Oedo Botania Island is something you can’t experience anywhere else – an intricate fusion of European and Korean styles in a semi tropical island. Strolling along the manicured gardens with strange curly topiary and bright gaudy flowers I couldn’t help have a smile of delight on my face. It’s fanciful, bold and imaginative; not a European style garden at all, but a creation all of its own.
Oedo Botania Island
Korea’s Oedo Botania Island, or Oedo Island is a beautiful little island nestled off the southern coast of South Korea, near Geoje Island. When I visited Oedo Island it was with a media and diplomats weekend tour, (in my previous incarnation as a representative of NTD Television ) organized by the Korean Tourist Organization. Among all of the tourist attractions and museums we visited, the place that stood out the most was definitely Oedo Island.
Oedo Island feels like being in a European Palace, Korean version of Hawaii and Alice in Wonderland, all at the same time – quite a delicious combination. The white classical statues, twisty hedges, semi-tropical plants and rugged rocky coast ad to the curiousness of the place.
When the owners Changho Lee and Hosook Choi first moved there in 1973 they tried growing tangerines and farming pigs – both ventures failed. In 1976 they had an idea of creating a garden island tourist attraction. Over long and arduous years setting up the gardens from 1976 to 1994, the island was open to the public in 1995. Since then, the island has received 18 million visitors and several new additions such as a lighthouse and observatory.
Oedo Island’s Facilities
Before you go to Oedo Botania Island, download the Oedo Island app which provides a voice guide and explanation in English from when you board the ferry. The island can get very busy in summer, so its probably best to avoid the summer holiday period (late July- early August).
There are no hotels on Oedo Island, and it’s open from sunrise to sunset – so make sure you get on the last ferry before it gets dark. The island has just one cafe and a small store with souvenirs. For Korean drama fans, you may recognize the island from the last scene of the famous Korean drama “Winter Sonata.”
Getting to Oedo
Oedo Island is located at the opposite end of South Korea to Seoul, and takes over 5.5 hours – too far for a day trip. But if you are going to Busan or Geoje Island, I recommend including Oedo Island to your trip. To get to Busan from Seoul, we usually take the KTX high speed train from Seoul Station to Busan, (2 hr 45 min). From Busan take a bus or taxi to Busan Seobu to Jangseungpo Ferry Terminal. (1hr 20 min) From Jangseungpo Ferry Terminal, catch the ferry to Oedo Island!
For a more direct route from Seoul to Oedo Island, catch an intercity non-stop bus from Nambu Bus Terminal 서울남부터미널 to the the Jangseungpo Ferry Terminal (5 hrs 30 min). Catch the Oedo Island ferry from there.
Admission and return ferry ticket to the island is around W17,000.
From Busan, take a local bus or taxi to the Busan Seobu 부산서부 located near the Seobu-si Bus Terminal 서부시외버스터미널. From there, catch the Busan Seogu- Jangseungpo Intercity Bus 부산서부-장승포 시외버스 to Jangseungpo Port. The bus takes about 1hr 20 min and is a direct bus to the port. From there, catch the ferry to Oedo Island. For a more direct route from Seoul, you can catch an intercity non-stop Nambu Bus Terminal 서울남부터미널 to the the Jangseungpo Ferry Terminal. (5 hrs 30 min) The ferry leaves at regular intervals, or when there are enough people. The cost of the ferry is around W17,000 and includes your ticket to the island.
To get the most out of your time at Oedo Island, wear a long flowy dress and wide brimmed hat. For men a light linen suit will suffice. The island’s official website is http://eng.botania.co.kr/ The island’s cafe has simple snacks and drinks. Public toilets are available at several spots. Bring cash or a credit card – there’s no ATM on the island. There is no accommodation available. Smoking is not permitted on the island.