The day prior to our Everland visit, we reserved 3 tickets with Daesung tours (click for more details) over the phone, which included the entry to Everland plus a free 2-way shuttle bus from Myeongdong that very morning. We woke up bright and early, because the shuttle bus was due to pick us up from Myeongdong at 9.30AM. We paid for our tickets in cash before boarding the bus, then off we were to Yongin Everland!!
Picture spam ahead, you’ve been warned.
Our shuttle bus dropped us off at a parking lot, after which we took a free 5-minute shuttle from the car park to the park entrance. We arrived 20 minutes before the park opened, but a lot of tourists had already arrived by then, so we joined the queue outside the entrance. When the gates opened, we walked through the ‘Global Fair’ part of the park, which is the equivalent of Main Street USA in Disney parks. Lots of shopping, souvenirs and YG merch (not kidding) to be bought here, but more on that later.
The park was definitely large; we were brisk walking and it took us a good 15 minutes to find our way to our first ride, the Lost Valley, located in ‘Zootopia’. We passed by many animal exhibits along the way, and even the queue area for the rides had animal enclosures. The Lost Valley is one of the more popular and child-friendly attractions, so be sure to queue for this first thing in the morning cos the queues became 1 hour long when we walked past it again in the afternoon. It’s basically a safari tour in an amphibious vehicle, and the vehicle goes into shallow water at some parts, which adds to the fun of the ride (for kids at least).
The pictures below were taken on board, and there was a guide narrating everything (in Korean) throughout the ride.
The slightly fennec fox-obsessed me bought a plushie from the gift shop at the end of the ride, because how could you not love those cute little furballs?? They’re surprisingly small, around the size of a Chihuahua or kitten?? I was squealing like a deranged marmot and dying to the foxes’ general cuteness (watch this glorious marmot video if you want to hear what it sounds like). I took a lot more pictures but I’ll spare you the agony of beholding their unbearable kawaii-ness.
We then headed to the adjacent ride, ‘Safari World’, where we boarded an air-conditioned bus that brought us to see lazy tigers, lazier lions and walking bears. The highlight of the ride was obviously the bears, which were trained to do tricks in exchange for food. They would walk on their hind legs beside the bus, or do things like dunk a ball (video below).
This is a video I took of the bear putting the ball in the hoop, it’s in equal parts fascinating yet sad. I feel slightly bad that the bears have been relegated to circus animals and all, but I guess they’re having a pretty comfy life within the confines of the park, so…
We then headed to the ‘European Adventure’ area, which had very tame rides (good for people who get motion sick easily, like me), an aviary and even a small petting zoo which had guinea pigs, sheep and chicks. When I went there in 2004, there was also a cow and goats, but I guess they removed them and downsized the petting zoo. 😦
The T-Express was unfortunately closed for maintenance the day we went, so I didn’t have the chance to ride on the famous/notorious roller coaster that variety stars often ride on as punishments (any Infinity Challenge fans out there?). TBH I’m too cowardly to have gone on it anyway, so I wasn’t too disappointed. We had a nice lunch at the food court in the European Adventure area of the park, I ate naengmyeon/cold noodles, and it was really quite delicious, especially in the balmy summer weather.
‘Magic Land’ was filled with attractions suited to children, like carousels, play areas and bumper cars. The bumper cars were really wild, cos it was mostly adults (and a few kids) savagely ramming one another’s cars. I went on it a few times since the queues were nonexistent/5-minute wait time.
‘Magic Land’ also had a bizarrely-themed area which seemed to be based off fairytales and had 1 ride for kids and a playground that was under renovation. T_T The ferris wheel also turned out to be purely decorative; it was once functional but closed in the 90’s. Nevertheless, it’s a good spot for photography.
We went back to Zootopia to watch a few animal shows and feeding sessions that I would only recommend if you have young children or need a place to rest your feet. After that, we went to see the panda and red panda exhibit! It was air-conditioned, a much needed respite from the summer heat (which was still mild compared to Singapore’s eternal summer). The pandas…what can I say, they were slow? and cute? and greedy? Pandas being pandas, the 2 in the enclosure just nommed on their bamboo and barely moved for the entire 10 minutes we spent watching them. The red panda on the other hand, was utterly adorable and frolicked about in the loveliest fashion. There was yet another gift shop once we exited the exhibit, filled with panda/red panda merch and some panda-themed (aka expensive) snacks.
Over at ‘American Adventure’, where most of the thrill rides are located, our family just walked about and watched other people take the rides, since none of us are particularly fond of such rides. If you like roller coasters, viking ships and rides that spin you around excessively, then I’d suggest starting with this part of the park, because the stuff here is wild.
With 1.5 hours left for shopping, we headed back to ‘Global Fair’ to see what novelties were on sale. There was an entire shop dedicated to LINE merch, much like the one in Myeongdong. The range of items here was more unique than the one at Myeongdong, so don’t be afraid to splurge in this store! I personally didn’t buy anything since I’m not a massive LINE fan, but everything was really cute!
There were stores like 8 Seconds, Monami (a stationary shop) and even a Hologram Star Shop. In the Hologram Star Shop, there were photobooths that let you interact with holograms of YG stars (BIGBANG, Psy) and take pictures with them. If you liked the pictures, there was the option to purchase them for a cheap 5000won. Some BIGBANG merch was on sale too, so I bought myself a GDxKrunk bear! 😛 And if I’m not wrong, you can also buy tickets to watch hologram shows at certain timings.
This Monami popup store was located in one of the larger gift shops, and gosh I never knew how much I needed stationery until the very moment I set foot in the OCD-ly organised and very minimalist store. The sheer range of pens and highlighters was mind-blowing, plus they were a lot cheaper than the stationery sold back in SG at Popular and other bookstores. It was 600won for a pen or highlighter, which is around SGD$1? So I bought a small bag of coloured stationery from here #totallyworthit
Myeongdong Food Review
After a bit more shopping, we took the shuttle back to the car park to board our shuttle bus back to Myeongdong. They dropped us near the subway station, and the first thing we saw were protestors camping along the road.
We then found a restaurant (on the 4th floor of the building opposite the LINE store) that served utterly delicious side dishes, amazing Samgyetang (삼계탕, ginseng chicken stuffed with glutinous rice) and really fragrant BBQ meat. I ate marinated raw crab in soy sauce (간장게장) with rice and it was awfully difficult to eat but totally worth the struggle. The crab flesh was gelatinous and extremely salty, and it went perfectly with the rice and seaweed. 10/10 would eat again, except that it cost SGD$35. The restaurant’s food was really good, service was prompt and they were friendly to us, so overall, I would recommend this place if it’s within your budget or you just want to splurge on some local delicacies.
Other good restaurants in Myeongdong would include Loco Quan 401, owned by Running Man cast member Haha. It doesn’t sell anything other than a variety of BBQ meat, and the price is a bit steep. Yoogane on the other hand, is a really affordable Korean fried rice place (6000 won per portion) in which you order your choice of meat to go with the rice and watch the staff cook the rice in a wok at your table (like Pepper lunch but on a larger scale). It’s about 3 times cheaper than the Yoogane outlets in Singapore, and there’s no service charge or GST, so it’s worth eating there! Or you could always just fill your tummy with street food. The vendors sell anything from grilled eel, chicken skewers, jjamppong, to flame-grilled scallops with cheese or chocolate-coated strawberries.
Once again, these are more celeb endorsements that I fangirled over as I shopped in SPAO, a shop which stocks the latest Korean fashion trends at H&M-kind-of prices, which is reasonable but not as cheap as what you can find in smaller shops in areas like Dongdaemun.
After dinner, we shopped some more, and I was busy collecting free masks and samples from the beauty shops so I didn’t really take pictures. Don’t be embarrassed to take the free masks and samples, because they work wonders for your skin after a whole day of shopping and sightseeing! There were the normal K-beauty shops that we see in Singapore like Etude House (4 outlets in Myeongdong alone), Innisfree (3 outlets), Laneige and TonyMoly, as well as those that are can’t be found in Singapore like Banila&Co, HolikaHolika, Beyond and The Saem. The prices are around 50% cheaper than in Singapore, and the more upmarket ones like Laneige are around 20% cheaper, which is still a great bargain. When I visited, some of the stores were having really great sales and bundling many items together for a reduced price, so be sure to take advantage of these deals! Needless to say, I wasted a fair amount of money stocking up on skincare products and buying stuff back for my friends.
Also, remember to carry your passport with you for instant tax refunds in the shop; you can get a tax refund if you spend over 30,000 won in a shop, and most of the chain stores will refund your taxes in-store instead of at the airport. It saves you the hassle of doing tax refunds at the airport and gives you extra cash to spend on even more cosmetics, but if you wanna know more about the tax refund process at the airport, click Part 7 for more details!
And that’s a wrap for Day 2 of my Seoul vacation!