One aspect of Korean culture that absolutely charmed me was the way it celebrates its European influences. There’s something undeniably cute about their approach to things like Paris or the “Little Prince.”

In my two years, I thoroughly enjoyed spending weekends exploring mural villages or checking out small areas dedicated to French towns. I decided to spend my last day in Korea with Funtastic Korea making a storybook escape from Seoul to its nearby smaller cities. Check out where to go for your own storybook adventure below!


Nearly twenty-years old, the Garden of the Morning Calm was created after its designer, Han Sang Kyung, visited the US in the early nineties. Inspired by a poet’s description of Korea as the “Land of the Morning Calm,” Han wanted to create a space that celebrated the beauty of his countrymen in one place. Buried away by Chukryeong Mountain in Gapyeong with lightly rolling hills of designs and colors, he created a lovely, distinctly Korean garden.

If not on tour, take the Gyeongchun Line to Cheongpyeong Station (청평역).
You can then take a 20 minute taxi or use the city buses (timetable here)


Or should I say Naminara Republic? This little island is probably most famous for its wildly popular “Winter Sonata” scenes. It declared itself independent from Korea in 2006 with this: “We founded a country./On this island of songs, Nami Island, we founded a land of fairy tales.” Take a short ferry ride or zip line in and walk around the wooded areas. It was especially beautiful (and a little crowded) getting to walk around while the fall colors we’re in full swing.

If not on tour, take the subway to Gapyeong Station.
Then take a shuttle bus or walk to ferry/zip line area. 


The most idealized version of France you’ll ever see anywhere, Petite France is inspired by “The Little Prince,” dreams, and hope. Walk through this small fairytale village and enjoy its cutesy themes. You also might recognize this place from beginning scenes in “Secret Garden” or a later scene in “He From Another Star.”

Take subway to Gapyeong Station.
Either get the Gapyeong City Tour bus or take a taxi.


Finish the day and watch the sunset over the Bukhan river while biking around the old railroad. It’s about a 50 minute ride that will take you through the countryside and through a few themed tunnels (some lovely, one Psy themed…). At the transfer station, be sure to get some ddeokbbeokki while you wait for the train back.

Take the subway to Gimyoujeong Station.

These places are especially charming during the autumn season in Korea, so don’t miss them!

And there’s your storybook escape from Seoul! Where would you go first?

Disclosure: I was a guest of Funtastic Korea on this tour, however all opinions are my own.



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  1. I definitely did not expect such a strong European influence to be present in Korea! Love that I learned something new from your post and the photos are simply charming!

  2. I had no idea that there was such European influence throughout Seoul – thanks for highlighting a different side of South Korea – I would love to take a bike around the old railroad near the Bukhan river as the sun sets :)

  3. Petite France is gorgeous! It is amazing that there is somewhere like that so close to Seoul – definitely not something I would imagine seeing. These are all such different and special trips, thank you for compiling them!

  4. I love Garden of the Morning Calm! I went there three or four times while living in Seoul just for an escape from the madness. Nami Island is also quite lovely, but super cheesy! If I were a fan of the K-drama I think it would have been super ideal. We had a picnic in the park within and it was a beautiful, chilled out afternoon. I definitely don’t think the Petit France is worth it, though. These are all quick and easy trips so this is an awesome guide!

  5. I had no idea that Korean culture celebrated European influences in this way, so I found this post fascinating. I love the look of Petite France! It sounds like a really charming place to visit and the views are clearly stunning.

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