Destination: Aiins World (Bucheon, Gyeonggi-do)

The last time I was here was a field trip with my school at the time – hardly the best time to appreciate the sights or try to compose some decent pictures.

Just west of Seoul, Aiins World is an intriguing look at famous or iconic buildings from the world. It opened on November 15, 2003, and features 109 models from 25 different countries. Everything from well-known Big Ben to Angkor Wat to lesser-known icons such as the Belvedere Palace or the Pyramid of Khafre. That the paint job is meticulous and spots carefully created to to allow for viewing is wonderful.

A closeup of the House of Parliament; Big Ben itself is just off to the left. Note the sky background to help liven up the colors – and to hide the pieces on the other side.

Amazing detail – and of course plenty of photo ops with your friends, or just to play with the perspective.

After a tour through Europe, we head east to Russia and the Red Square. If you’ve ever seen or played around with tilt-shift photography, this is a fun area to do the exact opposite – make small areas look normal-sized.

Plenty of sights around Africa – notably the pyramids and the Sphinx – then head back to Asia:

On left, the Petronas Towers – familiar with anyone who has visited Kuala Lumpur since 1999.  In the foreground, the great sea victory of Admiral Yi against the Japanese invasion of 1592. This is perhaps the most interesting element of Aiins World – mixing and mashing up historical figures and iconic buildings you’d never see together anywhere else.

It’s hard to avoid considering some of Korea’s more traditional buildings.

It’s worth a stop for tourists as part of a pleasant day-trip to Bucheon, and is also excellent for dates amongst people already living in Korea. It’s a bit remote from Seoul, so take that into account when traveling.

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Directions to Aiins World: take line 1 of the Seoul subway station to Songnae station. From there bus 5-2 and 558 stop at the front entrance, while bus 7-2 stops at the back entrance. Admission 10,000 Korean won a person. Open 10am-9pm from April-October (til 10pm on the weekends), or 10am-8pm from November-March (til 9pm on the weekends); admission stops an hour before closing time. For more information, see the official site (Korean only), or head to the Korea Tourism Organization’s English page on the place.