I’ve joined many day tours for the past 3 years, and I must admit that this is the BEST among all. It was very well-organized with perfect timing, reasonable prices and an awesome tour guide. So, this post is all about our Nami Island, Petite France and Gangchon Rail Bike Day Tour from Seoul by SA Tours booked from Klook.
This tour comes with 5 different options, covering four popular tourist attractions in Gangwon-do.
- Nami Island + Petite France : available daily
- Nami Island + Petite France: + Rail Bike : available daily (our choice)
- Nami Island + Petite France: + Garden of Morning Calm : available daily
- Nami Island + Garden of Morning Calm : available on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday
- Nami Island + Garden of Morning Calm + Rail Bike : available from Monday – Friday
Our tour departed at 8:00am from Dongdaemun. The pick-up location was at Hotel the Designers, which is walking distance to Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station. One day before the tour, our tour guide has created a group chat on WhatsApp and arranged the guests into groups for ease of co-ordination and communication.
Our tour guide was a young and lovely lady named Hye-Jeong who can speak English and Mandarin well (I was so impressed!). She’s also very polite and friendly. When we were out, she would share nice photo-taking spots and reminders on meet-up time/location on our chat group. She also shared a lot of information on the places that we were visiting. I’ve never seen such a hardworking tour guide LOL.
When we boarded the bus, the seat numbers have been assigned to us. The bus was clean and comfortable, we were given cheesecakes and bottled water for breakfast. The journey to our first destination – Petite France – took slightly more than an hour. As you may have already know, Petite France is best known for being the filming location of a massively popular K-Drama “My Love From The Star”. I couldn’t wait to see this French-style theme park.
As soon as I arrived, I was attracted by its brightly coloured buildings that stood out against the monotone mountain. Petite France consists of 16 French-style buildings and 23 stops. Much to my surprise, it’s quite tiny. From one end to the other, it took only 20 mins. Can you believe it? Nonetheless, you’d spend more time taking pictures than walking as there are many picturesque spots here. It also has its own guesthouse.
As shared by our tour guide, the best photo-taking spots include # 10 (stand on the glass stairs), # 12 Mini Eiffel Tower, # 14 The Wall of Love and # 26 The Wall of Little Prince. We spent an hour here before proceeding to Nami Island.
It started with a Korean drama (again!). Like most of us, I learned about Nami Island when it was used as a filming location for Winter Sonata, a popular Korean melodrama that became a phenomenal hit in many Asian countries. It sparked interest in Nami Island as a major tourist destination, with the number of tourists skyrocketing from 270,000 in 2001 to over 650,000 in 2002 to over 3.3 million guests annually now.
From Gapyeong Wharf, we took a ferry to Nami Island (approx. 10 mins). The island covers an area of 430,000 square meters with 3 main walkways from the entrance to the end of the island. As you can see in the map below, most of the attractions are located at the center of the island. Hence, it’s recommended to take the center walkway.
The island is most famous for its lanes of metasequoia and ginkgo trees. There are many beautiful tree-lined paths here (as shown by the thick brown lines in the map). The most popular paths that you should not miss are The Central Korean Pine Tree Lane, Ginkgo Tree Lane and Metasequoia Lane. In winter, the presence of lovely snowmen and cozy wood fire add warmth and beauty to the island. There is also wildlife like peacocks and rabbits.
We enjoyed taking a leisurely stroll under the tall trees and along the riverside to enjoy the tranquility of this beautiful island. There was also a snow hill to sled off from, a few small museums, facilities like little train and bicycles, various shops and restaurants.
When you’re here, don’t miss out on Nami Island’s tasty sweet treat called ‘Snowman Hotteok’ (Korean sweet pancake). They are extremely popular, especially during the winter months. It costs only 1,500 won – you can also add a scoop of ice-cream for 1,500 won. Be it hot or cold, it’s super delicious and I loved it SO much!
Nami Island is a very beautiful place that I would definitely recommend! ^__^
Next, we went for lunch – Chuncheon-style iron plate-grilled chicken – which is included in the tour. I was told that this dish is very popular here. There was a grill set on each table with chicken cubes and vegetables in it. There were also side dishes like kimchi and various sauces.
We poured the sauces into the iron plate to cook the chicken and vegetables. When the meat was cooked, we poured in the rice and mixed them together. My verdict? It was surprisingly yummy (or maybe I was too hungry LOL). Edison had fun cooking over the hot plate too. The food portion was quite generous with free flow of rice and side dishes. There were also optional add-ons such as beef rib soup (12,000 won), cheese (3,000 won), etc.
Gangchon Rail Park
After a hearty lunch, we proceeded to our final attraction – Gangchon Rail Park. Truth be told, I had little expectation of this place, but it turned out to be a big surprise for me. I had so much fun and I was also impressed by how they turned the old train tracks into such an exciting rail cycling track in the beautiful countryside.
Gangchon Rail Park has two courses: Gimyujeong Station course (included in our tour) and Gyeonggang Station course. Gimyujeong Station course takes about 1.5 hours covering a distance of 8.5km and passing 4 different themed tunnels. But fret not! The bike is not operated solely on paddle power. In fact, it moves automatically and smoothly.
All we need to do was to paddle (very) leisurely and enjoy the fresh air as well as the stunning views of the countryside along Bukhan River. Occasionally, we need to step on our brakes to keep a safe distance from the bike in front of us, especially when we were approaching the tunnels.
There are two types of bikes: two-seater and four-seater. The last tunnel is a VR tunnel – additional fee applies at 5,000 won per person. This is for the rental of VR headset which is optional. You can still go without it but you won’t be able to see the effects in the last tunnel.
Before taking the bike, the staff will present some safety rules. In short, fasten your seat belt, keep a safe distance and do not stand during the ride. Most importantly, please make sure NOT to drop any belongings especially your mobile phone. The bike will not stop; hence you won’t be able to return and pick-up. If you’re visiting during winter, it’s good to wear your gloves as it can be quite cold due to the wind.
At the end of the rail, there’s a mini café selling drinks and snacks. It’s time to refill our tummies and quenched our thirst. After a short break, we took the Romantic Train to the abolished Gangchon Station. From there, it’s just a short walk to our bus boarding area. It was such an exciting ride, all of us agreed that this is the BEST attraction among the three.
To sum it up, the overall experience during the tour was SO awesome! Our tour guide Hye-Jeong is the BEST! She accounted for everyone’s needs and provided us with lots of information from attractions to food. The lunch provided was delicious with generous portion. Most importantly, the pace was good, and we didn’t need to rush at all. The tour was also well coordinated through a WhatsApp chat group. I’d highly recommend this tour, you can book from Klook HERE.