Inside the beautiful Gapyeong Valley lies Nami Island, one of Korea’s biggest tourist attractions near Seoul. Most people choose to visit Gapyeong on a day tour and include the picturesque Garden of Morning Calm and Petite France in their Nami Island itinerary.
However, a simple search of Gapyeong and Namiseom Island will leave you with more questions than answers. How should I plan my tour? Should I spend the weekend in Gapyeong or will a day tour suffice?
Well, this Nami Island itinerary has got you covered!
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- How to get to Nami Island from Seoul
- Gapyeong City Tour Bus
- Garden of Morning Calm
- Nami Island
- Petite France
- Rail parks in Gapyeong
- Chuncheon Dakgalbi Street
- Where to stay
- The best time to visit
Day tour to Nami Island or weekend trip?
If you’re pressed for time, it’s possible to visit Gapyeong on a day tour and squeeze in all the top attractions such as Nami Island, Garden of Morning Calm and Petite France. However, it will be a busy day and you’ll probably miss out on one or two other activities in the area.
If you’re visiting Nami Island for a day tour, I recommend you join an organized tour from Seoul. Getting to and from Nami Island and moving around Gapyeong with the shuttle bus does take time. You may miss a train, or the Gapyeong City Tour Bus might be late (or too full) which will result in less time to explore. If you join an organized tour group you will have a dedicated bus and guide which will ensure you cover all locations according to your trip.
I visited Nami Island over a long weekend and spent the night in nearby Chuncheon. Having that extra day allows you to slow down a bit, and of course, gives you extra time in case you miss a train or if the Gapyeong City Tour Bus doesn’t arrive as scheduled. And yes, both happened to me!
How to get to Nami Island from Seoul
There are three ways to get to the Gapyeong region from Seoul
This is the quicker, more convenient option. 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
Time: 55 minutes
Cost: 5 200 KRW ($5)
2) Seoul Metro
Getting to Nami Island 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.
Station: Seoul Metro (Gyeongchun Line) to Gapyeong station
Time: 90 – 120 minutes
Cost: 2 350 KRW ($2)
3) 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
Gapyeong City Tour Bus
Once you’ve reached Gapyeong, the easiest way to move between all the attractions is with the Gapyeong 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.
Gapyeong City Bus route
Gapyeong Bus terminal – Gapyeong Station – Rail Park – Nami Island – Petite France – Cheongpyeong Terminal – Cheongpyeong Station – Garden of Morning Calm
Day 1 Nami Island itinerary
Garden of Morning Calm
The Garden of Morning Calm is exactly that – 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 the Garden of Morning Calm
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, 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.
Entrance Fee: 9 500 KRW
Time Needed: 1-2 hours
Nami Island is the prize of Gapyeong.
It’s 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.
Immigration to Nami Island
Your Nami Island adventure begins when you purchase your “entry visa” and pass through “immigration” at the Gapyeong Ferry Wharf. Thereafter, you have two options to get to Naminara Republic:
- Take a 10-minute ferry ride
Cost: 10 000 KRW (return ticket and includes entrance)
Cost: 38 000 KRW (Return with the ferry and includes entrance)
What to do on Nami Island?
Upon 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.
Biking around the island
I loved cycling around the island on a tandem bike and trying to make sense of the unique sculptures that are scattered throughout.
There are also smalls boats and water bikes where you can take a 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!
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!
Time Needed to explore Nami Island: 2-3 hours
How to get to Nami Island?
From the Garden of Morning Calm
The Gapyeong City Tour Bus has a pickup point at the Garden of Morning Calm and takes about 1 hour to reach Gapyeong Ferry Wharf.
Once you reach the stop walk towards the bungee jump and zip wire.
From Gapyeong Station
To get to Nami Island from Gapyeong Station it’s easiest to take a taxi to Gapyeong 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.
Why didn’t I include Petite France in my Nami Island itinerary
Gapyeong was extremely busy during my visit and had I gone to Petite France, I would have spent more time waiting in the queue for the next tour bus than exploring the village.
I had done much research and found that Petite France’s biggest attraction 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 instead.
Entrance fee to Petite France: 10 000 KRW
Time needed: 1 hour
Day 2 of your Nami Island itinerary
Rail park in Gapyeong
If pedaling along a discontinued rail line sounds fun to you, then don’t miss out on this activity in Gapyeong. These rail bikes offer a unique way to explore the Korean countryside with picturesque views of the Bukhangang River.
There are two rail bikes both of which are close to Nami Island and the Garden of Morning Calm.
Cost: 30 00 KRW for a 2-seater bike
Time Needed: 2 hours
Other activities in Gapyeong
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.
What to eat: Chuncheon 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.
Where to eat Dakgalbi on your Nami Island tour?
There are many Dakgalbi restaurants around the Gapyeong Ferry Wharf. If you’re visiting Nami Island on a day tour, 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 metro.
Chuncheon Dakgalbi Street
Chuncheon is a small town specializing in Dakgalbi with its own street dedicated to the famous dish.
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.
Where to stay when you visit Nami Island: Chuncheon or Gapyeong
Whilst there is accommodation available on Nami Island itself, this is an expensive option. If you want to stay near Nami Island I recommend either Gapyeong or Chuncheon.
Gapyeong is the closer of the two to Nami Island and has a nice selection of restaurants and reasonably priced accommodation.
Chuncheon is about 30 minutes away from Gapyeong but is closer to the Gangchon Rail Bike and of course, is known for the famous Chuncheon Dakgalbi Street.
OST Hotel in Chuncheon
OST Hotel is close to all the action and more importantly, Chuncheon Dakgalbi Street.
The location – perfect. The service – perfect. The room – debatable because of the strong smoke smell. Despite opening all the windows, blasting the aircon and making use of an air humidifier, I still struggled to sleep and left smelling like a chimney!
The 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 which 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 and Gapyeong
I’m glad I finally got to see what all the hype is about! Personally, my highlights were the delicious food I ate, the rail bike and of course Nami Island!
All the sites were crowded, and the Gapyeong City Tour Bus was always filled to capacity. 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.