Nami Island, short for Namiseom lies in the Han River, north of Seoul. The island is a little picturesque green dot in the river, like taken out of a fantasy world. No matter when you find yourself in Seoul, Nami Island is well worth a visit! This post will take you though What to do in Nami Island as well as how to get there.
So Where is Nami Island?
The half-moon shaped island appeared after the Han river rose in 1944 due to the construction of Cheongyeong Dam. Nami Island is located about 63 km away from Seoul in the Province of Gwangwon.
About Nami Island
Although Nami Island was formed around 1944, it stood deserted for quite some time. The island stared being developed for tourism in 2966 after Sujae Minn Byeong Do bought the Nami Island the year before. Since then Nami Island has continued to grow as a tourist destination. Island focuses on art, environment and culture and has about 3 300 000 visitors annually.
Nami Island got it name from General Nami who according to the myth is buried on Nami Island. In the 1400s General Nami led a campaign against a rebellion and was honoured by King Sejo of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea and given a prestigious position in the government. When King Sejo died, General Nami was falsely accused of treason by the Kings heir King Yejong. This accusation supposedly led to the death of not only him, but his whole family. Frist 400 years later, in 1818, he was exonerated. Today, you can visit General Nams’ memorial on Nami Island. Read more about General Nami.
The Republic of Naminara
Nami Island also goes by the name of Naminara Republic. The island has declared its cultural independence from the Republic of Korea and actually has its own cultural and diplomatic policies. Their values are set to celebration imagination and fantasy. The Republic of Naminara strives to share beautiful fairy tales and songs to their guests. Nami Island is of course, a tourist attraction and the Naminara Republic is a part of their touristic approach. Still, its’ a beautiful set of values and gives a taste of what you can expect when visiting.
Nami Islands Fame
Some will argue that Nami Island is famous. It got hugely popular as a destination for Korean drama fans after it appeared in the K-drama Winter Sonata in 2001. You will see statues as well as recognizable spots from the Winter Sonata series all around the island. However, Nami Island is well worth a visit if you’re not a K-drama fan too. It’s family friendly and has various activities around the island.
Things to do on Nami Island
There are plenty of things to do and places to visit on Nami Island.
Rent a bike
This was my highlight on Nami Island and it’s such a great way to see the whole Island. Rent a bike, bring a map and some water and bike around the many paths and walkways on the Island. Some of the Korean Summer days can be very hot, and it was nice to bike around and feel the wind against our skin. The bike rentals on the island all have fixed prices of 4000 Won per 30 min and 7000 per hour.
Zip-line to Nami Island
If you haven’t done it before, forget about taking the Ferry to Nami Island and zipline there instead! I can think if no cooler way to arrive at an island than by ziplining there! The Zipline costs 44 000 Won and includes the entrance fee to Nami Island and the ferry back from Nami Island.
Go on a boat trip
You can bring 4 of your friends with you for a boat trip around Nami Island on the Han River.
Check out the cultural and adventure spaces on Nami Island
All around the Island there are various cultural spots to check out. The Forest Adventure TreeGo is perfect for kids and families. It’s an area with various adctivites in and around the trees, such as Zip-line, trampolines and swings. There is also a Handcraft studio and a Library
Nami Island is one of 14 parks recognized as a UNICEF Child-Friendly Park. Take the Unicef Charity Train to visit the Song Museum, it’s a cool experience, especially for kids, and part of the earnings help Unicef to help kids in need. Make sure to stop by the UNICEF Hall where they promote children’s right to a safe upbringing and have different activities going on. If you are pressed for time or can’t walk long distances, hop on the little Nami Island Bus for a Story Tour.
Take Pictures and check out cute botanical areas and art installations
The Nami Islans has over 20 gardens, all portraying a different story with unique designs. Walking though the Island you’ll not only find gardens, but also ponds spread around the Island. As the gardens, the ponds also have different stories or intentions to them.
Visit the General Nam’s Tomb
As mentioned, Nami Island is named after General Nami who led his troops to put down an uprising in the North East of Korea in 1467. His memorial is located on Nami Island, close to the Ferry station.
Walk the many paths on the Island
So, if you rented a bike, you probably spotted some spots you would like to spend more time on. Walk around Nami Island and find cute spots to take in, and of you will have no trouble finding that perfect Instagramable spot. My favourite on the Island was the Metasequoia Lane. A path lined with tall Metasequoia trees. There is also a lane lined with Ginko Trees, don’t miss this spot! In fall the leaves have the most beautiful yellow color. The Cherry Tree Lane is breath-taking in spring and you can find many other lanes lined with different trees like pine trees, white birch, red wood trees and tulip trees. In other words, lots of paths and lanes to walk, and bike though.
Check the events on Nami Islands
There are always different events arranged on the island. Check ahead of time if there are any events you would like to join. From a book festival, art exhibition, performances to hands on activities like glass blowing and pottery making. Check out their event calendar.
Stay the night on Nami Island
There is only one hotel on Nami Island, the Jeonggwanru Hotel. If you want to experience how the island is when all the tourists leave Nami Island you have to stay here. The rooms are designed by different artists and you can even stay in a traditional Korean ondol with maths on the floor.
During the night, many areas of the island are lit up by fairly lights in the trees and I’m sure having the island almost to yourself must be a very unique experience.
Looking for other day-trips from Seoul? Visit the Border of South and North Korea! Read all about the DMZ in my post!
How to get to Nami Island?
So how do you go from Nami Island from Seoul? There are several alternative ways of traveling there. You can drive there by yourself or take public transportation. That way you get from Seoul to Nami Island without a car. It’s easy and cheaper than driving yourself! It’s fairly easy to get to Nami Island from Seoul no matter what alternative you choose to get there.
Take public transportation to Nami Island
To get to Nami Island with public transportation, take the subway towards Chuncheon station. You can change to bus or train/subway along the way and I recommend taking the train as you’ll avoid traffic that way. You can either take the Metro or ITX trains. Get off at Gapyeong Station. Make sure to get off at Gapyeong Station, not at Gapyeong terminal where the busses go. From here you can either take a public bus to Namisum Ferry or take the shuttle bus. If you want to walk, the walk is about 2 km.
Get from Seoul to Gapyeong Station by subway/metro
Get from your location in Seoul to Yongsan Station. Take the subway to Sangbong Station. Transfer to the Gyeongchun Line and get off at Gapyeong Station. This should take about 1,5 hours if you get your transfers. The price to go to from Yongsan Station to Gapyeong station by metro is about 2350 won with a metro card or 2450 won without. You can check out your exact travel route on Seoul metros route planner.
The price will be different depending on where in Seoul you start your journey. Read more about the Seoul subway system on visit koreas pages.
Get from Seoul to Gapyeong Station by ITX/train
Get from your location in Seoul to Yongsan Station. Find the Korail counter to purchase a train ticket. Take the train to Gapyeong Station. You can also buy your ticket on Korails homepage if you want to save time. As of 2020 the price to go from Yongsan station to Gapyeong station is 5,900 Won and takes 1 hour.
Get from Gapyeong Station To Nami Island Ferry Station
When you get to Gapyeong station you have to take a bus or taxi to the Ferry station. The shuttlebus is a little more expensive, but you can hop on and off as many times as you’ll like. The same shuttle bus takes you to Petite France, The Garden of Morning calm and several other destinations in the area. Therefore, it is especially good if you plan of visiting several attractions in the Gangchon area.
The Shuttlebus also have more frequent departures then the public bus. You can, in other words, definitely take the public bus, but you have to pe prepared to wait longer. If you don’t want to wait at all, or are a group of people, consider taking a taxi.
Looking for more South Korea content?
The Gapyeong Shuttle Bus
Tickets for the Gapyeong shuttle bus costs 6000 won and the ticket is valid the whole day. The shuttle bus stops right outside Gapyeong Station while, if you want to take the local bus, you’ll have to cross the street.
There are signs leaving the station, and a person standing at the bus stop selling the tickets and they should be able to speak at least basic English. Be aware that the shuttle bus run two different routes, so make sure to get on the right one. Both routes stop most places, but at a different order. However, we ended up getting on the bus that drove Course A all 4 times we took the bus, so I’m not sure how frequent Course B runs.
On the bus you get the timetable as well as info brochures from the different attractions along the shuttle bus route.
Drive to Nami Island
To drive there you drive towards the capital of the region, Chuncheon. However, you can’t drive all the way to Nami Island as there are no bridges there. There is a huge parkinglot where you have to leave your car before taking the ferry over. The parking fee is 4000 Won for 12 hours, but if you stay over night on the island, parking is included.
The Ferry to Nami Island
To get across to Namisum Island you have to go by ferry. The ferry ride is included in the entrance ticket to Nami Island that cost 13000 won. You can return with any of the ferries throughout the day. The Ferry to Nami Island takes 5-6 minutes across the Han River and runs frequently though the day from 7.30 until 21.40. See the Nami Island Ferry Schedule bellow or check for updates on their official page.
Skip the trouble of getting to Nami Island by yourself and take a tour to Nami Island instead.
Is it worth it going to Nami Island?
This question really depends on your interests, what kind of traveler you are and how much time you have in Seoul and South Korea. If you are a K-drama fan, then there is no doubt about it. However, if you’re a backpacker or solo traveler who just wants to explore some areas outside Seoul, I recommend that you start out early from Seoul and combine you visit to Nami Island with a visit to other attractions in the area, like The Garden of Morning Calm and Petite France. That way you also get to see some of the beautiful nature in the area on you bus ride through the province. So how long should you spend in Nami Island? If you go with kids, or a romantic partner, consider staying the night! If not, you will be fine with 2 to 3 hours there before heading off to your next location in the area.
When is the best time to visit Nami Island?
There is no time better than other to visit Nami Island and there are pros and cons with every season. A little tip regarding the best time to go to Nami Island during the week, I would definitely try to go during the weekdays to avoid the worst crowds.
Spring: Flowers and trees are blooming, it might be a little chilly, but the nature will be stunning. Make sure to catch the cherry tree blossom in April!
Summer: Different Flowers are blooming and the trees will be full of leaves. The climate will be warm.
Fall: Trees will carry leaves in different beautiful fall colors and also decorate the ground below.
Winter: visiting Nami Island in winter will, of course, be a bit cold, but fairy light and snow-covered nature will make your Nami Island visit a visit to a magical winter wonderland. Winter is also as when the recording of Winter Sonata took place on the Island and you’ll recognize places around the island even more from the series. Just remember to dress up nice and warm as the Korean winter tend to be cold.
I hope this post gave you some ideas about what to do in Nami Island and how to plan your trip there.