Tag Archives: places to visit in Seoul

May 2011: Wrapping Up My Seoul Adventure (My own observation, tips, budget, places to visit)

Well, to wrap up all of my experiences in Seoul, I wanna say that Seoul is really a nice city to visit. I’m saying this in an unbiased way (even if I’m a korean series addict). I can see that it is way better than Hong Kong or Singapore in terms of things you can do, places to visit, and performances that you can watch. You have a lot to choose from if you visit Seoul….

Anyway, here are my observations:

1. South Koreans love coffee…

In Seoul, you can’t see a corner without a coffeeshop. Kyo (Korean friend and volunteer tour guide) told us that only few of the coffee shop there goes bankrupt.

Moreover, Seoul is not invaded by Starbucks or Coffeebean franchises instead locals make their own brands and own shop. So, you can see a lot of coffeeshops with an unknown name or brand. And you can see that each of the coffee shops have their own themes. So, next time I’ll visit Seoul, I will go coffeeshop–hopping!

2. South Koreans can walk alot— with high heels!

I noticed that they are not that tired walking around the city…. Moreover, they walk using some high powered heels! When I say powered it means totally high. I stated this in my previous post.

3. Seoul is a safe place

Unlike Manila, if you leave your things unattended for some time, you will never see those things again… I tried not attending to my things while in Seoul, and when I look back “Chada! My things are still there” Unbelievable but true! But, for your own safety, don’t be too lax since bad guys are all over the planet

Moreover, we are ladies who strolled in the city streets during the darkest hour of the night… but nothing happened to us. We even enjoyed ourselves without worrying that something might happen to us

4. Some South Koreans are helpful

Well, if without the language barrier, they will really love to help. My friends and I were in trouble looking for the bus to go to the airport, and we didn’t know where the bus stop is. We really looked worried. Maybe that guy also waiting for his bus noticed our dilemma, so he helped us and pointed us the bus stop. I really thank him for that!

5. In Seoul, water is cheap

Unlike Singapore, the water in Seoul is really cheap. So, you have no worries on buying bottled water there

6. Seoul is cheap if you come by 3s or 4s

Food in Seoul is expensive if you eat alone, but if you eat in groups, it would not make your wallet cry that much. The serving size in Seoul is big… It is good for 2 or 3 persons, so food cost is not that big if you have someone to go together

Taxis are also expensive if you come alone (I’m comparing here using Philippine standards)    (But Singapore taxis are more expensive) since the cost will not be shared by the others. If you are traveling in 3s or 4s, taxi is a good option in traveling Seoul but walking in the city is better since you can see the sights and get acquainted with the city without spending any money.

Almost all wonderful sights are free or with a small charge (Cheongyecheon Stream, Banpo Bridge) only 10,000 KRW to all of the palaces or 1,000 KRW for each of the palace.

Airport bus is a good option, you will pay only 10,000 KRW and you are in Seoul already.

TIPS: (Especially for budget travelers)

  1.  Get discount coupons in the internet (through South Korea official website, click here)
  2. When you arrive in the airport, don’t forget to grab the map of Seoul in the information counters. You can also find some discount coupons there
  3. if your phone is not 3G, you can rent a phone in the airport
  4. Always bring a copy of your hostel or the place you wanna visit in Korean
  5. Buy a TMoney card. It is like an octopus card in Hong Kong, it is a rechargeable card where you can use for your transportation (even in taxis) and buy some stuff. When you pay using TMoney, it gives you discounted fares and you can also get some cool coupons if you buy one. You can buy one of these in any Convenience store
  6. If you wanna buy souvenirs, do it in Nandaemun Market
  7. If you wanna buy clothes do it in Dongdaemun Market (much cheaper)
Places to Visit (Things to do)
  1. North Tower (Namsan Tower)
  2. Palaces (Gyeongbokgung, Changdaekgung, Deoksukgung)
  3. Cheongyecheon Stream
  4. Nami Island -unfortunately, we are unable to visit
  5. either Lotte World or Everland –> these are theme parks, and kids will love them. Everland is bigger than Lotte World but the latter is nearer if you are staying in Seoul
  6. Watch JUMP or NANTA
  7. Eat Korean street food, they are good! Then say to the seller “mahjisso” ma-ji-so which means yummy

My Budget

In the Philippines, the package tours going to Seoul is $1,000 (USD) for only 4 days and 3 nights stay. But if you go there without having to apply for package tours, you can save a lot more money. I only spent in Seoul P20,000.00 (Philippine peso) with some souvenir shopping. So, overall, I spent 25,300 Pesos for the entire trip including the airfare.

My budget was $1500 USD but I only spent less than $600

RECORDED EXPENSES: (Next Time I travel I will record everything.. sorry 😦 )

Hostel –> 75000 KRW per night x 4 nights / 3 persons == 100,000 KRW or P 3950 or $91.86 USD

Air Ticket –> we chanced upon a sale: 134 177 KRW or P5300 or $123.25 USD

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HAPPY WANDERING!

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May 2011: Seoul: Palaces and Jongmyo Shrine

We visited 3 palaces in Seoul…  and the Jongmyo Shrine….

My friends and I actually envy South Korea of having beautiful and grand palaces for their king and queens. I drooled on the grandeur of the palaces and their rich history. I also hope that the Philippines have such beautiful palaces —- 😦

For our first day in Seoul, I was really amazed on how big and grand the Deoksukgung Palace is.. and I also loved the fact that I can have my picture taken anywhere without other person sneaking in…. I can have the whole palace alone or only with my friends… It was really peaceful and beautiful…

Tips:

  1.  Buy the package worth 10,000 KRW which include the entrance fee for 5 palaces + entrance to the Secret Garden and the Jongmyo Shrine
  2. Recharge your camera batteries
  3. Sleep Well because you will do a lot of walking
  4. If you think that palaces are boring…. you can visit either Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, or Daeksukgung… any of these places are wonderful…

1. Deoksukgung Palace

This is the first palace we visited in Seoul. We are amazed on how big it is… although this is really small compared to Gyeongbokgung but it has few visitors than the other palaces… It is also colorful and is also well preserved.

Daeksukgung palace with the guards

One of the things you should not miss during your visit in any of the Palaces is the Changing of the Guards Ceremony… Gyeongbokgung and Deoksukgung Palaces have this kind of ceremony. In Deoksukgung, we had witnessed the ceremony by 3:30 pm. The performance schedule is 11:00am / 2:00pm / 3:30pm.

throne hall
throne of the Emperor

2. Gyeongbokgung Palace

This is the 2nd palace we visited in Seoul. It is really huge! I was really tired after visiting this Palace.

In my own opinion, I prefer Deoksukgung palace than Gyeongbokgung since you can also see in the former the things you can see in the latter.  There is also more visitors in Gyeongbokgung than in Deoksukgung, which means that Gyeongbokgung is more crowded than Deoksukgung. However, there is no beautiful lake in Deoksukgung… So, if you wanna see the lake then visit Gyeongbokgung.

It is good if you have a local to accompany you… since this is really a big place and you might get lost easily and it’s better if there is someone to tour you around the area and to explain to you the importance of the places in the palace.

the lake

3. Changdeokgung Palace

The last palace we visited in Seoul. We only had 30 minutes to spend on this place, and we weren’t able to go to the Secret garden within this palace.

This palace is part of the UNESCO World Heritage, which is a really must-see in Seoul. What is also wonderful in this place is that they have interactive activities, such as you can see some employees wearing “hanbok” (Korean Traditional dress) and can give you coffee or snacks for free.

Moreover, once you bought the ticket for the Secret Garden, you can have a tour inside and they will provide you with a guide. However, they have tour times. The English speaking tour starts by 1pm (which we unfortunately missed)

Anyway, here are the pictures

4. Jongmyo Shrine

This is like the Temple of Heaven in China where they praise their gods and their elders. This is really a peaceful and a very beautiful place to visit. It is near Changdeokgung, so you can plan your itinerary for this place and the Changdeokgung in one day.

This place is also very peaceful.. however, this is more peaceful than Deoksukgung. But this place is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage, so it is a must-see.

Unlike palaces, which have mostly buildings which cover the area, this place have a lot of trees, which covers the whole area. It is a good place if you are asking for serenity.

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May 2011: JUMP and Cheongyecheon Stream

After doing some “shopping” , we went to watch the well known JUMP martial arts performance. We got some discount vouchers for this performance.

We were planning on riding the taxi to get there but 3 taxis refused us saying that they don’t know the place… but one taxi took us but suddenly stopped and said “You!” I was shocked because he said that in a loud voice. He is pointing to me since I was the one in the front seat) and in a loud voice said “Walk! Walk! Walk!” I really thought that he wanted to kick me out! Anyway,  even though his English is not that good he said that the theater is really near our place and we should walk… So, we just laughed it out and stubbornly started to walk.

I noticed that we passed by the Cheongyecheon stream when we are looking for (or when we are currently getting lost) the JUMP Theater. Cheongyecheon stream is considered as one of the tourist spots in Seoul, so it become part of our itinerary. However, I found that  in reality it is not a tourist place since most of the people who goes there are locals, you can only see few tourists there. However, what makes this place, a lot more interesting is that it is a LOVERS’ paradise.. (that time… I really envied those women with boyfriends.. I wanted a handsome man to pop out from nowhere and be with me that day!). I noticed that there’s really alot of lovers that are dating there, so Singles beware! Strolling there alone will just make you yearn for a love one! However, this is not the only place where you can see a lot of lovers, THEY are all around Seoul. You can easily spot them since 1.) they are walking hand in hand 2.) they are wearing couple shirts which is very popular there 3.) They kiss in public.

Cheongyecheon Stream during Sunset

I also saw a mother and son strolling in Cheongyecheon… and this is the cute little one:

Cute Little Boy strolling in the Cheongyecheon Stream

JUMP on the other hand is really good! Here is my review from tripadvisor:

JUMP

This comic-martial art performance or theater act is really interesting. At first, we are hesitant to go since there are still a lot of places to visit Seoul instead of staying and watching this but after we watched the real deal, I suggest that anyone going to Seoul should watch this. It is really funny… I can’t stop laughing throughout the whole show!

If you want to laugh and be happy, then try this. I assure you that this is not a waste of time! we are picky travelers with a very limited time but we opt to watch this, it proved us that our choices were correct. I’m so glad I watched this performance.

The tickets are sold in the theater itself, I suggest that you come early as tickets tend to sold out immediately since there are a lot of reservations and such. Waiting for the ticket-counter to open, since it open exactly at the time it is stated in the brochures, is no problem at all since there is a big coffeebean, a coffeeshop, outside the theater itself, or you can go strolling in cheongyecheon stream ‘one of the romantic places in Seoul’, The stream is nearby, so you can easily go there first before the opening time of the ticket-counters

The Coffebean in the theater is big… and what it made me interested are the buzzers which I thought is a saucer where you put your drink. My friends and I were really confused on what it was… then it suddenly vibrated which tells us that it is a kind of an alarm… it will vibrate if your order is ready and signals you to go to the pick-up counter to get it…

The “Alien” Buzzer

Moreover, if you arrive South korea in their international airport, don’t forget to get discount coupons, we got one and we got 10%discount and seat upgrades (much nearer to the screens), check their customer service or counters.

And if you are planning to take a taxi, always make sure that you have the address written in Hanggul or in Korean… since most of the taxi drivers (orange and gray taxis cannot speak english— except for the black painted taxis or the luxury taxis)

So, after the Jump experience, we went to find some place to eat… we thought that the restaurant we went to is a place for eating hot soups or what they call as “hot pots” but instead it is for samgyupsal or pork belly which are cut into strips and is eaten like a lettuce wrap.

Here are some pictures along the way, I really don’t know what this place is…

Seoul at night

After that, we went back to our hostel and slept….

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May 2011: Namsan Park and the N Seoul Tower

My friends and I went here by 5 pm on May 3, 2011, which is our very first day in Seoul. I put this on our itinerary because it is an observatory and we can see the Seoul at night. And this is one of the recommended places to visit as stated in tripadvisor.

What we did was to ride the Subway, which I don’t recommend anymore since you can always walk in Seoul especially if your hotel is in downtown Seoul itself. Or you can always take the cab, it is not that expensive if you travel in 3s or 4s. However, I commend Seoul’s subway lines, it was really very long, clean, and efficient for Foreign travelers since it has english translations. However, since it is really big, you can get lost easily.

Crazy Subway lines

If you take the taxi, you can alight in the place where the elevator is located. The elevator goes sideways instead of the usual up-down motion. This elevator will bring you up to the middle of the mountain, and bring you right beside the cable car station. Although you can also take the buses which goes to N tower directly. Unfortunately, my friends and I got lost (we didn’t know what exit to go out, so we ended up taking the wrong exit) so, as a chain reaction, we didn’t find the elevator and instead hike up to the middle of the mountain (trust me, it is really—really—really tiring) and then we used the cable car to go to the top.

The hike is really steep! It made me crazy! I was like fighting for my own survival. The stairs are very small or thin,  so, we need to adjust our steps and make sure that we fit.  And when you lean in your back while hiking up the stairs, you might just fall easily. It is like hiking an 80 degree angle, so when we are walking, we don’t look back since you might just be found dead in the bottom of the mountain– and I don’t want this to happen!

Anyway, here is my review from my tripadvisor account:

Well, this is considered as one of the landmarks in Seoul, so it is really worth visiting. I visited this on May 3, 2011, and it was my 2nd stop during my 5 day escapade in Seoul. If this is your first time visiting Seoul then you should visit this place.

This tower is in the center of Seoul and one can see this tower anywhere you are in the city. Well, one might say that it is a waste of time going here just to see the city lights or the city of seoul panoramically. However, I’ll tell you that the view here is not the only thing that highlights this attraction, there’s still a lot more.

The Namsan Tower where you can see panoramic views of the city is not the sole attraction you can visit. The cable-car ride is also an attraction. Although it is a short ride, since it starts from the middle of Namsan Mountain up to the top where the N Tower is, it is still worth the money spent. I love it since it was my first time to ride a big cable car such as that.

View inside the cable car (we just left the cable car station)
Another view while inside the cable car

Another attraction there is the park, once you got off the cable car, there is a park and cherry blossom trees are lined up there. These cherry blossom trees will be a great attraction during the cherry blossom month. Although If you went there before or after the sakura season, don’t worry, the park itself is good, you can stroll there and get good views of the city and if you are the ’emo’ or the emotional type, this is one good place to visit.

Sunset View in Namsan park

Another attraction here is the love-lock. Where lovers put locks together for eternal love, and they will throw the key (of that lock) somewhere far. It is cute and somehow romantic. Take note that not all people coming here are foreigners or tourists, there are also a lot of locals visiting this place, (especially couples).

Love Locks Lining up like Christmas Trees

There is also the teddy-bear museum inside the N Tower –> which is really cute, it includes teddy bears from all sizes and colors wearing Korean traditional costumes. Moreover, unlike other museums where photos are not allowed to be taken, this museum allows you to take a lot of pictures as you like and pose with their life-sized (even bigger than me) bears. I can say that this worth the money since the area is really big with a lot of teddy bears! the museum has 2 parts, one is the traditional one and the modern one, all paid in the price of one.

In the entrance of teddy bear museum
palace teddy bears


There is also a love wall inside where lovers write to each other, though it is smaller than what I have expected.

There is also a restaurant, but I did not try, so I cannot comment

Last but not the least is the Observatory, where you can get 360 degrees view of the city of Seoul. It is good especially we came there in the evening. It is really beautiful. I’m speechless

Anyway here are my tips:
1. Going there in N Tower is easy, just find the elevator (free) to get up to the middle level of the Namsan Tower, however, there are stairs available in getting up the middle level. There are also taxi’s that are available to get you up the middle level, but I read somewhere that taxi’s are not allowed to go up to N Tower for environmental/ preservation project. There are also buses which can take you up
2. the elevator connects the Namsan Cable Car ‘station’ where you can buy your tickets, if you took the stairs, manage to get in the middle of the Mountain and you will see the N Cable Car
3. Always bring a translation of your hotel, places to visit/attractions in Korean “hanggul’ since most of the taxi drivers or locals does not speak English
4. Get the N-Seoul Tower package which include the teddy bear museum and the observatory, there is only, as far as I remember 10,000-15,000 won difference to the observatory-only price.

This is the other way to get to N-Tower:

N-Tower Directions: 

If you wanna walk up to the middle of the mountain and ride the cable car, just like what we did:

① Take Subway Line 4 to Myeongdong Station

② Take exit 3 from the station

③ Take the wide road next to the convenience store

④ Walk straight to the left of Pacific Hotel

⑤ Continue walking through the commercial quarter until you reach a small stairway

⑥ Walk up the stairway

⑦ Continue walking by the restaurants on your right

⑧ Keep walking up in the direction of Mt. Namsan

⑨ There is a vacant lot on your right and you will find the cable car platform

⑩ Buy a ticket at the booth on the third floor, and take a cable car on the fourth floor

Directions for bus travel:

You can also take a yellow bus at Chungmuro station (Line 3 or 4) or at Dongguk University station (Line 3), which will take you to the parking lot of N Seoul Tower. The bus runs regularly so you can take it from wherever it is most convenient. Even the bus ride up the winding road affords a nice view of the mountain. Bus No. 2 will drop you off at the bus stop right below N Seoul Tower, and you can walk up to N 5 to Seoul Tower Plaza. After completing your tour, take the same bus at the bus stop where you got off. There is a bus every 6 minutes from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m.

Fare: 550 won / Hours: 08:00~24:00 / Bus interval: 5~6 min.

Other directions using Train and Bus

① Take Subway Line 3 or 4 at Chungmuro Station, and go out of Exit 2 to the right of Daehan Multiplex entrance

② Take the yellow bus 2 at the bus stop in front of the subway station

3. Get off the n-tower stop

I really enjoyed the place, it is romantic and lovely.

 

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