This month, Featured Writer Steve Miller is taking a closer look at one of Korea’s most often overlooked destinations: Incheon. While the area is filled with rich history, with several museums dedicated to the past, it’s also a popular destination for couples. Located just a few hundred meters away from Incheon Station is Wolmido (월미도), or Wolmi Island. It’s named after the landmass’ shape, that of a crescent moon. This week, Steve takes a brief tour of the island to see why it’s a favorite for couples.
Looking for a fun day trip with that special someone? Then Wolmido is the place to go for ㅑf only for an afternoon. Getting there is incredibly easy. Take Subway Line 1 to Incheon Station. If you’ve never been to Wolmido, be sure to go inside the Tourist Information booth located adjacent to the station. They have plenty of maps and suggestions to help get the most out of your visit. Hop on bus 2 or 23 from the bus stop located in front of the station. When you reach the next stop, get off. It’s that easy. Riders can also take bus 45 or 720, but I recommend 2 or 23.
You’ll arrive at Wolmido’s Monorail’s Culture Station. This railway starts at Incheon Station and circumnavigates the small island. In my opinion, this would be the optimal way to travel around the island. I say would because those hoping to ride it will be greatly disappointed. Even though the line was completed in 2009, a number of safety concerns were raised after a test-run. Since then, the line has sat dormant. There was hope it would open in 2012, but that has come and gone. Still, the line is present on all maps and hope remains that it will one day ferry visitors from the mainland.
Things to do
Culture Street is THE hub of activity for those going to Wolmido. If you can’t find something fun to do here, there’s no other way to say it – you’re not human. Just about everything anyone could want to see or do is located along this 650 meter boardwalk.
For the young ones, small radio controlled cars that parents can rent and drive their children around. If the kiddos are too small for those, then stationary rocking rides may be more suitable. After tiring them out, the adults can retire to any number of fresh seafood restaurants and bars.
Something that is fun for the whole family is the harbor cruise. Leaving throughout the day, this ferry ride takes passengers around Incheon’s islands. The cost of the ride is W15,000 for adults and W8,000 for children.
But if you want to keep your feet firmly on land, don’t worry there’s plenty to do. For couples, many take advantage of bike rentals or the plethora of benches along the shore. They sit down with a picnic lunch or take-out dinner and escape their surroundings with a mini romantic retreat. Older men stake out real estate along the piers and cast lines into the ocean, hoping to catch “the big one.”
Culture Street is also home to several performing venues. On any given day, you’ll find a number of emerging musicians on the boardwalk playing tunes. On weekends, musical acts draw larger crowds, often performing for hours.
However, for the thrill-seeker, the must-see stop are the amusement parks. A pair of carnival themed areas has rides for kids of all ages. These parks don’t charge for admission, but rather for each ride. Ticket prices vary based on the “thrill-factor,” but usually not more than W6,000. Those wishing to go all out can opt for one of the specially priced packages.
Since the monorail isn’t running, stopping by Wolmi My Land at the end of Culture Street provides the best view. The slowly rotating Ferris wheel takes patrons up into the air and provides uninterrupted views of Incheon Port, the Wolmi Observatory, and all of Culture Street. It is also one of the quietest places in the around, so if the constant bombardment of music from the amusement park and performers has got you clamoring for some quiet time, this is a great escape.
At the end of the street is the Korean Emigration History Museum. Opened in 2008, the facility is Korea’s first dedicated to showing the history of Koreans overseas. Also located on the premises is a letter drop to send letters to Koreans aboard.
Want an even better view of the harbor and the island? Venture up Wolmisan (Wolmi Mountain) to the Wolmi Observatory. This five-story cylinder overlooks the harbor and provides the best sunset view on the island.
The Korean Traditional Garden
Located on the opposite side of the island from Culture Street, and down a wooden staircase that bisects a pine forest is the Korean Traditional Garden. In its truest form, I cannot call it a garden, but rather a small folk village. The grounds are dotted with fresh springs, fields, farmhouses, and rustic homes. All of them are open, allowing visitors to go inside and truly experience what it was like to live in Korea before the landscape was filled with tall apartment buildings. Large sets of Yut Nori and other traditional Korean games are available to play. This area is less frequented than the other side of Wolmisan, making it quite and serene. A number of bus stops are nearby, making it easy to hop on a bus and return to Incheon Station when your day is done.
Going out to Wolmido is a great way to spend a full day with friends and family. Heading there at night allows one to take full advantage of the musical scene along Culture Street or the amazing lights of a carnival filled environment. Next week Steve concludes his series by taking readers to a temple located near Incheon International Airport.