Monday, April 9, 2012

Backpacking Korea: Nami Island

One of the attractions in Korea is Namiseom Island or more popularly known as Nami Island. This became popular when the Korean Drama, Winter Sonata, which had a high rating, filmed in this island. Today, it is a popular tourist attraction that many Koreans and tourists go to.

It seems appropriate going here at this winter season as to re-live the famous TV Drama and really feel what it is to be winter here in Korea. Going here is not that easy. It is a long train ride going from Seoul and you have to allot the whole morning or day if you prefer to tour this place.

We met up early in Myongdong Station and our long journey of train transfer began. We patiently ride the subways and railways going to Gapyeong Station. This station is very far and it took us around 2 hours train travel just to go here. From Gapyeong Station, there is a tourist information nearby to ask of the shuttle bus going to the Nami Island port schedule. You can also avail of the taxi nearby, It has the same rate of the bus ride if you are around 3-4 people riding it.

entrance to the ferry port

River Lane, where you wait for the ferry to come

all aboard the ferry to Nami Island

As we got to the port, we bought tickets for the ferry. Since we're foreigners, and they have a promo for tourists like us there, we only got the ticket for KRW8,000. It is cheaper than the regular rates for adults there and we are glad to have availed of it.

Naminara Republic
as we approach Nami Island

There are a lot of tourists there at that time and you need to wait for the ferry to get back from the island and ride it going there. They only have one ferry and as they get to each port, they carry the guests to and fro. There are only a few sitting area in the ferry but since it was a nice experience to see the lake, we decided to stay outside and endure the cold winter air. It is a nice view as you cross the frozen lake and break the ice surface. From a distance, you can already see the frozen fountains in the island. It grows bigger as you approach it. 

entrance to Nami Island

The ferry docks at the island's port as the departing passengers wait for us to alight the ferry. It was very cold in the island during winter, and from there, it is up to you where you want to go. If you want to get back, just wait for the ferry again at the port and it will carry you back.

Unicef Child Friendly Theme Park

the kids in the island :)

The island is named after General Nami, who is one of their heroes in the past. His grave is marked there and you can actually visit it. The rest of the island is mostly for recreation purposes. It is considered a child friendly area by the Unicef. You can opt to stay in the island as they offer hotels here. I am just not sure of the rates. There are a lot of activities you ca do there but most of the people just walk around, like us. You can actually rent a bike to tour the island. Also, at the other side of it, you can go boating or do some water activities, though it is closed during winter since the water is all frozen.

General Nami's tomb

Here is a quick info about the island:
Namiseom Island was formed as a result of the construction of the Cheongpyeong Dam. It is a half moon shaped (462,809㎡) isle, and on it is the grave of General Nami, who led a great victory against the rebels in the 13th year of the 7th king of the Joseon Dynasty, King Sejo (reign 1455 ~ 1468). Namiseom Island is 63 km away from Seoul in the direction of Chuncheon, and is famous for its beautiful tree lined roads. The island is 30 minutes away from Chuncheon and an hour away from suburbs of Seoul. Since it is not far from Seoul, many couples and families come to visit. 

A special feature of Namiseom Island is that there are no telephone poles. This is because all electric wires were built underground to keep the natural feeling of the landscape. The complex is 553,560 square yards with chestnut trees and poplar trees around the isle. In the middle of the isle, there is a grass field about 316,320 square yards. It is composed of education and training facilities, camping sites, swimming pools and water-sports facilities for motorboats and water skiing. There is also a theme park with merry-go-rounds, a shooting range, roller skating rink, and there are lodging facilities such as resort villas and bungalows.

We all took photos of the sights there. It was very nice and pretty around. The lakes are frozen solid and you can actually walk on the small frozen ponds. The trees are all leafless and it has a nice effect on the photos we took. There are also small food stands where you can buy some snacks. Also, there are restaurants where you can actually dine in. 

squirrels running around

families around the park

some attractions there

all roads lead to Naminara!

Every now and then, you can see some bonfires where you can stay and warm up for a while. I love those areas as I feel thawed from the freezing winter air. All the lakes and ponds and fountains there are frozen solid that's why there are sweet escape from the cold.

snowman warming up

wooden guy reading a book

Another attraction here is where the crew of the TV Drama Winter Sonata had their scenes. They marked the are where the main casts had the "first kiss" scene and also, they left some statues that will remind people of the scenes there.

the first kiss area
frozen lake in the first kiss area

lead stars in the winter sonata TV Drama

life size statues near the lake

lead stars immortalized

We had our lunch in a small restaurant there and we tasted their Ramen. It was very good and is perfect for the cold weather as it was really spicy. We were all full and warmed after that meal and we decided to have a last stroll around before heading back. 

Ramen restaurant

Ramen and Kimchi

Here are other photos of the island:

frozen pond

grilled sausages

grilled rice cake with honey

steamed rice cakes with custard filling

near the frozen lake
frozen fountain

frozen lake and the line of trees


frozen river

frozen fountain/falls

It took us another 2 hours going back to the city, but all the travel was worth it. We enjoyed our stay at the Island and it made our winter experience here in Korea more fun. 

Namiseon Island
Gangwon-do Chuncheon-si Namsan-myeon Bangha-ri 198
Tourist Resorts
• 1330 tt call center: +82-31-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
• For more Info: +82-31-580-8114 (Korean)

N/A (Open all year round)
Operating Hours
7:30-21:30 (Recommended time of visit: May, July, August, October)
Maximum Occupancy
20,000 people
Parking Facilities
930 spaces ( Parking Fees : 4,000 won)
Admission Fees
Adults : 10,000 won
Foreigners : 8,000 won (until Dec.31, 2011)
Children (ages 3-13) : 4,000 won
Visitors coming after 18:00 (Dec - Mar), after 19:00 (Apr - Nov) : 4,000 won
※ Round-trip ferry fare & tax included 
Baby Stroller Rentals
Available (Rental Fee : 4,000 won)
* Only pets weighing 5kg or less are permitted.
* Pets must be on a leash at all times.
* Pets are not permitted inside buildings.
From Gapyeong Bus Terminal or Gapyeong Station, take a taxi to Namiseom parking lot. (Travel time: 10-15min)
Board the ferry to Namiseom Island. (Travel time: 5-6min)

Shuttle Bus: From Seoul to Namiseom Island
* Bus stop: Insa-dong (Jonggak Station, Subway Line 1, Exit 3) (next to Tapgol Park)

* Shuttle Bus Schedule: 
Insa-dong -> Namiseom Island: 09:30 / Namiseom Island -> Insa-dong: 16:00 
※ Reservation required. Inquiries +82-2-753-1247


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