Hello! Today I will just be blogging about our DIY trip to the above places! I was researching alot on this as I found out that most people found it most time convenient to join a day tour to go to the following places (including Petite France) as it is quite some way out of Seoul city centre.
Should I join tour or DIY?
Join tour if:
- you want a fuss free day
- you want to ensure you can cover 4 places in 1 day (short of time)
- Rail bike OR Strawberry picking
- Nami Island
- Garden of Morning Calm
- Petite France
- Have sufficient budget in your wallet as each tour generally is at least 100 dollars (the ones I saw were 160 – 180 SGD)
- You can check Klook, Koreal, Trazy, etc. for more tour packages
Go on your own if:
- You have a budget to keep
- You want to enjoy these attractions at your own time (eg spending 2-3 hours on Nami Island instead of XX hours)
- Want to pick and choose only some of the attractions they offer
After taking into account that we might want to zipline to Nami Island and that we were not interested in Petite France at all if there was no time (alot of people were disappointed after going based on reviews we read), and lastly and most importantly, BUDGET! We were not prepared to throw almost 400 SGD down into the tour to somewhere we can access by public transport! (note: this excludes DMZ/JSA tours)
If you are looking to do a DIY instead of tour, do plan ahead so that you can maximize your time for the day!
We woke up bright and early and headed off to go to Gapyeong station where all the fun begins!
There’s 2 methods to get there:
1. Just take the MRT all the way from whereever you are
- Cheapest way
- Longer (maybe just feels longer cause you stand)
- No seats probably
2. Take the MRT to an ITX train stop near you (most people take to Yongsan station) then transfer to an ITX train to get to Gapyeong
- More expensive
- Most likely have seats if you buy tickets early
Which method did we choose?
No prizes for guessing. We chose to take the ITX. We stood for like around 4 hours the previous day when we went out to Yangsu and we felt that it was worth the price to get an ITX seat! (Just look at how happy we are to sit for the one hour journey :D)
What is ITX?
It only stops at certain stations and the interior is kind of like the airport express train.
Should I book ITX online before going?
Many blogs and websites I researched with advised to book ITX tickets prior to going. I did not do that because I wanted to have the flexibility to change my travel plans if needed. P.s. this is a very good guide to booking your ITX tickets online.
We went on a weekend and we definitely got a seated ticket when we bought ours directly from the sales counter at Yongsan Station.
Tip: Go around 30 mins earlier to get your tickets (after buying the tickets, just have some breakfast like we did!)
Tip: Check the ITX timings here so that you can plan to reach the ITX station at a certain timing! The ITX trains are not very regular with intervals of around 30 mins. It is exactly as though you want to book tickets, but you do not need to book it, you can just get the schedule for your preferred date and time as shown here:
There are actually quite a few rail bikes in Seoul:
- Gapyeong Railbike (newest so far)
- Gangchon Railbike
- Yangpyeong Railbike
I chose Gapyeong Railbike over Yangpyeong because:
- It offers 2 seater bikes
- It is on the same area as the other attractions we wanted to visit
After we reached Gapyeong station, you still need to travel some distance before reaching the Railbike stop and you can choose to go via:
It should cost around 3700W only as it is like a super short ride.
2. Take their public bus ie their intra-city bus (about 1200W based on research)
Take towards Gapyeong bus terminal, and look at this blog for more detailed directions on how to take it!
3. Take their city tour bus
(the option we took as we intended to go to more than 1 tourist spot)
This is like a hop-on-hop-off bus for the tourist attractions nearby and you pay a 1 time fee of 6000W which you pay using cash to the bus driver when you first board the bus. You will then get a manual ticket which you must show to the bus driver everytime you get on the bus.
One you reach Gapyeong station, grab one of the city tour bus leaflet outside the tourist information centre (you can see it the moment you walk out of the station). The red bus tickets are the manual tickets we had to show all day. The bus stop to wait for the bus is the one right next to the tourist centre which has the big sign saying city tour bus.
Each bus got a bus guide (usually an ahjussi) whom you can ask for directions! The nice ahjusshi asked us where we are going and he was super cute, he ran and got us a free brochure for the railbike 😀
There are 2 courses that runs through the day and the timings are as follows when we went in June 2017.
Before going to the Railbike, I had already booked the railbike online from Koreal as I read that the railbikes run out fast especially the 2 seaters and we were going on a weekend. If you have 2 people but they run out of 2 seaters, you can still get the 4 seater but it is a good 10000W more. I attempted to book with their official korean website but somehow I couldn’t get to the payment page. My korean speaking friend who is based in Singapore said it might be because they use a separate payment system in Korea. Even then, I did the rate conversion and it wasn’t too much of a difference in price any way if I booked from Koreal.
We were supposed to reach the railbike station I think 15-20 minutes before the time we booked but because the shuttle bus only came at a 9, we decided to risk it anyway and arrived late. The safety briefing is entirely in Korean, so no loss LOL. They are not strict about you arriving on time as long as you are not super late (like beyond your booked timeslot).
After we reached, I was quite scared they won’t let us board initially, so I told YL to take our e-ticket and run to the counter! (LOL), and the other 2 couples on the same bus thought that they should run too!! So in the end it turns out regardless, there was only one 2 seater railbike so the other couple had to take the 4 seater. There’s really limited 2 seater railbikes!
Tip: Will totally recommend booking online prior to coming (especially weekends) and to make it your first itinerary so that you have lesser chance of missing your timing!
Onwards to our railbike! 😀 They actually remade old railroads into railbikes and the noise is really similar to the railroad (LOL). The uphill parts actually have some electromagnet (I think) system to help you with the pedalling up so that you don’t get too tired! Do keep a good distance from the railbike in front and behind you. If you take 2 seaters, there is no way you will not have someone behind you because 4 seaters are right behind the last railbike of the 2 seaters. The scenery was so pretty!!!
After pedalling for around 45 minutes or so, we reached the midpoint which is Gyeonggang station and we had the chance to catch a 15 minute toilet/drink break and take some photos on the rail road.
Tip: Remember your bike number! You will have to return to the same bike after the break.
Tip: Don’t worry bout finishing your drink before they ask you to go back to the bike. You can actually keep your drink with you at the small compartment within the bike! (it’s really hot in the noon time)
It was super scenic and I guess it was fun because you also get to spend some quality time with the ones you are pedalling with 🙂 I spent most of the time being a lazy bum and letting YL pedal while I sip my smoothie.
After the railbike, we went towards Nami Island! At Gapyeong, the famous dish is actually dakgalbi (yes, the yoogane kind but surprisingly, yoogane isn’t there). When the bus drops off at the Nami Island stop, you will also see many restaurants you can have lunch at! We chose to eat at one of the ones near the bus stop and it was really pretty good 😀
After eating, we headed off the Nami Island!
There are 2 ways to get to Nami Island:
1. Zipline down!!!!
The entrance area is at Nami Wharf (next to the ferry ticketing area). It is the only tall building there so you won’t miss it.
Ticket prices: 38,000W
- 1 zipline down to Nami Island
- Return ferry ticket back from Nami Island
- Admission ticket to Nami Island
Operating hours: April – October 09:00-19:00 / November – March 09:00-18:00
The price is super reasonable because this zipline is longer than the one in Singapore’s Sentosa and it is cheaper!
We really really wanted to try this but when we got there, the next timing to zipline to Nami Island was 4pm!!! (It was only 2pm then). So we made a painful decision not to zipline down.
“That could have been me on the zipline…” I whine.
I don’t actually know a solution to this long queue at the zipline as you can’t pre-book it online from my knowledge. Maybe if zipline is a definite must try for you, then you might want to just come to Nami Island first thing in the morning. I guess it will also help if you come on weekdays.
Which is exactly what we took!
Ticket prices: 8000W return ferry with admission ticket included
They were quite cute in making the entrance of the ferry point into an immigration-like thingy so that you can pretend you are going overseas. (LOL). Don’t worry, there is no bag check.
There are a few ways to explore Nami Island:
1. Walk (we chose this) – free and can take loads of photos
2. Cycling- quite nice to cycle on the wide open paths but it was thronged with people on the weekend!
3. Take the nami bus which we didn’t
There is a walking trail that we followed and it is basically a loop from the starting point at the Ferry Terminal.
I didn’t watch Winter Sonata so I didn’t get all fangirl while I was there but it is really pretty to take photos if it wasn’t so super crowded on weekends. I would think maybe Autumn will be super pretty 🙂
Most of the scenic shots are in the camera which isn’t transferred yet! hee. But do bring a tripod (selfie sticks just don’t do the place justice). If you want to, you guys can even take a tripod and wear a casual white dress to take your prewed shots! (we saw on couple doing it, sounded like they are from HK).
There’s like an ostrich park right within the island!! They are huge (and quite smelly).
We spent about 2.5 hours here before catching the ferry to catch the shuttle bus to our next stop!
Garden of Morning Calm (the unexpected highlight of the day)
This was the best attraction of the day so far! It is seemingly boring on paper: A huge garden with many different thematic gardens. Sounds really meh, but when you actually go there, my first impression was: wow, so pretty.
The weather was getting better by the evening when we were there and it made the stroll around the garden way more enjoyable. Once you get the admission ticket, just enter and explore as you wish! Take loads of photos! (I find it prettier here than Nami Island to be honest)
- Location: 432, Sumogwon-ro, Sang-myeon, Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do
- Operating Hours: 08:30-Sunset
- Admission Fees
- Adults: Weekends and Public Holidays KRW 9,000/ Discount (Weekdays) KRW 8,000
- Teenagers: Weekends and Public Holidays KRW 6,500/ Discount (Weekdays) KRW 6,000
- Children: Weekends and Public Holidays KRW 5,500/ Discount (Weekdays) KRW 5,000
There’s actually a suspension bridge within the garden!
There’s actually a super nice photo spot within the garden which I took a photo of but it is in the camera and not uploaded yet! Will add it in here when I have the photo!
Overall, the garden was absolutely the best attraction we went to that day!
We took the tour bus back to Gapyeong station and managed to catch a train back with SEATED seats 😀 We just bought the tickets from the ticket machine outside the station.
Tip: Do check the last return train timings and match them with the shuttle bus timings.
After arriving back in Seoul city centre, we took the train to our hotel to rest for a bit before we took the free hotel shuttle to Gwangjang Market (the shutle bus stops right outside)!
We didn’t have time to go to Petite France as expected but if anyone is looking to go, here are some information I searched before I went:
- Location: 1063, Hoban-ro, Cheongpyeong-myeon, Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do
- Operating Hours: 09:00-18:00
- Admission Fees
- Adults: KRW 8,000
- Show K Tour Card KRW 2,000 discount on the adult ticket (one person per card)
- Teenagers (Middle and High School Students): KRW 6,000
- Children (ages 3-Elementary School Students): KRW 5,000
- Seniors (ages 65 and above)/ PWDs: KRW 6,000
- Adults: KRW 8,000
- 88, Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul 서울특별시 종로구 창경궁로 88 (예지동)
- Opening Hours
- General stores: 8:30am – 6:00pm
- Restaurants: 8:30am -11:00pm
- Clothing stores: 9pm – 10am next day
How to go:
- Take subway line 1 to Jongno 5(o)-ga Station and go out exit 11. Walk towards Jongno 4-ga Rotary, going around the outside of Gwangjang Market, and enter the market through the second west gate (광장시장 서2문). You should see a sign for Mayak Gimbap Alley
- You guys can click on this blog for detailed directions using Euljiro-4(sa) ga station instead
When we got there it was already 10pm or so. Most of the clothing stores/other market stores were closed on the first floor and the ones left were mostly selling food. We went on a Sunday night which could also explain why.
If you want some food recommendations, you can check out Daniel Food Diary’s guide!
We walked around and found that most stalls are selling almost the same food so we decided to walk into the most popular stall to get some pancakes! Absolutely greedy me.
Most of the locals were drinking makgeolli or soju with the pancakes and the fried plate of whatever the ahjumma can find for the day I think. It’s like a combo plate. The food overall was so-so. They could converse in Chinese.
Not feeling satisfied (but we are full) we ventured out to the centre stalls and tried Japchae and had odeng! (no photos though)
The whole place kind of reminded me of Newton Circus where they were calling out to you to sit at the stall to eat. I remember buying the Japchae and the ahjumma asked us if we wanted a bowl of soup and we said ok! Thinking wow, didn’t know they give the soup with the japchae. Horror of horror, next thing we knew 3 odengs were inside and we were charged 4000W for it. The odeng was quite tasty but it really kind of reminded me of Newton Circus.
Most stalls allow you to eat then pay later. So don’t worry!
That’s about all! Hope this post helped in your planning to Seoul! 🙂
Do share, like and comment to share your own experiences!