If you have been reading my recent posts, you would know that I just got back from Korea. I am currently on the works of creating my Seoul DIY Travel Guide for solo travelers but I strongly feel that I had to write something separate for this particular place – Gapyeong.
Gapyeong is a county in Gyeonggi Province, a little bit north of South Korea. It’s where the famous Nami Island is located. This tiny county offers so many sights to see, going on a day trip is definitely not enough. But it is still possible to see Gapyeong’s best for travelers like me who have limited time and can only spare one full day. Here’s how I did it.
Originally, my plan was to visit Gapyeong on the 24th of September but it was Chuseok Day. I was worried my itinerary will be affected as I have to adjust to the opening times of the shops and attractions in Korea. Plus, I have to deal with the sea of people spending their holidays. So I changed my itinerary and moved my day trip to Gapyeong the following day instead.
A day trip to Gapyeong is a popular activity in South Korea. I decided to visit three main spots – Nami Island, Petite France, and Garden of the Morning Calm. I have known other people who included more spots than what I did but I also did not want to be in a rush all the time. I even kind of regretted choosing those three spots. I wish I just chose two! Read on if you want to know which spots I liked and disliked.
Like many other blogs, I will share with you how I went to Nami Island, Petite France, and Garden of the Morning Calm in just one day. Aside from that, I will try to give my personal take for each place.
First things first! How to go to Gapyeong?
There are several ways to reach Gapyeong. Take your pick!
1. Subway/Metro – This is the cheapest mode of transportation to Gapyeong. Most blogs will suggest starting your journey at Yongsan Station to Sangbong Station. Then from Sangbong, transfer to Gyeongchun Line and alight in Gapyeong Station. But it really depends which subway station is near you. In my case, Dongmyo was the nearest.
Dongmyo Station 동묘앞역 → Taereung Station 태릉입구역→ Sangbong Stn 상봉역
Transfer to Gyeongchun Line
Sangbong Station 상봉역 → Gapyeong Station 가평역
Travel time: 90 mins
Normal Fare: 2,350 KRW/pax T-Card Basis: 2,250 KRW/pax
Friendly tip: It’s always best to check Korea’s rail/subway app for a faster route going to Sangbong.
2. ITX/Korail – The quickest transportation option. If you plan to take the ITX, don’t load up your T-Money cards since you have to purchase a separate ticket unless you have an existing Korail Pass. You can also purchase tickets ahead online. Go to Korail Reservation‘s page and key in your departure and arrival stations.
*Free for Korail Pass holders
3. Shuttle Bus – You can also opt for a fuss-free shuttle bus service which can bring you directly to your chosen spots (admission fees included). Click here to arrange your pick-up and drop-off.
How can I go around Gapyeong?
If you have chosen options 1 and 2 in getting to Gapyeong county, then your next question would probably be “how will I go around Gapyeong?”.
The answer is simple. – take the Gapyeong Tourist Bus.
The Gapyeong Tourist Bus is a circulation bus with a flat rate of 6,000 KRW. It runs every hour between 9:00 AM and 7:00 PM starting from Gapyeong Station.
It covers four main spots: Gapyeong Rail Bike, Nami Island, Petite France, and Garden of the Morning Calm. You can purchase a ticket from the bus driver. Just be sure to keep it since you’ll be showing it every time you ride the bus.
Planning your day is key when you want to explore Gapyeong on your own. Always remember that the tourist bus only passes by the stops once every 30 minutes to an hour. If you miss the bus, you’ll have to wait for another hour before another bus passes.
It’s usually packed from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Queues for the tourist bus get really long. Sometimes the bus gets full easily so you are left with no choice but to wait for the next one.
What I did to make sure I can catch the bus on time was queueing 10-20 minutes before the bus arrives. That way, I’m sure I get a seat on the bus. If the bus gets full, you have no choice but to stand for the entire duration of the trip, usually about 20 minutes to 30 minutes of winding road.
For convenience, here’s a copy of the bus schedule:
First stop: Namiseom Island 남이섬
Namiseom Island, also known as Nami Island, is the most popular destination in Gapyeong after the Korean drama movie “Winter Sonata” was filmed. I’m not a big K-Pop or K-Drama fan but I grew up watching Winter Sonata and Autumn in My Heart; so I really wanted to visit this place. Plus I really love going to parks, people-watching, and just appreciating nature.
Nami, a half-moon-shaped island, is also famous for its beautiful tree-lined roads. If you love trees, like me, you’ll really enjoy walking under them and just appreciating the scenery as it is. What’s even nice is that there are no evident telephone poles or wires to keep the beauty of the landscape.
Don’t miss passing by the Gingko and Metasequoia pathway.
There are several activities you can do on the island. You can go solo biking or tandem biking. You can ride a speedboat to go around the island. You can also do picnics and watch squirrels and rabbits pass by.
FUN FACT! Did you know that Nami is a micronation? It is a self-governing (imaginary) “country” which declared its cultural independence on March 1, 2006. The Naminara Republic of Korea, as what they call it, invented its own passport, currency, stamp, and telephone card. You can see more of the island’s information in one of its museums.
Address: 1, Namiseom-gil, Chuncheon-si, Gangwon-do
Admission Fee: 13,000 KRW/pax (Ferry+Entrance), 38,000 KRW (Zip+Ferry+Entrance) Opening Hours: 7:30 AM – 9:45 PM, Daily
How to get there:
- From Gapyeong Station, either take the Gapyeong Tourist Bus or the Intra-city (Green) Bus. The bus stop is located across Gapyeong Station. If you’re taking the latter, you can pay using your T-Money card. Alight at Gapyeong Wharf.
- You can either ride the zip line going to Nami Island or simply take the ferry. The zip line is only one-way so you’ll be returning to the mainland by ferry. If you are taking the ferry, it leaves every 30 minutes from 7:30 AM to 9:00 AM and every 10 to 20 minutes between 9:00 AM and 6:00 PM.
- If you plan to go to Nami first, try getting there before 9:00 AM. The tourist bus will still not operate during that time but you can ride the intra-city bus for a small fee. What’s the catch? You can enjoy the island before the big tour groups start flocking in.
- Before moving to your next stop, dine in one of the restaurants at Gapyeong Wharf. There are plenty of food options there than any other place in Gapyeong. Dakgalbi (닭갈비) is a must try!
Second stop: Petite France 쁘띠프랑스
Petite France is a French cultural village consisted of 16 French-style buildings with 23 unique stops. Petite France also serves as a youth training facility.
You can find a gallery displaying sculptures and paintings of the national symbol of France, different art exhibits, French cafes, and of course, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry‘s memorial hall.
Saint-Exupéry is the author of the famous and celebrated novel The Little Prince. Although I’ve read about the Little Prince, I am not really a big fan so the place did not swoon me over. The colorful buildings and streets will entertain the eyes for sure.
Also, if you come right on time, you can watch several free performances, may it be a cultural show or a puppet show.
Petite France was my least favorite spot among the three. I somehow regretted stopping by and wished I just spent the entire afternoon at the Garden of the Morning Calm. But because of the bus schedule, I had no choice but to stay and explore the place for a bit.
Address: 1063, Hoban-ro, Cheongpyeong-myeon, Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do
Admission Fee: 10,000 KRW/pax Opening Hours: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM, Daily
How to get there:
- Coming from Nami Island, find the GS25 convenient store in Gapyeong Wharf. Cross the street and you can find the bus stop for the Gapyeong Tourist Bus. REMEMBER: THE BUS STOP IS ACROSS GS25, just in front of Chuncheon Dakgalbi Restaurant. The bus ride going to Petite France will approximately take 20 minutes.
Last stop: Garden of the Morning Calm 아침고요수목원
I was kind of hopeless at first. I thought the bus to the Garden wasn’t going to arrive. I’ve waited for more than 30 minutes already and I was pretty sure I was right on schedule. I was already thinking of catching the intra-city bus going to Chyeongpyeong Station and just head back to Seoul but I decided to stay for a few more minutes. Then the bus finally arrived! I was on my way to the Garden!
The Garden of Morning Calm is the oldest and one of the largest private gardens in South Korea which is open all year round. Its 3-hectare land area houses 5,000 kinds of plants, unique and different as seasons change. It’s a great place for families, couples, groups of friends, tourists, even photographers, and hobbyists alike.
Flowers are in full bloom between March and November so expect a crowd when you visit the Garden during these months. In addition to the scenic view of different flowers and plants, a variety of festivals and displays are held throughout the year:
- March: Wild Flower Exhibit
- April-May: Spring Garden Festival
- June – July: Festival of Roses and Hydrangeas
- August: Roses of Sharon (South Korea’s National Flower)
- September: Wild Chrysanthemums Exhibition
- October-November: Maple Festival and Chrysanthemums Exhibition
- December to March: The Starlight Garden Festival
If you are a nature-lover, you will definitely enjoy the Garden as I did. I just wish I had more time, I would love to just sit on the benches and watch people pass by.
Address: 432, Sumogwon-ro, Sang-myeon, Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do
Admission Fee: 9,500 KRW/pax Opening Hours: 8:30 AM – 7:00 PM, Daily (except Holidays)
How to get there:
- From Petite France, wait for the next bus at the bus stop. Don’t cross the street! It will take approximately 20 minutes before you reach the Garden.
Going back to Seoul
If you are coming from the Garden of the Morning Calm like I did, take the bus going to Chyeongpyeong Station. From Chyeongpyeong ride the train going to Sangbong or Hoegi depending on where your next destination will be.
As for me, I switched trains at Hoegi and headed to Dongdaemun.
I met two Burmese siblings whose itinerary was like mine, we hopped on and hopped off the same bus at the same time. We ended up going back to Seoul together.
After minutes of talking, we decided to have dinner together. This is what’s nice about traveling solo, you meet different nationalities and sometimes, if you are lucky, you end up being friends with them.
Ming and Xing (not sure of the spelling), were traveling to Korea for a vacation. Ming is working in Singapore while Xing is working in Thailand.
I shared how hard it was to look for a restaurant which serves for one person. I really wanted to eat Samgyeopsal, I tried several restaurants but to no avail. They were kind enough to accompany me. We had dinner at one of the best Samgyeopsal restaurants in Seoul – Palsaik.
We went around Dongdaemun for a bit before we had our separate ways. I ended up strolling at Dongdaemun Design Plaza and called it a night.
I hope this will help you plan your trip to Gapyeong. Feel free to leave comments or message via e-mail if you have any questions. If you like this article and want to see or know more about my trips and tips, follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.