After the hectic business trip in SG, it was time to relax and head off for a holiday! This time I went to Korea for a 1 week vacation.. 4 days in Seoul, 2 days in Jeju Island, and back at Seoul for the last day..
I was tavelling alone but met up with my cousin and her friend who were in Seoul for the first few days, plus met up with another friend living in Seoul..
I was worried about traveling by myself.. especially to a country where English isn’t commonly used.. But for travellers out there who like me, want to explore without joining a tour group, Korea has made a lot of effort to accommodate foreign tourists..
First thing I suggest you do upon arrival at the airport is rent a local mobile phone.. The airport offers those at 100won per day, and you can return it at the end of your trip.. This is especially handy because there is a number you can dial where they can interpret english to korean in case you need someone to translate for you..
Next problem was how to get to the hotel..
I looked for the info booth in the airport to ask, and there they have ppl who can speak english, japanese and chinese so don’t worry about the language being an issue..
You can always take a taxi, but there’s a cheaper alternative they suggested which was to take the airport bus.. My hotel was located in Myeongdong near Ibis hotel, so they told me to take the 6015 bus which costs 7k won, a taxi would probably have reached up to 30k won..
My friend recommended staying at Myeongdong area because of its proximity to shops and restaurants.. Its also walking distance to a lot of the tourist-y locations, plus you can take a train if you want to go further away..
The hotel we stayed at was Metro Hotel.. I highly recommend it, its a bit cheaper compared to Ibis hotel, but still just a short walk from the bus stop and trains.. Rooms look new, well maintained and modern.. Breakfast is included, Wifi is free, and the ladies at the reception are accommodating and can speak English..
First thing in the agenda.. Lunch! I met up with my friend and just asked that he take me somewhere where I can try an authentic Korean dish. So for lunch we had a local fave Pork Bone Stew (called Gamjatang). Yummy dish with potatoes, noodles, pork and different kinds of veggies.
After lunch it was time to go exploring.. From Myeongdong you can just walk to the train station, at the Eujiro 1-ga stop.. A lot of the places we went to from this stop are around 1,500 won one way. Make sure to keep your train card because at the end of the trip you can deposit it back to the vending machines at the station and get your 500 won deposit back.
We got off at the Gyeongbokgung station and saw:
Admiral Yi Sun Shin statue
King Sejong statue
Perfect timing when we got in we managed to catch a parade ongoing in the palace.
Love the architecture and colorful patterns in their structures.
Further exploration inside led us to this beautiful garden
Afterwards we walked to the Blue House, home of the country’s president.
There’s also the Hanbok Museum and National Folk Museum in the area for those that are into museums. Personally I just prefer places where I can take pretty pictures so wasn’t too keen on going there.
Time for dinner! We went back to Myeongdong and had Korean bbq. It’s cooked right in front of you and presented along with different side dishes. Once it’s cooked you dip it in the sauce, and wrap it in the mint leaves provided with the dish. And since we had dinner with Korean locals, the dinner won’t be complete without some liquor, Soju (Korean rice liquor).
Then we did a popular Korean activity, Karaoke!! It was just 4 of us, but still heaps of fun with us singing a mixture of korean and english songs… ranging from ballads to pop music..
And that was it for Day 1!!
*** Note: This itinerary is pretty relaxed, and there’s a lot of time to fit more sightseeing in if you want, especially near Myeongdong. You can watch the Nanta cooking show, a popular cultural show that has received a lot of good reviews when I googled it. You can also walk to Cheonggye Park which is the starting point to the Cheonggyecheon Stream.
Another thing I found that I want to do the next time I were to visit here was to try some of the programs offered in Seoul Cultural Exchanges & Tourism Information Center. This is in the 5th floor of M plaza in Myeongdong. They have programs like K-Pop lessons, you can dress up in traditional korean costumes, and the one I REALLY wanted.. a lesson on Korean makeup!!!
See here for Day 2 of my Seoul travel!