus flowers up close.
Listening to the water pound against the rocks, your footsteps across the creaky wooden path, the perfumed scent of lotus blossoms in the air. And today, the cool rain and thick clouds associated with the light rain s my friend.
Birch Playground, Wild Adventure & Droplet Garden
Although it wasn’t raining anymore, I wasn’t excited about the muddy playground. Unfortunately, gnats kept me from staying long. However, I think kids will enjoy exploring this small birch forest playground. I dare you not to climb, swing or straddle the adorable attraction in this garden. Just be wary of splinters and don’t forget the bug repellant.
Arch of Paju. Peaceful Road & Grass Square
By now, I had been in the gardens for almost 2 hours, and right on cue received a call from Steven. He wasn’t rushing me, just wanted to let me know there were other things on my list.
I had come full circle to the Freedom gardens which are next to the park exit. Freedom consists of a few flower-covered arches made with Paju stone, a grassy field, and a road dedicated to the peaceful reunification of North and South Korea. Then I looked off into the distance wondering if the road ran into North Korea. the symbolism is real but unless I missed it, there isn’t much else to see so after taking a few pictures, I said goodbye to the gardens and the ajusshi at the front entrance.
Hours & Entrance Fees
Byukchoji Gardens is open daily from 9-7. However, guests arriving after 6 pm are out of luck. I know I tried. ticket sales close at 6 pm. An adult ticket is 9.500 KRW. So Allow for at least 2 hours to see all the attractions at a leisurely pace.
Byukchoji Gardens (벽초지수목원) Address: 242 Buheung-ro, Gwangtan-myeon, Paju-si, Gyeonggi-do Korean Address: 경기 파주시 광탄면 부흥로 242 Opening Hours: 09:00 AM - 07:00 PM