With monsoon season now in full force, one of our biggest challenges each week is trying to find somewhere in the country where it isn’t raining. While winter is much kinder to us in the southern provinces, we definitely pay for it in the summer when walking to work feels like going on a multi-day rain-forest hike. To escape this stifling summer humidity we headed North to a place we’ve been wanting to go to for a while- Gapyeong.
Located just 40 minutes outside of Seoul, Gapyeong has a lot to offer weekend day-trippers. For such a tiny area there is so much to do and see. Really, you could spend a few days there and without getting bored. However, for those of us who are pushed for time in our precious weekends, here’s how to see the best of the area in just a day!
Of all the attractions in Gapyeong, this is probably the most famous. Nami Island is well known as the filming location for the popular K-Drama, Winter Sonata. All over the island, you’ll see cute references to the films and young couples in matching outfits queueing up to take romantic pictures together.
For those of you who aren’t quite as romantic as that, or who don’t really have a clue about anything K, don’t worry! The island is the perfect place to spend the afternoon, cycling through the tree-lined paths and admiring the perfect scenery. We really didn’t want to leave!
Nami Island is much bigger than I expected- you could easily spend at least 2 hours here if you want to see the whole place. You can even stay the night here! We only stayed for 3 hours as we wanted to move on, but we could definitely have made a day of it.
8,000 KRW for Foreigners/ 10,000 KRW for Koreans
If you want to go to all the spots on my itinerary in a day, I would suggest getting lunch at one of the many restaurants near the Nami Island ferry terminal. There aren’t many places around the next 2 stops so you’ll be forced to either eat inside the attractions (expensive) or feast on snacks at the convenience store to keep your energy up (like we did.) I wouldn’t recommend either!
Le Petite France
While this definitely wasn’t my favourite stop of the day, Le Petite France is still somewhere worth seeing if you’re in the area- especially if you’re a big fan of The Little Prince. Wander through the colourful streets and enjoy the beutiful lake views from the top. You can even catch a puppet show if you’re lucky!
Don’t spend more than an hour here. There’s not a whole lot to see, but it’s a nice place to stretch your legs nonetheless.
To be honest, this did feel overpriced to us so if you’re on a really tight budget you could easily miss it out without losing too much sleep.
Garden of the Morning Calm
Saving the best till last here! Garden of the Morning Calm is one of the loveliest places I’ve ever visited in Korea. It sounds weird to say but one of the things I miss most about home is the abundance of green spaces. This definitely filled that grassy void in my life!
Walking through the gardens, you will come across a huge range of flowerbeds as well as ponds, streams, pavilions, pagodas and bonsai trees. The air here is some of the freshest I have experienced in Korea. I would definitely recommend a trip here as a remedy for anyone really needing to escape their city.
We spent about 2 hours there, both relaxing by the stream and wandering around the gardens. You could easily spend more or less time than this. I could easily have spent a half day enjoying the park-like atmosphere in the sun. If you’re not that way inclined you could rush through it in under an hour.
Chuncheon Dalk Galbi Street
It would be a shame to come to Gapyeong without having a taste of the region’s most famous dish- Dalk Galbi. Jump on the ITX to Chuncheon and head to the famous Dalk Galbi Street. This small alleyway is full of competing dalk galbi restaurants- you’ll definitely have a hard time choosing one! Take your pick and don’t forget to order a bowl of the region’s other famous dish, mak guksu (buckwheat iced noodles with spicy sauce and vegetables.)
The standard price for dalk galbi is about 11,000 KRW per person- cheese dalk galbi is only slightly more expensive. We paid under 30,000 KRW for cheese dalk galbi and mak guksu between 2 people.
Gapyeong City Bus
The Gapyeong City Bus picks passengers up at Gapyeong Bus Terminal, Gapyeong Station, Cheongpyeong Station and Cheongpyeong Bus Terminal.
An all day ticket for the bus costs 6,000 KRW and will take you to all the major attractions in the area. I’m usually a bit wary of tour buses but this one is hop-on-hop-off so you are free to do your own things and spend as much time as you like at each site. The bus comes every half an hour.
City Bus Route
Gapyeong Intercity Bus Terminal → Gapyeong Station → Jaraseom Island → Gapyeong Rail Bike → Namiseom Island → Petite France →Cheongpyeong Bus Terminal →Cheongpyeong Station (Sin Cheongpyeong Station) → The Garden of Morning Calm
Buses run from 9am- 6pm
Getting to Gapcheon
The most popular way to get to Gapyeong is via the ITX from Seoul Yongsan station. The ITX only takes 58 minutes and costs around 6,000 KRW.
It’s also possible to take a bus to Gapyeong Bus Terminal from Seoul, Incheon and other cities in the Gyeonggi and Gangwon area.
Gapyeong is definitely one of the most underrated places I’ve been to in Korea so far. There is so much to do and I feel like we haven’t even scratched the surface!
If you’re looking to escape busy city life, or just experience a new place in Korea, Gapyeong is definitely worth considering as your next weekend trip!
P.S- Looking for more weekend trip inspiration? Consider these fab places:
- Gyeongju (History and culture)
- Saryangdo (Hiking and nature)
- Yeongsangang and Seomjingang Bike Paths (Cycling and nature)
- Gamcheon Culture Village (Art and culture)
Let me know, have you ever visited Gapyeong? What was your favourite attraction?