The summer can get very hot and humid here in Korea and one of the best places to go while teaching in Korea is an area about 1 hour from Seoul by subway called Gapyeong (Gapyeong Station – Gyeongchun subway line). If you choose to get there a bit faster, you can opt to take the iTX railway for a few more dollars.
Gapyeong County is famous for its cooler weather and mountainous area. There are many activities to do there especially when it comes to water sports. We decided to explore the area of Namiseom Island and to try some extreme water activities. If you are not into watersports, there are other activities to do like mountain biking, going on rail bikes, our enjoying a day at The Garden of Morning Calm. All of these areas are within Gapyeong County.
From the Gapyeong Station (closest major transfer is Sangbong Station) you can ask to take a taxi to most places in Gapyeong County or you can join a local tour group that leaves from Seoul. Nami Island (Namiseom) is famous because of the Korean drama Winter Sonata and is a picturesque place for couples to go out and explore. To enter the island, you must purchase a ‘Nami Passport’ which allows you to take the boat to the island. If you are more adventurous, on clear days, you can zip-line across the river onto Nami Island and start your exploration from there. There are also cabins that you can rent if you choose to stay on the island overnight. Make sure to take a lot of pictures because there is nothing quite like it.
My friends and I decided to go across the island and try our hands at some water sports. Our friend was able to find tickets through Ticket Monster Korea (Timon) that would let us try 3 different water rides for 11,000 won. That was a ridiculous price! We went early in the morning to make sure that we would beat the rush. The entire time people are getting lined up for their different watercrafts, there is a club like atmosphere with a mixture of Kpop and Western music playing loudly. I could see why this was a favorite place for young groups trying to get out of Seoul. But not only were there young groups, there were also families there too, so just make sure to wear the appropriate attire.
After riding on the banana boat and other water vessels, you can use your wrist band to go into the water playground. We were lucky enough to go early, so we did not have to use our extra passes on the blob jump. Here one person jumps and lands on a long floating balloon and then you can launch another individual into the air. When doing either the launching or diving, do your best to pay attention to the instruction. The attendant didn’t use too much English, but he was able to explain using body language. You do get to use a life jacket and helmet so hopefully it won’t be too painful.
When deciding to stay in Gapyeong County overnight, there are two types of lodging that you can look for. One is at a pension stay. Pensions are like family-sized hotel rooms where you can cook and lounge around. The other one is becoming the new trend in Korea called ‘glamping’. The term ‘glamping’ is a mixture of the words ‘glamorous’ and ‘camping’. Here you can opt to sleep in tents with beds or in RVs. Some ‘glamping’ sites even have refrigerators, tables, and televisions inside the sleeping area. We wanted to to try ‘glamping’ however all the sites in Gapyeong County that were close to us were all booked. So my advice is to try and book early. Despite the fact, the pension we stayed in comfortably fit 8. It came with 2 bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen, and living room. It was great because we were able to grill right outside and have a few drinks.
If you are looking for some fresh air away from Seoul, or wherever you are staying in Korea, do what a lot of Koreans do and visit Gapyeong County. It’s a short ride away and there are plenty activities nearby to keep you busy all weekend long!
Marc Gonzales has been living in Seoul working at the ChungDahm's Gangdong Branch for 4 years now. During those 4 years, he worked his way up from being a teacher and is now a faculty manager for that location. He majored in Finance and Marketing at the University of Nevada Las Vegas while working as a manager for a national bank. In his spare time, he enjoys outdoor activities like hiking the numerous mountains around Seoul and biking along the massive Han River. To know more about him and his adventures living in Korea, follow Marc on Twitter @geonmakku and on Instagram @geonmakku.