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Located in Gapyeong (가평), 1-2 hours from Seoul, the seasonal florals of Nami Island (남이섬) and Garden of Morning Calm (아침고요수목원) make the perfect backdrop for any photo, while the colourful European-style buildings of Petite France (쁘띠프랑스) seemingly transports one to another place. No wonder K-dramas have used these spots as filming locations.
Here’s a sneak peak of what you can uncover on a day trip to Gapyeong:
This popular day trip can be covered on your own through some careful planning but there are also all-inclusive tours which cover transport from Seoul, through the different attractions as well as entrance tickets to each of them.
In this guide, we’ll share how we did it on our own but also if hopping on a tour is worth it.
1) How to get from Seoul to Gapyeong Station:
Here’s a couple of ways you can get there ranging from cheapest (if you’re not short on time) to the most convenient.
Yongsan Station (용산역) → Sangbong Stn (상봉역)
Transfer to Gyeongchun Line
Sangbong Stn (상봉역) → Gapyeong Stn (가평역)
Time: 95 mins
*Free for Korail Pass holders
(3) Shuttle Bus:
For those who’d prefer a more fuss-free way of getting to Gapyeong from Seoul and exploring all these spots within, this all-inclusive tour would be your best bet!
Get picked up from a central location (Hongdae, Myeongdong or Dongdaemun), arrive in Gapyeong and leave the day’s plan to your private bus that will shuttle you to your choice of zones you’d like to cover. The tour also includes entrance tickets to each spot so you get to skip the ticket queues for those.
2) Travelling within Gapyeong:
If you’re covering Nami on your own, there’s a Gapyeong City Bus that runs once an hour between 9AM – 7PM starting from Gapyeong Station and covers all 4 sites.
For a flat rate of ₩6,000, you can purchase the Gapyeong Bus Pass from the bus captain for unlimited rides within a day. Keep this ticket and show it to the bus captain at every pickup point.
The bus comes at intervals of 30 minutes to an hour and are usually packed from 10AM – 2PM so be extra mindful and factor in time to get to the bus stop earlier than scheduled. Miss a bus and you’ll probably end up missing an attraction or 2 since you’ll have to wait a whole hour for the next bus.
We actually made a mistake and took the bus from the WRONG direction while at Nami Island. That cost us some precious 2.5 hours of waiting and finding our way back on track. As a result, we missed our rail bike booking which was at 5PM! I’ll go into details later, but first, here’s the Gapyeong intercity bus route.
Intercity Bus course A:
Schedule of Gapyeong Intercity bus:
3) The ideal DIY itinerary
If you’re planning to cover Nami on your own, here’s what we attempted. In order to cover all 4 locations, we had to start our day as early as 5AM and had a maximum of 2 hours at each spot. To be honest, the schedule is pretty ambitious so if you’d like to take it easy, you might want to take 1 activity out or sign up for an all-inclusive tour.
6:00AM – 6:55AM: Take ITX from Yongsan – Gapyeong
7:00AM: Take the Intra-city (Green) bus* for Gapyeong Wharf (₩1,100) or take a taxi for ~₩4,000
(*seems like this bus service has changed its first departure timing to 7:40AM as of 1/1/2018)
7:35AM: Take the 1st ferry to Nami Island (from Gapyeong Wharf)
7:45AM – 9:50AM: Explore Nami Island
10:00AM: Take the ferry back to Gapyeong Wharf
10:25AM – 10:50AM: Take Gapyeong City shuttle bus (Opposite GS25) to Petit France
Explore Petit France
12:50PM – 1:35PM: Take the Gapyeong City Shuttle bus to the Garden Of Morning Calm
Explore Garden of Morning Calm
3:05PM – 4:22PM: Take Gapyeong City Shuttle bus to Gapyeong Rail Bike Park
5:00PM: Gapyeong Rail Bike
7:28PM – 8:24PM: Take ITX back to Seoul (Reserve Seats for this train in the morning)
1st stop: Nami Island (남이섬)
There are two ways to get to Nami Island, you can either take a ferry from Gapyeong Ferry Wharf, or get onto the island in style by zip-lining across — do note that the zip-line is only one-way, and you’ll be leaving the island by ferry. The ferry leaves every 30 minutes from 7:30AM – 9:00AM and every 10-20 minutes between 9AM – 6PM.
Popularised by one of the most iconic Korean drama, Winter Sonata 겨울연가 (2002), which almost certainly ignited the Korean Wave worldwide, Nami Island has been attracting many K-Drama lovers since the early 2000s. Strike a pose with auntie-killer Bae Yong-Joon’s lifesize copper statue.
Located an hour’s drive away from the city of Seoul, Nami Island is the perfect place for anyone who wants to be away from the rapid city pace and just be within nature.
Spot free-roaming bunnies and squirrels while you’re at Nami Island too!
Look at that squirrel in between the kimchi huts!
Stop by the old rail tracks for some photo-taking opportunities with the ostriches on the island!
Redwood trees of Metasequoia Road and Central Korean Pine Tree Lane are some popular photo spots where the tall majestic trees seem to go on and on forever.
Nami is exceptionally beautiful during the autumn months, where rows of pine and maple trees turn red and paint the whole island into a huge pumpkin spice latte. We were there in early Autumn and the foliages were still green, but right now (Nov), Nami Island is painted in a sea of red and gold!
If you’re feeling peckish, try the Hotteok (호떡), a popular Korean red bean pancake, from the Nami Island Sonata Cafe (₩1,500/pc). The hotteoks are freshly prepared and make a great treat after the long walks around Nami Island!
Here’s a fun fact, Nami Island declared its “cultural independence” on 01 March 2006. This imaginary “country” has not only invented its own passport, but also currency, stamp, and telephone card!
Admission Fee: Adults ₩8,000/pax (Ferry + Entrance), or ₩38,000 (Zipline + Entrance)**
Opening Hours: 7:30AM – 9:45PM daily
**July 2018 Update: Adult tickets have changed to ₩13,000 for Ferry entrance and ₩44,000 for the Zipline entrance.
Lunch at Arisu 아리수
There are a couple of food stalls around the ferry terminal, but if you are looking for a full meal, there’s a dakgalbi restaurant near the bus stop. It’s a blue building with two big chimpanzees on it, hence it’s really easy to spot. While we did not have our lunch there, we read that the dakgalbi (닭갈비), or spicy stir-fried chicken, is delicious and reasonably priced.
Do take your meals prior to heading to Petite France and Garden of Morning Calm, as there are limited food options around those areas.
2nd Stop: Petite France (쁘띠프랑스)
Petite France is a French cultural village that showcases vintage European trinkets such as century-old dolls and puppets, antiquities, orgels (musical instrument), and furniture. Stepping into Petite France, one will feel transported to another location and time period.
While Petite France is also the most touristy, it’s definitely worth a visit as the colourful buildings’ facade make a great backdrop for photo-taking opportunities.
There are several free performances such as the Orgel Demonstration, Guignol French Hand Puppet show, Marionette Czech String Puppet show, and accordion performances by the street musician.
Besides the iconic colourful buildings, another great photo spot is the Butterfly Park.
Admission Fee: ₩8,000/pax
Opening Hours: 9:00AM – 6:00PM daily (Last admission 1 hour before closing)
3rd Stop: Garden of Morning Calm (아침고요수목원)
With 26 themed gardens within the entire compound, the Garden of Morning Calm is every botanists’ / horticulturists’ / photographers’ dreamland. While we were there, the chrysanthemums in full bloom mesmerized us all.
A great place for everyone to slow down and admire the beautiful flowers and landscape within the oldest private garden in South Korea.
Many older folks can be seen brisk walking, while the younger generations whisk their cameras for selfies amongst the many colourful beds of flowers around Pond Garden and Sunken Garden.
Garden of Morning Calm is open all year round, and there’s a reason to visit every season as exhibits are seasonal. In Spring, Magnolia, Azalea, and Cherry Blossoms paint the garden pink. During Summer, the garden bursts into a myriad of colours when Roses, Iris, and Blue Hydrangea bloom.
Our visit in Autumn showed us how Chrysanthemums and Maples add a sense of warmth to the cooling temperate with their red fiery petals and leaves. While in Winter, artificial lightings make the otherwise dormant snow-covered garden look like a magical winter wonderland.
The undeniable charms of Garden of Morning Calm have made it a hot spot for K-Dramas and variety shows. Popular shows like Love in the Moonlight 구르미 그린 달빛 (2016), You’re Beautiful 미남이시네요 (2009), and TVN Taxi 현장토크쇼 택시 (SHINee) have been filmed here.
Operating hours: 8:30AM – 7:00PM (Last admission: 1 hour before closing)
Admission Fee: ₩9,000/pax
Last stop: Rail Bike Park (레일파크)
There are 2 different rail parks, Gapyeong Rail Park (가평 레일파크) and Gangchon Rail Park (강촌 레일파크). The one in Gapyeong is more convenient if you’re covering it on the same day as Nami Island, as it is one of the stops of the Gapyeong Intercity Bus.
However, the views in Gangchon are nicer and goes through 3 tunnels whereas Gapyeong only goes through one.
As mentioned, we missed 5PM booking for the rail bike at Gapyeong and had to return another day for it. Be there at least 20mins before your booking. Time-keepers please be mindful of the time as bookings will be forfeited (non-refundable nor exchangeable) if missed.
Gangchon Rail Park
Getting to Gangchon Rail Park:
Via Subway/Metro (via Gyeongchun Line): Gapyeong Stn (P134) → Gimyujeong Stn (P138)
Since we returned on a separate day, we decided to head straight for the Gangchon Rail Park and it definitely did not disappoint!
There are 4-seater and 2-seater options. If you’re going in a group of 6, we’d recommend getting three 2-seaters instead of a 4-Seater + 2-Seater as the bikes go out in batches of type.
Note that the ride stops at Old Gangchon Station (no longer functioning) and not the one where you can take the ITX from. A free shuttle bus will bring you back to Gimyujeong station where you’ll need to take a stop down to Gangchon for the ITX.
*Pro-tip: If seat reservations have run out, take the train from Chun Cheon instead to increase your chances of getting non-reserved seats on the ITX train.
Opening hours: Starts at 9AM, operates at 1hr intervals.
Rental Fees: 2-Seaters cost ₩30,000 and 4-Seaters cost ₩40,000
Gapyeong Rail Park
For Gapyeong Rail Park: The entire pedaling course is about 8km one round, coming to an end at where you started. Scenes of the movie The Letter 편지 (1997) was shot here.
Opening hours: 9:00AM — 5:00PM, operates at 1.5h intervals
Rental Fees: 2-seaters cost ₩25,000 and 4-seaters cost ₩35,000
DIY or TOUR?
For FOMO people like us who want to cover everything, this DIY plan would have worked really well if we stuck to all the bus timings. Unfortunately, the detour cost us one activity short despite waking up super early to start the day.
DIY Pros: You’ll get to enjoy a relatively empty Nami island if you visit before 9am.
DIY Cons: You’ll have to be really careful about the bus timings and it might feel a bit rushed to cover all 4 sites.
Tour Pros: Minimal planning required and you get to skip the queues for getting entrance tickets.
Tour Cons: You might arrive at the same time as other tour groups when the place is most crowded. Although places like the Garden of Morning Calm is huge so the crowds didn’t quite spoil the experience.
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We hope you found this guide helpful in planning your perfect day trip from Seoul to Nami island as well as all the other gorgeous sights within the Gapyeong area!
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