On our second visit to South Korea together, my sister and I decided to explore nearby towns and provinces instead of spending more time in Seoul. Of course, it’s impossible for us to get tired of Hongdae or Myeongdong, but there were tons of nearby cities and towns perfect for a day trip from Seoul as well.
Let’s start on our Nami Island and The Garden of Morning Calm day tour, shall we? We made sure to allot a day exploring Gapyeong and Chuncheon, and it’s also one of the more popular destinations nearby Seoul that’s perfect for a day trip.
I had been to Nami Island in autumn, but I hadn’t been to the Garden of Morning Clam. My sister hadn’t been to both, too. We decided to skip Petite France just because, and we chose to visit the arboretum instead since it was used as a filming site for Moonlight Drawn By Clouds. My sister was having her Park Bogum phase that time, lol. (She’s now on her Park Woojin phase!)
It seriously feels so long ago, but I’ll still try to keep the post as detailed as possible. Forgive me if some details would escape me.
Nami Island (남이섬)
It almost feels mandatory to visit Nami Island if you visit South Korea. The sensational Korean drama Winter Sonata caused millions of foreign tourists visiting the island year on year, but even without the fanfare and promotion brought by the drama, I think it’ll still be a pretty popular destination. For one, its charms change depending on the season. While I do think it looks much more beautiful in autumn, Nami Island was still beautiful in Spring. No matter the season, this one is seriously worth the visit. I have no idea why people call it overrated, though.
Nami Island is about two hours away from Seoul so make sure to leave as early as possible. We took the subway to reach Gapyeong Station and then from the bus stop outside the station, we hopped on a bus that would take us to Nami Island. Majority of the buses stopping outside the station were bound for Nami Island. Just follow the crowd and don’t forget to ask the driver. And once dropping off the bus, we took the ferry to the island. We were tempted to try the zipline that would take us to the island, but it was too cold that day that we had to skip it.
Even though we left so early, it was almost lunch time when we arrived in Nami Island. We actually considered having lunch first, but we decided against it. We weren’t that hungry yet so we opted to tour the island first.
Instead of maple leaves covering the pathways, cherry blossoms were flying everywhere! My sister and I got enthralled in this one area where there were still tons of cherry blossoms. The wind started blowing and it seriously felt great having all these cherry blossoms flowing around us.
We don’t know how to ride a bike, and the island was seriously so big. We wanted to rent an Electric Tri-way when we saw other tourists roaming the island on it. But before we could even find where to rent one, we got swayed by one scenic spot after another. Every twist and turn of the road lead us to a picturesque view that we gave up and just toured the island on foot. It was still pretty fun, though. I don’t mind a lot of walking as long as the weather was refreshing and not humid.
There were a handful of restaurants in the island, but we skipped those and tried the food kiosks instead. We loved the slightly burnt hotdogs smothered with ketchup and mustard.
We saw people gathered outside a hut and apparently, red bean steamed buns were being sold. We had to try it out. They serve you the steamed buns straight from the… cauldron? I don’t know what it’s called but it’s pretty cool. They cooked it in a traditional way, with the cooking pots cemented to the ground. Then they scoop it out from the pot and hand it out to customers. For only 1,000 KRW each, it was pretty cheap.
I highly recommend the steamed buns,too! We only wanted to try one at first but we loved it so much that we bought another.
We didn’t spend the entire time walking around, though. We definitely loved the wooden beds that dotted around the island. We called it papag, because it is a papag, hehe. If we didn’t have other places to visit, I swear I could spend the entire afternoon sleeping there, under the shade of the trees, then waking up just to eat some Korean snacks. How I wish there’s a place like this near home. But it’s just too hot in the Philippines to sleep outside. And unsafe!
So as much as we’d love to stay longer in Nami Island, we had to leave to have lunch and visit The Garden of Morning Calm.
Bulgogi for lunch
Since we were in Chuncheon, we wanted to try the famous Dak Galbi. There were tons of specialized restaurants near Nami Island offering the local delicacy, but we weren’t that hungry and the servings were huge! The restaurants required a serving for each person, and we were sure that we couldn’t finish it by ourselves. I really, really wanted to try Dak Galbi but I guess that’s for another visit.
We hunted down other restaurants and we saw one that’s quite hidden and they offer dishes aside from Dak Galbi. We ordered bulgogi because we hadn’t ordered it yet during the trip.
Dining outside was seriously so nice if the weather was good. I can’t remember if there were tables inside the restaurant, but we dined al fresco. It was already around 2 in the afternoon so there weren’t a lot of diners, but there’s a continuous trickle of customers throughout our stay. They serve the bulgogi on a hot pan and the side dishes were plenty. We could also refill it ourselves!
All in all, we had a good lunch. If you’re around Nami Island and not in the mood for Dak Galbi, this restaurant has other items on their menu.
The Garden of Morning Calm
Going from Nami Island to The Garden of Morning Calm wasn’t difficult, but the travel time was definitely long. We were actually quite surprised that it took us almost an hour to get there!
We almost missed the bus stop and almost lined up on the wrong stop. Fortunately, we still got on the correct bus but had to pay extra because the bus works on the hop-on-hop-off ticketing system. Basically, you pay only one ticket for Nami Island, Petite France, The Garden of Morning Calm, and other Gapyeong attractions! It’s more expensive than a single bus ticket, of course, but we figured that we’d use it anyway on our way back. Besides, we were already running out of time, and we didn’t want to wait for the next bus.
After the 45-minute bus ride, we finally arrived at The Garden of Morning Calm. Remember how I said my sister’s a big fan of Park Bogum? Well, we were pleasantly surprised to see this huge Moonlight Drawn by Clouds banner at the entrance. Apparently, the location was used in a bunch of other dramas, too. I wasn’t a Park SeoJoon fan that time, so I didn’t spazz knowing he was in the banner, too.
We arrived quite late in the afternoon already, but there were still a lot of people. It wasn’t crowded, which we appreciated, but it’s probably because the place was incredibly big that it’s impossible for the crowd to just stay in one place.
There were maps recommending the best routes to take, and we just randomly chose one path and hoped that we’d have enough time to see everything. The place was huge! I think even spending three or four hours would be just enough to take your time marveling over everything.
Since it was springtime when we visit, the The Garden of Morning Calm was alive with every flower you can imagine. There were flowers that I saw for the first time! As someone who grew up only knowing santan and sampaguita, I was mesmerized with flowers such as tulips and daffodils.
I wish we brought our parents with us. It was the kind of place that they would have appreciated. They both love plants and flowers, and I bet they’d want to stay there the whole day.
My favorite section of the garden was the path lined with different colored tulips! It lead to a small church that looked straight out of a fairy tale. The photos definitely don’t give it justice because it definitely made me feel like I entered an anime set in a medieval period. It felt like we got lost in the wood and encountered an abandoned church. It’s also possible that I’m exaggerating, but it definitely feels like a movie set.
Another favorite spot was this small pond! It was used in the drama Moonlight Drawn by Clouds and we searched the exact spot where they filmed that particle scene.
One of the things I would love to do when traveling is to print out photos from my favorite drama and movie scenes, visit those exact same spots, and take photos of the exact same spots with the photos of the scenes. But I realized I’m too lazy for that, and I’m also not that detailed. But other people have done it and I am jealous!
Well, maybe if I get to travel next time I’ll actually do it. But I’m 90% sure that I’ll be too lazy to do it. Heck, I even cram creating itineraries for my trips.
My sister and I were some of the last ones in the place. Unfortunately, we wanted to finish touring everything before it turned dark, because our bus’ last trip was around 6:00PM or 6:30 PM. I cannot remember the time, but there were barely 10 of us on that last bus ride. My sister and I even thought we missed it because there were no people at the bus station.
Good thing two other tourists arrived and told us not to worry since there’s still one more trip. We ate some odeng and drunk cheap coffee to keep ourselves warm while waiting. Though it was spring, it was still quite chilly for us tropical island girls.
Gapyeong may be quite far from the city, but it’s still a pretty good day trip from Seoul, especially if you want to be surrounded with nature’s beauty. Maybe if we had enough time we could have visited Petite France, too, but the day trip was more than enough since we had ample time to explore each location on our own terms.
Address: 1 Namisum-gil, Namsan-myeon, Chuncheon, Gangwon-do, South Korea
Ferry Schedule: 07:30-09:00 (30 minute intervals), 09:00-18:00 (10-20 minute intervals), 18:00-21:40 (30 minute intervals)
Ferry + Admission Fee: 13,000 KRW (General Rate), 10,000 KRW (Discounted Rate)
The Garden of Morning Cam
Address: 432, Sumogwon-ro, Sang-myeon, Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do
Opening Hours: 08:30-19:00
Admission Fee: 13,000 KRW (General Rate), 10,000 KRW (Discounted Rate)
How to Travel via the Gapyeong City Tour Bus
There are numerous ways to go to Nami Island from Seoul, and we chose to take the subway and the bus to visit the Nami Island and The Garden of Morning Calm.
There’s no need to by a ticket beforehand and you don’t even have to buy it over the counter. Tickets for the Gapyeong City Tour Bus can be purchased when you hop on the bus, and you can also start using it from any bus stop you start your trip. There’s just a bus conductor that checks the ticket everytime you get on the bus.
Directions from (Dongdaemun) Seoul to Nami Island
From whatever station you’re from, the first goal is to transfer to Line 1, Line 2 or Line 5. Our starting point for this one is the Dongdaemun Station.
- From Dongdaemun Station (Line 1, Line 4), get off at Wangsimni Station (Line 1, Line 2, Line 5).
- Transfer to the Jungang Line on the Wangsimni Station.
- On the Jungang Line, travel to Sangbong Station to make the next transfer.
- From the Sangbong Station, transfer to the Gyeongchun Line.
- On the Gyeongchung Line, get off at the Gapyeong Station, which is the final subway stop.
- There’s only one exit, and from there, look for the nearest bus stop across the station.
- Get on the Gapyeong City Tour Bus, for a hop on and hop off tour to Nami Island, Petite France, The Garden of Morning Calm and other attractions in Gapyeong.
Directions from Nami Island to The Garden of Morning Calm
- From the bus stop on the Nami Island Wharf, hop on the Gapyeong City Tour Bus.
- Drop off at the entrance of The Garden of Morning Calm
Directions from The Garden of Morning Calm to Seoul
- From the bus stop outside The Garden of Morning Calm, get on the Gapyeong City Tour Bus.
- Get off at the Cheongpyeong Station bus stop.
- From the Cheongpyeong Station (Gyeongchun Line), travel to the Sangbong Station and transfer to the Jungang Line.
- From the Sangbong Station on the Jungang Line, travel to Wangsimni Station (Line 1, Line 2, Line 5, Jungang Line).
- From Wangsimni Station, transfer to Line 1 to reach Dongdaemun Station.
Nami Island – Garden of Morning Calm Tours
If the thought of transferring to so many lines confuses you or you just can’t be bothered with switching from trains to buses, you can also opt to just join tours that offer roundtrip transportation. It can also help you better manage your time!
Klook and Trazy offer some tours, and you just have to pick one that’s best for you:
- Klook: Nami Island, Garden of Morning Calm & More
- Klook: Nami Island – Seoul Round Trip Transfer
- Trazy: Seoul Vicinity: Nami Island and Garden of Morning Calm
- Trazy:Seoul Vicinity: Nami Island + Petite France + Garden of Morning Calm Day Tour
For our full travel itinerary, check out the post South Korea Travel Itinerary: Seoul and Busan for 7 Days.