South Korea Travel Series | Part 4: Nami Island and Petite France

We had come to our last day in South Korea. I was feeling rather melancholic because in a few hours, my sisters and I would be saying goodbye to the country and we’d be thanking it for the wonderful memories. (check out my previous posts starting here!) It’s been an amazing trip!

Ate’s flight back to London was at 10 in the morning so we bid her farewell at the Incheon Airport at around 8 AM. Maan, Miki and my flight wasn’t until past midnight though, so our thoughts weren’t completely into going home just yet. The three of us still had time for one last adventure. For our last day, we travelled to Gapyeong to see Petite France and Nami Island.

Gapyeong County

Gapyeong is a small town in Gyeonggi Province, more than 50 kilometers away from Seoul. It’s known for its charming, natural landscapes and major tourist attractions like Petite France, Nami Island, the Gapyeong Rail Park and The Garden of Morning Calm. From Seoul, you can get to the town by subway, the train express or bus. Since we would be coming from the airport, we decided to take the subway all the way to Gapyeong. This roughly took us more than 4 hours. We changed lines a couple of times, got on a wrong line once (lol) and had tons of stops. This might not really be the most efficient route but I loved the experience. I was finally able to really learn to commute using the subway because of it. 😊

Once at Gapyeong Station, tourists can then take the Gapyeong Shuttle Bus. The bus follows a certain course and makes stops at each tourist site. I like how this is a convenient way for visitors to tour the town. Just hop on the tourist bus at the Gapyeong Terminal, get off at your preferred site, spend time there, wait for another bus at the designated stop to arrive and hop on it to your next destination. You’ll have to check the bus schedule for this so you can plan how long you’ll be staying for each location.

I highly, highly recommend that you visit Gapyeong when in South Korea. This place is countryside-stunning! I mean, even without having the chance to check out Gapyeong Rail Park and The Garden of Morning Calm – though based on the descriptions and the pictures I saw on the tourist map, I really wished we had the time to do so – I could tell how lovely the town is just by the lush hills, the scenic views and the tons of pine trees we passed by while on the bus. I loved the tour. Add to that seeing Petite France and Nami Island and my nature-loving self was gratified.

Petite France

We were more than half an hour into our bus ride. I was looking out the window, admiring the peacefulness and cleanliness of Gapyeong. A few more minutes later, a cluster of structures came into view. They were of houses in various colors and with architectural designs so distinct, they seemed to be plucked out of a faraway place. No doubt, we had reached Petite France.

Built on a hill overlooking the Cheongpyeong Lake, Petite France is a quaint village that lets people experience French culture. Upon entering the premises, I first noticed how colorful and pretty the French-style houses were. These traditional country houses made us feel like we left South Korea for a moment. The whole village actually reminded me and my sisters of Belle’s town in the classic Disney movie, Beauty and the Beast. This led us to start singing “Bonjour” while exploring. 

Tourists can step inside some of these structures and check out its exhibits. There’s a memorial hall dedicated to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and a gallery of sculptures and paintings.

On certain days (this wasn’t one of them unfortunately), there are hand and string puppet shows, marionette dances and performances of street musicians at the village’s amphitheatre.

There are also houses that display French interiors and furniture like Maison de Marie. Touring inside the modest yet lovely house felt like visiting a mademoiselle’s home. It’s almost like a lady would come out and offer us some afternoon tea. 

I couldn’t stop snapping pictures. Haha. The whole village is picturesque. I believe another thing that makes Petite France so lovely is the theme that surrounds it. It encapsulates flowers, stars and the Little Prince. You’ll find the famed character at certain spots in the tour. My favorite is the huge mural at the side of the museum dedicated to this mysterious fellow. Pretend to fly off with the little prince by posing in front of this wallpaper-worthy backdrop!

Aside from the Fench cultural display, Petite France serves as a youth training facility. It’s also a popular shooting location for K-dramas and Korean movies. Indeed, this village is something that’s worth checking out.

Nami Island

I had heard of Nami Island before. I heard it’s a popular tourist attraction and I had seen photos of it, especially photos of the tree lane that seemed to have become the island’s iconic spot. I was sure travelling for it and seeing the island would make the trip worthwhile. Little did I know we had been saving for last what would become my favorite tourist attraction in all our trips in South Korea.     

Boy, was Nami Island beautiful! It had me gushing for so many things. For starters, Nami Island is situated in the middle of a lake. You’ll know this means peaceful strolls and pretty lakeside sceneries, like getting a nice view of the lush mountains nearby. We had a good start to this while on board the ferry.

Speaking of the ferry, that’s how visitors reach the island. Pay the entrance fee at the ferry wharf then board the vessel which makes trips every 20 to 30 minutes. The travel time is 5-10 minutes. If you’re feeling a little adventurous (and if you have the budget), you can opt to take the zipline. This will take you just 2 minutes. Glide your way onto the island or take the common route by riding the ferry; either way, it’s a swift journey.

It’s the first time I’ve seen squirrels here! These cuties are not common in the Philippines so I was delighted to have seen some in the flesh at Nami. They were just roaming about, doing their thing and not minding the people exploring. The picture below shows the closest I got to one. You’ll see them on my IG stories too. I was so fascinated. Haha.

Squirrels are not the only animals that complement the island’s beauty. I read Nami Island is also home to countless types of birds like the black woodpecker. There are also geese, rabbits, turkeys and moles. And oh, ostriches!

Fun fact: Nami Island declared its cultural independence from South Korea and became Naminara Republic. It has its own flag, passport and currency! How cute is that?

Ultimately, what brought Nami Island to the top of my favorites is its natural beauty. The whole place evoked feelings of calm and awe, something I usually feel when nature is abound. Everywhere we walked, there was always something scenic. 

I especially loved the tree lane! The tree lane in the picture above is just one of the several on the island. The leaves’ color is different every season. We had our trip in June so the leaves that time were of vibrant green, its color during summer. I believe autumn is when the trees are their most captivating.

Nami Island had been a great destination to end our trip. We returned to the airport accomplished for the day, and for all that we had experienced during our stay in South Korea. I would definitely like to come back! And I hope autumn would be the next season I’d be seeing South Korea in. Till next time, South Korea!

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