So Nami Island… The stuff of K-dramas and many girls’ dreams. So what happens when you’re a girl (who doesn’t really speak any Korean) alone in Seoul, wanting to visit this picturesque place? Well… You (or in this case, I) just go! It’s really as simple as that. Let me tell you how.
Step 1: Make your way to Yongsan Station
From many parts of the city of Seoul, it’s fairly easy to get to this major train station where many lines run through. From there, there are a few ways to choose from, but I choose a fairly quick and mid-priced option, a direct ITX train to Gapyeong (takes around 55 minutes and costs ~KRW5,000, you can check the schedule on the Korail website).
I reached Yongsan station by subway around 10.30am and bought the ticket at the counter for the 10.58am train and off I went.
Step 2: Take the bus to Gapyeong Wharf
From Gapyeong Station, there’s a bus stop right outside that offers a bus service around that covers quite a few of the main attractions in the area besides Nami Island – the Gapyeong Rail Bike (I think this needs to be booked in advance), Petite France, Garden of Morning Calm.
So if you want to do all that in one day, make sure you go early (like really early, 7am early – you’ll need to take a taxi if so though as the first bus from Gapyeong Station is at 9.20am).
Anyway, I didn’t want to have to run headfirst through all these attractions (and I admittedly went pretty late – I’m on holiday right?!), so I went straight to Nami Island. Bought the city bus pass at ~KRW6,000 for unlimited rides around the area and hopped on the 12.20pm bus to get to the wharf (frequency is around every 30-60 minutes from 9.20am, you can get the latest schedule at the bus stop).
Step 3: Take the ferry to Nami Island!
Just a quick ferry ride (approximately 5 to 6 minutes) and tadah, as simple as that, you’re at Nami Island!
Actually, there’s not a whole lot of things to do there, but it’s such a beautiful place that it’s enough to just walk amongst the tree lined boulevards and soak in the nature sights and other not-so-natural but very beautiful decorations of the place too.
And besides, who hasn’t watched Winter Sonata? Hahaha. Back when I wasn’t a fan of K-dramas and thought they were lame, I still watched it. To be honest I completely forgot the plot and characters because it was so long ago, but I can totally see the allure of the film setting – the island is just downright pretty.
Anyway, after ~2 hours of admiring the various scenic areas, taking some photos and enjoying some of the local street food on Nami Island, you’ll pretty much have it covered and can move on.
I arrived pretty late so on the bright side, probably less tourists, on the down side, not much time to go to another attraction (I think I left the island after 3pm).
Leave the island how you came, by ferry from the same place.
Step 4: Drop by Petite France
I really wanted to have a look at Petite France because – My Love From The Star of course (hahahaha), but time was really kind of tight (I didn’t want to miss one of the last few buses back to the station and get back to Seoul too late).
So I hopped on the 3.55pm bus, reached around 4.20pm and did a quick tour of the place and catched the 4.50pm bus back to Gapyeong Station. I know I said I didn’t want to rush, but…. Anyway.
Petite France was another really aesthetically pleasing place to be, and like Nami Island, perhaps is best enjoyed with a romantic partner. But strolling around alone around the lovely painted houses and fairly lights all over was still rather pleasing and mood lifting – I would do it all over again and spend more time there the next time.
Step 5: Catch a train back to Seoul
Unfortunately the 4.50pm bus took me to Gapyeong Station at 5.20pm, which meant that I had 4 minutes to buy a ticket and hop on the 5.24pm ITX to Yongsan. Needless to say, I missed that, and the next one was at 6.32pm. And so, here is the beauty of spontaneous travel or travelling with an open plan – you improvise.
I wandered around the station and found out that there were regular commuter trains available too, which would take a longer time, but beats waiting at the station for over an hour right? In the end, I took the Gyeongchun line to Sangbong Station, transferred to Line 7 to get to Konkuk University and then to Line 2 to Gangnam Station, where I was staying (reached at maybe close to 8pm).
Woohoo made it back in time for dinner and a night of partying on New Year’s Eve!! (Yes, I went to Nami Island by myself on NYE lol).
The point is, don’t let ‘but it’s so far away’ or ‘difficult to get to’ stop you. Someday, I’m gonna try and visit these stairs in Korea – even though they are exactly that – far away and difficult to get to!
Other resources on getting to Nami Island and Gapyeong: