Nami Island was a small island some 1hr+ journey away from Seoul. It was made famous by the Korean drama Winter Sonata, and was now a tourist hotspot.
The best way to travel to Nami Island from Seoul was by taking the Nami Island shuttle bus. Advanced reservation was required (+82-2-753-1247). I booked the bus one day before departure. To tailor your trip, you could choose a two-way or one-way trip, and whether to include the ferry ticket. There were two ways into Nami Island, one by ferry, and the other by zip-line, hence the no ferry option. There were two pickup points in Seoul, at Insa-dong next to Tapgol Park, and at Jamsil in front of Lotte Mart. I chose to board at Insa-dong. To get to the pickup point in Insa-dong, I took the subway to Jongno-3-ga. Now, this was a station where three subway lines intersected, and could choosing the right exit, could be confusing. The nearest to Tapgol Park, was Exit 1 of the BLUE line. Note, that there was also an Exit 1 on the Purple line. From exit 1, just walk all the way straight, past Paris Baguette, until you reach a huge t-junction. Tapgol Park would be on your right. Turn right, and you should see the Nami-Island shuttle buses. Another landmark, would be the Starbucks across the street. Shuttle bus departed at 0930hrs. They were very punctual. If you reserved seats and were not present at 0915, the seats were released. Seating was allocated by seat number, though the bus driver didn’t communicate this clearly, resulting in much shuffling of passengers before departure.
Upon reaching the Ferry Terminal, Gapyeong Wharf, you would have to pass ‘immigration’ to enter Naminara Republic. Out of curiosity, I looked up a little on Naminara, and learnt that it was an imaginary country formed in 2006. How interesting. On Nami Island, you could buy Naminara stamps and currencies.
Nami Island was really a very beautiful place, where one could enjoy and get in touch with nature. There were many tall trees flanking roads, hence scenes like those in Winter Sonata, were abundantly available. One downside from the fame Nami Island had received, was the hordes of tourists that flock to this island. Bus after bus of tourists just descended upon the island like locusts. However, one very peculiar thing was that they seemed to only follow the main road to reach the Winter Sonata statue in the middle of the island. As such, if you ventured off the main road, to the coastal paths, they were almost devoid of these tour groups. And by no means was the scenery less appealing.
Most people would recommend renting a bicycle to explore the place, however, I felt that this wasn’t necessary, as the place wasn’t that big, and could be leisurely covered on foot. Price for renting a bicycle didn’t come cheap either, and they charged per hour. Moreover, the main paths were flocking with both people and bicycles, it would just be stressful riding one. A leisure stroll would allow one to really enjoy the scenery and wander off to more quiet main paths. Of course, if time was a constraint, say you only had an hour or two, then renting a bicycle would be wise. Note that to reach the bicycle kiosk, you would have to follow the central path all the way to the middle of the island, which was about 10mins on foot. Alternatively, you could take the tour pram situated at the pier, to have a round island sightseeing trip.
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