Tag Archives: South Korea

May 2011: Seoul: The Wonderful Banpo Bridge and its surroundings

Well, after we went shopping in Myeongdong and Nandaemun Market, we went to the Banpo Bridge not only to see the bridge itself but to see the fountain show.

Banpo Bridge

Kyo (tour guide and friend) told us to meet her in one of the subway station in Seoul. After that, she brought us to the Banpo Bridge. It was cold when we went there, the sky also sprinkled us with water… But the walk is worth it.

On the Way to Banpo Bridge!!

If you watched some Korean dramas before, this bridge is really a popular spot for the lead roles to cry or to have their romantic scenes taken. From my previous posts, I already said that I’m a Korean series addict.. so, I think you already know the reason why I chose this place. But even if you don’t watch Korean series or movies… do not worry since its beauty and peacefulness will surely captivate you!

I also said in my previous posts that Seoul is somehow a City of Lovers. There are a lot of lovers out there and a lot of romantic places to explore. Banpo Bridge is one of those romantic places.

a very peaceful and romantic place

Strolling at night in this wonderful place is really something that will make you yearn for a boyfriend or a girlfriend. I even promised that when I come back to that place I should have a boyfriend!

Here, you can also witness the Musical Fountain Show. They call this show, Moonlight Rainbow Show, the show times are:

Weekdays: 12:00, 16:00, 20:00, 20:30, 21:00 (20min)
Weekends: 12:00, 14:00, 16:00, 18:00, 20:00, 20:30, 21:00, 21:30 (20min)

However, I suggest that you come here during the evening so that you can really see the colorful lights. And also, you should also alot more time for walking  (if you are planning to use the subway) since you need to walk a distance to get to the bridge, the subway station is quite far.

The fountain show

The  Banpo bridge fountain was said to be part of the Guiness Book of Records for world’s longest bridge fountain. It has 10,000 LED Nozzles.

Here, you can also see a night view of the city of Seoul.

Seoul from afar

Here, we also ate Korean ramen noodles. We bought some instant ramen in a convenience store in the area and brought it to the benches near the river (which has a good view of Seoul city lights).

Eating a hot and spicy ramen in a very peaceful and beautiful environment amid the cold weather was a very nice experience. You can feel the cold weather slipping to your neck and hands yet while eating the hot ramen, you can feel the hotness in your mouth.

The view also adds a relaxing touch…  It just made me feel very happy 🙂 It made me feel as if I’m eating a bowl of expensive noodles in a very expensive restaurant!

The feeling and the experience is just MAGIC!

May 2011: Seoul: Bukchon Hanok Village and the Hello Kitty Paradise

We went here during our third day in Seoul.

Right after we went to Gyeongbokgung Palace, we went to the Hanok Village. We only walked from Gyeongbokgung towards the Village. As a Filipino who is not acquainted with the word “walking” I ended up very tired. (in the Philippines, there’s a lot of pedicab (trishaw) or tricycles which will take you from one place to another) … Luckily, I’m not the only one who is tired.. my friends too… However, I think that Kyo (our Korean friend and tour guide) was not even close to the word tired. So my friends and I made a conclusion that these lovely Koreans have a high stamina for walking.

I also noticed that some of them are wearing 2-3 inches high heels (even if they took the subway). I am really amazed how agile they are… and how they are not tired or scared of walking with those high powered heels! Oh! God! here in the Philippines I won’t be able to move if I will be using those shoes, and most Filipinas (including me) have their “havaianas” or any brand of flip-flops on their bag if they wore those painstaking heels. They always change to their flops once they needed to walk or when office or school hours are over.

I miss this while I’m in Korea!!!     (pedicabs)                                
from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Inner_Manila_Pedicab.jpg
This one too! (tricycle)

Anyway,we went to the Hanok Village. We were able to visit the one in Bukchon.  It was really beautiful… It was said to be part of the UNESCO World Heritage. It was clean and well preserved.

This place is the counterpart of the Spanish houses in Vigan, Philippines. It was really cool to see preserved houses such as that. Moreover, since I’m a Korean series addict, I can feel that some of the dramas were filmed there. And Kyo told us that That’s my Preference held its shooting in one of the houses there.

Hanok Village consists of traditional old houses with a 600 year old history.  It is preserved to let you get a peek on what houses look like during the Joseon Dynasty. It is interesting since it is a blast from the past.

Hanok Village (picture taken by my Friend (L.O)
Hanok Village (taken by L.O)

After having to walk and hike and be enchanted by the Hanok Houses, we went to the Hello Kitty Cafe. The Cafe is quite far from the Hanok village so we used the subway. Kyo, showed us the way and we happily followed her… we are like chicks patiently following the hen. After that we found the coffee shop and I found my feet cheering with bliss. I was the first one to sat neatly in one of the cute and comfy chairs. It was really a Hello Kitty World! I love it! (although I’m not a big Hello Kitty fan since I like Tweety better than a mouthless cat) Anyway, I still loved the place, it was really cute! Hello Kitty fans or not… one will definitely enjoy in this wonderful place.

Hello Kitty Cafe entrance
Interior (So Cute!)

Anyway, the drinks they serve are also delicious.. I tried their Green tea latte, and the others tried vanilla and sweet potato latte. I tasted the sweet potato latte and it was really good! The taste of which haunts me even when I’m back here in Manila (thankfully, there is a Korean brand coffee shop opened near my school, so I can taste the sweet potato latte anytime I want!)

My Green tea latte (Yum!)
Latte (look at the Hello Kitty garnish… Cute isn’t it?

Everything you see in the Hello Kitty Cafe is Hello Kitty and her ribbons! (Cute!!!) This is surely a Hello Kitty Paradise!


Well, if I go back to Korea, I can still go back here and enjoy the Hello Kitty Ambiance.

Directions going to Hello Kitty Cafe: (I got the directions from: lovekimhyunjoong blog)

Hello Kitty Café – 헬로키티 카페
Address : 서울시 마포구 서교동 358-112
Tel : 02-334-6570
Opening Hours : 11:00~24:00 (Friday & Saturday)~2:00

  • Alight at Subway Line 2 Hongik University Station
  • Exit from No.5 exit and walk straight.
  • After walking for about 100m, after crossing the pedestrian crossing, turn to the left and walk straight.
  • As you walk along, on your right side, there would be a TONYMOLY shop at the corner.
  • Turn right and walk straight along the main street.
  • On the left side of the main street, enter the first turn in you see and you should be able to see the shop.

After having some chitchat with Kyo in this Paradise, we retired to our hotel and had some good night sleep..



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…


  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.



May 2011: Seoul: Meteor Youth Organization

Meteor Youth organization or sometimes called as Meteor teens is an organization composed of various student volunteers. Their main tasks is to accommodate visitors or tourists in Seoul. They provide tour around the city for free. They can also provide homestay accommodation upon request.

logo of Meteor Youth

I found the Meteor teens website in the internet when I was searching for volunteer tour guides in Seoul. I was suprised that there are a lot of people booking their tours with them. So, I decided to try it.

Even though in their website it states that the tour guides are responsible for their own food and ticket fee, which means that everything is free… I told my friends that as a sign of gratitude, we should give back to our tour guide by paying for their entrance tickets and buying food for them.

Although the meteor teens didn’t reply to our message promptly, they still contacted us on the third day of our trip… Our tour guide/friend was Dakyo Chung. She is very friendly and helpful…She made our stay much more interesting. we learned a lot from her. It is good to get a tour guide (free or not) since having one will save you a lot of time and brain cells (first, because it will lessen the time from stopping and looking at your map, and second, it will help you not to get lost) Moreover,  when you come home you will have another friend in Facebook!

The delay in their reply was deeply explained to us by Kyo, she said that it was really hard to get a volunteer guide during that time since our travel date are in the midst of their midterm exams. I really understand the Meteor teens and I’m still glad that I booked my holiday with them.

Anyway, to book your tour, you can visit their website here. You can fill up the form in that page and you should wait for their reply. You should book your tour at least 2 weeks before your arrival date, so that they will have enough time to find you a guide.

Kyo, our tour guide is really friendly and can speak English very well… I adore you Kyo! See you soon! And I thank Meteor Youth for having such a good cause… it really helps! Mabuhay ang Meteor Youth!

Kyo: Our Friend… we miss you!!!


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:


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….


May 2011: Lotte Department Store: A very different department store experience

After having to hike Namsan Mountain and its surroundings, we went directly to our hostel since I really cannot stand the cold (Just imagine Seoul is already cold, what more being in a high mountain like Namsan?!!) As a Filipino who is not used in such kind of climate, it made my knees literally locked which made me unable to move anymore (I’m like an old lady who cannot walk… I thought that time that it was arthritis!)  Anyway, when we got back to the hotel, I told my friend to leave me in the room and told them to eat their dinner instead on staying with me. I was really feeling under the weather during that time, so I opted not to eat dinner.

When they came back, they realized that I’m really red, and I also felt very cold which gave me chills. I realized that I’m feeling cold even though I’m wearing my sweater and jacket, and I’m already covered with a thick comforter. Afterwards, I felt that my heart was beating so fast… I just don’t know what to do..  Then suddenly I can’t breathe anymore… and there’s a pain in my chest that I do not understand. I was praying to God not to let me die in a foreign place! I was thinking that my parents will be really sad… I was missing Manila during that time! Then, my friends calmed me down, and told me to drink medicine. After knowing that hospital is not an option (It was said to be really expensive) I fell asleep…

The next morning, I was feeling much better, and I have no fever anymore. So, instead of going to Everland theme park, as stated in our itinerary, we opted to have this day as our shopping day… we went to the nearby lotte department store and we watched a comic martial arts theater act which is entitled as JUMP.

Well, the Lotte department store is really —> expensive…. Well, here in the Philippines, the ones inside the department store are not branded goods… only designer “not well known ones” but a lot cheaper goods than those bought in mall boutiques. Well, it was really funny because we thought we can buy a lot of things there…. but…….. I will say nothing anymore.. since I only bought a Guess bag..

Well, here in the Philippines, Guess is quite an expensive brand and it has also its own boutique shop here, while in Seoul, it is only a small stand there just like Secosana stands in department stores here. While doing some eye-shopping, I saw the stand stating that Guess has a 50% sale, my eyes immediately widened and then I excitedly leap forward to buy a bag. The tag says 90,000 KRW. Well, I used my remaining math skills and knew that I will buy the bag for only 45,000 KRW which is only around P1,800.00… Well, I decided to buy it but suddenly when I’m about to buy it… when I’m already in the cashier (which is really– a-no-turning back point) the saleslady told me that the discounted price was the 90,000 KRW…  So it is around $100 USD. “Oh, what the heck! I thought it was the original price! It is really different here in the Philippines, which the regular price is still the one in the tag, or there will be orange or red colored tag which indicates that it was the discounted price…. Anyway, I bought it with a heavy heart! *tears… if only I knew earlier

We saw a lot of branded goods in the department store, it is like a shopping haven to those who really have money… It is not a department store.. It is like a mall and boutique shops here in the Philippines…



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.