June marks the beginning of summer in Korea where Seoulites head out of the city to cool off. It’s also the time where beaches in Korea are peppered with colorful giant brollies, but that’s for another story. The good thing about this country is you can escape bustling Seoul with a short drive (disclaimer: sans the traffic on weekends).
Slightly off the beaten track, and probably not known to many, is the Piano Waterfall in Namyangju (남양주). It’s about 38km east of Seoul and an hour’s drive from Gangnam (강남) — an easy day trip for a picnic.
The landmark of this place is the giant piano which is really a glorified toilet — a lavatory with a view. Matching the theme of this place, which by the way is also a water refinery plant, are steps that play tunes when you step on them. It’s a short flight of steps, but one that keeps children entertained. Here you’d also find families with their sprawling mats in the shade chatting away and enjoying the scenery. There’s something to do for everyone.
When it’s time to cool off the summer heat, you can walk down to the foot of the man-made waterfall. It’s 92m tall, measuring 10.2m at its narrowest and 26.2m at its widest.
There’s also an environmental museum where you can find out more about water refinery and treatment process. The plant itself is capable of processing 43,000 cubic metres of water.
The Piano Waterfall is closed during winter months between December and February. For the rest of the year, it is open from 9am to 6pm daily.
How to get to the Piano Waterfall
By car: Take the Seoul-Chuncheon (서울춘천고속도로 마사IC) expressway and turn off the Huado (화도IC). There will be signs along the way once you reach this area.
If you are using GPS, type in 경기도 남양주시 화도읍 금남리 폭포로 562 although the Korean GPS should recognize the place if you type 피아노 폭포.
By public transport (according to Naver Map): Take 8001 from Gangnam station Exit 4. The journey would take about 1 hour and 17 minutes. You’ll reach Maseok station (마석역) where you have to change to the local 30-9 bus which is another 35 minutes ride. The bus will drop you right at the entrance of the Piano Waterfall.