Day 3 – Nami Island, Gangchon Rail Park, Petite France, Barbeque Dinner
We started our third day earlier since we were required to be at the designated meeting place near Hongik Exit 4, for our Nami Island + Gangchon Rail Park + Petite France Tour, which we availed from Klook.
We might have taken this traditional tour route despite having been in Nami Island thrice since it will be our first time in Gangchon Rail Bike and Petite France. Just a bit of a backtrack, our Petite France tour was postponed last January 2017 since the roads leading to the place were too slippery from heavy snow.
Anyway, we ate breakfast and slept on the two-hour ride from Hongdae to Nami Island. Upon arriving, Barron, our tour guide handed us the Immigration Visas that we should present prior to riding the 5-minute ferry ride to Nami Island. We had four hours to explore the whole island and take pictures at the famous ‘Winter Sonata’ site.
You may also ride the zip line to Nami Island, but I wouldn’t dare you to try if it’s freezing cold. Maybe during the summer!
There are two routes that you may take – the Central Korean Pine Tree Lane or the Maple Lane. My suggestion is to take the Maple Lane and pass through the ‘The Maple Lane of True Love,’ ‘Namipungwon Maple Garden,’ and then take a picture at the famous ‘Winter Sonata Statue.’
You may then go to the end of the ‘Metasequoia Lane’ and chance upon mimicking the ‘Winter Sonata’ pose with your partner. The best spot for this pose is near the ‘Meta Wharf’.
Go back to the ‘Metasequoia Lane’ again and to the right, you’ll see the various Kimchi Huts. From there, try to spot the ‘Gingko Tree Lane’ and walk your way towards the entrance by going straight through the Central Korean Pine Tree Lane, passing by various ‘ love/couple statues’, restaurants, and a music museum. I must warn you that there are several restaurants inside the island, but these could be pretty much expensive, so I suggest to just take the ferry back to the base and eat there.
I am pretty sure that going around the beautiful island would make you forget about the time. Make sure to only allocate 2 ½ hours in Nami Island, 20-30 minutes to ride the boat back to the base, and 1 hour to eat your lunch. Upon reaching the base, head to the restaurant beside Mr. Dakgalbi and order the Dakgalbi set, which includes chicken slices, cabbage, tteokbokki, gochujang paste, and some Korean spices. You’ll be served with the usual banchan with lettuce, radish, kimchi, cloves of garlic, bean sprouts, and a bowl of hot miso soup.
The tour continued to the Gangchon Rail Park, which is a 20-30 minute ride from the Nami Island base. Before anything else, make sure to pre-book couple seats for about KRW 30,000 to get a better view than riding the 4-person rail bike.
Gangchon Rail Park is a 6 km rail park, which replaced the Mugunghwa train that used this route for about 70 years. It is a popular tourist attraction that allows its visitors to pedal along the old railroad tracks and see the Bukhangang River scenery, and pass through several (lovely) tunnels.
Don’t worry if you think that you are not fit enough to traverse the 6 km rail track. Scientifically, you just have to exert effort by paddling when you think you’re flat or going uphill and release every time you think there is enough force to make the bike pedal on its own for 3 to 4 minutes. To have better photos, keep a safe distance of about 15-20 meters from the bike in front of you.
During the 40-minute ride, you will pass through several tunnels, where you’ll be delighted seeing and hearing light shows with music. Passing through the tunnels was very romantic.
Our final stop for the tour was Petite France. Inspired by the novel, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, this French village sits on the side of a hill and is adorned with pastel-colored buildings. The place was made famous as popular Korean TV dramas, such as Secret Garden and My Love from the Stars filmed here. Overall, Petite France is okay – nothing fancy nor great, but still, a good place to chill and sip a cup of hot chocolate.
You can opt to visit the three places on their own, but if you don’t want to find yourself in the middle of the cold as you wait for the bus that would take to back to Seoul or transfer you around the different places in Gapyeong, you can conveniently just get the Nami Island / Gangchon Rail Park / Petite France Tour or the Nami Island / Petite France / Garden of Morning Calm Tour from Klook.
To be honest, the prices of doing the tour on your own vs. availing tours from discounted sites are not that far. However, availing the tour was definitely worth the convenience of not having to worry about waiting for your next bus stop or freezing in the cold.
Having stayed in Seoul for two days, we observed that this barbecue joint is always full and is often visited by Korean pop stars. So for dinner, we headed to an awesome barbeque joint two blocks away from our guesthouse. I cannot read the name of the restaurant, but it is the barbeque joint with a yellow banner on top. The food was awesome. I mean nothing beats the grilled smoke of the meat, hot steamed rice, and a good company.