Went to Korea for 10 days few weeks back (29 April – 8 May 2013) & it was damn fun! Was there during spring so it’s not too hot and not too cold (around 10-15 degrees celcius), unless it’s windy! (it’s windy everyday though :P). However, if you are to be there during this season, make sure to bring along a jacket.
Currency: Korean Won
Timezone: UTC +09:00
Visa: Not required for Malaysian
Plug adapter: 2 pin (round) type
Went there by Air Asia. Bought a ticket during promotion season. Supposedly should be going there in June but changed to another date so the flight ticket is around RM1000+ (originally it was only RM500+). The flight will take you from LCCT Kuala Lumpur International Airport to Incheon International Airport. From Incheon International Airport, you can take the subway (AREX) to go to anywhere within Seoul.
In Seoul, my friends & I (there were 3 of us) stayed at Namsan Guest House. It is located in Myeong Dong, which is one of the primary shopping districts in Seoul. The guest house is clean & the staffs there are very friendly & helpful. There are 3 building, Namsan 1, 2 & 3. If you want to save money & doesn’t mind to walk up a steep road, you may choose Namsan 1 but if you are NOT OK, go for Namsan 2 or 3. To go to this guest house, take a subway to Myeong Dong station (Line 4) and take Exit No 3. Walk out of the station towards Pacific Hotel and take a road on the right side of the hotel (so the hotel will be on your left) and just walk straight. It is very convenient to stay here because it is near to the subway station, minimart, Myeong Dong famous shopping area, restaurants, etc. You can also leave your luggage there if you need to check out to go somewhere (maybe Jeju) and then check in again once you are back to Seoul. I did that & so does most of the guests there. They also provide free Wi-Fi, towel (although the towel is not big enough to cover even your butt), breakfast & you can even use their pantry and kitchen.
Most of the time I travel using the subway. It is very convenient but do mind that you will be doing a lot of walking and going up & down the stairs. So make sure to wear a comfortable shoe!!
To use the subway, you will need to purchase a T-money card (I bought mine at the airport convenient store) and you can reload value into it using a kiosk. The concept of it is similar to the Touch N Go card in Malaysia.
Here’s a map of the subway. You can also download an apps which will help you in case you are confused with the map but I prefer to just use the map. It’s quite easy to use once you understand how it works.
Things To Do & Places To Go
There are several places that you can go to shop till you drop. I shop but didn’t drop 😛
MYEONG DONG SHOPPING AREA: To go here, take subway to Myeong Dong (Line 4). Can’t remember which exit but it is just opposite the road from Exit No 3. You can find shops which carries international brands as well as local brand..or no brand 😛
EWHA UNIVERSITY SHOPPING AREA: Just take a subway to Ewha Woman’s University Station (Line 2) Exit #2. There are shops everywhere along the busy road. You can also go into the university to have a look
NAMDAEMUN MARKET: This is a very big market. It is the largest traditional market with various goods in store. To go here, take subway to Hoehyeon Station (Line 4) Exit #5. By the way if you are feeling hungry, there’s a Halal food chain selling Kebab.
ITAEWON MARKET: Itaewon Market looks like a junk yard sale. A good place to find antique stuff. If you are hungry, there are a lot of Halal restaurants especially near the mosque. To go here, take a subway to Itaewon Station (Line 6)
DONDAEMUN: There are a lof of small shops, street market and shopping complex in Dondaemun. To go here, take a subway to Dondaemun (Line 1 or Line 4). For exit usually I take Exit #9.
HONGDAE: Quite similar to other shopping area. There are shops everywhere along the street. To go here, take a subway to Hongik University Station (Line 2) Exit #2.
Seoul Tower is located in Myeong Dong. You can go up using cable car (we did that) or by walking up. If you need to buy souvenir for your friends etc., you can purchase fridge magnet there because it is sooooo cheap!! I bought 10 packets! 1 packet include 3 Seoul Tower magnet & it cost only 1000 won per packet! (around RM2.87 onlyyyy!! – selling exchange rate that time was 2.87). For direction and other details, click on this link: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_6.jsp?cid=260067
It is a village with traditional Korean homes, or known as HANOK. There are 8 photo spots to look for. However you can still take photos anywhere and everywhere. To go here take a subway to Anguk Station (Line 3) and go out from Exit No 2. We were a bit loss so it is advisable to get a map & ask around 😛
- WEAR TRADITIONAL KOREAN COSTUME @ HANBOK
You can try out Korean tradtional costume or known as Hanbok. I tried it at Insadong Tourist Center. To go there, take subway to Anguk Station (Line 3) Exit No 6. You will need to ask around because I can’t remember how to go there.
- COFFEE SHOP, CATS CAFE & HELLO KITTY CAFE
You can see cute coffee shops almost everywhere in Korea!! Too bad I only went to two; Paris Baguette & Caffe Bene. The coffee is quite good! (I REALLY LOVE COFFEE)
If you love coffee and cats (can even drink tea etc.), visit CATS CAFE. The cafe is crowded with cute, fat & fluffy cats!! It is also available in Myeong Dong shopping area (and other places as well)
You can also go to Hello Kitty Cafe if you love Hello Kitty. (I don’t really like Hello Kitty but i still went there). To go here, take subway to Hongik University Station (Line 2) Exit #2. You will need to ask around the find it because i can’t really remember
- PALACE & GUARD CHANGING CEREMONY
There are several palaces that you may visit but do take note that not all will have the guard changing ceremony. We went to Changdeokgung Palace but there’s no guard changing ceremony there. To go here, the a subway to Anguk Station (Line 3) Exit #3.
Since there’s no guard changing ceremony at Changdeokgung Palace, we rushed to Deoksugung Palace. There are certain timing of when this ceremony will take place so you will need to do a bit of research. (We went for 11am ceremony). To go here, take subway to City Hall (Line 1 or 2) Exit 2.
Went to Yeouido Park (a big park with nice scenery). Rented a bicycle and cycle along Hangang River. To go here, take subway to Yeouido Station (Line 9) Exit #4.
Everland is a Korean own theme park. To go here, take a subway to Gangnam (Line 2) Exit #10. Take city bus (bus no 5002) to Everland. To go to the city bus stop, take Exit #10 from Gangnam station. Walk straight until you reach end of the block & there’s a zebra crossing. Continue walking down another block and cross another zebra crossing. The bus stop will be in front of a clothing shop, WHO.A.U (shop will be on your left).
Once you reach Everland parking area, take a shuttle bus into Everland Resort. The Shuttle bus is provided free.
For more details on everland such as opening hours and entrance fee, click on the link: http://www.everland.com/web/multi/english/everland/main.html
Visit the stream (especially at night & especially when there are certain occasion). Just walk along the stream & take photo (nothing much to do though 😛 ). To go here, take a subway to Dondaemon station (Line 1 or 4) Exit #8 or #9. There’s also shops selling Grill Fish (scroll below) and there are lot of place to shop around this area (Dondaemon).
Eatery & Food
YOOGANE: Yoogane is available in many places & so does in Myeong Dong shopping area (near to where i stayed at). They sell fried rice but you can have add-on such as udon (do add on udon!). They have chicken fried rice or seafood. For Halal food, go for the seafood. By the way, the food will be prepared right in front of your eyes!
ITAEWON STREET: The best place to enjoy Halal food will be at Itaewon. There are a lot of Halal restaurant within this area. Just take a subway to Itaewon Station (Line 6) and walk towards the mosque. To try out Halal Korean food, go to a restaurant named Murree.
GRILL FISH: Take subway to Dongdaemun station (Line 1 or 4) Exit #8 or #9 (when we were there, exit #8 was closed). After exit, walk straight then turn right. Walk towards the stream (You can see how the stream looks like by scrolling up). Once you reach the stream, turn right (the stream will be on your left). Walk straight. You can see ‘Byoung Hwa Clothing Market’ on your left. After the second bridge (to cross the stream), turn right and go into the small lane. Take the left lane. There will be a lot of shops selling this. PS: They grill the fish outside the shop so it would be very easy to spot the shops. Just choose any shop.
LOTTERIA: Fast food chain. They don’t sell pork so you can eat Shrimp burger or shrimp/ squid nugget
ROAD SIDE SHOP: Tried Korean Pancake. The taste is not bad but a bit oily though
MINIMART: You can purchase food and drinks at the minimart. If you bring along canned food or sambal (hehe we did this) you can purchase instant rice. Make sure to try out the banana milk (on the left in below image. Also just try out anything you can :P)! DELICIOUS!
Went to Jeju Island for 2 FULL days (actually 4 days 3 nights. Reach there at night & depart back to Seoul early morning). Went there by Easter Jet, which is Korea’s budget airline. The plane will take you from Gimpo Airport to Jeju International Airport. To go the Gimpo Airport, you can take the subway (AREX).
Stayed at 2 different guest houses because we wanted to explore the whole island. The first day we went to the East Side and the next day the West side of the island.
The first and third night we stayed at SUM Guest House. It is quite near to the airport. You can take a taxi to go here. They provide free Wi-Fi, towel (face towel to be exact), breakfast, and you can also use their kitchen.
The second night stayed at Jeju Hiking Inn. This place is a but run down but they still provide free Wi-Fi, towel (same size of towel..face towel!) and free usage of the kitchen. (Sorry but i dont have photo for this guest house)
We rented a car from a local car rental company, which is known as KT Kumho. The rental fee is quite cheap + they provide free Wi-fi (so you will be connected every time you are in the car) & a GPS (English version – this in important!). We made reservation online. For car pickup, you will then need to take a shuttle bus from Gimpo airport (provided free of charge) to go to the pickup place. if you are not sure which bus (because i can’t remember), go to the car rental counter.
Things To Do & Places To Go
- MANJANGGUL CAVE – UNESCO World Heritage; one of the finest lava tunnel
- SEONGSAN ILCHULBONG – also called ‘Sunrise Peak’, is an archetypal tuff cone formed by hydrovolcanic eruptions upon a shallow seabed about 5 thousand years ago.
- WATERFALL – there are few waterfalls in Jeju to visit
- MYSTERIOUS ROAD – if you are driving, make sure to put the gear on neutral, take your foot off the break and the car will move up the hill instead of going backwards. Try it!! There are 2 ‘mysterious road’. The correct one will be the one close to Love Land
- BLACK SAND BEACH – there are other beaches as well
- OTHER PLACES (along the road & places i can’t remember the name 😛 ). There are more places to visit such as Glass Castle, Chocolate Museum, Teddy Bear Museum etc. that you can visit but too bad I don’t have enough time to visit all.
Eatery & Food
Basically we cook and pack our own lunch & dinner since there are not much of place to get Halal food. However if you are not Muslim, you can just eat Korean food which are available there.
To go to Sokcho, take a subway to Gangbyeon Station (Line 2) and walk towards Dong Seoul bus terminal. Purchase a ticket to Sokcho at the counter (You don’t need to book the ticket). Basically there’s a bus going there every 10 or 15 minutes, i can’t remember. The bus is quite punctual so make sure you are there early. Make sure to buy a non-stop bus. It takes around 3 hours to reach Sokcho from Seoul.
Stayed at The House Hostel. The place is soooo damnnn cute!! They also provide free Wi-Fi, breakfast, towel (same small towel). The owner (or staff not sure) is also very kind and helpful. He gave us a map and told us what are the attractions there and how to go, where to eat, etc. Since we were there for only 1 day, we only went to Mount Soerak. Too bad. It is a good idea to stay there longer. To go here, walk out of the bus terminal and turn right. Walk straight until you reach the end of the road and turn right (should be the second junction). Walk straight and turn right into a small road when you reach GS25.
Sokcho is not that big. You can walk (if the place is not too far) or take a bus (We took the bus to Mount Soerak).
Things To Do & Places To Go
MOUNT SOERAK or SOERAKSAN