We had planned before this trip that we would do a day-trip of sorts to the outskirts of Seoul, and what better places to visit than Nami Island, Petite France, and the Morning Calm Arboretum!
Getting to Nami Island & the Gapyeong Tourist Shuttle
To get to Nami Island, we first had to get to Gapyeong Station. Thus, we took the subway to Cheongyangni station, and changed trains to the ITX (intercity express). The ITX to Gapyeong cost us 4,300won, and the journey took around 40min. Do note that the train to Gapyeong (direction of Chuncheon) runs every hour at 16min past the hour (e.g. 8.16am, 9.16am, etc), so do reach the platform at least 5-10min before that.
An alternative route would be to change at Cheongyangni to the G.J (Gyeongui-Jungang) Line toward Sangbong, and change again at Sangbong to the Gyeongchun Line. The alternative route would be much longer though, at close to 1h10min.
Gapyeong station is quite straightforward to navigate out of, and once outside, there is a large sign at the bus stop indicating the Gapyeong Tourist Shuttle. A one-day adult return ticket costs 6,000won, and allows you to hop on and off the bus at the various stops.
Do note the bus timings though, as buses run on an hourly basis, and you wouldn’t want to be waiting at a bus stop for a long time.
Upon arriving at the Nami Island (Gapyeong Wharf) bus stop, we immediately noticed the tall building that visitors could zipwire from, across the lake to Nami Island.
The tickets to Nami Island cost 8,000won/adult, and include a return ferry trip as well as the entrance fee. The ferry ride was a short 5min hop across the lake.
Armed with a map of the island, we began our journey across the island! We initially planned to rent bikes, but luckily we didn’t, as the island was actually very small, and really very walkable. We covered the island in around 1.5h on foot, including the time taken to stop and take pictures, as well as enjoy the views on offer.
There were a number of tree-lined paths at Nami Island, and each had its own unique beauty and grandeur.
The hut bridge was lovely, and it just exuded a sense of calmness.
Mindful of the shuttle bus timing, we made sure that we got back to Gapyeong Wharf by 12.10pm, giving us sufficient time to get to the pickup point.
We caught the 12.25pm shuttle bus to Petite France, which was a ~30min journey.
Entry tickets were priced at 8,000won/adult, and I also bought an additional cloth at the ticket office for 500won. I managed to collect 5 stamps while exploring Petite France. Simply showing the cloth with the 5 stamps at the ticket office on the way out netted me Petite France postcards for free!
We managed to catch the puppeteer performance at the auditorium as well, and it was pretty cool, although I forgot to snap pictures of it. The puppet was lip-syncing and dancing along to pop songs!
Could you guess where I took the next picture from?
Morning Calm Arboretum
After spending about 1h+ at Petite France, we caught the 2.20pm shuttle to Morning Calm Arboretum.
The garden looks huge on the map, but it was actually quite walkable. We managed to cover it within 1.5h, inclusive of a 15min break at a cafe within the garden.
The flowers were quite pretty, and there were many different themes within the garden, so I felt that it was quite a worthwhile visit to make! I really enjoyed wandering around the garden and breathing in the fresh, cool air.
We arrived in Seoul smack in the middle of rush hour unfortunately, and it was really crowded. We had to change trains a few times, as we took the subway back, instead of the ITX (which had rather bad timing when we checked at Cheongpyeong).
Nearly 1.5h after boarding the train at Cheongpyeong, we finally arrived at Gangnam station.
Maple Tree House BBQ (address: 858-4 Yeoksam 1-dong, Gangnam-gu)
We headed straight to Maple Tree House BBQ upon arriving at Gangnam.
Beef short plate 14,900won (150g). These were really tender strips of beef! And they tasted good too, especially when dipped lightly in the salt provided.
Korean black pork belly 16,900won(150g). Slightly tougher than the beef, but these had a smokier flavour in my opinion, and were charred nicely by the waitress. These went very well wrapped in the leaves with kimchi!
We also ordered a bowl of bibimbap 9,900won to try, and it was the first time I had seen it served with fish roe, and it was pretty good.
Some of the side dishes were worth a mention as well. The tofu was really silky and smooth, and we both really liked this particular cold dish. The steamed egg was great as well, and it had a strong yet not overpowering eggy flavour that was retained in the hot stone pot it was served in.
Gangnam Underground Shopping Mall
It was raining when we left the restaurant thus we took shelter in the underground shopping area of Gangnam. There were a lot of shops hawking female fashion, but relatively few (to none) selling stuff for guys unfortunately.
There were also quite a few food & drinks stalls as well, perfect for heavy shoppers who need some sustenance.