DMZ Tour with a Toddler
Yes, I took my precious 14 month old daughter into a demilitarized zone. The tours are so widely advertised to foreigners here in Seoul that there wasn't a second guess in my mind when I signed our family up for the tour. Then as our bus started passing military check point after military check point, and we started seeing barbed wire and signs for live mines, I got that sinking feeling of... what.did.i.do? Thankfully every area is very tourist friendly with very specific rules and guidelines to keeping everyone safe.
The trip started with a bus ride that took roughly one and a half hours after the last hotel pick up. We sat at the back of the bus and took an extra seat. Thankfully we were the only family with small children on the tour so no one seemed to mind. In hindsight if I would have known that we would have been on the same bus the whole time I would have brought along Sam's carseat. Usually I'm against cartoon babysitting but asking a 14 month old to sit still in one spot for 2 hours calls for some special activities, namely Elmo.
The first stop of the tour was at the base camp- Imjingak Park. There was a large amusement park, several street vendors, a restaurant, and restrooms. The Peace bell was also located there.
One of the stops was to the DMZ theater and the exhibition hall. This was a nice area for Sam to run around and check out the different displays. There is a short film that is played at the theater explaining some of the area's history and hopes for the future. I was worried Sam wouldn't make it through but since we sat in the front the screens were all around her she was amazed and sat through the whole thing. I wouldn't suggest the film for extremely timid sippy cup sojourners.
At the tunnel we decided to take Sam all the way to the end. Daddy was a trooper and carried Sam all the way in his arms. In hindsight I would have to suggest walking down to the first flat platform, taking a look around and then heading back up. At the end of the tunnel there is nothing but a black wall with some barbed wire. That is a long trek with a toddler! `
The tunnel facilities had a toddler toilet but no baby changing area.
Our tour also stopped at the Dora observatory. There was plenty of space here for Sam to stretch her legs and she really enjoyed looking through the observatory binoculars. There is also a theater-like area inside for escaping the heat and letting little ones sit down!
The last stop on the tour was Dorasan Station. There is a picnic area outside that school children were eating at. (I wasn't the only mother who thought a demilitarized zone was okay for kids!) There was also plenty of benches outside and inside.
The station had the nicest restrooms on the trip! Very clean and A BABY CHANGING AREA! Since our tour only covered the DMZ and not the JSA (there is an age requirement for that tour) it was a half day tour.
Our tour bus made one last stop at base camp before heading back to Seoul. The group was only granted 15 min at each stop. I brought snacks along but didn't pack lunch. I really wish I had. There was a restaurant at the base camp but they didn't do take-out and with only 15min, there wasn't enough time to eat a meal.We grabbed some meat on a stick for Sam to tide her over until we got home. (That has to be my least favorite meal I ever fed her.)
Overall we had a really great trip, took some great photos, and learned a lot about the history of the Korean peninsula.