If there is something that Nami Island has taught me, it is to never trust a Korean with travel suggestions, even within their own country. Alright, that is pretty harsh, but it is true that Nami is one of the worst places to visit in all of South Korea, despite being a local favorite.
Nami Island or ‘Namiseom’ is situated in the middle of the north Han River near Gapyeong city and was artificially created after the construction and subsequent flooding by the Cheongpyeong Dam. It was then turned into a sort of amusement park with metasequioas, hi-rail bikes, and even ostriches in a little coral.
Why do I hate Nami so much?
The idea of Nami is great on paper as a place to go and relax. It is thought of as a quiet getaway from the busy city life. The reality is something completely different.
For starters, it is completely overcrowded. If you thought the Seoul subway had too many people, you should look at the line trying to exit Nami. The third time I visited (yes I am ashamed to admit that I gave this place a third chance), the line to get on the ferry back to the mainland was over 2 hours long.
How is the nature?
There is nothing natural about it. Locals have this illusion that Nami is a natural paradise which is completely ridiculous. There are a handful of squirrels that everybody harasses if they happen to show themselves. The metasequoias would make for some awesome photography if there weren’t literally hundreds of people walking through them. This is how I imagine Yellowstone would look if 10 billion people visited every year. I feel that the craze over Nami by locals is firmly rooted in the Korean idea that “if everyone goes there, it MUST be good.”
How about some lunch?
Everything is overpriced. If there is one thing I have always praised about Korea is that they don’t really jack up the prices in hard to reach places or amusement parks. Nami is the exception. Food is twice what it would cost on the other side of the ferry. Things like bike rentals are four times the price of anywhere else. While I have always wanted to try that zipline to the island, I am not willing to pay $40 or wait the required 2 hours to do it.
Some are fascinated in knowing that Nami has been the location of some classic Korean dramas. While the island might have looked beautiful when no one else was around, it is terrible with so many people. It is like trying to enjoy classical music with someone yelling in your ear.
If there is one place to avoid in Korea, it is definitely Nami Island. Disagree? Fight with me in the comments below!