Korea Travel Qrator
the Korean Resort where to sleep on a train and ride on trains.
September 29, 2018
#KoreaTourism #ChooChoo Park #Samcheok #Gangwon-do
* Korea Travel Qrator : A travel expert who explores Korea Quality-certified facilities and conveys the feeling of travel through vivid experience contents.
Surrounded by leafy and rocky mountains in the east of the Korean peninsula, you will find a recreational park solemnly dedicated to lovers of trains and railways. It is known as High1 ChooChoo Park, ChooChoo for the sound trains make when passing through.
What to do in ChooChoo Park? As a park dedicated to trains, you must ride at least one, if not all! There are three types: Rail Bike, Switchback Train and Mini Train. The park actually has a fourth train, the Incline Train, but unfortunately, it has been closed for a while.
Located in the province of Gangwon-do, one of the most picturesque regions of Korea and where the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games took place at the beginning of 2018, ChooChoo Park sure is a spot where mind and body can find relaxation and fullness in the midst of nature.
I would recommend riding the Rail Bike first and afterward hop on the Switchback Train. The Mini Train is geared towards kids, but adults can have fun too as it coasts around the park gardens.
I'm not so much a bike person, but after trying this combination of bikes and rails I discovered this is an activity I could do a thousand times over. The Rail Bikes are built upon train wheels and mounted to an old railway. Each bike has 4 seats: two in the front with two sets of pedals and two in the back where riders can enjoy the view without doing the hard work.
To ride the rail bike, you will take a bus from ChooChoo Park to the beginning of the rail ride. The route has a length of 7.7 kilometers and takes roughly 30 minutes. Just as if you were a train, you will pass winding mountains and tunnels. Lots and lots of tunnels, many of which have been decorated with lights and other funny objects like old train parts and fake bats.
The pedaling itself is actually quite comfortable. With the exception of getting started on a flat grade, most of the tracks are at a small inclination of 3% which automatically gives you just the right momentum and speed. It picks up a speed of 20 km/h!
So, if you are not very fit like me, don't worry. Enjoy the scenery and remember to bring a sweater because the ride can get a bit chilly.
|Price||2 persons - 28,000 KRW / 4 persons - 35,000 KRW|
|Hours||9am to 5pm|
Switchback Train is a steam locomotive that crosses the only zigzag railway in the entire country. Technically, a switchback train is a train in which the configuration of its railroad has multiple zigzag alignments where the train must alternate movements back and forth to reach points of different heights.
The route starts at ChooChoo Station and travels to Nahanjeong Station before returning to ChooChoo. The travel time is about 90 minutes covering a distance of 6.8 km. The train slowly treks down the mountainside between the trees and through curiously lit tunnels. You will pass by two other tourist spots: Pinocchio World and Dogye Glass World. I didn't have the chance to visit this time but plan to on my next trip to the area.
When you arrive to Nahanjeong Station, everyone disembarks the train and snaps cute pictures at the dedicated photo spots while enjoying a cold or hot coffee from the local coffee hut. You should also check out the small Nahanjeong Gallery with beautiful handmade miniature houses and other works from local artists.
The train has comfortable seats inside, but if you want to be closer to nature, head to the back of the train where you can be mesmerized watching the train glide across the rails.
The breeze might catch you off guard, especially if you have long hair like mine, but you will probably agree that any hair mess is forgiven for the views of this scenery.
|Price||10,000 KRW per person|
|Hours||11am, 1pm, 3pm, 5pm|
The park has 4 different types of accommodation: family villas (cube villa and nature villa), car camping, and train villas. If you travel as a couple, I would recommend staying in a train villa. The family villas are more spacious, indeed, but half the fun is being able to stay inside an authentic old train car which you know once upon a time traversed the rails and has now been converted into a hotel.
There are 8 train villas in total with each having 33.4 square meters inside, quite spacious if you ask me. Every train car has a double bed, sofa, bathroom and a kitchen equipped with a microwave, refrigerator, electric stove and rice cooker. Bring some food and snacks and make yourself at home for a few hours...or days, if you wish.
Outside and parallel to the train villa is a terrace of the same length. This was my favorite part of the villa. The view overlooks an array of mountains that, during early fall were luscious and green with a hint of autumn in the air. Bring a book, a magazine, a board game, a coloring book, whatever you can think of will clear your mind, let the time pass by and disconnect yourself from the bustle of life.
How to get to ChooChoo Park? From Seoul, I took the Mugunghwa train that departs from Cheongnyangni Station. There are two stops near the park, Taebaek Station or Dogye Station.
Outbound, I arrived to Dogye Station, but on the way back I took the train from Taebaek Station. After visiting both two stations, I would recommend round-trip to/from Taebaek as the city is a bit larger and closer to Seoul. From Taebaek, hire a taxi from the taxi stand just outside the station to ChooChoo Park. The trip is about 15 minutes and 14,000 KRW.
The train ticket from Cheongnyangni to Taebaek costs 15,200 KRW for regular class and 17,500 KRW for first class. There is not much difference in price but first class is definitely more comfortable as the seats are more spacious and recline further. The train does not have WIFI, but it does have a wagon with drink and snacks though I opted to bring my own. I purchased my ticket in advance through LetsKorail website and the travel time is 3:40 hours.
|Hotel name||ChooChoo Park|
|Address||99, Simponamgil, Dogye-eup, Samcheok-si, Gangwon-do|
|Price||100,000 Won / Night|
|Check in/out||2 PM (성수기 3 PM) / 11 AM|
There are a couple of restaurants in ChooChoo Park. One offering Korean food and fried chicken and another offering makgeolli (Korean rice wine) and Korean snacks. However, these are only open for lunch closing at 5pm. Being a little bit secluded, I recommend bringing some food you could store and cook in the equipped kitchen inside your room and have a tasty picnic for both dinner and breakfast on the terrace.
1. This column was last updated in October 2018, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details before visiting.
2. This travelogue is written Andrea Benavides by all contents are opinions based on my own experiences.