WHAT COMES to mind when you hear the word Yeongjong Island? With half of the island’s land being used for flights, Yeongjong Island is commonly known as the home to Incheon International Airport. Although the airport makes up 40% of the island*, there is much more that you can do in this wonderous place. Yeongjong Island is only an hour away from Seoul by bus or subway, and you can enjoy activities ranging from campfires to car-racing. If you are looking for a special day outside of the city, look no further than Yeongjong Island with the one-day plan The Yonsei Annals has created for you.
BMW Driving Center
An open view of the driving center boasting the size of 33 football fields will welcome you as you make your way into the first stop of the Yeongjong Island tour: the BMW Driving Center. Located in Yeonsu-dong, the center is only 10 minutes away from the Incheon International Airport Cargo Terminal subway station by foot. As BMW’s first-ever driving center in Asia, this attraction consists of a main exhibition building and six driving courses that provide entertainment to all age groups ranging from an aspiring 6-year-old car engineer to a 60-year-old vintage car collector.
Walking into the main building, your eyes will be blinded by the headlights of the most expensive BMW automobiles. The 1st floor of the main building is divided into four parts: BMW, MINI, Rolls-Royce showrooms, and a driving experience lounge. The first three rooms display cars of each respective brand and the visitors are able to get into the cars to see and experience the interior of the vehicles for themselves. The driving experience lounge offers virtual reality (VR) programs where visitors can get a four-dimensional experience of driving a BMW car. On the 2nd floor, you can head to the outdoor terrace and enjoy the view of the various driving courses the center provides. There is also an interactive lounge on the 2nd floor where kids are able to learn about the basic mechanics of automobiles.
Outside of the building are the six different driving courses. From getting one-on-one lessons from a professional sports car racer to riding in the backseat of a BMW, the driving center provides a number of programs for the guests to enjoy. Visiting the driving center itself is free, but the driving programs range in price from ￦40,000 to ￦120,000, and you need a driver’s license to participate. Your adventure in Yeongjong Island will have an energetic start after breezing through one of these driving courses!
Since you probably would have had enough cars for a day after visiting the BMW Driving Center, the Annals has prepared a new type of transportation for the second stop of the Yeongjong Island tour—a boat. The Shin-Shi-Mo Isles are a group of small islands near Yeongjong Island. You will need to take a ten-minute boat ride to the isles from the Sam-mok port near Incheon Airport. The boat leaves to the isles and comes back every 15 minutes, so you won’t need to worry about missing the ship as long as you have the ￦2,000 fare.
Once you get off the boat on the Shin Island port, you can get on the tour bus that goes around the three isles during a one-hour course. Among the many tourist attractions on the course, the two spots that you should definitely check out are the Bae mi kku mi Beach Art Garden and the Su-gi beach. The Art Garden lies on the beach of the Mo Island and is filled with sculptures under a surrealist theme. Su-gi beach on the Shi Island became a tourist attraction when the popular TV show Full House filmed an episode on the beach. You can enjoy the view of an emerald-tinted ocean along with the feeling of soft sand at your feet, becoming Song Hye-kyo** for the short moment you are walking on Su-gi beach.
By the time you get off the beach, your stomach will likely be growling with hunger. You can fill up your hungry stomach at the Ba-da restaurant located right by Su-gi beach. Ba-da’s main menu includes noodles with clams, spicy stir-fried octopus, and clam bi-bim-bap***. After enjoying a spread of seafood for lunch, you can hop on the tour bus back to the Shin Island port, ready to head to the next stop of the tour.
Yeongjong History Museum
Tired from all the driving and walking around? Don’t fret—you can replenish yourself at the Yeongjong History Museum walking through the quiet and serene exhibits. Located in the Yeongjongjin Park, the museum hosts a variety of exhibitions and educational projects to promote the island’s historical value.
The museum consists of three exhibition halls. In the first hall, you can get a glimpse of the general history of the Yeongjong and Yongyu areas—the two halves of Yeongjong Island—which date back to the prehistoric ages. This section showcases a variety of primary sources such as maps and pottery that document the island’s history all the way through the Goryeo Dynasty. The second hall presents historical evidence from the Joseon Dynasty up to the 21st century on the diplomatic role Yeongjong island has had in Korean politics. The third hall hosts special presentations under a theme biannually and is currently holding an exhibit on Yeongjong Island’s history of salt farms. Apart from the informative indoor halls, there is an interactive exhibit outside where you can relive the history of the island by visiting the different types of houses the people of Yeongjong Island had resided in.
The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day of the week except on Mondays, and the tickets cost ￦1,000. Other than the regular exhibits, the museum holds many educational forums and events on a regular basis as well. You can easily get to the museum by bus from either the Yeongjong or Unseo subway station. After looking around the Yeongjong History Museum, you can take a walk to the Yeongjong Seaside Park, the fourth and final stop of the one-day island trip.
Yeongjong Seaside Park
Just a couple of minutes away from the Yeongjong History Museum is the Yeongjong Seaside Park, a newly built nature-based theme park. As the term “nature-based” indicates, you should not expect Yeongjong Seaside Park to be a regular theme park with roller coasters and merry-go-rounds; rather, you should expect to be amazed by the extraordinary sights and activities the nature of the Yeongjong Island offers.
The cool sea breeze will brush up against your face and the warm sunset rays will wrap their fingers around you as you enjoy the first activity in Seaside Park: railroad biking. The 5 km bike course runs on a strip of land that borders the shoreline. At the end of the course is a salt farm theme park where you can enjoy a first-hand experience in cultivating sea salt using traditional methods. After scraping salt off of the salt pans, you can take a break from the ocean by entering Eun-gol forest. The forest is divided into four parts: the cherry blossom boulevard, a bird observation deck, a playground for kids, and a hiking trail.
The camping site’s beautiful view of caravans and tents will mark the grand finale of the Yeongjong Island tour at the end of the forest trail. With the cool breeze of the sea in your face, you can enjoy a can of beer and a nice outdoor barbeque along your travel mates to conclude a full evening of the fun activities in the Seaside Park.
All activities need to be booked through the Yeongjong Seaside Park website at least a day before the visit. There is a shuttle bus going back to both the Yeongjong and Unseo subway stations, so you can take a rest on the way back home as you reminisce on all the fun times you had in a BMW car, on the beach, at the museum, and at the park.
*Incheon International Airport
**Song Hye-kyo: A Korean actress who starred in the TV series Full House
***Bi-bim-bap: A Korean cuisine that consists of rice and a variety of vegetables