A tiny island with a big reputation, we visited Nami Island to see what all the fuss was about
Nami Island is said to be one of the best places in Korea to experience Autumn. It’s a tiny half-moon shaped island located about 60km east of Seoul.
In 2002, Korean drama ‘Winter Sonata’ was filmed here, instantly transforming the island into a tourist hotspot. We knew it was going to be a bit of a tourist trap but couldn’t resist going to see what all the fuss was about.
Unless you’re on an organised coach trip from Seoul to Nami Island, it’s a bit of a jaunt to get there (take a look at my detailed directions at the bottom of this page.)
After an early start from Seoul, 24 stops and two changes on the subway later, we finally made it to the city of Chuncheon around midday.
As we came out of the station in Chuncheon we reluctantly joined the lengthy queue of people waiting for taxis and buses to transport them to the ferry terminal. Described by many as the best time of the years in Korea; there’s no doubt that Autumn provides breathtaking scenery but unfortunately this comes at a price – swarms of tourists.
The ferry terminal was crowded, but after purchasing our ticket (8,000 won) from the ‘immigration counter,’ it was only a ten minute wait to get on board.
There’s also the option to take a zip wire across to the island (38,000 won) – this looked really fun but the wait was over two hours, so we stuck with the ferry.
In 2006, Nami Island declared itself an independent nation. Visitors are required to purchase a ‘visa’ before you can make your way through ‘immigration’ in order to catch the ferry to the island.
Just like we’d been told by friends in Korea, Nami Island was very picturesque. The minute we stepped off the ferry we were surrounded by rows upon rows of giant trees bursting with colour.
There were plenty of places to grab some lunch (Korean and Western), all reasonably priced. We recommend taking a picnic as there’s tons of space to relax and enjoy the scenery.
We spent around four hours on the island. Truth be told there isn’t a fat lot to see and do (unless you’re really into trees), but we enjoyed Nami’s relaxing vibe compared with Seoul, it’s chaotic neighbour.
We visited Nami island in late October and the Autumn foliage was mainly yellow and orange. It’s difficult to plan your visit around the colour of the foliage, as the leaves change colour at different times every year depending on where you are in the country.
Would we recommend a trip to Nami Island?
If the weather is warm and you take a picnic, it’s the perfect place to spend a relaxing afternoon. The island itself is very picturesque and laid back compared to the fast-paced Korean way of life we have become used to.
If you plan to visit during the popular seasons of Summer and Autumn; be prepared for lots of tourists. It didn’t feel particularly busy once we’d actually made it onto the island, but the ferry was cramped and there were crowds of people lingering around the ferry terminal and train station.
– Get to Nami Island as early as you can if you want to avoid the crowds (especially if you plan of taking the zip wire across to the island.) The ferry runs from 07:30am – 21:30pm all year round.
– Don’t bother waiting in line for a taxi or bus from the station to the ferry terminal. It’s a straight-forward fifteen minute walk allowing you to skip the queue and save bags of time.
– If you plan on visiting Nami Island during the Winter, think about heading down the road to spend a few hours at the lighting festival at the Garden of Morning Calm.
Click here to read about our trip to the lighting festival at the Garden of Morning Calm.
How to get there: It took us almost two hours to reach Nami Island by Subway, so on our return journey we used the ITX which took around 45 minutes. We’d definitely recommend taking the ITX, it’s hassle free and cuts down your travel time so you can spend longer on the island.
To get to Nami Island using the subway: take the Gyeongui-jungang line (pale green) to Mangu Station, change to the Gyeongchun line which will take you to Gapyeong Station.
Alternatively, take the ITX from Oksu or Wangsimi station straight to Gapyeong. This route takes a significantly shorter time and costs around 8,000 won one way.