Updated: Sep 12
Recommended time to visit: winter (December-March)
Recommended for couples, friend groups, and families
I have been here for a little over three years. So, while I'm not considered a full veteran by any means, I have travelled to most of the fun and popular destinations in Korea. Except in these three years, I have wanted to visit the Garden of Morning Calm but never had the opportunity.
I FINALLY had the opportunity when I told my friends straightforward that I was going to plan a trip when we were all on hagwon vacation. The few precious days a year without the stresses of hagwon life.
I have a Korean driver's license, so I put it to good use and bought a SoCar (쏘카) for 24 hours. I absolutely love that app, but more on that a different time. After the rental fee, gas fee, and Hi-pass, our total was about ₩88,000. Not too bad when split between the four of us that went!
I like the use of rental cars as they allow us to go to places without restrictions. We stopped by E-mart for bbq items, and I can't imagine wanting to do that if we had to use public transportation. We could have also lived without doing bbq at our pension, though.
If you don't have the means to rent a car. There is public transportation, which can beat out some of the rush hour traffic in some ways. Just search "아침고요수목원" into Kakao or Naver to find the best route for you.
Driving to The Garden
I lived near Mapo Office at the time we went on our trip. The Mapo District Office is near Han River on the northwest side of Seoul. Including the time to pick everyone up (near Seocho), deal with traffic, go to E-mart and arrive at our pension house, the toal time was about 4 hours.
This was my first time driving in Seoul, and OH BOY was it an experience. I didn't even know you could have three exits utilized at the same time on a freeway. What a rush! With this being said, I think this would be an ok drive for a new driver in Seoul/Korea.
Thankfully, the car's GPS was very straightforward and gave easy to understand pictures. However, if you're inexperienced with driving around Korea, it definitely helps to have a passenger driver help out with exit finding. When you really start to head towards The Garden, it takes about 1 1/2 hours.
You'll know that you are getting close to your destination when you start seeing all the pensions and cafes as you wind around the mountains surrounding The Garden.
We found our place on 여기어때, Korea's version of Airbnb. I kind of like this app more than Airbnb, however. You can search around and find the exact type of place you're looking for. Sometimes it will also have cheaper prices than Booking.com or other similar apps.
Our pension was called Gapyeong Blue Moon Pension (가평 블루문펜션) and looked like a small cabin that included a projector screen to watch movies via my phone and a barbeque.
They had everything for us to cook and enjoy our dinner. We only needed to provide the actual food.
Tickets are about ₩10,000, and I can't believe how much you get out of that amount! We were walking and taking all the pictures we wanted. We kept stopping because there were so many lights and decorations to see. While I didn't upload every picture, I believe it lets you have some sort of surprise when you go there yourself, we did get all the picutures we wanted. It was a great trip.
Words don't describe the experience well enough, so hopefully these pictures and videos can get you scheduling your visit!