I am no travel blogger, but by virtue of the amount of korean dramas and films I saw, I’m already considered a Korean. *chuckles and I would probably give you a very nice tour blog about South Korea. This will be my 3rd time in the country and by now I’m mostly familiar with traveling through cities. I have always been fascinated with the vibrancy of the sceneries and the richness of the culture in this country.
Though highlighted with modern advancement, they were able to maintain their tradition and heritage well that you can travel back in time in places they have well preserved. I hope my Korean heart who always yearns to destress in the lively streets and beautiful corners of kimchiland would make you mark this country on your next travel adventure.
BEFORE TRAVELING TIPS
*For Philippine citizens, secure a VISA at Korean embassy in McKinley Global City Taguig. Please visit their website for the documents needed. VISA is free of charge. Here’s the link for the Visa Requirements page on Korean embassy website.
*I usually book my flights 4-6 months before my actual travel month because that’s the best time to get the great deals.
*It will save you a lot to stay in a hotel/guesthouse near a subway.
*The more, the merrier. If you can travel with friends or family, it would save you money too.
*Hotels are nice but there are myriad of accommodations that are not pricey and very clean and convenient for you to choose from.
*Download jihachul app on your phone for your guide to Korean subway system.
*April-May and September-October are the best months to visit.
*Accommodations around Jung-gu Yongsan-gu and Jongno-gu areas are great locations for easy access to Korean public transportation system and nearby tourist attractions and shopping districts.
*For pocket money you can exchange dollars from Philippine local banks, foreign exchange centers in local malls or at NAIA. You can change a small amount first if you want and then transact again when you get to Korea’s money changer station in the cities. You can change it to Korean won when you get to Incheon airport or you may also opt to bring your peso and trade it to KRW at the scattered KEB (Korean Exchange Bank) at Incheon airport. For better rates, before our leaving I checked BPI and BDO’s buying dollar rate against changing Philippine peso to Korean won, the former won but we decided to change the money at NAIA forex for KRW which was a good choice because it was not much difference if changing at Incheon airport.
I will share you tips here and there as we go along in this vacation. For now, Iet’s enjoy the crisp air and fiery colors of Seoul Autumn.
Day 1 well actually Night 1
Our flight is 3:20 from Manila. Fortunately there was no flight delay so we landed in Seoul around 8:30 Korean time. If it’s your first international travel, there will be a usual immigration check in the airport. You will board a train to get to the main airport building. From there going to where your accommodation, you can choose from limousine buses, taxis and the subway. I strongly recommend taking the subway because it’s cheaper. You can select the no-stop train or the all-stop train. The latter is cheaper.
Here’s a link for how you will go from Incheon airport to your destination city.
We traveled an hour and a half from Incheon airport to Seoul station. From there we head to our rented apartment and due to feet coma we all experienced because of walking big time, we skipped the night food trip to Gwakjang market.
Train choices from ICN airport to Seoul station is for all-stop train and for no-stop train. We rode the all stop train and it cost roughly 4000+ krw to Seoul Station which will be our nearest subway for the duration of our stay.
Our crew are mostly Seoul first timers so they were all exhausted from hauling the baggages. So the next morning we went to a lighter trip which is to visit the palaces.
We woke up groggy from the “where is exit 15” trauma so we chose a lighter and nearer destinations. Seoul is home to myriads of palaces, folk villages, parks and museums and most of them have very friendly rates so feast on the sceneries and experiences. If you can’t visit all four main palaces then choose Gyeongbok-gung for its majestic appeal and Changdeok-gung for its breath-taking beauty.
Taking subways and walking a bit is what I strongly recommend if you will come alone or with a companion, but if you will be coming with a group, taking a cab would suffice because you can split the taxi fare at a minimum amount. ^_^
PALACES SUBWAY GUIDE
Deoksugung Palace (Seoul Museum of Art) Subway Line 1 or 2, Seoul City Hall Station, Exit #2)
Gyeongbokgung Palace (Subway Line 3, Gyeongbokgung Station, Exit #5)
Changdeokgung Palace (Subway Line 1, 3 or 5, Jongno 3-ga Station, Exit #6)
Changgyeonggung Palace (Subway Line 4, Hyehwa Station, Exit #4)
Please ensure you wear comfortable shoes when going to the palaces… well actually anywhere in Seoul requires walking so consider you are forewarned. My work friends complained about the long walks which made their feet rosy and stuck together. *chuckles
We ate lunch at Samcheon-dong, a neighborhood near Gyeongbok-gung that houses restaurants, cafes, food kiosk and shopping stores. It was a pleasant and neat neighborhood to visit at any point of the day of you want to get something yummy to eat.
Then we headed to N Seoul Tower where autumn colors were also evident and where couples usually lock their love. To get to N Seoul tower, you will ride a cable car which will give you an amazing top view of trees and houses in daytime and sleek city lights at night time.
N Seoul Directory (Subway Line 3 or 4, Chungmuro Station, Exit #2, take Bus 02 in front of Daehan Theatre)
Since fall is my favorite season and because I have strange fondness on beautiful trees, I enjoyed watching the colors of the foliage from its fiery red, warm yellow and sunny orange. It was a tiring day but I can’t wait to see more of autumn in the coming days.