If you’re a regular here on my blog, then you know that my sweet baby boys–who aren’t babies anymore–are about to start kindergarten. And to bid farewell to our carefree days at home and welcome in a new era of having school-aged children, we decided to take a fun-filled family trip out of Seoul!
Having experienced the insanity of travel on weekends, my husband decided to take a couple days off from work, and we planned our trip for Sunday through Tuesday. That way, we could avoid the mass exodus out of Seoul on Saturday mornings and the hectic trip back to Seoul on Sundays. The last time we traveled to the Chuncheon area, what should have been a 90 minute drive took us nearly 3 hours. Lesson learned… We left Seoul on Sunday morning and made it to our destination in 90 minutes flat. The drive home was even better. Door to door in 80 minutes! How’s that for efficiency??
I found a wonderful little pension–Dabol Pension–just outside of a town that we’d driven through the last time we were in the area. We’d seen a little amusement park, another bike rail park, and lots of ATVs and bike paths, and we had promised the kids we’d take them back. The drive from the pension to the little town of Gangchon took less than 10 minutes, and the place was perfect. I specifically searched for a place with a pool, and this place delivered! The pool was perfect for my little 5 year old swimmers. The water was no deeper than 2 feet, and the slide… Well, it was endless hours of entertainment! The only downside (for parents) is that the pool water is pumped directly from the little mountain stream that runs behind the pension. Meaning it’s COLD. ICE COLD. The kids didn’t seem to care. At all.
Dabol Pension offers several different accommodation styles from Western style rooms for couples and/or families (with lofted bedrooms, kitchens and private patios) to Korean style rooms for larger groups (up to 10 people) and caravan/campers. Our family loves to go camping, and our kids especially love “car-houses,” so we opted for the camper. It was perfect for our family of 5.
Inside, there’s a full sized bed and a set of twin sized bunk beds, a small kitchenette with electric stove, fridge, and dining table, and a bathroom. It also has air conditioning–woohoo! The built-on patio also had a charcoal grill and a table with weather screen in case of rain. It didn’t rain while we were there, but the screen did a decent job of keeping the bugs at bay.
Prices vary by time of year and day of week, but for our quiet non-weekend trip, the rates were very reasonable. 130,000W per night for 2 people, plus an additional 10,000W for each of our older children. Our youngest–who is 2.5 years old–didn’t count. ;-) The various rates are published on their website, but here are the general prices:
Caravans (2 people included in rate/4 person maximum) 130,000W for weekdays/150,000W for weekends
Western-style rooms (4 people included in rate/8 person maximum) 150,000W for weekdays/180,000 for weekends
Korean-style rooms (10 people included in rate/10-12 person maximum) 250,000W for weekdays/300,000W for weekends)
Prices for peak season are higher (peak season dates vary each year).
Aside from our fun at the pension, our 3 day trip to Gangchon was filled with excitement for our little ones. We hit the bike rails first:
If you’ve never heard of the bike rails in Gapyeong-gun, they’re an ingenious way to use old, out-of-use railroad tracks. There are 2 seaters (25,000W) and 4 seaters (35,000W), and you just pedal down the railroad tracks and enjoy the view! The last one we rode, which started at Gyeonggang Station, began and ended at the station. Halfway down the tracks, you were spun around and sent back to the station. The one we rode this time (starting at Gangchon Station) was 8.2km long and ended at Kimyookyung Station, which took about an hour and 15 minutes. From there, a shuttle bus took us back to Gangchon Station. The entire trip took about 2 hours. If you’re looking for a leisurely stroll, I would suggest taking the one at Gyeonggang Station. It was much easier! This one was definitely a work-out, especially since my 5 year olds are just a little too short to help with the pedaling! Oh, and another helpful tidbit–children up to 36 months old can be held on your lap. However, if you have a family of 4 and are able to seat your little one in a seat, do that because it’s MUCH harder to pedal with a kid sitting on your lap. Just ask my husband.
After our bike rail adventure, which included going through a tunnel–complete with fluorescent lights and Gangnam Style blasting on speakers (only in Korea!!!), we ate lunch and ventured over to one of several “adventure parks” in town for some kart racing and ATV rides.
Both were a HUGE hit, and really… Both were experiences that our 5 year olds AND our 2 year old would never have in the US, quite simply because of something called Safety Standards! For the kart racing, they just strapped our 2 year old in with one of the 5 year olds, told my husband that the second steering wheel that my son had control of also steers the vehicle so don’t drive too fast and sent them on their way! I was in another kart with the other 5 year old, and I had to MANHANDLE my steering wheel to keep us on the track.
20,000W pays for 15 minutes on the track, which was more than enough to satisfy me, but maybe not the kids… ;-) After the kart racing, we went for the ATVs. 20,000W got us the ATVs for a full hour, and like the kart racing, they weren’t too concerned about safety–haha! We strapped our 2 year old into the Ergo on my husband’s back and off we went!
There are numerous trails around town, and all they asked is that we not go into town. All of us had an absolute blast, and my boys deemed the day THE BEST DAY EVER. What more can you ask for?
Back at the pension, there was more pool-time, some hanging out on hammocks and grilling.
Oh, and if you thought you had to start heating up your charcoal an hour before you planned to grill your meat, then you’ve never experienced Korean grilling. This was our first day’s lighting of the charcoal.
Why, yes! That’s a blow torch! Our coals were red hot and ready to go in 15 minutes flat. Korean efficiency at its best.
If you’re looking for a place to go with (or without) kids, I would definitely recommend this area. It’s not a far drive, there’s so much to do, and the beauty of the Korean country/mountainside never gets old.