When I moved to Gunpo I decided to look up the popular things to do in the area. I had, after all done most of the ones in Gapyeong where I use to live. The list, despite being a city, is mostly outdoors things, which including lots of hiking and the Azalea festival. While I’m unsure I’ll make it to all of them before I leave (and I know I’ve missed the one cherry blossom road that’s popular) I did decide that I really wanted to go to the lake. So while a friend was visiting we made our way to Banwol lake.
The lake isn’t actually that close to Sanbon or Gunpo itself. It’s sort of in the halfway between Gunpo and Ansan, and in a more rural area. The bus we wanted to catch had nearly a half hour wait because it went out into the boonies and I definitely had the feeling I was back in my mountain town when I saw how long the wait was. Instead of waiting that long since my friend had places to be we grabbed a taxi and went to Banwol lake since taking a taxi was much faster on all accounts.
We ended up having a mild miscommunication with our driver. He’d just gotten a phone call so I thought he was still talking to them and didn’t realize he was talking to us. My friend hadn’t responded so I just said yes in Korean. Turns out he’d asked us if we wanted him to keep going, but I hadn’t been paying attention so I thought he’d asked if we wanted to get out or was telling us we’d arrived. We ended up having him drive us around 3/4ths of the lake and he dropped us off towards one end. It was actually the perfect spot for us to walk along the bridge for the rest of it.
It was a nice warm day and sunny with low dust (pollution) levels so there were a decent amount of people out and about. However we were there in the morning, so maybe it gets even more crowded in the afternoon or evening. It’s a popular sunset spot so there is probably more of a crowd then.
We walked around chatting and just enjoying the view. There was a nice bridge that went along the entire perimeter of the lake. There were even cosmos in bloom and butterflies flitting about.
Along one end there were a couple cafes. By the time we reached this section we were tired and hot and I was thirsty.
However my friend found the prices to be too expensive at the cafes along the edge and was determined we’d find something cheaper. There wasn’t, really.
There’s those couple of cute looking cafes/ restaurants and then there’s a small park area. When we got to the park area they were having a festival, or more accurately were setting up for a festival. We grabbed a bench in the shade and watched them set up.
Eventually a cheap drink vendor finished setting up so I jumped up and got us drinks. But other than the festival drinks there weren’t a lot of other options in the area. So if there’s not a festival going on those cafe restaurants are your best bet, so I suggest instead if you want to save money to bring your own food and eat it in the park. Or if you’re willing to spend the money I’m sure the restaurant/cafes are nice. They looked nice after all.
If you’re not feeling up for a couple hour walk around the edge of the lake then you can easily enjoy the view from the park which is near the bus stop. But because it’s not the easiest to get to I do suggest finding something to do for at least a half hour until the bus comes back. A picnic would be a great way to spend your time if you’re not feeling up for the walk.
It was a nice spot to visit. We managed to catch the bus back after our hike and our drinks. The bus stop back towards Gunpo/Sanbon is on the side of the street the park is on so it was very easy.
Update January 2020
I went with a friend recently in the late afternoon and early evening. The lake does freeze over, which is kind of cool. We walked around the lake for a bit, it didn’t fully freeze, some areas were less frozen over than others.
But we stayed long enough to enjoy a cafe.
The cafe we picked was really pretty and had a lovely view of the lake. However every person in our party had to order something and the cheapest tea they had on the menu was 10,000 won.
It was good but not 10,000 won worth. (~$10) We ended up staying until the sun started to set and the lights turned on, which was really pretty. I highly suggest an early evening walk around sunrise or sunset.