When planning a trip to South Korea, one naturally gravitates to their capital with a population of approximately ten million people. After soaking in all the sights the city has to offer with a multitude of palaces, restaurants, museums and of course, cafes, there are several destinations less than two hours’ drive away from Seoul to consider. For those who want to sit back and relax, book a day tour through destination services booking platforms such as Klook. To save more funds for shopping in Myeongdong, explore other options such as taking the bus or train.
Namiseom or Nami Island, of Winter Sonata fame, has become one of the must-visit spots in South Korea, drawing some 3,300,000 visitors annually. The island is a short ferry ride across but thrill-seekers can go for the ‘Zip-wire’ which costs ₩44,000 (entrance fee is included in the fare.)
The island is a charming oasis and a welcome respite from the hubbub of Seoul, with autumn and winter being the best seasons to enjoy its beauty. Although there are many visitors on the island at most times, it is still easy enough to find a quiet lane to stroll on, or to go on a bike ride, should you wish to. The Metasequoia Lane boasts towering and magnificent trees, and is the most famous photo spot on the island. There are many other trees to marvel at, such as the ginkgo trees or cherry trees, depending on the season.
If you are lucky enough, you may spot different species of animals that roam freely on the island.
Don’t miss out on visiting the spot where Winter Sonata’s star-crossed lovers enjoyed their first kiss. Make sure to pack your selfie stick as various quirky sculptures and whimsical photo spots are dotted around the island. Those looking for a bite to eat can choose from several cafes located throughout the island to enjoy the scenery. If you are not content with a day trip, the Jeonggwanru Hotel is perfect for groups of two or four to spend the night.
If you are getting there by car, search for the ‘Nami Island Ticket Office’ or the ‘Nami Island Dock’. Parking fees apply except for guests of Hotel Jeonggwanru.
If you prefer the Subway, go by the ‘Gyeongchun Line’ or the ‘ITX-Cheongchun’ to Gapyeong Station. The journey is sixty minutes or less, depending on your departure station. Nami Island is twenty minutes’ walk from Gapyeong Station.
With South Korea known as ‘The Land of Morning Calm’, this is the private garden inspired by it. The garden is every avid Instagrammers dream, with areas perfect for photos around every corner. Great for couples or for those looking for a fun photo time with friends, it is a garden that truly showcases the natural beauty of South Korea. It has acted as the picturesque background for many Korean dramas, such as ‘Love in the Moonlight’.
The garden exhibits its splendour all year round, displaying distinctive charms for every season. In spring, the ‘Wild Flower Exhibition’ displays sixty types of wildflowers. You will feel as if you have stepped into the pages of ‘The Secret Garden’, as the many-hued landscape is a sight to behold. Come summer, the ‘Rose of Sharon Festival & Exhibition’ pays tribute to South Korea’s floral emblem. In autumn, the fall foliage is at its best as the yellow leaves interspersed with the red which stirs up feelings of melancholy and delight associated with the season.
You would think that wintertime is when the garden receives the least visitors, but it is actually the time when the place comes to life with dazzling lights during its highly anticipated ‘Lighting Festival’. The festival runs from sunset to 9.00pm (11.00pm on Saturdays). Take a walk along the undulating lanes and you may come across lights shaped in different forms such as a ship floating on the sea, a massive teddy bear, or even a carriage pulled by horses. The glimmering lights are a sight to behold and is well worth a visit.
For those taking the bus, depart from the bus terminals such as Dongseoul or the Cheongryangri transfer centre no.1 and arrive at the Cheongpyeong Terminal.
If you’re travelling by subway, arrive at the Cheongpyeong Station by the Gyeongchun line. Alternatively, take the ITX-Cheongchun departing from Yongsan station or Cheongryangri Station and arrive at the Cheongpyeong Station.
Taxi rides take around 20 minutes from the town of Cheongpyeong.
If peace and quiet is not quite your cup of tea, head for Everland, arguably the most well-known theme park in all of South Korea. There is something for everyone at Everland, whether it be a roller coaster that reaches speeds of up to 104 kilometres an hour or adorable pandas at Panda World. Different passes are available including one-day passes, two-day passes, and night passes. Bear in mind that the outdoor theme park is massive and you probably will not be able to cram everything into a single day.
To blend in with the crowd, start by picking up a cute hairband from one of the many souvenir stores around. It will make your photos look great and add to the fun! A unique thing about the South Korean theme park rides is that the staff love to break into a song and dance. Check out the ‘Hurricane’ which spins 19 metres above the ground or the ‘Columbus Adventure’ for a massive Viking ship that is sure to make you dizzy. Waiting times for rides can get long, so to make it bearable, pick up one of the must-have snacks such as churros or a giant ice cream cone.
For more entertainment, catch one of their parades, which are worth the visit all on their own. Lenny’s Fantasy world actually features a large scale fireworks show! Those looking for the perfect place for a date, look no further. There is also a sprawling garden in the grounds including the 26-metre decorative Romantic Tower Tree.
Animal lovers will be oohing and aahing at the animals that the park plays home to, such as the red pandas, penguins, sea lions, and capybaras. Head to areas such as the Lost Valley & Safari World for a closer look of those cuddly creatures.
South Koreans go all out for the Halloween season. If you are fortunate enough to be in town then, you will be able to see Everland like never before. Certain rides have an added spooky element and the Horror Maze is enough to scare anyone out of their wits.
The next time you’re in South Korea, don’t forget to pay a visit to one of these destinations for an unforgettable time.
Ample parking is available for those travelling by car, and a free shuttle operates between the parking lot and the main gate, at selected times.
Everland provides a certified taxi service called the ‘Ever Cab’ for those wanting to travel in comfort.
Shuttle buses are available at different departure locations in Seoul, for a fee.
Those travelling by subway can travel to the Giheung station on the Bundang Line and travel to Everline. Get off at the last stop and take the free shuttle bus directly to Everland. Regular buses and non-stop buses also can be used to travel to Everland.