Last updated on September 16th, 2020
Inside the beautiful Gapyeong Valley ( 가평) lies Nami Island ( 남이섬 ), one of Korea’s biggest tourist attractions near Seoul.
Most people choose to visit Nami Island on a day tour and include the picturesque Garden of Morning Calm (아침고요수목원) and Petite France (쁘띠프랑스) in their Nami Island itinerary.
However, a simple search of Nami Island and how to plan your trip will leave you with more questions than answers.
How to go to Nami Island from Seoul? Should I spend the weekend in Gapyeong or will a day tour suffice? How should I plan my Nami Island tour?
Well, this Nami Island itinerary and travel guide has got you covered and includes everything you need to know to plan the perfect Nami Island getaway!
Nami Island Overview
Below is my recommended Nami Island itinerary. I suggest spending 2 days in the area if your time allows for it.
- Day 1: Garden of Morning Calm, Nami Island, Petite France & Chuncheon Dakgalbi
- Day 2: Nami Island rail bikes
Day 1 Nami Island Itinerary
Just one word of caution, Nami Island and the Garden of Morning Calm are two of the biggest attractions in Korea as they’re easily accessible on a Seoul day trip.
As a result, it can get very, VERY busy so be prepared for crowds, especially if you’re visiting Nami Island in spring!
Garden of Morning Calm
No trip to Nami Island is complete without a visit to the Garden of Morning Calm, a massive botanical garden boasting 20 different themed sections.
It’s filled with vivid greenery, lush trees, and beautifully arranged plants all surrounded by gorgeous mountains. The voices of kids running through the open fields fill the air and there are many families enjoying picnics on the well-manicured lawns.
You can spend hours wandering through the small paths and along the soft streams. This marvelous garden is so big that it’s not difficult to get lost among all the scenic walkways and quaint bridges.
Unlike Nami Island, there aren’t any fun activities to do at the Garden of Moning Calm except admire the beauty. It’s the perfect place to relax and enjoy the scenery.
Lighting Festival at the Garden of Morning Calm
During winter, the Garden of Morning Calm comes to life with illuminating colors lighting up the plants and walkways.
Be sure to visit between December and March to set your sights on this magical winter wonderland.
How To Get to Garden of Morning Calm from Seoul Using Public Transport
The Garden of Morning Calm is the closest metro stop from Seoul, so it’s best to choose this as your first destination on your Nami Island itinerary.
If you’re using the Seoul Metro, take the Gyeongchun Line and hop off at Cheongpyeong Station. From here, take the Gapyeong City Tour Bus to the Garden of Morning Calm.
Expect traffic on the weekends, so give yourself about 40 minutes to get from Cheongpyeong Station to the Garden of Morning Calm.
- Garden of Morning Calm entrance fee: 9 500 KRW ($8)
- Operating hours: 8:30 am – 7:00 pm
- Time Needed: 1-2 hours
After exploring the Garden of Morning Calm, it’s time to hit Nami Island, the prize of Gapyeong, and a must-visit on any Seoul itinerary.
Nami Island is a half-moon shaped Island with beautiful paths lined with tall, majestic trees making it the perfect backdrop for any photo. It’s famous for being the filming location of the iconic Korean drama, Winter Sonata, and attracts K-drama fans from across Asia.
Couples love Nami Island for its romantic atmosphere, so expect to see many tripods, selfie-sticks, and semi-professional photoshoots during your visit.
- Time needed to explore Nami Island: 2-3 hours
Immigration to Nami Island, Korea
Your Nami Island adventure begins when you purchase your “entry visa” and pass through “immigration” at the Nami Island Ferry Wharf.
Thereafter, you have two options to get to Naminara Republic:
Take a 10-minute ferry to Nami Island which costs 13 000 KRW ($11) and includes a return ticket and entrance fee. The ferry yo Nami Island leaves every 30 minutes.
Zipwire to Nami Island which costs 45 000 KRW ($38) and includes a return ferry and entrance. If you’re planning on taking the Zipwire to Nami Island, it’s best to pre-purchase this ticket to avoid the long queues at immigration. You can purchase these tickets here.
What to do in Nami Island
When arriving at Nami Island, you’ll be greeted by the warm smiles of children running around and couples cycling along the paths.
Unlike the Garden of Morning Calm, I found Nami Island to be more interesting with activities to keep you busy for hours. If you have to choose between the two, definitely go with Nami Island.
Cycle around Nami Island
The best way to explore Nami Island is to rent a bike and cycle around the island. We got a tandem bicycle and this was certainly the highlight of my Nami Island itinerary.
- Cost: Single bike – 7 000 KRW ($6) per hour | Tandem bike – 14 000 KRW ($11) per hour
Selfies, selfies and more selfies
It’s no secret that Nami Island is an Instagrammers dream destination! With its quirky sculptures, picturesque tree-lined pathways, and abundance of fun photo spots, you can’t help but fall into the selfie trap and take a few snaps.
Watch the animals on Nami Island
Nami Island has many animals and ostriches which are a big attraction for the kids.
However, on the day of my visit, the “inappropriate” behavior of these animals concerned many mothers who were trying to divert their children’s attention from the adult activities of the ostriches!
Take a boat on the river
If you’re visiting Nami Island in summer or spring, why not rent a water bike or a small boat and paddle out into the river.
I did find humor in watching couples out on their boats. The women sitting back taking selfies while the men frantically try to maneuver the boat in the right direction!
- Cost: 40 000 KRW ($33) for a boat that can fit 5 people
How to go to Nami Island
For this itinerary, Nami Island will be your second destination and so you’ll need to get here from the Garden of Morning Calm.
Garden of Morning Calm to Nami Island
The Gapyeong City Tour Bus has a pickup point at the Garden of Morning Calm and takes about 1 hour to reach Nami Island Ferry Wharf.
Once you reach the stop walk towards the bungee jump and zipwire which mark the entrance to Nami Island.
Gapyeong Station to Nami Island
If you’ve come straight from Seoul to Nami Island, you’ll get off at the Gapyeong Station.
To get to Nami Island from here it’s easiest to take a taxi from Gapyeong Station to Nami Island Ferry Wharf which is your entry point to Nami Island.
This is a 5-minute taxi ride which won’t cost you more than 4 000 KRW.
Petite France is a small, charming village with French-styled buildings and a European ambiance.
With its bright colors and quirky sculptures, it’s a hit for Instagrammers and couples in their matching outfits wanting to get those fun, cute snaps.
As with Nami Island, Petite France is also the filming location for many Korean dramas which add to its popularity.
Is it worth including Petite France in your Nami Island itinerary
The Gapyeong region was extremely busy during my visit, and if you plan your trip to Nami Island in spring or fall, you can expect the same sort of crowds
If I included Petite France in my Nami Island itinerary, I would’ve spent more time waiting in the queue for the shuttle bus than exploring the actual village.
I was quite happy to skip Petite France as I had done a lot of research and found that the biggest attraction here is the architecture and cute buildings.
It’s also smaller than most people expect and so wasn’t something I was particularly interested in. Because of this, I chose to spend more time on Nami Island and the Garden of Morning Calm instead.
One way to avoid these queues is to book a tour package like this which will include entrance to these leading attractions and so you’ll be able to fit in all 3 of the top destinations in your Nami Island itinerary.
- Entrance fee to Petite France: 10 000 KRW ($8). Purchase discounted tickets here
- Operating hours: 9:00 am – 6 pm
- Time needed: 1 hour
Indulge in Dakgalbi
If there’s one thing you need to include in your Nami Island itinerary, it’s Dakgalbi. This region is famous for the mouth-watering dish which I’ve feasted on numerous times.
There are many Dakgalbi restaurants around the Nami Island Ferry Wharf and if you’re visiting on a day tour from Seoul, it’s best to grab this dish here.
However, I highly recommend you extend your stay to Nami Island and spend the night in Chuncheon, which is only a few stops away on the Seoul metro.
Chuncheon Dakgalbi Street
I was expecting a bustling street with bright lights and hundreds of tourists.
However, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Chuncheon Dakgalbi Street is a small, narrow alley lined with restaurants where Dakgalbi takes center stage.
And yes, it certainly lives up to its high expectations.
Day 2 Nami Island Itinerary
Unfortunately, most people only have a day to explore Nami Island and the Garden of Morning Calm. But, it’s best to plan a weekend trip to Gapyeong Valley so that you have more time to explore the attractions, besides just Nami island.
Rail Parks near Nami Island
If pedaling along a discontinued rail line sounds fun to you, then make sure you include this activity in your Nami Island itinerary.
These rail bikes offer a unique way to explore the Korean countryside with picturesque views of the Bukhangang River.
There are two railbikes near Nami Island including Gapyeong Rail Bike and Gangchon Rail Bike. Both are extremely popular and have a limited number of seats available so tickets need to be purchased at least a week in advance.
Gangchon Rail Bike
Gangchon Rail Bike is slightly further from Nami Island than Gapyeong Rail Bike, but it’s arguably the best rail bike near Nami Island.
The 8.6km one-way route takes you through themed tunnels and runs alongside a river. I did this bike rail on day two of my Nami Island itinerary and it was absolutely incredible!
- Cost: 30 00 KRW ($25) for a 2-seater bike. Purchase discounted tickets here.
- Operating hours: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
- Time Needed: 2 hours
Gapyeong Rail Bike
Gapyeong Rail Bike is conveniently located just a stone’s throw away from Nami Island, and is easy to include in your Nami Island itinerary if you only have one day in the area.
The downside of Gapyeong Rail Bike is that you turn around at the halfway mark and return the same route as you started with, so it does lack diversity in comparison to the Gangchon alternative.
- Cost: 30 00 KRW ($25) for a 2-seater bike. Purchase discounted tickets here.
- Operating hours: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
- Time Needed: 2 hours
Other activities near Nami Island and Garden of Morning Calm
There are other activities around Gapyeong such as ATV (quad bikes), go-karting, paintball, and of course, many hiking routes through the gorgeous mountains.
During Winter, Gapyeong offers some of the best skiing in Korea as well so don’t miss out on that if you’re planning to visit Nami Island in Winter.
How to go to Nami Island from Seoul
If you choose to visit Nami Island independently, you will first need to get to Gapyeong Station from Seoul. From there, you can continue on to Nami Island, Petite France, and the Garden of Morning Calm.
There are three ways to get to Nami Island from Seoul.
1. ITX (Fast Train)
This is the quicker, more convenient option to get to Nami Island. However, these tickets sell out fast and if you don’t book in advance you will have to look at one of the other options below.
- Station: Yongsan or Cheongnyangni to Gapyeong Station
- Duration: 55 minutes
- Cost: 5 200 KRW ($5)
2. Seoul Metro
Getting to Nami Island from Seoul by subway is simple and you don’t have to worry about sold out tickets.
However, it’s a popular route so you could be standing for the entire 2-hour train ride. Once you arrive at Gapyeong Station, you can make use of the local Nami Island city bus, below.
- Station: Seoul Metro (Gyeongchun Line) to Gapyeong station
- Duration: 90 – 120 minutes
- Cost: 2 350 KRW ($2)
3. Seoul to Nami Island Shuttle Bus
Nami Island operates a direct shuttle bus from Seoul to Nami Island. These buses depart from Myeongdong and Insadong for your convenience.
- Cost: 15 000 KRW (return ticket)
- Time: 2 hours
Nami Island Shuttle Bus/City Bus
Once you’ve reached the region of Gapyeong, the easiest way to get to Nami Island, Garden of Morning Calm, and Petite France is with the Nami Island City Tour Bus.
It stops at all the major attractions around Gapyeong including Nami Island, Garden of Morning Calm, Petite France, and the Gapyeong Rail Park.
- Cost: 6 000 KRW ($6) for a day pass which can be purchased from the bus driver. Make sure you keep this bus ticket to show at every pickup point.
There are also metered taxis available throughout Nami Island and Garden of Morning Calm but if you’re traveling on a budget, the shuttle bus is your best option.
Nami Island Shuttle Bus Route
Gapyeong Bus terminal – Gapyeong Station – Rail Park – Nami Island – Petite France – Cheongpyeong Terminal – Cheongpyeong Station – Garden of Morning Calm
Nami Island Tours
As you can see, getting around Nami Island is not easy! For foreigners, and those who cannot speak Korean, the journey is more difficult and you can spend quite a bit of time trying to find your way around Nami Island and the Garden of Morning Calm.
If time isn’t on your side, and if you don’t have the patience to sit around and wait for shuttle buses (or if missing the train will totally ruin your mood – as it did mine), I suggest you plan your Nami Island itinerary with an organized tour operator which will include all your transport, entrance fees and you’ll have English speaking guides.
The Best Nami Island Day Tours
Nami Island, Garden of Morning Calm, and Gangchon Rail Bike Tour: This tour includes the two must-do activities in Gapyeong – Nami Island and Gangchon Rail Bike. You also have the chance to replace the Garden of Morning Calm with Petite France if you’d prefer. If you only have one day to explore, this is the perfect tour package! Check latest prices here.
Mount Seorak and Nami Island Tour: Seoraksan Mountain and Nami Island are arguably two of the most iconic locations in Korea. There’s no doubt that you’ll be exhausted after this full-day tour as it’s jam-packed with hiking and outdoor activities, but if you really want to tick two bucket list destinations off your Korea bucket list, this is for you! Check latest prices here.
Alpaca Pasture, Nami Island, and the Garden of Morning Calm Day Tour: If you have kids, they’ll love this tour which includes a visit to Alpaca Pastures where you’ll set your sights on the cute Alpaca’s which reside here. Afterward, you’ll head to Nami Island and the Garden of Morning Calm before returning to Seoul. Check latest prices here.
Where to stay in Nami Island: Chuncheon or Gapyeong
If you want to stay near Nami Island I recommend either Gapyeong or Chuncheon. Whilst there is accommodation available on Nami Island itself, this is an expensive option.
Gapyeong is the closer of the two to Nami Island and has a nice selection of restaurants and reasonably priced accommodation.
Chuncheon, on the other hand, is about 30 minutes away from Gapyeong but is closer to the Gangchon Rail Bike. It’s a small town specializing in Dakgalbi with its own street dedicated to the famous dish.
I stayed in Chuncheon and loved my quick visit to the Dakgalbi capital of Korea!
Accommodation in Gapyeong
If you’re traveling on a budget, Jarasum Guest House is conveniently situated in Gapyeong, very close to Nami Island. It’s the cheapest place you’ll find and even comes with breakfast.
If you’re looking for a mid-range place to stay near Nami Island, this charming hotel along the river is just for you. It’s only 10 minutes from Nami Island and has gorgeous views from the balcony.
If luxury is your first choice, then check out Club Inner Hotel & Resort. Not only does it have large, spacious rooms but it also has a pool and outdoor terrace.
Accommodation in Chuncheon
Budget travelers will love this cute pension in Chuncheon. Situated on the top of the hill, it’s close to Chuncehon Dakgalbi Street and the hosts are super friendly,
If you’re looking for a mid-range option, you’ll love Julies’ Place which is just a stone’s throw away from the Chuncheon Station. Not only is the host incredibly friendly, but the room is extremely comfortable and even has it’s own kitchenette.
Best Time To Visit Nami Island
- Spring (March-May): The flowers begin to bloom, and the Garden of Morning Calm and Nami Island are filled with beautiful bright colors. Spring also brings cherry blossoms that attract a large crowd to Nami Island. The weather is cool and it’s a great time to be outdoors.
- Summer (June – August): Summer is extremely hot and humid in Korea. A tour to Nami Island and the Garden of Morning Calm involves being outdoors, and unless you can handle the heat, it’s better to visit during the cooler months.
- Autumn (September – November): Autumn brings along pleasant weather in contrast to the scorching hot summers and freezing cold winters. The beautiful color leaves attract many tourists and it’s a great time to visit Nami Island.
- Winter (December – February): During Winter it’s chilly but the beautiful snow-covered landscapes offer a unique visit to Nami Island and the entire Gapyeong valley.
Thoughts on Nami Island
I’m glad I finally got to see what all the hype is about! My highlights were the delicious food I ate, the rail bike, and of course Nami Island!
Personally, I found all the attractions far too crowded, and the Gapyeong City Tour Bus was always filled to capacity. Booking a tour package would’ve been so much easier but at least I had two days so my days didn’t feel too rushed!
However, if you’re unable to visit during the week, you’ll just need to come to terms with the fact that it will be chaotic on weekends.
- Recommended tour: full-day tour from Seoul
- Distance from Seoul: 2.5 hours
- Time needed: Full day | 2 days if you have time
- Best time to go: During spring or fall, preferably during the week when it’s less busy
Have you been to Nami Island and the Garden of Morning Calm? What were your highlights? Let me know in the comments section below!
Looking for more Korea travel information? Check out my other posts!
- Why Naksan Beach is Korea’s Perfect Beach Getaway
- 24 Strange Things About Life In Korea
- How To East A Korean BBQ (Like a Korean)
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