Day-Trip to Nami Island (South Korea)
Updated: Oct 1
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I've had the opportunity to visit Nami Island (Korean: 남이섬), a few years back when I went on a wonderful trip to South Korea. My friend and I were trying to see as many things as possible so we didn't spend as much time as we wanted there, nor did we venture to Petite France or The Garden of Morning Calm but we did have enough time to enjoy some of the beautiful sceneries this place has to offer.
Nami or Namiseom is a man-made island, located 63km northeast of Seoul. It was formed in 1944 due to the Cheongpyeong Dam being built when waters from the Han river flooded the surrounding areas of the island.
The island was named after General Nami, a well-known figure in Korean history.
Although his exact burial place has never been found, it was believed that his body was under a pile of stones on the northern part of the island. A monument has been raised in his honour and you can find his 'tomb' as well as an epitaph in the northwestern part of the island.
Naminara Republic is a Micronation as well as a cultural brand made by Nami Island Inc., the tourism company that manages the island. This tiny Republic has its own national flag, anthem as well a passport. The 'passport' costs, according to their website, KRW 45,000, and it grants you unlimited visits for one year.
Not to worry, you don't need an actual passport to get to Nami Island, but you do need an 'Entry Visa' which is what they call the ticket which covers both the entry fee and the ferry ride (KRW 13,000).
How to get there:
book a tour from Seoul (If you want to make your life easy)
take a Shuttlebus
use public transportation.
We wanted to be adventurous and chose the latter. It takes about two and a half hours this way so make sure you give yourself enough time, ideally, try to leave early in the morning.
You can take a train from Seoul to Gapyeon Station and then the local bus (bus nr 33-5 or 33-36). You can also take a taxi instead of the bus or you can walk for about 25 minutes but I would not recommend walking during summer or winter since it gets way too hot or way too cold. If you choose to walk, make sure you have either Kakao Map or Naver installed on your phone so you don't get lost on the way.
Once you get to Gapyeong Wharf, take the ferry to the Naminara Republic aka Nami Island.
The ferry runs every half an hour between 7:30 and 9:00, as well as between 18:00 and 21:30 and every 10 or 20 minutes between 9:00 and 18:00.
You can also go to Nami Island via Zip-wire for about KRW 44,000, but you will have to take a ferry on your way back. You need to be of a certain height and weight if you want to take the zip-wire so please make sure to check the exact requirements.
If you want to stay overnight, there is Hotel Jeonggwanru, but make sure you book in advance as the rooms are usually in high demand. There are a few restaurants and cafes to choose from or you can pack your own lunch and have a little picnic.
What to see
Best attractions on the island: Metasequoia Lane, General Nami's tomb, Ginko Tree Lane, Dodamsambong Garden, and Baekpungmilwon Maple Garden just to name a few. I would honestly write everything down because it all looked dreamy. Nami Island was chosen as the filming location for the popular K-drama 'Winter Sonata' and I fully understand why. The picturesque scenery gets more and more mesmerising as the seasons change.
Give yourself a few hours (or more) so you can explore as much as possible. You can rent a single bicycle (KRW 7000/hour) or a tandem bicycle (KRW 14.000/hour) or just walk around to explore everything.
What to wear
We went there in spring, at the beginning of May, the weather was nice, but we did pack a light jacket (luckily) as it can get a bit windy/chilly when you walk by the river.
In summer it can get very hot so make sure you have plenty of water and sunscreen with you.
Nami Island in autumn, with its amazing colours, is on my list for the next time I'm in South Korea, and I would pack thicker clothes than for spring, maybe long-sleeve shirts/t-shirts and a thicker jacket.
In winter it will get very cold (but beautiful) so if you venture there, make sure you're wearing warm clothes and winter boots since it's likely you'll find everything covered in snow.
Whether you rent a bike or walk around the island, I would recommend you wear comfortable shoes - trainers, sneakers, and sandals without high heels.
Garden of Morning Calm and Petite France
While they're not on Nami Island, the Garden of Morning Calm and Petite France are two attractions that are often paired with it since they are quite close by. We didn't have enough time on our trip, but they are on the list for the future.
Petite France is a cultural village with French-style buildings, museums, restaurants and cafes. The Garden of Morning Calm is a botanical garden displaying over 5000 different plant species divided into 20 different themed sections.
If you want to try seeing all three of them you can try this.
I hope life is treating you well.