If you’re planning a trip away somewhere, anywhere that isn’t Seoul, why don’t you think about going to the wonderful Nami Island? Located two hours away from the capital, it’s pretty close for a weekend getaway.

Nami Island is a tiny, half-moon shaped island in Chuncheon on the Han River. It is named after General Nami who died at the age of 28 after being falsely accused of treason during the reign of King Sejo, the seventh king of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea. It was the location for a famous Korean drama called ‘Winter Sonata’ and is a beautiful island full of pine trees, nature and alternative artwork. It was declared independent in 2006, being named the Naminara Republic.

As you approach the island you come to a ‘passport control’ where you are issued with a ‘passport’ and given Namiseom nationality. It’s all very kitsch, with the colours and tacky themes reminding me of going to Disneyland as a child. This was all very welcomed, however, since I enjoyed walking thorough the imaginary passport control to the ferry; it felt like I was going on holiday abroad. Plus we all love going on boats so we can sing .

When you get on the island it is overwhelmingly busy with tourists and couples – although having said that, I was in the couples category. It’s understandable why so many people choose to visit there. It’s covered in tall trees, you can hear birds, there are dirt paths and weird statues and you can hire bikes and go riding around the island at your own leisurely pace, stopping off for a lie down on the grass, a cup of coffee, or just a break to watch the squirrels scurry around.

Just ignore the three thousand other couples who had the same idea as you that weekend and it’s all good. Plus I love seeing a lovely Korean couple with matching pink jumpers on a tandem anyway.

some lovely hearts made out of leaves

We hired our own individual bikes and raced around the island instead. It was only 5,000W each for an hour, definitely a reasonable price and definitely worth it. You can see the whole of the island this way and not all of it is constantly crawling with people – there are quiet spots which aren’t too difficult to locate.

Dotted around the island are sculptures made of soju bottles, wildlife including some old ajushi’s playing a game (which included them getting naked), and also if you fancy it, you can zip-line across to the island instead of taking the boat.

If you go in summertime there is also a water-sports center, so you can go speedboating, waterskiing, wakeboarding, and can ride a banana boat. There were a few people jetting around the river when I went, but as we head into autumn the weather is getting colder, and I think even in a wetsuit the water might be a bit too cool. If that doesn’t bother you though, visit before the winter sets in.

If you would like to go to Namiseom Island. Here is the tourist information website.

Admission Fees
Adults : 10,000 won
Foreigners : 8,000 won (until Dec.31, 2011)
Children (3 – 13) : 4,000 won
Visitors coming after 18:00 (Dec – Mar), after 19:00 (Apr – Nov) : 4,000 won
※ Round-trip ferry fare & tax included

Directions
From Gapyong Bus Terminal or Gapyong Station, take a taxi to Namiseom Parking lot. (Travel time: 10-15min)
Board the ferry to Namiseom Island. (Travel time: 5-6min)

Shuttle Bus: From Seoul to Namiseom Island
Bus stop: Insa-dong (Jonggak Station, Subway Line 1, Exit 3) (next to Tapgol Park)
Shuttle Bus schedule:
Insa-dong -> Namiseom Island (09:30) / Namiseom Island -> Insa-dong (16:00)

Pictures by me.