Thursday, November 2, 2017

South Korea in 6 Days

It's been awhile since I've visited a country for the first time. My friends convinced me to go visit Seoul with them and it was an awesome experience. The aptly coined our trip as #SeoulMuchMore.

We arrived late night in Seoul and made our way quickly to the AREX (train) to the city. Got off Seoul Station and promptly lined up for a taxi. It took awhile to get a taxi to the hanuk and on hindsight should have just taken a taxi from the airport. It would have spared us the hardship of dragging our luggage up several escalator flights.


The Hanuk Guesthouse 201 was a quaint place. They had 5 rooms and their floors were heated. Two bathrooms and toilets were shared among all guests. You may also use the kitchen to have coffee/tea/noodles. It was good to experience how Koreans lived in the past.

Changdeokgung Palace

Our first tourist stop was a Changdeokgung Palace. This is where the emperor/king lived. The place is gigantic so make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes. I would've loved to go to the Secret Garden, but we were running late for the change of guards at Gyeongbokgong.

Gyeongbokgong Palace

The palace is mainly the workplace of the emperor/king. The Korean Empire was abolished by the Japanese in 1910. The last Korean emperor, Sunjong, died in 1926 and became the catalyst to overthrow Japanese rule.

I noticed during our visit to the palaces that a lot of Koreans wore beautiful hanbok, their traditional national dress.

Gyeongbokgong Palace Change of Guards

We witnessed the change of guards at the palace. The full traditional routine is showcased at the palace grounds twice a day. The guards wore very colorful uniforms and marched to traditional drum beats.

Lotte Sky Tower

I have a bucket list to visit all the tall buidings in the world. I'm happy that I finally got to check this off my list. Standing on the glass floor was an exhilirating experience since the glass didn't seem to be too thick. After reaching the sky we went around Lotte Department Store and Lotte Mart. My friends said that it was Korea's version of SM.

Shopping in Myeongdong

We were set to visit Namsan after Sky Tower, but a protest foiled our plans since we couldn't get a taxi. We switched our plans and decided to go to the Myeongdong night market. I ended up buying a lot of socks and my friends bought different skin care products.

N Seoul Tower/Namsan

We took the cable to the N Seoul Tower. We went really early and managed to get on the second cable car up the mountain. It was there that we got a first glimpse of the beautiful autumn colors set against the towering city buildings. A gazillion padlocks lined up the place - a promise of forever.

The Hanbok Experience 

I think the best experience I had in Seoul was trying out the hanbok. I chose to dress up as a queen since it's not everyday you can be like royalty. We had a lot of fun taking photos and doing scenarios.

Nami Island

On our last full day in South Korea, we headed early towards Gapyeong. We were at Yongsan Station by 6:15am to catch our 7am train to Gapyeong. By 8am we were on the first ferry ride to Nami Island. It was freezing at 1'C, so I'm glad I bundled up for warmth (wear Uniqlo heattech to survive the cold!). We rented two double bikes to get around the island and had the time of our lives.

Petite France

The last tourist place we visited was Petite France. We took a taxi from the Nami Island ferry terminal. I liked that they highlighted the Little Prince and things that represent France. I will hopefully one day visit France.

Some costs related to the places we visited:

AREX to City - KRW4,750
Flat Rate Taxi from Airport to City - KRW65,000
Palace entrance fees - KRW3,000 (KRW8,000 including Secret Garden)
Cable car to N Seoul Tower - KRW6,000
Hanbok rental - KRW26,000 to 58,000; hairdo - KRW5,000-10,000
Train to Gapyeong - KRW5,200 (this is one way)
Ferry to Nami Island - trying to remember...
Double bike - KRW15,000 for 30 minutes
Taxi from Nami Island Ferry Terminal to Petit France - about KRW26,000
Petite France Entrance Fee - KRW8,000