Winter at Herb Island

I really like plants. Back in America I grew a garden of herbs and vegetables, frolicked in woodlands, and even made my own plant essence rich soaps and skincare. I was kind of a hippie. At heart, I still am. Sometimes living in a city like Seoul can be really depressing for me. It’s gloomy and grey with parks and gardens too spread out for my taste. So my husband decided to take me to Herb Island in Pocheon on New Year’s weekend.

Pocheon is so far north that it touches the DMZ. It’s also pretty rural. He had been there once before and thought the trip might lift some of my winter blues. I’m not sure if it did the trick, but here are my impressions.

1. It’s not an island. I have no idea why they call it Herb Island when it’s landlocked. There’s a river nearby, but that’s about it.

2. It’s a theme park. I get it. Growing herbs out in the middle of nowhere isn’t that exciting of a premise. But like most family weekend places in Korea, it has weird faux European architecture, rides, and cartoon characters. It’s all about selling you stuff.

3. The herbs are legit though. Throughout the park they sell teas, jams, bath products, and candles. Some are made from the herbs grown in herb island. And the teas are pretty delicious. They have some nice soaps and bath bombs too.

4. There are some unique activities too. There is a spa  where you can get aromatherapy treatments and massages with products made on Herb Island. There’s also a craft shop where you can make your own candles and other handicrafts under the guidance of an employee. If you’ve never tried crafting before, it might be a fun environment to try it.

5. There is such a thing as too many twinkle lights. I love twinkle lights. At home we have string lights above our bed. I like having soft light before bed to help me wind down and feel cozy. Herb Island went too far. Possibly because it was winter, there were lights on everything. All the dormant plants in the field were covered by them even. And they were in very bright colors that hurt my eyes when the sun went down.

6. The botanical garden and plant museum are the nicest spots in winter. It’s quite balmy inside with a mix of local and tropical plants. Watch out for the rosemary though, there are rosemary bushes everywhere you turn in the botanical gardens, likely because they use it in many of their products. In the plant museum you can buy your own potted plants to take home.

In summary: I’m glad I went, but I was a bit disappointed overall. I guess I was expecting too much. Very few attractions in Korea offer an organic experience. Everything is polished up and pre-packaged to make money from people looking for a little relief from the soulless city life, but don’t have the time or inclination to really get their hands dirty. I was hoping for a chance to get close to nature. I don’t want to sound crabby. It was a change of scene from Seoul, and I got some delicious hibiscus tea, but for the distance of travel, I think Nami Island is a better spot (and an actual island).

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13 thoughts on “Winter at Herb Island

  1. Isn’t this place hilarious? We went during the summer months but we got a giggle out of their “theme” park. It looks like they couldn’t pick a theme to us and that’s why you’ll find smurfs next to Snow White and Santa Claus in front of Trevi Fountain and clowns all over the gazebo cafe. I do agree that the herb shop is great! We got some essential oils here!

  2. Sounds super Korean! I feel what you’re saying about living in a big city like Seoul. Sometimes you’re just itching to get out and connect with nature. Props to your for trying, even if it wasn’t what you expected 😀

  3. The Soul of Seoul

    I’ve always wondered about this place. It’s definitely overdone with twinkle lights because it’s the holiday season that’s for sure. I wonder what it’s like in the summer though. That’s when I would want to go I think. A little more overgrown and not so polished hopefully? Who knows. I didn’t know there was a spa there though. That would be nice.

  4. Wow, good post. Although I have to admit I have to disagree a bit on the “organic experience”, or maybe I didn’t really understand what you meant by that. But I say this as a mom who has heard stories of kindergarteners traveling to various farms to do berry-picking, etc. My mil also sometimes goes to the park or even walks along the mountains and picks up what I think are weeds but are actually herbs, haha

  5. Legit how is everything a theme park of sorts in Asia? I cannot! Did you get to try the herb spa at least? Good on your husband for making that gesture, even though it was a letdown, its the thought that counts! You should visit The Garden of Morning Calm to get more vegetation into your life. It’s seriously inspiriting if all else fails 🙂 And there is never a thing as too many twinkle lights 😛 #foreveroptimist

    1. He’s a good guy and I appreciate his effort. We didn’t get to try the spa due to time (and it’s a bit expensive). If you stay overnight at I’ve of their pension houses you can definitely do the spa. We just took it as a day trip.

  6. Too bad the place, in general, was a disappointment. Haven’t been there yet but it’s quite a popular place to go so I might as well try. The herbs might be worth it as you approve of them.

  7. I used to dabble in making home made soap and candles too. You should look into continuing your hobbies here since I know some Korean ajummas are really into that and into the health benefits of diy made stuff. Herb Island doesn’t sound like a destination I’d visit, but probably because it’s winer and most destinations are not very picturesque right now.

  8. ravenoustravellers

    I’ve been planning on visiting here for ages this post has provided me with all the info! Thanks! Looks like an interesting place – esp the herb spa?!

  9. Herb island sounds like a nice escape from the city. (Even if it’s not an island lol) I like the sound of the gift shop and the teas. I also enjoy making my own products and I’m a bit of a hippy at heart. I live far south though so this would be a trek for me!

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