Nami Island, Garden of Morning Calm, and Petite France, are 3 super popular tourist attractions in Seoul. However, one bad thing about these places is that they are located near Gapyeong area which is... Extremely far from central Seoul. Another bad thing is, they are not actually near one another too.
To get to these attractions, the cheapest option is to take a train to Gapyeong station and then transfer to a payable shuttle bus. But if you're living in central Seoul, that would take up to 2 to 3 hours of travelling time! Once you arrived, you probably won't have enough time to explore more than 2 places as well, as you're probably extremely worn out after the second place.
So to make my life easier and to ensure that I will get to cover at least 3 locations, I decided to get one of the packages from Funtastic Korea
. Instead of visiting Nami Island, Garden of Morning Calm, and Petite France, my boyfriend and I decided to give Petite France a miss and go for the Gangchon Rail Bike instead as it was something I've always wanted to do in Korea. It costs S$100.10 per pax and it includes an English speaking tour guide, a shuttle bus, as well as all entrance tickets.
Our pick-up time was 7.20AM at Hongik University station, so we arrived at about 7-ish. Our tour guide John spotted us and gave us his contact details and took down our contact details as well. We hopped onto the bus and went to pick up a few others at Myeongdong and Dongdaemun.
The bus also stopped at a convenience store so we could grab something for breakfast. Then, it's time to head to our first location which is the Garden of Morning Calm. The good thing about having a tour guide and a shuttle bus is that we get to sleep on the way and don't have to worry about missing our stop!
It took us 1 hour and 30 minutes to arrive. Upon arriving, our tour guide John went to buy the tickets for us and then it's free and easy time. I think we had about an hour to an hour and a half there which was more than enough. Oh! Another good thing about having a shuttle bus is that we can leave any heavy bags or belongings (obvious not anything expensive) on the bus as John will be staying on the bus to help us look after them.
I love the Garden of Morning Calm. It's essentially just a garden but it was so peaceful and the air was soooo fresh! My boyfriend and I couldn't stop taking in deep breaths because of how fresh (and cold) the air was. It literally felt like we were cleansing our lungs from all the city pollution. The garden itself is actually pretty huge with various "attractions" such as a herb garden, a little stream, a bridge, wild flowers collection and more.
It was also the first time I saw an autumn leaf! If you're hungry, there is also a Korean restaurant within the garden. We didn't go in, but the food smelled incredible. Honestly, I really didn't expect myself to like a garden, but being there made me feel relaxed and free from all the noise and problems in the city, and back in Singapore.
After everyone has gathered, we proceeded to our next stop, Nami Island! It took us about 40 minutes by bus to arrive. As usual, John went to get the tickets for us and we can choose to either go in first, or have lunch outside of Nami Island. Either way, it's free and easy again for the next 3 hours. Since we have packed our own lunch, we went in and hopped onto the ferry that will bring us to Nami Island (there was already a ferry there so we didn't had to queue!). The ferry comes every 15 minutes and it takes 5 minutes to reach Nami Island.
When we arrived at Nami Island, we set off to find a spot for our picnic and was happy to see these little huts at a corner! Many locals pack their own lunch to Nami as well and we sure enjoyed our little picnic there! After our bellies were filled, it's time to explore Nami Island. I guess we were quite lucky too because when we arrived, there weren't many people.
Nami Island is HUGE. We didn't get to walk till the very end which was supposedly a "must-go" area because halfway through it started drizzling and we were already about 2km in, so we were afraid that it would start pouring.
Oh and so we spotted a Merlion at the Winter Sonata glass bridge! As a Singaporean, that was pretty fascinating. This area is apparently where the couple on Winter Sonata had their first kiss too!
Within Nami Island, there's a lot of restaurants as well as souvenir shops that we didn't bother going in. But we did get ourselves a 2,000won vanilla ice-cream and it was SO GOOD. Not sure if it was the cold weather that made eating an ice-cream even more satisfying but it just tasted bomb.
While walking around, we also managed to spot a black rabbit, many many squirrels as well as some ducklings roaming around the island too!
As I've mentioned, it started drizzling and so we made our way back to our bus early just in case it starts pouring. While waiting for the rest of the tour group, we chatted a little with John and he is so approachable and friendly!
Everyone in the tour arrived on time and it took us 30 minutes to reach the Gangchon Rail Bike Park. While booking the tour online, you get to choose if you want a 2-seater or a 4-seater. If you opted for the 4-seater but you only have 2 pax, you'll share the bike with another 2 pax within the tour group.
At about 4-ish, it was time to set off with our bikes! The trail is a total of 8km. 6km will be covered by cycling, and 2km will be covered by a train that we will hop on at the 6km mark.
During the trail, there will be a photo point and numerous tunnels! Every tunnel is different which makes the journey super exciting and anticipating. My favourite tunnels are probably the romantic one where there were lights and romantic music (of course if you're there with your friends then it might get kinda awkward), as well as this... I don't know what to call it but upon entering the tunnel, there will be loud noises and along the way there are even fire coming out from the ground! Very exciting.
The cycling portion was quite tiring after awhile, especially when you woke up at 6AM and had explored the Garden of Morning Calm and Nami Island. But I think it was fine when all 4 of us pedaled together. Apart from the tunnels, we also get to see the beautiful country side of Korea while peddling.
After 6km, we arrived at a stop where we get to buy the photo taken at the photo point. It was 10,000won which I find very reasonable as it also comes in a glass frame. There is also a shop selling corn dogs, rice crackers, coffee, etc so we can enjoy them while waiting for the train.
The train was the most boring part of the journey. Tip: Sit on the right hand side of the train! We sat on the left hand side and there was practically no view at all.
Finally, it was time to head back to the city. It took us 2 hours to get back to Hongik University as it was the last stop.
Overall, I enjoyed myself so much during this tour and I highly recommend it. It does seem pricey but I assure you, it's really worth the money. Before I booked the tour, my boyfriend did complain about it being too expensive, but at the end of the trip, he also noted that it was really worth the money. I cannot imagine taking the public bus and train back to Seoul City after using up all my energy and having someone to get the tickets and arrange everything for us just made the journey a breeze and fuss-free.
If you wish to watch our day at these 3 places in motion, click here
to watch the vlog!
Labels: korea, lifestyle, review, seoul, tips, travel