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Monday, 30 June 2014

From Soul to Seoul – Our 11 Days Travel Itinerary in South Korea (Seoul) Part 1

I have received several e-mails/ messages requesting for my Korea trip itinerary and this is why I've decided to put up a blog  (Small World) to compile and share my past travel experiences with my friends and colleagues.
A great piece of history and architecture! 
An Urban City Full of Ancient History
An Urban City Full of Ancient History - Dongdaemun
I traveled to Seoul, South Korea in January 2013 just because I wanted to experience snow and winter sonata. Honestly, I don’t think January is the best time to travel to South Korea because it was damn cold.  It’s always below 5 degrees and highest temperature in the day can be only -5 degree. But I guess it was all worthy for the beautiful snow and skiing adventure. We wore long johns, hoodies and on top of it, another layer of pullovers and winter jackets for the 11 days winter trip in South Korea. 

From Incheon International Airport to Yim’s Hanok GuestHouse,  we took the airport express bus #6011 (cost us 10,000KRW) that stops us right in front of the main street. The bus ride took almost an hour from the airport.  I must say that the Guesthouse is conveniently located at the center of the town, which was just a few steps away from a subway station, Gyeongbukgung Station (Line 2). 
Gyeongbokgung Palace - Palace in the City, one of Seoul's most famous attractions!
The pond was frozen solid during the winter at Gyeongbokgung Palace
Changdeokgung Palace - Palace of Shinning Happiness
A Royal Life Revisited 
Seoul is generally easy to explore as the whole city is linked via subways. In every exit of subway stations, they will have this direction sign to various attractions, indicated by respective exits. So, all you basically need to do is to buy the T-money card from the convenience stores, which I found it very useful for travelers to pay transportation fares on public buses and subways and avoid the long queue and hassle.

One reason to visit N Seoul Tower at night - Brilliant laser light shows!
One reason to visit N Seoul Tower at night - Brilliant laser light shows!
Turn right, turn left you see "LOCKS OF LOVE"
Talking about shopping, it is one of the popular activities which most young travellers like to indulge in Seoul. Shopping at Dongdaemun, Ehwa, Hongdae, Myeongdong, Namdaemun, or Insadong is definitely a-must when you visit Seoul.  Myeongdong is definitely one of the places not-to-be-missed here. The area itself is crazily insane filled with countless of fashion beauty, cosmetic outlets and street foods. The prices for face masks are reasonable, and they come in all varieties, from Ginseng to Aloe Vera to Dangui. The prices vary according to the ingredients used but on the whole, they are pretty reasonable. Apparently, the South Koreans are way ahead in fashion. Their shopping streets can seriously make you burn a hole in your wallet!
A place not to be missed! - Myeongdong
On the second day itself in Seoul, we headed to Naminara Republic (also known as Nami Island) located at outskirt of Seoul. Namiseom is a tiny half-moon shaped island located in Chuncheon, South Korea, located about 4 hours from the city of Seoul. It was the main shooting location of a popular Korean television drama series called “Winter Sonata”. Regardless if you know or seen the drama, you'll enjoy the the island simply for its breathtaking sceneries.  To get there, we took the shuttle bus from Insadong (approx 4 hour journey) followed by a 5-10 minutes of ferry ride from the main island to Naminara Republic. We enjoyed this miraculously beautiful island in a good weather and spent some casual time in the island. The trees lined up in a symmetrical way and since it was winter, it was covered with white snow. Such a romantic places to go with your love one!  
LOVE is like a tree in Nami Island. The beauty grows as each day passes by
Winter Sonata in Memories
LOVE is like a tree in Nami Island. The beauty grows as each day passes by
Naminara Republic is an island for lovers!
The ferry that transport us to Nami Island
On the 8th day of our trip, we went to Jisan Forest Ski Resort for a skiing adventure. There are many skiing resorts in Seoul but they are all located outskirt of Seoul. The Guest House owner recommended us to go Jisan because she said there is the most convenient one compared to the rest. She booked seats for us in the free shuttle bus that brings us to the resort. Overall, it was freaking tiring but it was a memorable experience for me and Kah Boon. 
Be strong even in the face of winter storm
Jisan Forest Ski Resort - Ski School
A-must-do-sport during winter time 
We did a lot of research beforehand and for this trip, we (myself and Camel) took Malaysia Airlines flight from Penang – Kuala Lumpur – Seoul, Incheon and here’s what we did for our entire 11-days journey (17 January 2013 - 27 January 2013) in Korea:  <Seoul – Jeju Island – Naminara Republic - Seoul> 

Click here for you to download our complete 11D10N travel itinerary in PDF.

Day 1: 17 January 2013 – Depart from Penang – Kuala Lumpur (KLIA)

Day 2: 18 January 2013 
KUALA LUMPUR / SEOUL  - Kuala Lumpur – Seoul (Incheon International Airport) Deoksugung Palace (changing of guard ceremony at 11.00 a.m.) - Gyeongbokgung Palace - Changdeokgung (Palace) - Myeongdong Night Market(*We bought the Integrated Pass Entries to: Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung (inclusive secret garden) and Changyeonggung  priced at 10,000 KRW/pax) 

Day 3: 19 January 2013 
SEOUL / NAMI ISLAND – Took bus to Insadong (Tour bus stop near Tapgol Park) at 9.30am. followed by shuttle bus departing from Insadong to Nami Island - Sungnyemun Gate (**Round-trip bus fare cost 15000 KRW/pax / (for integrated entrance ticket to Nami Island and ferry + roundtrip bus fare + entry visa about 23,000 KRW/pax)
Advanced reservation required (Enquiries at: +82-2-753-1247) 

Day 4: 20 January 2013 
SEOUL / JEJU ISLAND – Took 08.10 a.m. flight from Gimpo to Jeju Island via Jeju Air – check-in Jeju Hiking Inn -   Sex Toy Museum – Teddy Bear Museum - Seongeup Folk Village - Cross by Bijarim Road - Hallasan National Park - Jusangjeolli Cliff of Jungmun - Jeju Stone Park 

Day 5: 21 January 2013 
JEJU ISLAND - Sunrise Peak (Seongsan Ilchulbong) UNESCO Heritage - Mysterious Road/ Dokkaebi Road - Yongduam (Dragon Head Rock)  - Trick Art Museum – Dongmun Traditional Market – Free & Easy 

Day 6: 22 January 2013
JEJU ISLAND / SEOUL - Free & Easy - Took 12.20 p.m. flight from Jeju Island to Gimpo via Jeju Air  - Mt. Namsan (N Seoul Tower + Teddy Bear Museum + Locks of Love) Namsan Cable Car 7,500 KRW/ round trip/pax   

Day 7: 23 January 2013
SEOUL – Jongmyo Royal Shrine (15mins walk from Changdeokgung) - Samcheong-dong street (shopping) - Bukchon Hanok Village – Samcheongdong area - Dongdaemun - Gwangjang Market (to taste local food)

Day 8: 24 January 2013 
SEOUL – Jisan Forest Resort (free shuttle bus) - Gwanghwamun Square at nightfall (Statue of Admiral Yi Sun-Shin)Click here for details: http://www.jisanresort.co.kr/eng/index.html **Tips: please avoid weekend

Day 9: 25 January 2013
SEOUL – Insadong Area -Ssamziegil Cultural Art Building - Insadong's Tourist Information Center and and Myeongdong Tourist Information Center (to experience Korean Hanbok) - Myeongdong Market -Myeongdong Cathedral for Korean Drama "You're beautiful" addicts - Ewha Woman’s Univ. Station (Sinchon) for dinner and shopping 

Day 10: 26 January 2013 
SEOUL – Cheongyecheon Stream - Statue of Admiral Yi Sun-Shin and King Sejong at Gwanghwamun Square - Dongdaemun- Korea House - Namsangol Hanok Village - Shopping at Lotte Mart (Seoul Station) 

Day 11: 27 January 2013 
SEOUL / KUALA LUMPUR / PENANG - Depart from Seoul (Incheon International Airport) - Kuala Lumpur (KLIA) - Penang 

Places of Interest: 
- Gyeongbokgung Palace
(Subway Gyeongbokgung Station, Line 3, Exit 5)
- Changdeokgung Palace
 (Seoul Subway Line 3, Anguk Station, Exit 3 and walk for 5 minutes)
- NSeoul Tower 
(Subway line 4, Myeongdong Station, Exit 3. Keep walking up in the direction of Mt. Namsan, for 10 minutes)
- Jongmyo Royal Shrine 
(15minutes walk from Changdeokgung Palace)  
- Gwanghwamun Square 
 (Subway Line 5 to Gwanghwamun Station, Exit 2 and 3 minutes walk straight)
- Myeongdong Cathedral for korean drama "You're beautiful" addicts
(Subway Line 4, Myeongdong Station Exit 7)
Entrance Tickets: 
- Integrated Entry Pass to:  Gyeongbokgung,  Changdeokgung (inclusive Secret Garden) and Changyeonggung - 10,000 KRW/person 
- Mt. Namsan +Seoul N Tower + Teddy Bear Museum + Locks of Love (Observation Deck + Teddy Bear Museum Package - 14,000 KRW/person & Namsan Cable Car - 7,500KRW/person/round trip
- Integrated entrance ticket to Nami Island + roundtrip ferry + roundtrip bus fare -  23,000KRW/person 
- Jisan Forest Resort (Ski Set: Skis+boots+ poles + Ski Wear) - 37,000 KRW/person 
- Bukchon Hanok Village – 5,000 KRW/person 
Jongmyo Royal Shrine: Not for you, not for me, ONLY for the SPIRITS
Jongmyo Royal Shrine - According to UNESCO, the Shrine is the oldest royal Confucion shrine preserved
Namsangol Hanok Village - A taste of yesterday's lifestyle
The city of Seoul, always full of cultural and emotional expression! 
Korean traditional house (Hanok)
Recommended Places for Shopping: 
-Myeongdong Street - Cosmetics heaven
(Seoul Subway Line 4, Myeongdong Station Exit #7) 
-Namdaemun Market - Traditional Markets
(Seoul Subway Line 4, Hoehyeon Station  Exit #5) 
-Dongdaemun - Wholesale fashion markets
(Seoul Subway line no. 2, 4 or 5, Dongdaemun  History & Culture Park Station, Exit # 14) 
-Ewha & Sinchon Area – Clothes / Cosmetics there are relatively more fashionable and trendy for Korean youngsters as the area is near to Ewha Woman’s University
(Seoul Subway Line 2, Ewha Woman’s Univ. Station, Exit #2 or #3)
-Lotte Mart at Seoul Station - Biggest departmental store in Seoul/grab all your ramen,
kimchi, peppero and banana milk there!
(Seoul Subway Line 1 or 4 to Seoul Station and Exit #1) 
-Insadong – Crafts, antiques and artworks
(Seoul Subway Line 3, Anguk Subway Station, Exit #6) 

    Must Try / Eat:  
    - Isaac's Toast (near Myeongdong branch) is so popular in Korea.Tasted decent and pretty cheap
    - Samgyetang (also known as Ginseng chicken soup stuffed with rice-porridge) at Tosokchon Restaurant – 5-8minutes walk from Duri Guest House, walk straight and turn left at Jahamun-ro 5-gil Road 
    - Angel in-us Holy Coffee (everywhere in Seoul)
    - Street food in Myeongdong Market 
    Samgyetang <Chicken stew with Ginseng stuffed with rice-porridge> at Tosokchon Restaurant
    Isaac's Toast (near Myeongdong branch)
    Angel in-us Holy Coffee
    Don't forget to try this banana milk when you see it, and do tell me if you like it!
    One of my tasty experience! Savoury pancakes (jeon)
    Air Itinerary Details: Malaysia Airlines: Penang - Kuala Lumpur (KLIA) – Seoul (Incheon International Airport) / Seoul (Incheon International Airport) - Kuala Lumpur (KLIA) - Penang

    (i)Seoul – Duri Guest House (previously known as Yim’s Hanok GuestHouse)         (highly recommended / rooms are limited during peak season)
    Service/Facilities: Convenience stores, café or bakery nearby, daily room cleaning service,
    Free WiFi, floor-heating system are available during winter/10minutes walk to Gyeongbokgung Palace 
    Click here for details/early bookings: http://www.durihouse.kr/ 
    (ii)Jeju Island - Jeju Hiking Inn 
    e-mail: jeju@hikinginn.com

    Local Transportation:
    How to get there:  Took domestic flight from Gimpo Airport to Jeju Island via Jeju Air
    Duration: 1 hour 5 minutes 
    Departure Gimpo - Jeju: 20 Jan 2013 -  08:10 a.m.- 09:15 a.m. 
    Departure Jeju – Gimpo : 22 Jan 2013 – 12.20 p.m. – 13.25 p.m. 
    Fares total: 79800 KRW/for return tickets/person inclusive of tax/fee/charge 
    Click here for e-booking: http://www.jejuair.net/jejuair/ko_EN/main/main.jsp\ 

    NAMI ISLAND – Proceed to Jongno 3(sam)-ga Station (take subway Line 1, 3, 5) Exit 1 and walk for 5 minutes toward Jonggak (Tapgol Park). Then take shuttle bus departing from Insadong to Nami Island 

    MT. NAMSAN (N Seoul Tower + Teddy Bear Museum + Locks of Love) 
    From Duri Guest House , take Subway line 4, Myeongdong station, Exit 3. Keep walking up in the direction of Mt. Namsan, for 10 minutes and you will find the cable car platform which head towards the N Seoul Tower
    N Seoul Tower - The place couple "LOCKED their SOULS"
    From Anguk Station (Seoul Subway Line 3) and Exit 2. Go straight for about 300meter. We found the best view at Gahoedong Alley - Bukchon 6th View 
     Old & New - A taste of tradition overlooking the urban city
    Bukchon Hanok Village 
    Took shuttle bus to Jisan Forest Resort. Bus departing from Gwanghwamun Square (Free of Charge). Take Subway Line 5 to Gwanghwamun Station, proceed to exit 2 and 3 minutes walk 

    Car Rental in Jeju Island 
    Rental dates: 20 Jan 2013 – 22 January 2013 (3 days) 
    Car type: I301.6 (Gasoline) 
    Total Charge: 68,400 KRW for 3 days 
    Click here for details/ bookings: http://www.avis.com/car-rental/location/ASP/KP/Jeju
    *Reminder! Bring along your international driving license
    Korean Hanbok Experience at (i)Insadong's Tourist Information Center and (ii) Myeongdong Tourist Information Center
    Travel Tips: *Drop by: The Seoul Global Culture and Tourism Center (for cultural experience) located at 5th Fl. M-Plaza 31-1 Myeong-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, Korea. Contact Information: (02) 3789-7961~3 / seoulcenter@seoulwelcome.com
    Paintings at the underground subway stations
    The subway station is always busy, thus every second counts!
    Traveling on your own without any tour guides has its own excitement and fun. In these 11 days, we got lost, we went to random places and we made last minute changes to our trip itinerary. Every day was a new adventure day with getting lost and finding our way.

    Till we meet again, Seoul! Blogging about it makes me misses Seoul but I will definitely be back again! Wish I could go back for the second visit. Perhaps I should plan a trip in the middle of March/April for sakura!

    If you have any inquiry regarding this trip/travel itinerary of mine, you are welcome to leave me a message here. 

    Read more about our travel experiences @ South Korea: 
    From Soul to Seoul – Our 11 Days Travel Itinerary in South Korea (Jeju-do) Part 2

    "The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see” - G.K. Chesterton

    Welcome to Small World! This blog allows me to share my travel experiences with others in a straightforward and far-reaching way. I often made great use of other peoples travel blogs and websites every time I plan for my travel itinerary as they often contained most updated information and invaluable resources from their past travel experiences.  I really hope that you will find every piece of information contained within my blog handy and useful for your upcoming trip. Thank you very much for reading my post(s) and feel free to leave a comment/testimonial or click "Like/Share" if you love reading them all. xoxo  
      The writer is a passionate traveler who enjoys speaking to young keen travelers about the freedom to get cultured and to taste the fullness of life. Feel free to contact the writer if you need any travel guidance or tips or if you have any burning questions with regards to your upcoming trip/ journey. 
    Be inspired but more importantly be inspiring -


    1. Hi Chin, thanks for dropping by.
      As per your enquiry:

      1. Could you share with me how do you book for the Jisan skiing?
      We consulted the Guesthouse owner and she adviced us to visit Jisan Resort instead because its nearby town which took us approx 1 hour via shuttle service from Gwanghwamun Square in front of Starbucks. We didn't really book the package in advance as the guesthouse owner told us it wasn't necessary.

      2. Many suggested booking through a local ski operator but many are over my budget. Your price seems good. Is it manageable without any lesson?
      I would personally advice you to go directly to the counter when you arrive the Resort. Just observe the Resort when you arrive there and you may actually go directly to the counter and consult the personnel on the packages available, which most are quite costly to me. If you're there for the ski sports, then I think its worth to take up those packages. We ended up didn't really took the full package and lessons as it was costly but only rented the basic ski equipment as we just wanna have some fun ski experience there. I think its still manageable without the instructor.

      Hope the above info helps! Happy planning and do let me know if you need any other info.

      Please like our Facebook page or leave a testimonial if u love reading them or if u highly recommend this article to other travelers. Thanks and happy planning :)

    2. Replies

      1. Hi, thanks for dropping by and for reading my little blog. Hope the above info helps!

        Please feel free to share/like it on Facebook or leave a testimonial if u love reading them or if u highly recommend this article to other travelers.

        Happy planning and do let me know if you need any other info.

      2. Please support our humble blog if you find it informative / worth a read by casting a vote in the Singapore Blog Awards 2015 here: http://sgblogawards.omy.sg/2015/category/editors-choice-finalist.php
        Thank you.

    3. Hi Eugene,
      Thanks for dropping by and reading my little blog. Here’s my answer with regards to your enquiry:
      We traveled to Seoul, Korea in January 2013. Personally, I’ve to admit that it was damn cold (temperature always below -0) and the strong wind (particularly at night) can really kill (at the end of the day, no choice but to put on ear muff). For us Malaysians, what more we live in a tropical country which is almost summer all year long. Of course, we prepared enough winter outfits/clothes prior to our departure. The preparation was tedious and our luggages were almost full but it was all worth it! I think all you really need is basically a pair of long john, winter jacket which I bought from Uniqlo in Seoul and of course a few pairs of thick stockings and of course hand gloves!! My advice for you is that, at the end of the day, you need to feel light while you’re travelling, as you’ll be walking a lot. You can actually buy your winter jacket from Uniqlo in Korea, where you’ll find more options/choices compare to the ones we have in Malaysia. You might want to consider getting yourself a pair of good /thick shoes to protect you from slippery surfaces. Please also ensure that the accommodation / room that you book come with a floor-heating system during winter time.
      Finally, have fun walking in the snow *winter sonata* and do let me know if you need more info! Happy planning!
      Ahh, I miss Seoul now :)

      1. Thank you so much for your reply and information, Chengy. It is really helpful and it makes me want to go to Korea as soon as possible >< Just wonder if you have tried the heat tech shirt and pants from Uniqlo? Can I wear that instead of long john?

      2. Hi Eugene, Personally, I've not tried the heat tech shirts/pants from Uniqlo. But, I highly suggest that you may either wear your heat tech shirt or long john along with another layer of down jacket/coat , hat, scarf and gloves as it helps raise your core body temperature. It's very cold and windy especially during evening time. But then, no worries, you can still buy them there if you really need it, plenty of choices and prices are reasonable. Have a nice and wonderful winter sonata trip to Seoul. Cheers :)

      3. Please support our humble blog if you find it informative / worth a read by casting a vote in the Singapore Blog Awards 2015 here: http://sgblogawards.omy.sg/2015/category/editors-choice-finalist.php
        Thank you.

    4. I do have plans to go there one more time. So, I guess, I must bookmark your page. :)

      Looks like there are less people in Nami Island during winter. By the way, I am excited to see a part of your post about renting a car there. How was it? I mean, the experience of driving there?

      1. Hi Hanis, thanks for dropping by and reading my little blog. Yes, spending time in Nami Island during winter time is superb, everywhere and everything is in white, feeling like "winter sonata". I think it really worth to experience both winter and fall in Nami island. Those pictures posted by my friends who went there during this time look picture perfect and superb!
        As for our trip to Jeju, we booked our rental car in advance with Avis and applied for an international driving license before we depart :) Driving in Jeju Island is pretty fun, just like driving in Langkawi island. In fact its the best way and most relaxing way to explore the entire island without rush. Do like/share our facebook page if you love reading our posts. https://www.facebook.com/chengywongsmallworld

      2. Please support our humble blog if you find it informative / worth a read by casting a vote in the Singapore Blog Awards 2015 here: http://sgblogawards.omy.sg/2015/category/editors-choice-finalist.php
        Thank you.

    5. Thanks for taking us around Seoul with you, those pancakes look particularly amazing!

      1. Hi, thanks for dropping by. Glad you enjoyed reading my little blog. By the way, please support our humble blog if you find it informative / worth a read by casting a vote in the Singapore Blog Awards 2015 here: http://sgblogawards.omy.sg/2015/category/editors-choice-finalist.php
        Thank you.

    6. Amazing blog! It has been so helpful since I was exploring resources about day trips from Seoul. cheers!

      1. Hi Christine, thanks for dropping by. Glad my blog posts have been helpful to you. Do let us know if you need further details / info related to your upcoming trip to Seoul, Korea. Happy planning! :)

    7. Replies
      1. Hi, thanks for dropping by and for reading our blog posts. We hope you'll be part of us at: chengywong.blogspot.com on Facebook!

    8. Hi, I'd like to know how you go about booking the integrated tix to Nami Island. Did you book online in advance and pay online and they'd pass you the tickets when you show up at Tapgol Park?
      Would really appreciate it if you could share because I will be bringing my 2 girls there. Thanks in advance!
      Pls email me at syifani_n@hotmail.com. Sorry for the inconvenience!

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