Monday, January 26, 2015

Winter at Korea - January 2015 - Full Itinerary

Last January 18, 2015... me and a couple of my friends booked a trip with Air Asia to Seoul. Our trip lasted specifically from January 18-23, 2015. Our flight was on sale and we managed to get a 2 way flight with in flight meals and 20 kg check in for P10,000+. I already went to Seoul last October 2013, but decided to go back this time for winter activities! And the major difference this time around, its with another set of friends and its a DIY trip. We planned the whole thing. It was great to meet and have good friends. Overall we spent P40-50K all inclusive (flight, food, shopping, accommodations) for a 6 day trip. WORD OF ADVICE, download the free mobile app "SEOUL subway". It will definitely help in planning your train trips. Get a T-card and load it up with T-money for convenience. It is a stored value card.

We booked our accommodations via Expedia, its at a very convenient location near Dongmyo station. Like 5 mins walk. Its BLUE/BROWN line. VERY awesome. Check out D7 Suites for your stay. We got 2 twin rooms for 5 nights, and it cost us around P1200 per person per night (SALE!!! its very expensive if its not on sale). Not bad for the location and amenities included. We had daily sandwiches for breakfast and fast wifi. There was heater, toiletries, television and sheets were clean! It had a very homey feel. I love it! Locations is absolutely perfect, I would book this place again if I were to come back.
D7 Twin Room

Day 1: Our flight was at around 7 AM NAIA Terminal 3. We were delayed a few minutes but we managed to stick to the average 3 hours and 40 minutes flight time to Korea. Our in flight meal was Beef Caldereta and Korean Beef Stew. Both were bad. We arrived at around 12nn Korea time. NOTE! I recommend you rent a pocket wifi from the airport (reserve prior online if possible for cheaper rates), it only cost us 46,200 krw for 6 days of portable 4G internet everywhere. We got the LG wifi and we were madly happy with it. We also exchanged our USD to KRW at the airport, and guess what...the rate is so good that we were "fools" to exchange most of our money at BDO back in Manila. (never again... their rates were crazy high) From here we took the normal train to seoul station, which took about 50 mins to 1 hour. It cost us 4600krw per head. From there we took the train from Seoul to Dongmyo. No line transfer was needed since Dongmyo has the blue and brown line combined. Just take the path towards the brown exit 4. Then from there take a right from Pizza hut and walk straight until the 2nd street and turn right. You should see D7 suites. Anyway, when we arrived at the hotel it was already past 3PM, we had an appointment made with Go Guan Studio at 4 PM. I sent them an email that we will be a little late since we got lost and we will be looking for the studio at Insadong. Anyway we used our trusty 4G to lead us to GoGuan Studio via google maps and it worked! We got there 4:30 PM. Go Guan Studio is very well known for its traditional clothing photoshoot, they do solo, couple, family shoots....but for its reputation, comes a "heavy" price. For their complete packages, you can check out their link or if I have time... I will talk about this studio in more detail in another entry dedicated to this studio. In summary, me and R got the couple package and paid 175,000KRW for 2 outfit changes + makeup + printouts w/ album. Yes, please don't judge. I know its a big amount of money.. but its a dream of mine to try out the traditional hanbok for weddings. So for our outfit we choose the wedding attire and a gisaeng + scholar (i think) costume. We had 8 edited photos and about 90 raw shots and 50+ self taken shots around the studio. They have very intricate studio sets that would take you back to the old korean dynasties which I love. Another major awesome was the talent of their makeup artists, they were from China and all of them are good. My make up artist that day was Ms. Kim and she made me look like a porcelain doll. I love her work. We "milked" our payment and stayed for a good 3 hours at the studio, taking as much pictures as we can. ( I have photos and videos of the place... will need a dedicated entry for this.) Anyway wrapping up, we made our way outside insadong and IT WAS SNOWING! Snow was falling from the sky and it was ROMANTIC!!! We took videos and photos... afterwhich we realized we were dead hungry. We rushed our way back to Ssamziegil (쌈지길) to grab dinner first with the hopes of exploring this artsy place afterwards. Disclaimer we didn't get to explore. :( We had our first traditional bibimbap set at GuGong Bibimbap. We spent about 36,000krw for 2 bibimbap bowls and bulgogi. It was a feast. After we got out at 8:30 PM... everything was closed! Ghost town. I never got to see the artsy fartsy stores... full of stationary, pots, stamps, paints. So since everything was closed we went back to the hotel to sleep.
Food and tickets!
Go Guan Studio
Day 2: Sancheoneo Ice Festival day! Took the ITX train from Cheongnyangni Station to Namchuncheon. Then from there walk to Chuncheon Bus Terminal. Ride the bus to Hwacheon. Overall the trip will take about 2 hours and 30 minutes, and would cost about 12,000krw one way. Upon getting at the ice festival, we at at the food plaza wherein we had difficulty ordering since no one was really speaking in english. We just pointed at the food ordered by the tables around us. Then we proceeded to enjoy the festival. Rented a locker for 500 won. And started off with ice sledding for 5000 won, snow sled for 5000 won, and lastly ice fishing for 10000 won. All activities were amazing and we enjoyed every single bit of it. There were more activities but sadly due to time constraints we were only able to do 3. The ice fishing was the most memorable, as foreigners, we were allowed to catch up to 3 mountain trouts (sancheoneo) and we can cook them up after for dinner. Sadly they did not allow us to cook the fish and grilled them for us. So in the end, we had 15 fishes to eat. (3 fishes each for the 5 of us) The fish was so delicious and filling. On our way back, we bought some GIANT strawberries from a fruit vendor for just 10000 won. IT WAS SO GREAT! You have to try their strawberries, it is really different. Took the bus and ITX back to dongmyo. Slept like a baby.
Local Food
Day Ender
Day 3: Gapyeong day. We ate lunch at the street vendors at Cheongnyangni Station. Took the ITX to Gapyeong station for 4000 won. Then taxi to nami wharf for 825 won per head (4 of us). Then bought ticket to nami island for 8000 won. Ferry to Nami island. Free time to take photos and stroll around Nami island. We spend the whole afternoon in Nami island. Taking in nature and the cold. It was breath-taking. We threw snow at each other, built a snow lady, made snow angels, threw rocks at a frozen river/lake, made very fun videos, and lastly freezed ourselves. It was the best 8000 won ever. Waited at the bus station near nami wharf.Then we took a long bus ride to the Garden of the Morning Calm for 5000 won (2 way). It was really bad, too many curves and temperature was really cold. I got car sick after the ride. We bought tickets for the garden entrance for 8000 won per head... but since it was too cold and we didn't want to miss our last bus ride back to the train station. We just did a quick stroll for 30 minutes and rode the bus back to the train station... got ITX tickets for Cheongnyangni Station at 3100won. Ate dinner at a very good grilling place near D7, spent a good 51000 won with 35000 going to their prime beef cuts. It was heaven. 
Bfast - memorable... stranger mom at train gave me tea and orange
Street finds
Nami Wonder
Garden of the Morning Calm and Amazing Dinner
Day 4: Ghibli Exhibit Day. As I was sick the night before, I decided to sleep in and woke up at around 10 am. Ate breakfast and prepared to leave for Yongsan station. Had lunch at the I Park Mall's Yongman's Gimbap. Their gimbap has been very well known. We ordered their best sellers "spicy pork gimbap"3800, "Charcoal fire bowl of rice served with long arm octopus" 6500 won and "cheese tteokbokki pork cutlet" 9500 won. The pork cutlet itself was good. The rest were okay. After lunch, we went to the main mall and paid 15000 won per head for the Ghibli exhibit entrance. We took a good 1 hour around the exhibit, enjoying the exhibit and taking lots of photos. Its not everyday that you can get photo souvenirs of the Ghibli collection. Afterwards, we just strolled inside the mall and shopped since everything was on sale from 30-70% off. It is very good to come here at January since most of their clothing are on sale. Shopped until 9 PM, swiftly ate at Teriyaki since they were about to close. We had "grilled bacon rice set" 9000 won and "grilled seafood rice set" 10000 won. It was presented so beautifully that it was such a shame we didn't have time to enjoy its taste. Went home to sleep.
Sale 1/1 - 1/25/2015 I Park Mall
Dinner at Teriyaki... something Japanese
Day 5: DMZ + JSA Tour. We booked a guided tour to the DMZ and JSA area via Cosmojin. Normally they charge 137000 won per head, but upon my research...they offer 30% discount every thursday afternoon tour. So I managed to book us the same tour for just 87000 won per head. It included the hotel pickup→ Imjingak Park → The Unification Bridge → ID Check → DMZ theater and exhibition hall → The 3rd Infiltration Tunnel → Dora Observatory → Dorasan Station → Lunch(Bibimbap) → The Unification Bridge→Slideshow and briefing at Camp Bonifas and tour of JSA → Joint Security Area → Freedom House → Military Armistice Commission Conference Room → UN Guard Post 3 → passed by Bridge of no Return→Imjingak Park → Amethyst Center. Pick up was at 10:20 AM and the tour was done by 6 PM. They dropped us at Itaewon for our own free time. The tour was very educational and I appreciated the tidbits shared to us by our great guide Han. He was very helpful and good in English. The most memorable part of the tour for me was the Gyeongui Railroad and all its promising ideas. Time flew by past and I understand perfectly why people say you have to do this tour at least once. Onto Itaewon, we had our dinner at the famous taco's place VATOS. We had tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and burrito bowl. I had the "Fat Bastard" 15900 and it was GOOD! Loved every bit of it. We then strolled around the vicinity and ended up at 105 chocolate+coffee. We ordered their belgium classic hot chocolate for 6300 won. It was absolutely perfect for a cold night. We just sat and chatted about the trip, life, and friendship. We then headed back to the hotel to leave our stuff and went back out to do some night market shopping at DongDaeMun. It was just walking distance from D7. (sweet right!) So we did our strolling until 12. We discovered that dongdaemun is the place to be for wholesale, we saw a lot of stuff being sold in bulks. I think this is like our 168 shopping mall.
DMZ and JSA Tour
Itaewon Strolling
Day 6: Last day. We decided to spend it window shopping at I Park Mall Yongsan. We ate a very delicious lunch at School Food. Apparently many celebrities eat here too. We ordered their "Special Mari" 7500 won, "chicken curry ramen" 7000 won, and the winner "grilled jjang-a-chi butter bibimbap" 8000 won. The special mari's spam gimbap was yummy and i loved the meat in the bibimbap. We had chocolate truffle cake at O Fete. It was not good, the cake was too hard and it crumbles a lot. We preferred it to be softer. We then went back to D7 and took the train to seoul station. From Seoul station we took the AREX to the airport 45 mins, cost 8000 won per head. Then from the airport we had dinner at the food court near gate 132, we ordered "bibimbap at stone pot" 10000 and "spicy tofu stew" for 8000. Waited for our flight which was delayed for about 2 hours. Ate my in flight meal of Pak Nasser's Nasi Lemak, which was really good except for the presentation. Landed at Manila on January 24 around 2 AM.  

Last hurrah
That's my trip! Hope it helps you. Let me know if you have any questions.
Have a great 2015!


Studio Goguan said...

Dear everyone. This is Goguan studio.

The studio in Insa-dong and Hongdae are temporarily closed (since
2015/07/10, for about 5 months) to be improved. Please visit our studio in
Myeong-dong which is still open to bring you fun and memory.

1.Studio in Myeong-dong is still available to use - Discount event is
on now

2. Studio in Insa-dong - Building improving (about 5 month)

3. Studio in Hongdae – Facility improving (10 days)

Please visit our website if you want to more information.

*Studio in Myeong-dong

Address: Chungmuro 1ga 22-15 2nd floor, Jung-gu,

Phone call: 02-318-8288