3 Days and 2 Nights in Chuncheon
Finally, the time arrived for a much needed long weekend and we were ready to explore a little more of Korea. A work colleague suggested we check out Chuncheon, famous for its telephone pole-less Namiseom Island, Dakgalbi (spicy stir-fried chicken) and The Garden of the Morning Calm. So, I went online and booked a Pension 8km away from Nami Island and 16km away from Petite France with a mountain/lake view. I also whipped up a suggested itinerary however my priority was to relax and adventure so we mainly used said itinerary as a list of suggested places to visit to find zip codes for the GPS. Please bear in mind that we did not use public transportation on this trip, we went everywhere by car!
Saturday 5th May:
Nami Island Address: 1, Namiseom-gil, Chuncheon-si, Gangwon-do
강원도 춘천시 남산면 남이섬길
There was a significant amount of traffic which I did not take into consideration and as a result we arrived at Nami Island much later than anticipated. I think we arrived around 3pm and it took about half an hour to find a parking space. Parking everywhere was only 4,000₩ however it did take some time to park as it was so busy. It was a national holiday/long weekend so of course it was going to be busy. We paid 10,000₩ each admission which included a return ferry trip. We did intend to enter the island via the infamous zipline (38,000 per person one-way) however this too was fully booked until 6:30pm and we weren’t willing to wait that long. You could easily spend an entire day on the island; there were many things to do as well as restaurants and gift shops.
We wandered around the island for a while enjoying the scenery, taking photos and scoffing ice-cream. After this, we stumbled upon a boat rental place and rented a swan pedal boat for 15,000₩. I am not sure how much time this allowed us but we were both pretty tired after 45minutes and pedalled ourselves back to shore. I also noticed that there was a bike rental place on the island which was 8,000₩ per person per hour.
What to bring to Nami Island:
* Money/cash for ice-cream, lunch, coffee, train, boat/bike rental.
* A picnic blanket + picnic.
* A camera (the island is very instagram-able).
Just before 6pm we boarded the ferry and headed back to the car. We entered the address of the pension we were staying in and as the sun set we drove down some dark and narrow country lanes until we found Beautiful House. Many people were enjoying home cooked barbecue’s on the patio outside the pension and eventually somebody who worked there approached us and took us up to our room. By the time I had taken off my shoes and sat down on the bed there was a knock on the door. A lady who worked there came in, speaking entirely in Korean, and suggested that we move to a different room as the bathroom was too small in this room. My boyfriend did his best to communicate with this somewhat frantic lady whilst I sat on the bed and, after a great deal of fuss on her behalf, we moved upstairs. We soon realised that our original room was next door to her room and that perhaps she didn’t want to listen to us (the noisy foreigners). What our new and ‘improved’ room lacked in beauty it made up for in character. It was pretty rustic and certainly not Kim and Aggie ‘clean’ but it was cheap and the creepily arranged Teddy Bears made for a good talking point.
Sunday 6th May:
There were two hiccups with Sunday. This first being that I felt so unwell when I woke up that we didn’t leave our lovely pension until 2:30pm. Secondly, it rained all morning and into the early afternoon. Nevertheless, despite my complete lack of energy and running nose we headed to Dakgalbi Street. I was sure that some spicy chicken would make me feel a million times better, not to mention that this is one of my favourite Korean dishes. Dakgalbi Street was around 30minutes drive from our accommodation, we parked on a side street (for free) and ate at one of those sit on the floor restaurants and the food was amaz-ING.
Afterwards, we wandered down some of the alleys but it was fairly similar to Seoul so far as the selection of shops went: Olive Young, Diaso, Innisfree etc. We noticed a VR ‘cafe’ on the way back to the car and decided to try it out. It was 8,000₩ per person for 1hour, so it wasn’t exactly cheap but it was so fun! One of the staff members took us from game to game and told us what to do etc. Unfortunately for me, and my Korean language deficiency, I had next to no idea what she was advising me to do. Although I died during the virtual Saloon Shoot Out I certainly appreciated her efforts to save me from my imminent death. What real chance did I stand against an ex soldier? Even if the instructions had been in English ( FYI they weren’t)! OFC, I did not enjoy the virtual Rollercoaster as this made me feel as sick as real Rollercoaster’s do but it was so much fun and I would highly recommend it to anyone, VR cafes are aplenty in Seoul.
Following all this excitement we headed to see the Soyanggang Skywalk:
Address: 2675, Yeongseo-ro, Chuncheon-si, Gangwon-do
강원도 춘천시 영서로 2675 (근화동)
It was fairly cheap to park, we stayed for less than 2 hours and we paid less than 2,000₩ to park. We first visited the 7meter tall bronze statue of the Soyanggang Maid where we took some more pictures and enjoyed the view of the river and surrounding mountains. A brief 2 minute walk from the bronze maid was the Soyanggang Skywalk, an observatory situated on Uiamho Lake with a transparent walkway. The admission was 2,000₩ per person which was given to us in the form of a coupon which we later redeemed in exchange for a coffee. We were required to cover our shoes and we enjoyed our ‘sky’ walk taking lots of photos along the way. There were various designated photo op areas and, of course, there were many people posing and waiting to pose at each of them. Despite my feeling sorry for myself and the weather being equally lack lustre it was a good and worthwhile experience. You could easily visit the statue and experience the skywalk in 45min-1hour and it wasn’t far from Dakgalbi Street.
We decided to head to cafe Santorini for sunset and dinner. It was about a 30 minutes drive and there was plenty of free parking. The elevated views were breathtaking and we enjoyed some gelato on the patio as we watched the sun set. I Afterwards, we headed upstairs to the second floor where we enjoyed an Italian dinner. It was surreal sitting down for dinner with a knife and fork, a wine glass and napkin. Not to mention we had to wait for our food, it was certainly worth the wait and we enjoyed a romantic evening together.
Address: 1154-97, Sunhwan-daero, Dong-myeon, Chuncheon-si, Gangwon-do
강원도 춘천시 동면 순환대로 1154-97 (동면)
Monday 7th May:
This was my favourite day because I wasn’t as sick, the weather was beautiful and the parking was stress-free. Oh, and I also enjoyed the places we visited!
Firstly, we headed to Petite France arriving at about 11:00am and there was plenty of free parking and nobody was queuing to park, a small miracle. The admission fee was 10,000₩ per person and I would recommend visiting this cute but bizarre little version of France. There are 16 brightly coloured French style buildings and the entire place gave me Beauty and the Beast vibes. Not only was there a mini Effiel tower and a mini Lourve but there was also a Mona Lisa cut out portrait in which you could endeavour to replicate the infamous enigmatic smile. Once again, there were more photo opportunities than we had the energy for but we certainly tried our best! I’ll let the pictures do the talking…
Address: 1063, Hoban-ro, Cheongpyeong-myeon, Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do
경기도 가평군 청평면 호반로 1063
Our final destination was The Garden of the Morning Calm. I must say, one of the things I enjoyed most about this trip was the scenic driving. We stopped at various points to take photos of the breathtaking scenery. It was such a stark contrast from Seoul, the only place I’d seen for the past 8 months that I’d almost forgotten what the countryside looked like. Of course, Chuncheon wasn’t exactly the countryside I was used to (in my village back in England) but my gosh it was stunning; the mountains, the lakes and the vast stretches of lush grass. It was Sound of Music heavenly (it reminded me ever so slightly of my last ‘road trip’ back in 2014 through Tasmania). It was the absence of everything I associated with Seoul which made it so special to me. Don’t get me wrong, I love living in such a vibrant city but I have grown up in tiny villages situated in the countryside and for me, the essence of this place resonated with me deeply. I love hearing bird sing, love winding country lanes, I love breathing in fresh air! Anyway, I digress. So, we waited about 30-40 minutes to get to the parking lot which was a vastly less stressful than the queue for Nami Island that’s for sure! The admission fee was 9,500₩ per person. The garden is filled with 30,000m2 of vibrant colours and hella calming vibes. It is all meticulously maintained and beautifully arranged with serene pathways leading from one garden to another. Much like Nami Island, you could easily spend the day here or at least a few hours as we did. There is almost too much to look at and explore and there is a cafe/restaurant at which you can dine with a view in this scenic setting.
What to bring:
*A Tripod/Selfie Stick/Camera
The address: 432, Sumogwon-ro, Sang-myeon, Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do
경기도 가평군 상면 수목원로 432
Overall, Chuncheon was a blast and I would certainly recommend it to a friend. I hope our loosely applied itinerary becomes to someone in the future!