Nami Island – Petite France
Seoul to Gapyeong
Having purchased the ITX tickets the day before, we made our way to Yongsan station (Line 1) early in the morning. From Myeongdong (Line 4), we took the subway towards Seoul Station, and transferred to Line 4. There were no problems finding our way to the ITX train platforms as the signages were clear. However, we could not locate the transfer machine where we were supposed to tap our T-money cards when transferring from subway to ITX (to be honest, we were so busy talking and engrossed in finding our way to the ITX platforms, we forgot about tapping and therefore were not on the look out for the transfer machines). Accordingly, one is supposed to tap the T-money card during the transfer, since the subway leg of the journey has ended, and the correct amount can then be deducted from the card. We further made the mistake of tapping the T-money card when we exited at Gapyeong. But things were made right when we approached the station masters at Gapyeong, and they did a refund.
The ITX train was right on schedule, and arrived at Yongsan at 0800. Seats were preassigned and printed on our tickets. The train is very comfortable, and comes fully equipped with reclining plush seating, stow table, plenty of leg space, rest rooms and vending machines. It is also possible to purchase snacks on board from the crew who occasionally come pass with their snacks trolley. The 55 min journey was sufficient for us to enjoy our breakfast and coffee, and to catch up on some sleep. Tip: Bakeries can be found at all major subway stations, for one to conveniently grab their breakfasts and coffees before boarding the subway and/or train.
Gapyeong to Nami Island
Upon arrival at Gapyeong station at 0855, we proceeded to the Tourist Information Centre situated right outside the Gapyong station. Upon knowing our intention to go to Nami Island, the lady at the Centre directed us up on to the City Tour Bus parked outside the Centre. We managed to catch the 0910 City Tour Bus. Many other travellers had previously mentioned to take the City Tour Bus from the bus stop opposite the Centre. But I guess, when in doubt, just ask for directions. With a purchased ticket, one can board and alight the City Tour Bus at its various stops. The major attractions that the Bus go to include the Nami Island (to be exact, the Bus actually brings one to the Nami Ferry Terminal, and not to the Island per se), Petite France, and the Garden of Morning Calm. The Bus has a fixed schedule, so it is essential to plan ahead. If not, one will risk waiting up to 2 hours for the next Bus. Gapyeong City Tour Bus: 5,000 Won/ pax
The Nami Island stop is just one stop away from Gapyeong Station, about a 5 min ride away. From the bus stop, walk straight and you should see the Namiseom Zip Wire tower on your left. Continue walking straight up and you should arrive at the Nami Island Ferry Terminal/Immigration very shortly. After we purchased the Nami Island ferry ticket cum Entrance Fee, we were ushered on to the ferry. The ferry departs every 30 min during the 0700 – 0900 period, and every 10 – 20 min during the 0900 -1800 period. The journey itself was a mere 15 min.
We explored Nami Island on foot, and spent about 3 hours strolling along the pine tree lanes, busking in the sun, snapping photographs of Bae Yong-Joon and Choi Ji-Woo, and enjoying ice cream at the alfresco cafes.
Nami Island to Petite France
We caught the 1210 ferry back to the main land, and proceeded for lunch at a nearby restaurant. We ordered effectively using the pictures in the menu, and by all sorts of gesturing.
Heading on to Petite France, we waited for the City Tour Bus at the bus stop outside 7-Eleven (look out for the City Tour Bus schedule), and caught the 1315 bus. It will be best to get a seat for this journey, as it is about 30 min with many turns as the bus winds through the hills and valleys in this region. Drowsy from our lunch and intoxicated by the warmth in the bus, we were lured into a fleeting nap.
We arrived with the exotic buildings of Petite France on our left. We proceeded up the cliff, and purchased tickets. Entrance fee: 6,000Won/pax Tip: The usual admission fee is 8,000 Won/adult. Prior to departure, we downloaded and printed discount coupons from http://www.vkc.or.kr/en/benefit/coupon.asp. This included a 25% discount for Petite France.
We thoroughly enjoyed exploring the colourful architecture of Petite France, and posing with all the statues of Little Prince. It felt like we had stepped into a fantasy land. Sitting at the alfresco cafe, we savoured an ice cream each, while enjoying the amazing sea view.
Petite France to Gapyeong
We caught the 1750 City Tour Bus back to Gapyeong station. Reaching the station at 1820, we had almost an hour to kill at the station. We spent it snacking on local sweets and drinks purchased from the convenience store, and enjoying the sunset and quiet surroundings outside the station. Hopping onto the ITX train at 1928, we arrived back in Seoul at 2030.