Is it weird that I am writing this in a barber shop while waiting for my brother to get his haircut? Yeah, I didn’t think so neither.
Friends always ask me when is the best time to visit Korea, I always answer is Spring and Autumn, and it would depend what you want to see. Never visit during summer because it burns you. If you want to get the cold experience and live in a country near Korea, come during Winter. Although, I cannot guarantee you will enjoying the amazing streets of Seoul if you decide to do so.
One of the best places to go to during your stay in Korea is see the Nami Island. Why? It is outside Seoul and there is more to Korea than the big “city life”.
However, let me do warn you that this island is a tourist trap and if ever you decide to visit on a weekend; you will encounter thousands and millions of tourists. Most of those tourists will be from mainland China.
About Nami Island :
Nami Island is a half-moon shaped isle and on it is the grave of General Nami, who led a great victory against the rebels in the 13th year of the 7th king of Choseon Dynasty, King Sejong. (History -_-)
A special feature of Nami Island is that there are no telephone poles. This is because all electric wires were built underground to keep the natural feeling of the landscape.
There are various activities from Zip Wire, Jara Island, Bungee Jumping, Wakeboarding ??? near the island and via the shuttle bus you may visit the other tourist attractions such as the Rail Park, Petit France, and the Garden of Morning Calm.
The island is 63km away from Seoul in the direction of Chuncheon, where it is famous for its Dalkgalbi (stir fried marinated chicken with red chili paste).
Okay guys, you better ready yourself with some comfortable walking shoes because the island requires so much walking.
How to get there?
1. Shuttle Bus?
It is a question mark because I have never taken it but I heard there is a shuttle bus going to the island.
From my research, you can take the shuttle bus from Insa-dong or Namdaemun. More info here.
I always take the subway when I go to Nami Island. Seoul has one of the best subway systems in the world (according to me! HAH!!!), so why not take advantage of it?
The normal train ride will take an hour or so, but make sure to check the train time table because they come every 15 to 30 minutes. There will be a hoard of people during the weekend and it will be close to impossible to get a seat if you are not in the front of the line.
Take the subway from Sangbong Station which goes straight to Gapyeong Station and from there, take the shuttle bus. (Shuttle bus info down there)
The total subway fare will cost a bit less than 2,500 KRW.
I always take the train from Sangbong station because that is the first stop for this lane and your chance to get a seat is 60%. Low, but good chance!
Question mark again because I have never tried riding the ITX wherever I went. HAHA. However, according to my friends, it is very convenient. You do not need to wait for the subway for the longest time ever! Also, you paid for the seat, thus the seat is yours so you can sit down all the way to your destination!
From my research, you can take the ITX from Yongsan station. And a one-way ITX ride to Gapyeong station will cost 5,200 KRW. So, it’s a win!!!
You can purchase a ticket for the ITX train online through KORAIL to Gapyeong Station and from there, take the shuttle bus. (Shuttle bus info below.)
Okay Ji, what shuttle bus are you talking about?
This is a different shuttle bus from what I posted up there in #1. This shuttle bus is a tour shuttle bus where it goes all around from Gapyeong Station to Chuncheon Station. In between, there is the Nami Island, Petit France, Garden of Morning Calm.
There is only a ticket for a day-use which costs 6,000 KRW. Pretty expensive, I know. So if you want to make most out of this fare and see EVERYTHING that is covered by the bus, you might want to start really early in the morning.
Or if you are in a group of 4 people, it might be cheaper to take a cab to the island.
SO! What happens next?
Most probably, the taxi driver and the shuttle bus will drop you off in front of the small wharf where you can ride the ferry going to the island. You can purchase the ticket for 10,000 KRW which is your entrance fee and your ferry fare (fairy fare?). The ferry ride is short. 10 minutes? Never took note how long it took. Will do it next time.
Get off the ferry and enjoy the island!
What to eat?
There is nothing to eat that will satisfy you in the island but there are restaurants outside the small wharf, where you ride the ferry going to the island.
1. Dakgalbi (닭갈비)
This is basically chicken marinated in red chili paste and is cooked right in front of you in a big pan with vegetables. After eating the chicken, I recommend ordering the “bokgeum bab” (볶음밥) which is fried rice. If you don’t want to do that, you can order rice separately.
2. Makgooksoo (막국수)
You may also order “makgooksoo” (막국수) which is a noodle dish with red chili paste sauce. Most of the time people will just have the Dakgalbi and this noodle on the side so that they can try both. This is actually one of my favorite Korean noodle dishes.
All the dishes mentioned above are good but if you can’t handle even a bit of spicy, then I wouldn’t recommend this dish to you.
What to do there?
Nami island has plenty of activities and even have coffee shops. I believe you can actually book an accommodation there if you want. (Check out their website.)
The island itself is really rich in nature. There are so many trees to enjoy during the autumn season and endless fields of snow during the winter.
Activities such as ice sculpting activity, ice playground, etc. during the winter I was there.
The island is perfect for those “selfie” or #travelphotogoals people out there because the place is practically spectacular to take photos in. Well, minus the crowd. I suggest go find a quiet place in the island where it isn’t so crowded to have those photo moments. It is possible! You really don’t need that specific common background photo in the island from what I have observed.
Okay, I enjoyed the island. I have seen every inch of it to the last bone.
So, how do I get back to the city?
Simple, repeat the steps above but in reverse! Ferry – bus/taxi – subway/ITX.
Do take note that it will be harder to find a seat in the subway going back to the city.
I suggest visiting the island on a weekday to avoid the crowd and I believe the island is most gorgeous during autumn and winter.
Check out more info on the island through their site: https://namisum.com/en/
I made a video about my visit to the island if you want to see how the island is like before going!
And oh, you may ask. Was my brother still getting a haircut when I finished writing this?
No, I had to continue at home. Guys take a shorter time to get a haircut apparently. Pssh.