Day 2: Morning Calm Arboretum – Petite France – Nami Island – Hongdae
For the second day, I went to a city nearby Seoul (so called as Gapyeong) together with other 3 Malaysians whom I coincidentally met in the airplane. Gapyeong is located in the border of Gyeonggi-do and Gangwon-do Provinces. The most favorite tourist attractions here are Morning Calm arboretum, Petite France (I bet all the Kdrama fans must be familiar with this place!), and of course Nami Island. However, they also have the Chengpyeong lake view and camping site.
To explore all those favorite places, it might take the whole day. So, my suggestion would be, go as early as possible. Take the first train for example, thus you will have more time to relax and enjoy every bit of it.
Although to go there you can take either bus or train, but I would rather take train. It is because you never been able to predict the traffic. Plus, I am a typical person who is kind of lazy to be trapped in bus than in train. Even an hour in the bus is not that comfortable for me.
The journey from Seoul city to Gapyeong (by train) might take 1 to 1.5 hours. It depends on the station you are departing though. In my case, as I stayed at Itaewon, then it takes 1 hour 22 minutes and passing by 25 stations.
To help you with the fastest train routes, just download “Subway apps” on your mobile phone. Once you downloaded the apps along with the data, then you can enjoy it offline. To use the subway apps, just type the station of “departing from” and “arriving at”. The apps will calculate the fastest route along with the approximate fare. To check where to change the subway/train line, click the “transit info”, there you should be informed really well. Don’t be afraid of getting lost, because inside the subway/train, there will be announcement in Hangul, English, Japanese and Chinese language. They also have the displays monitor written in Hangul and English.
Those who wish to explore the Morning Calm arboretum first, then should get off at the Cheongpyeong station (one station before Gapyeong station). The Cheongpyeong station is the nearer station to reach the arboretum than the Gapyeong station. Take Exit 1 and go to the bus stop to take “Gapyeong Circle Bus” which operates every 1 hour. The bus fare is 5,000KRW but you can hop-on hop-off all the day long. The time duration between Cheongpyeong station – Morning Calm arboretum is around 30 minutes. Be aware that Gapyeong area is located up to the hill, thus make yourself adjusted with the frequent meandered roads. The entrance fee for Morning Calm arboretum is 8,000KRW and is open all year around. Due to at that time we arrived quite late (around 11AM), then we decided not to go inside but just stroll around in the museum and shop.
Next, our journey is continued to Petite France. To go there, you also need to take the Gapyeong Circle Bus. Once again, pay attention to the bus schedule, as it only operates every 1 hour. Personally, I was kind of excited to visit Petite France, as some of Kdramas or Korean reality shows shoot their scenes here. The Petite France itself is more into a filming location filled with European building styles resemble a peaceful village in the Alps, and therefore I will understand that to some people will think that this place might be boring.
The entrance fee of Petite France is 8,000KRW. I would say that it is quite pricey as you would only see the buildings. My suggestion would be, if you are not the die-hard Kdrama fans, probably visiting this place might not be worth it. However, if you want to give yourself a try, there is a spot that actually attracts me most. That is a tower-like home located more into the back of Petite France area, which has very beautiful illustrations all over the walls. The illustration itself has a story, which is more into folklore style.
Btw, the house is on the left where you can find the beautiful illustrations all over its walls
After one hour or so enjoying and taking pictures in Petite France, our last stop is Nami Island. Again, to go there you need to take Gapyeong Circle bus and it takes around 20 minutes to reach Nami Island (or, actually it is the Gapyeong wharf). There, you need to pay the entrance fee for 8,000KRW and the ticket is already included the ferry transfer. In this area, you will spot many restaurants, some convenient stores and ATMs. Sometimes there is also free wifi connected to my iPhone under the router name of iptime. Then, if you consider yourself as the up-to-date person, then it is possible upload some pictures or foursquare check-in!
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). I also heard that the Nami Island is actually owned privately by a family and became so famous after “Winter Sonata” was filmed here. A special feature of Nami 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.
In Nami Island, if you are Muslim, then you can find the musholla (prayer room) and also halal restaurant (Asian food restaurant or Dream cafe). I ate the chicken teriyaki with the price of 11,800KRW in Asian food restaurant. The typical pricey food in the famous touristic place. But, I will not complain even more, as I was soooo hungry at that time, and also the taste was not bad.
As you might have known that South Korea is a subtropical country, thus it has 4 seasons (summer, autumn, winter, and spring). My suggestion would be, ask yourself what kind of season you want to experience. Every season might have their specific attraction and, of course, weather!
To me, because I don’t really like summer (as the temperature in subtropical country might reach 40 degrees Celsius and also it is worse with the low humidity level), then it makes me more susceptible to dehydration. In addition, I could really be outside for walking all day long, so when the temperature is too hot, I would not be comfortable.
However, to have a trip during the winter time, probably I would only go for Scandinavian countries. As I might spot the northern lights, and it is worth the freeze!
In a contrary, to have a trip during the spring, probably it could be one of favorite time. As the temperature might not be too chilly or too warm. So, you could still go outside for all day long without really afraid of getting dehydrated or cold. But, to me, I like the color of autumn the most. Probably because I like reddish color, so autumn might fit me best. I always love the color of maple tree which is turning from green to red or yellowish. The temperature is also friendly, although little bit windy.
Therefore, I kind of insisted to have a trip to Seoul during fall (or probably late fall – early winter as I came in November), which I can still experience the color of autumn. Although, this fall is my third fall, but still, my love for the autumn color is never less than yesterday.
Here you can find Gapyeong circle bus timetable timetable.