nami island

Fall at Nami Island - Seoul, South Korea Day Trips

Need an escape from the hustle and bustle of Seoul?

Trying to relax and enjoy the outdoors before winter sets in? Looking for a spot to snap epic photos of the fall leaves... or do you want to be a little adventurous? 

Less than a couple hours outside of the city lies a teeny tiny 'island' in the middle of the Han River where you can do all of these things and more - Nami Island. 

Whether you're visiting South Korea or living there, Nami Island should be on your to-do list. Keep reading to find out why!

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Nami exploded as a tourist destination for Korean drama fans, as many scenes from the wildly popular film Winter Sonata were shot there. If you're into K-dramas, you'll enjoy retracing the character's steps and recreating scenes at various spots around the island. If you're not into K-dramas, expect to see lots of people queuing up for identical pictures that you don't understand - Confusion can be avioded by joining the club and watching the film before you go. I didn't... but you could. Anyway, peace and quiet can be hard to come by when you suddenly find yourself in a mass of tripods and selfie sticks all competing for the same shot. It depends entirely on the time of day & time of year that you go, but the army of selfie takers can typically be avoided by going early.

Personally, I enjoy Nami because it's nice get away from the concrete jungle, honking cars, and busy city streets. The trip is well worth it, if for nothing more than to be surrounded by nature's sky scrapers for a bit. There is a definite bonus to visiting in the fall... The already picturesque tree-lined paths become a work of art, and make Nami Island an absolute autumn wonderland.

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If you're planning to just pop in for a quick visit to Nami Island, keep in mind that it IS a bit of a hike from central Seoul (about 1.5 hours on the subway). I'd recommend making a day of it and seeing some of the other sights nearby - see the end of this article for other things to do and see near Nami Island.

We decided to make the trip to Nami this past weekend. I knew that it would probably be insanelyyyy busy since the fall leaves are at their prime, so I talked my friends into waking up at the literal crack of dawn on Sunday morning to beat the rush.

Even though my bed was extremely warm and cozy, I somehow fought the urge to snooze my fifth and final alarm. However, when I got a text from one of my friends telling me it was 0.5°C outside... (that's 33°F for all you Americans), I almost doze headfirst right back under the covers. ALMOST. Again... I fought the urge to hibernate, and at 6:47 on a SUNDAY MORNING, I rolled out of my apartment and began the train journey to Gapyeong Station.

I'm REALLY glad I didn't hit snooze, because our day-trip to Nami Island ended up being incredible.

I'd visited Nami before, but I went in February (so I was freezing), and I also went alone. This time was much different... and much better. It might have been the makgeolli (traditional Korean rice wine) we had for breakfast... or maybe just being outside, soaking up the sunshine... possibly the random ostrich sightings, but, most likely, the beautiful fall leaves surrounding us. We all looked and felt like a bunch of little kids again.

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Once we arrived at Gapyeong Station, we caught a cab to the Nami "Immigration" zone, bee-lined to the convenience store for our makgeolli breakfasts, and spent the morning by the river. We sipped our rice wine to stay warm, and killed time before it was our turn to zip-line - yes, I said zip-line - to Nami Island.

There are two ways to get to Nami - by boat and by zip-line... so we obviously chose the later.

Even though we got to Gapyeong literally as early as humanly possible... there was still already a line for the zip-line! Of our two options, we chose the course that had the shortest wait time - The Adventure Course. On the Adventure Course, we zip-lined to a smaller, nearby island first. From there, we rode what was, for us, a practically private ferry (with only 3 other people on board) over to Nami. For 38,000 won you can either take the Adventure Course or go for the Family Course which zips you straight over to Nami. Both options include a return ferry ride! - (After doing both, I'd recommend the Adventure Course. It takes a bit longer, but you get more for your money).

Once we arrived on the island, we were all still feeling an adrenaline rush from the zip-line ride.

I spotted a massive clearing where the ground was covered in yellow leaves and literally made a run for it. We spent the next few hours rolling around in the grass, throwing leaves at each other, gawking at the random ostriches in the middle of the island, and climbing trees like a bunch of little kids. The makgeolli, the sunshine, the laughter... and likely the running around... warmed us right up.

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A visit to Nami was the perfect way to spend a fall Sunday.

Don't believe me? - Go see for yourself!

If you're in Korea, get your butt out of bed and get over to Nami as early as possible NEXT WEEKEND to catch the end of this beautiful, golden season. You won't regret it.

Til' then, get yourself pumped up by watching this recap video! 

(Note - Look out for the Nami fun police, as they will tell you to stop climbing the trees).

 


Want to go to Nami Island?

Not sure how to get there? 

Good news! - you've got options!

The bad news is, you've got so many options that the sheer number of choices may confuse you even more.

I've tried to simplify things a bit.


Getting to Nami by Metro

Take the metro to Gapyeong Station located on the light green Gyeongchun ITX line. My friends and I were all coming from Eastern Seoul, so the metro was our quickest and most convenient option. From my station, the trip only cost 2,350 won (this amount will vary).

By ITX

If you're traveling from Western or Central Seoul, I'd recommend taking the ITX – Cheongchun High Speed Train from Yongsan Station to Gapyeong Station. This line operates from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and has trains departing from Yongsan station on every hour. Gapyeong is only three stops away, so you should arrive at the station in a little under an hour. The cost is 6,900 won each way.

Keep in mind this train doesn't run very often, so check the schedule ahead of time or book online here.

By Shuttle Bus

I've never personally taken the shuttle bus, but it seems like a great option for people travelling from the Insadong/Myeongdong areas in Northern Seoul. The following are the shuttle bus departure times. A one-way adult fare costs 7,500 won... and roundtrip will cost you 15,000.

Seoul Insa-dong - 09:30 - (Nearby the West Gate of Tapgol Park)

Seoul Namdaemun - 09:30 - (Sungnyemun Square Bus Stop in front of Namdaemun Market)

Seoul Myeong-dong - 09:45 - (Back Alley of Shinsegae Department Store (Main))

Nami Island - 16:00 - (Parking lot in front of ticket office)

If you want to depart Nami at a different time, only purchase a one way ticket. 

For more information on shuttle bus schedules, fares, and packages, click here.

Tour Group

Several tour groups have organized trips to Nami Island (and usually at least one or two other destinations) as a part of a package deal. Check out Trazy.com and KoreaTravelEasy.com to book a smooth sailing, (almost) no strings attached tour to Nami - the only string that's attached is that by going with a group you're not able to be on your own schedule. Still, it takes the guess work out of the trip and might be your best choice if you're not familiar with public transportation in South Korea.

from Gapyeong Station

Again, you have options here! Either follow the cars and walk (which will take about 20-30 minutes), take a cab for 5-6,000 won, or take the Gapyeong City Shuttle bus for 6,000 won. I would only recommend the last option if you plan on seeing other attractions while you're in the area. Other than that, your quickest and cheapest option (especially if you're travelling with friends) is to split the cost of a cab.

Once you arrive at the "Immigration Zone," you have yet another choice to make - ferry or zip-line to Nami.

By Ferry

The ferry to Nami Island costs 10,000 won roundtrip, but foreigners get a discounted price of 8,000 won. The daily schedule is as follows

07:30-09:00 (30 minute intervals)
09:00-18:00 (10-20 minute intervals)
18:00-21:40 (30 minute intervals

By Zipline

Zip-lining to Nami Island costs 38,000 won. This includes your admission fee for the island, so if you plan to zip-line head straight to the tall building on your left, and DON'T wait in the, likely very long, "immigration lines." Those lines are just for ferry tickets.

You can choose from two courses - the Adventure Course and the Family Course. The Adventure Course zips you over to a smaller island, and, from there, you take a more private ferry to Nami Island. With the Family Course, you zip-line straight to Nami Island.

From April to October the zip-line operates from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. From November to March it closes at 6:00 p.m.

 

When is the best time to go?

According to VisitKorea.com, the reccommended periods to visit Nami Island are May, July-August, and October. I was a big sucker for the fall leaves when I visited in early November, however, I don't really think there's a bad time to visit.

 

What else is there to do nearby?

If you make the trip all the way to Chuncheon, you might as well make a day of it and see what else is there! Petite France and Garden of the Morning Calm are both located in Gapyeong (and on the city tour shuttle bus route). For more information about this shuttle bus, click here. 

To read about my trip to Petite France and Garden of the Morning Calm with KoreaTravelEasy, click here.

One more place to visit is the abandoned amusement part, Yongma Land, located just a 10 minute walk away from Mangu Station (also on the Gyeongchun line, and on the way to Gapyeong station if you take the metro). Read about my trip to Yongma Land here.


Need a place to stay?

Click here to book discounted accommodations in Gapyeong-gun with Agoda!

 

Did you go to Nami Island? Let me know what you thought in the comments below!

How to Zip-Line to an Island, Prance Around France, & Go to a Garden Rave... All in One Day - KoreaTravelEasy

Sundays are fun days. They are made for mimosas, or adventures, or naps, or, if you're like me, all of the above. With only three Sundays left in Seoul, I knew I’d have to suck it up, fight the urge to hit up the nap cafe, and get out and about despite the frigid temperatures. There are still so many places on my Korea Bucket List, and with the help of a new travel company in Seoul, I was able to cross three of them off this weekend.

Keep reading to find out how to zip-line to an island, prance around (the petite) France, and go to a garden rave all in one day.

I have been wanting to go to Nami Island, Petite France, and The Garden of Morning Calm for MONTHS – just ask my friends… I hassle them about it every other weekend. Unfortunately, though these destinations are accessible from Seoul, they’re not exactly the most convenient spots to get to. You have to take a train up north to Chuncheon or Gapyeong, (which are more than an hour away, depending on where you live in the city). Then, after arriving to your train station, you take a city bus to a stop somewhat nearby your actual destination… and then… you walk. I’d done all of the research on how to get to these places, how much they cost, etc… but, for these reasons and more, had yet to actually make it there.

 Given that it’s still early February, it goes without saying that Seoul’s current temperatures are less than ideal for outdoor activities, but, it isn’t getting any warmer before I leave… so I found another alternative to walking around in the cold searching for these must see spots. On Sunday, I did something that, for me, is pretty unheard of… I joined a tour group… with actual tourists. KoreaTravelEasy… a company that, in my experience, absolutely lived up to the name.

The early morning tour left from Dongdaemun Design Plaza at 11:10. True to form, I arrived at 11:12, but, in my defense, it’s because I was meeting a girl who was buying a pair of my shoes and couldn’t find her way to exit 10. (The pre-backpacking purge is still in full force, so if you’re in Seoul & want cheap goods, let me know). Once arriving to the station, I breezed straight out of the exit and started looking for some sort of tour bus or van. Turns out, the guide leading the group was waiting for me AT the exit... Oops.

Eventually, I found my way to the bus and the rest of the group. I grabbed a seat in the back, and pulled out a stack of writing tests to correct while on the way to Nami Island. Productivity is key, and I must say, my time management skills are on point these days). I had the whole row to myself, so I was able to stretch out and get comfortable on the long ride.


Nami Island

Our first stop was Nami Island. Once we arrived in Chuncheon, we were given the choice between taking the ferry or zip-ling to the island. For me, this was a laughably easy decision. When given the choice between ferrying with the masses and zipping across by myself, I will zip every time. GoPro, snacks, laptop, and all, I was strapped in to the zip-line and breezing across the waterway in no time. In a little over 90 seconds, my feet were on the ground and ready to explore Nami. Though zipping in does cost a bit extra, and may take longer depending on the line you have to wait in… (or be freezing cold depending on which season you go in), the view was so worth it. On top of that, you enter Nami on a much quieter side of the island, and not within a herd of tourist cattle.

Before it was time to join the rest of the tourist cattle to hop aboard the ferry to leave that afternoon, I successfully walked around the entire island. There were certain areas that the masses seemed to flock to, namely Metasequoia Lane and Central Korean Pine Tree Lane. The island is home of some famous K-Drama filming locations, so I’m assuming that’s why these areas were so popular. I don’t actually know anything at all about that stuff, so, again, this is just my assumption.

The Forest Village and Bungalow Row Riverside Path were so quiet and relaxing, and, in my opinion, the best areas on the island. The other spots were beautiful, but they were kind of ruined by the fact that I had bob and weave through crowds so as to avoid getting smacked in the face by selfie sticks. On Pine Tree Lane, someone bumped my arm as I was putting my phone in my pocket… causing my phone to slow-motion fall face-down on to the hard, icy path. My glass screen protector is unscathed, but I cannot say the same for the glass underneath… (Is there some type of warranty for this? – because, seriously!? Wtf.)

 
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Petite France

After Nami we headed to Petite France, a cutesy, colorful little French cultural village in the Korean countryside. Aside from the pastel buildings, brief marionette show, and tribute to the French novel The Petite Prince, there wasn’t really anything too French about this place. It has also been the filming location of many K-Dramas and movies, which I suppose explains the sea of selfie sticks. I enjoyed wandering around the picturesque little town, and grabbed a milk tea that served as a yummy beverage and a hand warmer.

 
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The Garden of Morning Calm

We left Petite France just before sun down and headed to our last stop of the day, the Lighting Festival at the Garden of Morning Calm. Over 30,000 lights cover the trees, bushes, bridges, and archways of the garden, making it Korea’s largest lighting festival. Despite being filled with selfie taking couples in matching outfits, the garden still had a really magical and whimsical feel. It was well worth the frozen fingers I left with. Before getting on the bus to head back to Seoul, I got the MOST delicious honey ginger tea from the coffee shop in the garden – seriously, it had little pieces of ginger inside and was SO good. 10 out of 10 would recommend.

 
 

Speaking of things that I would recommend, the entire tour with KoreaTravelEasy was great.

From creating a profile and signing up for the tour on their website, to getting to and exploring all three destinations, traveling with KoreaTravelEasy was just like the name says… easy!

My favorite part about the trip is how easy it was to get from point A to point B… and that when we got there we were left to explore on our own. I was worried that by going on this trip, I’d be stuck with the tour group all day, but that wasn’t the case at all. Once we arrived at each destination, we were given a time to be back at the bus, and spent the time in between wandering around doing our own thing. EVERYONE on the trip respected the time of their fellow travelers, and made it back to the bus on time every time, (which is not something that can be said for other tour groups I’ve been a part of in Korea).

I was the only person traveling solo on this trip, but I like it that way. If you’re someone who wants to meet new friends on tours, I would recommend going with a meet-up group instead. If you’re like me and want the traveling bit to be easy, but to do your own thing once you’re there, then you should absolutely consider taking this tour (or one of the many other trips offered) with KoreaTravelEasy.

The truth is, if I’d tried to do Nami Island, Petite France, and the Garden of Morning Calm on my own in one day, it would have been a big hassle. Sometimes, there’s nothing wrong with taking the easier route & traveling with a company that takes the stress of getting there out of the equation. Aside from cracking my phone screen, I thoroughly enjoyed my tour with Korea Travel Easy, and all three destinations on the trip. Check out the video below for more of the Sunday Funday Shenanigans!

 
 

You can sign up for the three part tour I went on by clicking here, or check KoreaTravelEasy.com for more tours and activities.

 
 

 

I was a guest of KoreaTravelEasy, but, as always, all observations, opinions, and bad jokes are my own.