A day trip from Seoul: Exploring Nami Island and the best of Gapyeong

As autumn leaves paint the trees, we explored the golden Nami Island. Across the Han River is a half-moon shaped island floating in the middle.

We started early in the morning on our day trip exploring Gapyeong, Nami Island, Gangchon Rail Park and the Garden of the Morning Calm. Nami Island is the perfect day trip from Seoul, becoming a popular destination for locals and tourists. Follow our Nami Island autumn adventures.

Nami Island (Namiseom) 남이섬

All year round Nami Island is an amazing picturesque landscape. We visited in autumn is when the leaves were golden, covering the whole island. Filled with natural scenery and endless rows of trees. We walked through the main tree lanes to capture the best of the autumn foliage.

We arrived at Gapyeong Wharf early in the morning and caught the 8:30am ferry across the river. There are two options to get the Nami island, either by ferry or zip-lining across for the more adventurous. Since zip-lining opens at 9 am, we opted for the ferry. The ferry runs every 30 mins from 7:30am-9:00am and every 10-20 minutes between 9am-6pm.

Before boarding the ferry, we had to purchase an ‘entry visa’ to the island. Though you’re probably wondering why you may need an entry visa. Since 2006, Nami island declared cultural independence from South Korea and is officially known as the Naminara Republic. It’s recognised as a micronation that’s an independent nation with its own flag and currency. It costs KRW 13,000 that includes a roundtrip ferry fare.

→ More: Day trip to Busan

Nami Island Autumn

Famous for its beautiful landscape throughout all the seasons, the whole island is filled with endless tree lands and riverside walks. Painted golden, the autumn foliage of the Metasequoia trees, Korea Pine trees and Maple trees were stunning and make popular photo spots.

Nami island has become popular due to many Korean dramas. Most notably, dotted around the island, we spotted statues from the famous Korean Drama ‘Winter Sonata’ 겨울연가 (2002).

Where: 1, Namisum-gil, Namsan-myeon, Chuncheon-si, Gangwon-do
Open: 7:30AM – 9:45PM daily
Entry visa fee: Adults ₩13,000/pax (Ferry + Entrance), or ₩44,000 (Zipline + Entrance)
*All hours and prices are correct at time of post. Please check before going.

Gangchon Rail Park

After, our initial plan was to visit Petite France (쁘띠프랑스), a small french culture village. But due to our rail park booking at 12pm, we decided to skip it and go straight to the rail bike. From the ferry pier, we headed back to the subway station to get to Gimyujeong Station. The park is a short 2-minute walk from the station.

Be wary, if you’re not much into exercise! These rail bikes are self pedalling.

Seeing these on Korean youtube videos, I was excited to try finally. Gangchon Rail Park is built on a discontinued line, now converted into a rail park. It has been open since 2010. It’s best to arrive there on time or bookings will be forfeited (no refund) if you miss your time slot.

We enjoyed the scenic track alongside the Bukhangang River. Pedalling along the track, we continued through 3 themed tunnels. The railway runs approx 6km with a rest stop at the end of the trail to take you back to the station. The bike ride took us approximately 30 mins.

Once finished, we waited at the resting area until all the bikes had arrived. Then, we board on a 20-minute ‘romantic’ train to take us back to Gangchon Station. After alighting from the train, we needed to walk to the Gangchon Village Car Park to board the free shuttle back to the where we started. We followed the crowd to the car park to the shuttle and headed back to Gimyujeong Station.

There are 2 different rail parks in Gapyeong; Gapyeong Rail Park (가평 레일파크) and Gangchon Rail Park (강촌 레일파크). While Gapyeong Rail Park is conveniently closer to Nami Island, it only goes through one tunnel. Whereas Gapyeong Rail park goes through 3 and has more beautiful scenery. So we opted for the Gapyeong Rail Park. I would recommend reserving your tickets early, at least 5 days early. Depending on the season as it can be very popular and some sessions time may sell out.

Note: There are 2-seater and 4-seater options and depart in different batches. So if in a bigger group of 6 get three 2-seater or two 4-seater bikes.

Gangchon Rail Park
Getting there: Gapyeong Station → Gimyujeong Station (Subway/Metro via Gyeongchun Line)
Where: 1383 Gimyujeong-ro, Sindong-myeon, Chuncheon, Gangwon-do, South Korea
Open: 9AM-6PM (operates at 1hr intervals)
Rental fee: 2-Seaters cost ₩30,000 and 4-Seaters cost ₩40,000
KRW 30,000 (two-seater) / KRW 40,000 (four-seater)
*All hours and prices are correct at time of post. Please check before going.
Garden of Morning Calm in Autumn

The Garden of Morning Calm (아침고요수목원)

Filled with unique and beautiful flowers, we arrive at The Garden of Morning Calm. There are 26 themed gardens within the grand 30,000sqm property (map). It’s the oldest private garden in South Korea. When we visited in Autumn, it was painted with shades of yellow, orange and red.

The best time to visit The Garden of Morning Calm:

  • Spring: A Spring Garden Festival covers a pink landscape filled with cherry blossoms and magnolias
  • Summer: Blooming flowers and gardens of roses.
  • Autumn: An array of yellow, orange and reds surrounded with chrysanthemums and maples
  • Winter: A winter wonderland lights the gardens during the ‘Lighting Festival’, multi-coloured lights the garden at night
The Garden of Morning Calm
Where: 432, Sumogwon-ro, Sang-myeon, Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do
Open: 8.30am – Sunset (Varies according to Season)
*Last entry is 1 hour before closing
Entry fee:
Adult 8,000KRW (Weekdays) 9,000KRW (Weekends/Holidays)
Child 5,000KRW (Weekdays) 5,500KRW (Weekends/Holidays)  
*All hours and prices are correct at time of post. Please check before going.

How to get to Nami Island from Seoul

Getting to Nami Island is a little complex using public transport because you need to change trains. It’s close enough to Seoul to make it the perfect day trip. It takes approximately 2 hours depending on your choice of transport. Here are some details on how to get to Nami Island from Seoul. If you prefer a more convenient hassle-free route, there are shuttle bus and day trips available. If you have any questions leave a comment below.

Public transport:
Yongsan Stn (용산역) → via train → Gapyeong Stn (가평역)
Gapyeong Stn (가평역) → via Ferry → Nami Island

1. Get to Gapyeong Station by Train: (2 options)

Yongsan Stn (용산역) → Gapyeong Stn (가평역)

A) Seoul to Gapyeong Station via subway

Subway takes approx 100 mins
Take the subway from Yongsan Station (용산역) → Sangbong Stn (상봉역)
Transfer to Gyeongchun Line: Sangbong Stn (상봉역) → Gapyeong Stn (가평역)
Cost: ₩2,500 one way

 B) Seoul to Gapyeong Station via ITX-Cheongchun

ITX-Cheongchun takes approx 60 mins
Yongsan Stn (용산역) → Gapyeong Stn (가평역)
Cost: ₩5,900* (allocated seating); ₩4,900 (standing/non-assigned) one-way trip

*All hours and prices are correct at time of post. Please check before going.

ITX is an express train to get to Gapyeong Station. We purchased our tickets online and picked them up at the Korail counters. You can also buy tickets there. I’d recommend booking ahead as it can get very full during peak seasons.

Online you will be able to view the train schedule between Yongsan and Gapyeong. The ITX trains depart approximately every hour. We chose the early morning train to avoid the crowds.

Depending on your day plan we took the express to Gapyeong Station then took the subway back to Seoul. Since our last stop was The Garden of Morning Calm the closest station was Cheongpyeong Station.

2. Gapyeong Station to ferry wharf

From Gapyeong Station, you can walk or take a taxi or bus to Gapyeoung Wharf (the ferry terminal) to reach Nami Island. We took a taxi to the ferry pier, it cost approx KRW 5,000. Note: buses run less frequent in the morning, so be sure to check the bus times.

Intercity Bus course A: 

Gapyeong City Bus route

Schedule of Gapyeong Intercity bus: check here for the latest times (photo was taken Oct 2018)

If you are spending the day at Gapyeong, the Gapyeong City Bus is a convenient bus to get around. The bus route can get you to Nami island, Petite France and The Garden of Morning Calm. It costs ₩6,000 for a day pass for unlimited rides. This ticket can be purchased on the bus from the driver. The buses can be very packed during peak hour so keep an eye on the time.

If you are only going to visit Nami Island, there is an alternative Intra-City Bus.

3. Take a ferry or zipline to Nami Island

From Gapyeong Wharf we enjoyed the view on the ferry to Nami Island. The ferry is a short 5 minute ride that runs every 30 minutes from 7:30 am to 9 am, and 10-20 mins from 9 am to 6pm. Alternatively, for more adventure seekers you can take a zip line to Nami island (open from 9am).

Open hours:
07:30 to 9:00 Every 30 mins
09:00 to 18:00 Every 10-20 mins
18:00 to 21:40 Every 30 mins
* last ferry 21:40

Nami Island by shuttle bus

For those who are looking for a more effortless and convenient way to get the Gapyeong, there are tour shuttle buses that run from Hongdae, Myeongdong or Dongdaemun.

Nami Island Shuttle Bus from Seoul + Ticket Combo Package Book here

Hassle free day tours

Without the hassle of figuring out transport, there are day tours that can take you to 2-3 places. It’s a more convenient, hassle-free way to visit these places.

Nami Island + Petite France Book here
Nami Island + The Garden of Morning Calm Book here
Nami Island + Petite France + The Garden of Morning Calm Book here

→ More: Explore Seoul palaces: Hanbok experience

A day trip to Gapyeong: DIY Sample itinerary

We took public transport to Nami Island and used the Gapyeong City Bus to get around Gapyeong. Here is our itinerary for the day covering 3 places: Nami island, Gangchon Rail Park and The Garden of Morning Calm.

Public transport:
Yongsan Stn (용산역) → via train → Gapyeong Stn (가평역)
Gapyeong Stn (가평역) → via bus & ferry → Nami Island

7:00amTake ITX Cheongchun from Yongsan – Gapyeong station (60mins)
8:00amTaxi or bus to Gapyeong Wharf
(Taxi approx ~₩4,000)
8:30amTake the ferry to Nami Island (from Gapyeong Wharf)
8:45amExplore Nami Island
11:00AMTake the ferry back to Gapyeong Wharf
12pmGangchon Rail Bike (Gimyujeong station) (1.5hrs)
50min ride + 20mins break time + 20min train ride (Old Gangchon Station)
Take Free Shuttle bus back to Gimyujeong Station or 5-minute taxi from Nami Island to Gapyeong Station. From here, take the subway to Gimyujeong Station.
LunchLunch nearby Gimyujeong Station
3pmExplore The Garden of Morning Calm
5:30pmTake Gapyeong City Shuttle bus to Cheongpyeong Station
6:30pmTake the train back to Seoul
Subway: we took the subway from Cheongpyeong Station back to Seoul instead of ITX since this station was closer to The Garden of Morning Calm and there are fewer transfers back to Myeongdong

Best time to visit Nami Island: Golden Autumn

We visited in Autumn and it was absolutely stunning. Autumn is filled with golden foliage and cooler temperatures from September to November. I’ve heard Nami Island is excellent all year but the most popular times are Autumn for the stunning foliage and Spring during the cherry blossom season. Happy Travels!

→ More: Explore Seoul palaces in Autumn

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