I’ve always wanted to document my many travel adventures but never did get around to doing it, so I’ve finally decided to make the effort to write about my itinerary in Seoul, how to get around on the subway and share some of the pictures I took there (wow, so much effort!!). Hopefully the information I’m sharing here will help at least 1 other soul on the internet to plan their dream vacation to Korea! 🙂
I’m a massive K-pop/K-drama fan and I’ve also taught myself Korean, so the destination I chose for my last vacation before starting med school was naturally Korea, the country that I had grown to love through a screen. This was my second time in Korea, the first being a ski trip when I was younger, but this time, I wanted to experience Seoul in the summer and be able to buy clothes I could wear in the forever-tropical Singapore.
Warning: I’m a major shopaholic, so most of the itinerary involves shopping, as opposed to visiting historical sites or scenic places. And I wasn’t kidding when I said I’m a massive K-pop fan; I visited JYP, YG and SM-COEX during my trip, stayed at Kyuhyun’s (SuJu, though I’m not an ELF) family guesthouse, as well as watched Sunggyu’s (INFINITE) musical. We also visited the broadcasting stations (SBS, KBS, MBC) and some malls that y’all might recognise from Running Man.
|Day 0 // Tues||Night flight to Incheon Airport via Korean Air (SIN to ICN)|
|Day 1 // Wed||Express Bus Terminal shopping
|Day 2 // Thurs||Everland
Myeongdong food + K-beauty store review
|Day 3 // Fri||Dongdaemun shopping
DOTS exhibition @Doota
|Day 4 // Sat||Digital Media City (MBC, SBS Broadcasting Stations)
Hongdae Shopping (Hongik University)
Edae Shopping (Ewha University)
|Day 5 // Sun||Gyeongbokgung Palace sightseeing
‘All Shook Up’ (Musical)
|Day 6 // Mon||JYP Ent
K-Star Road @Apgujeong
COEX Mall shopping
SM TOWN @coexartium
|Day 7 // Tues
|Day 8 // Wed||Namsan Tower
Cat Café @Myeongdong
|Day 9 // Thu||Dongdaemun shopping
|Day 10 // Fri||How to do tax refunds at the airport
Flight back home (ICN to SIN)
This itinerary isn’t for the faint of heart; my family clocked over 12km of walking per day just covering these few places, but our shopping haul was totally worth the subsequent foot pain. And the itinerary was planned by location, so that we would minimise travelling time and maximise our exploration of a certain area each day (and by exploration, I really just mean eating and shopping).
We took a night flight from Changi Airport (SIN) to Incheon Airport (ICN), and flew by Korean Air. The food on board was amazing and the staff were really helpful, more so than other airlines that I’ve flown by. Plus my family got the bulkhead seats in Economy Class, because I was shameless and asked the lady at the check-in counter if we could get nicer seats since I tend to get airsick. 😛
We arrived at the airport at 5.30 am (I’m like T_T) and bought our T-money cards, which are the equivalent of EZ-link cards. We topped up each card with 50000 won (~50USD/70SGD). You don’t have to worry about topping up too much, because T-money can also be used to pay for items at convenience stores, and we all know how heavenly their banana milk at convenience stores is (I bought 1 cup a day LOL, it’s a must-try item!!).
We then bought tickets for the Express Train/AREX to Seoul Station for 8000 won per person.
Myeongdong Mom Guesthouse
40 minutes later, we reached Seoul Station (a major interchange), and took 2 stops on another line to Myeongdong, where our guesthouse was. We were going to be staying at Myeongdong Mom House for the first half of our trip, and at another hotel in Myeongdong for the second half. At this point, I didn’t know that the guesthouse was owned by Kyuhyun’s (Super Junior) family and that the very friendly ahjussi who welcomed us was his dad!! It was a pleasant surprise, though I wasn’t nearly as excited as some other fans staying at the guesthouse.
Our triple room came with a balcony as well, which happened to be shared with Kyuhyun’s dad’s room. The kitchenette in our room also had everything you’d need to cook a meal, which was unexpected but cool. Considering this was one the cheapest guesthouses in Myeongdong, the amenities were stellar!
We could see Namsan from this window, it was lovely to wake up to that view every morning ! Of course it was slightly annoying that there weren’t blackout curtains, so we were awoken at 5am everyday by the early summer sunrise. 😦
The entire cafeteria area was a Kyuhyun/SuJu shrine, and K-pop MVs were playing all the time (they kept playing Cheer Up cos it was the song of the summer). Kyuhyun’s dad would mingle with guests every morning during breakfast (which was complimentary; simple food like toast and muffins) and he was extremely approachable! A lot of fans were taking pictures with him every morning or trying to talk to him in a mix of Korean & English. If you’re an ELF, you won’t regret staying at this guesthouse.
Express Bus Station Underground Mall
After unpacking a bit, we took a train to the Express Bus Station, which is famous for having an underground mall with 1000+ small shops that sell clothes/shoes/anything at really cheap prices. I bought a looooot of stuff there, because the prices and style were both irresistible. There were very comfortable dresses and blouses going for 5000 – 10000 won, which is insanely cheap compared to Singapore prices (even Bugis Street can’t match the cheap prices there). We spent about 4 hours there weaving in and out of the endless rows of shops, stopping to eat and drink along the way. The food/drink shops are located at both end of the mall, and we worked up an appetite just trying to find a food stall.
I’d spent slightly less than SGD$100 after I was done shopping here, with a generous haul of 8 pieces of clothes. Everything was really cheap + good quality, making this is a bargain hunter’s paradise.
Getting there: Myeongdong Stn (Line 4) –> Chungmuro Stn (transfer to Line 3) –> Express Bus Terminal Stn (Line 3)
Other things to do there: The Banpo Bridge Rainbow Fountain is within walking distance of the Express Bus Terminal Mall. Take Exit 8-1, go straight for 250m, and turn right at the Express Bus Terminal 4-way intersection. Continue going straight for 400m and cross the street at the crosswalk. Go straight through the underpass to arrive at the park. (Show times: 12:00, 19:30, 20:00, 20:30, 21:00)
Then we headed back to Myeongdong to shop at Lotte Young Plaza and the Lotte Department Store. They’re mid-to-high range malls with lots of high quality and branded items. Good for rich shopaholics, but I wasn’t willing to splurge on any items there, given my cheap haul from earlier in the day. There was a cinema on the top floor, but ticket prices are about the same as here in Singapore so I couldn’t be bothered to catch any show. There was an official SM store selling idol merch in the basement of Lotte Young Plaza, in case any SM stans see this post! I was so tempted to buy stuff there, but I decided to wait till I visited SM@COEX to buy merch. 😛 Being a K-pop fan in Korea is torture, I wanted to buy everything there…
Getting there: From Myeongdong Station (Exit 7), stay on the right side of the main street and walk for about 10~15 min. You should see 2 massive department stores on the opposite side of the road, and that would be Lotte Young Plaza and the Lotte Department Store! Alternatively, you could enter the Myeongdong Underground Shopping Mall (on the opposite side of the road from the 2 malls), and eventually you’ll find signs directing you to the basement floor of the department store. FYI, there’s a lot of cheap K-pop merch in the underground shopping mall!
After dinner, we went shopping/hobo-ing in Myeongdong, and I took a tonne of pictures of celebs on billboards….and of Song Joongki advertising for a rice-cooker and tuna. Considering that I visited during the height of the Descendants of the Sun craze, I saw his face plastered nearly everywhere, advertising the most inane items with his cute face. *heart eyes*
There were celeb endorsements for unknown products everywhere I looked, but obviously I didn’t quite care about the products, but rather was there to fangirl over the faces of our oppas on walls and billboards. My parents were half amused and half shocked that I knew the names of every single celeb/idol whose faces we walked past…looks like my K-drama/K-pop addiction is a terminal disease. *-*
There was also YG’s restaurant, Samgyeori Butchers along the food street of Myeongdong (and lots of other restaurants along that stretch as well)!
It was a bar + restaurant + merchandise shop, and there were many polaroids of YG artistes from their visits to this restaurant. I bought all the YG lightsticks here (18000 won) because they’re far cheaper than in Singapore.
And on the streets of Myeongdong, there were rather amusing walking advertisements for the numerous cat and dog cafes in the area. I visited one of the cat cafes on another day, which I’ll also be blogging about in Part 7, so look out for that if you love fur babies! 🙂
And that’s all for Day 1. I’ll blog about the rest of the days soon enough! (as if this post isn’t already severely backdated)