Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Summer in Korea - August 2015 - 5D/4N Itinerary

This trip was very similar to my winter trip, logistically. We booked with AirAsia and stayed at D7 Suites. Our 2 way flight cost P6,900 per person with 2 of us having 25 kg checkin and in flight meals. I booked 2 rooms with D7 suites from Expedia. One was a triple room (P2,508.18 per night) and another a twin bed room (P2,092.67 per night). Also I used my T-money card and "Seoul subway" mobile application from before. Overall, I spent around P25,000 for this trip including plane, accommodations, food, tour, souvenirs, and tour fees. This is much much more economical compared to my first 2 trips to korea. I feel like I am becoming a master, since I was more prepared and got a lot of coupons. haha.
Me at KFV
As mentioned I booked a flight to Seoul with AirAsia when they had promotion on Feb 2 2015, so that was about 6 months before our intended trip which was Aug 14-18 2015. Quick feedback on my booking experience with the new AirAsia. I do not like it, they made it more complicated. Unlike before when I just pay via credit card and not worry about fees, now I need to worry about them. To be safe, I paid via 7 eleven transfer and even paid an additional P480. To make things worse, for the very first time in all my travels...when I did my web checkin on aug 13 the in flight meals I told you about was voided and was tagged as "spoilage". I tried to correct this immediately before our flight which was about 10 hours from the time I upgraded our baggage to 25kg and performed web check in. So I opened a ticket via their AskAirAsia and even called their hotline that made me wait for about 1 hour...only to be told to open a ticket and wait for updates. So in the end, our in flight meals were not served in our flight to Incheon. Until now my ticket remains open and its very ironic... since the only way to get an update is to call them. But even though this made my flight very uncomfortable, I still thank budget airlines for providing a economic means to travel. 
Was not refunded for the money they incorrectly charged against me!
Quick background before the flight, so when I was doing our summer itinerary trip. I focused on what activities my mom would enjoy. She is a first timer in seoul and she could not walk too far. So I decided to not jam pack so much activities and focus on her interests. Also great thing was during the research, my sister discovered that Korea was on a sale. The Korea Grand Sale and the Summer Sale. We were lucky and we opted to scan the coupon list for the coupons we were interested on. Note: make sure to print enough copies so that you will not have a problem when the vendor takes the coupon. Check the airport and other tourist information centers for coupons as well. I suggest checking the Myeongdong Tourist Information Center, you cannot miss it. Take the Euljiro 1-ga station exit 5, go straight until 7-eleven and take a right until you see starbucks. 
Myeongdong Tourist Information Center
Our final itinerary changed during the day since it depended on the mood and energy of the people. 
Aug 14 - Arrival in Seoul. Lunch at Airport. Checkin D7 Suites. Go Guan Studio at Myeongdong. Dinner at Myeongdong Kyoja.
Aug 15 - Korean Folk Village. Dinner at Suwon.
Aug 16 - Petite France and Nami Island Tour c/o One Day Korea. Dinner at Dongmyo.
Aug 17 - Gyeongbukgung Palace. Lunch at Gyeongbukgung. Dragon Hill Spa. Dinner at Sangu.
Aug 18 - Myeongdong Tourist Information Center. Myeongdong shopping and lunch. Airport dinner and flight back to manila. 

Day 1: Arrival Seoul.
We had our USD changed to KRW at WooriBank upon getting our luggage. I recommend to get your money changed at the airport as the rate is smaller than the money changers we saw in the city. After that we went to SKtelecom to rent a wifi router for 5000 won per day (this is promotion they have for the sale). 

SK Telecom at the airport
Prices

Then we went to Bibigo to grab lunch. It was a nice experience as their seasonal set meal is really cost efficient, I got 4 seasonal dishes for only 9000 won. I really loved the food too. My companions opted to go with their ala carte menu and regretted it when they saw my food. Given that mine was the cheapest and had the most variety in taste and texture. 

My super yummy food



Eating it raw - pepper
Counter
Finally we went to the Train Section where we purchased our AREX ticket for just 6000 won per person since there is a group discount. The best thing about AREX is that its spacious perfect for those big bags and comfy chairs. Plus it saves you time to and from airport. Before we know it we were on the non-stop train and by 4 we were at the hotel. We checked in and went to Meyongdong (which was just 4 stations away). With the Seoul subway app, it was a breeze navigating through the Seoul Subway. 
Dedicated line for AREX
Spacious and comfy chairs
Upon getting at the Go Guan Studio, my mom went ahead and got her traditional photoshoot taken (just like me on my Jan trip). She originally chose the Flower package (90,000 won for 2 sets of clothes + makeup + hair), but ended up with the Joy package (60,000 won for 1 set of clothes + makeup + hair) in the end since she got tired. She chose the most expensive hair piece and outfit, costing us another additional 20000 krw but since I am a follower of Go Guan in facebook, I was able to get 20% discount. We stayed in the shoot for just 2 hours. We took about 6 shots with the professional photographer, and the rest I took photos from the selfie area.

Go Guan Entrance
Counter
Attires to choose from
Self Makeup area
Workstations
Inner garments
My mom getting made up
Professional shoot
My own creative shots
My own creative shots

My own creative shots
Its a wrap!
For dinner, we went around the streets eating various street food like Ice Cream w/ Honeycomb (4000 krw), chicken in a cup (5000 krw), street dumplings (1500 krw), even grabbed some Isaac Toast since we were nearby. Really love them toasts. We searched for the very famous Myeongdong Kyoja which is known for their beef soup. We were surprised with the look of the place, it was not fancy but it was packed with people. We ordered 2 soups and 1 dumpling set. It was a lot and we only paid about 8700 krw per person. It was really a steal! The soup is very tasty and the dumplings too, we just ate too much before that finishing it all up was hard even if we were already sharing. ITS THAT BIG. They have been in this business for more than 40 years, you are sure to be in good hands. With big tummies, we walked around myeongdong, to look around and do some shopping. I bought a lot of 1000krw socks and some sports bra from F21 that I thought was long gone. Took the train back to Dongmyo and accounted costs before turning in.


Isaac Toast menu <3
Isaac Toast menu <3
Isaac Toast menu <3
Super LOVE this Toast Shop
The makings of something amazing
Excited!
Saw something amazing from afar
Ice Cream w/ Honeycomb
Yey!
Street dumplings
This looks yummy
Chicken in a cup - very HARD - not recommended
Myeongdong Kyoja - Beef Soup and Dumplings
Its so packed
4 menu choices!
Good restaurant award
Sign Board

Day 2: Korean Folk Village. Dinner at Suwon. 
This is one of the new experience event for me. We left the hotel at around 830 am to get to Jonggak Station (exit 3-1) to get to the bus stop for 5500-1. It took us about 20 mins of walking around and asking to finally see the red bus with the number 5500-1 in it. I was really scared at first since there was no english translation anywhere so I was not sure if we rode the correct bus. I turned on my google maps and when it showed that its traveling the same route, I got comfortable and slept the whole trip. We used our Tcard money to pay for our bus. We were woken up by the bus driver since he knew we were going to the Korean Folk Village, we got there almost 11 AM. (I suggest taking the subway to Suwon and taking the free shuttle to KFV for a stress free way, starts to 1030 AM) We walked a good 15 minutes then we finally saw the ticket center. We paid 10000 krw each for entrance since we have 5000 discount coupons. We decided to buy the general admission since we figured we will not have time to ride at the amusement parks. We rushed to the traditional wedding ritual first since it was very near to us and we do not want to miss it.  We waited and watched for about 20 minutes until the end of the ritual. It was interesting. It was very elaborate and there was a lot of chants said (did not understand a word though), the groom was very dashing and the bride was very pretty. They did a lot of bowing and drinking of from the cup. It was nice since you can see that the groom equally bows to the bride, I think it shows that he respects her. The bride was assisted by 2 ladies since she had her arms lifted the whole ceremony. 
Signage

Wall Decal
Pretty Wedding
After the wedding ritual, we walked towards the farmers market to have lunch. It was the typical food court design in Korea and Japan wherein there is a counter you select your order and pay, your number will called from other counters depending on the food your ordered. Average we paid about 13000krw per person, we had pork, rice bowls, spicy noodles. It was great. Lucky that the water is free. 
Counter
Food Receipts
Freshly grilled BBQ pork

Lunch

We walked around, checked exhibits and other shows...all the while eating snacks and ice cream in between. Tried their traditional rice drink for 2000 krw, it tasted like sesame. Also ate their traditional toffee candy for 3000krw, it was hand rolled/pulled. Another cool souvenir we bought in this place was a inflated bus balloon, it cost 13000 krw. It was too cute not to buy, bought it for our godchild. 
Traditional Drink - 2000 won
Macaroon-like ice cream
Traditional Toffee Candy
Old Man selling candies
Korean Pancake Hut
There were a lot of events happening in KFV and it was getting late so we left at 5 PM. I suggest you to watch the Equestrian Feats, it was really awesome watching hard tricks on the back of a horse. Another cool experience we did was for the festival we joined, R paid 3000 krw to learn how to make a traditional bamboo water gun. It was made of bamboo and cloth. 
How to make korean water gun
Traditional Mask Design Center


Below are the shows you can watch daily in KFV.

Farmers Music and Dance
10:30, 14:00 (Performing arena)
Acrobatics on a Tightrope
11:00, 14:30 (Performing arena)
* No Performance on Monday.
Traditional Wedding
12:00, 16:00 (House on 22)
* No performance from Dec to Feb.
Equestrian Feats
11:30, 15:00 (Performing arena)
 Gugak B-boy performance
 13:00, 15:30


Acrobats
Horse Show
Event Schedule
Ticket Prices
Schedule
Ticket
We took the bus back to Suwon station, just look at the bus schedule and remember the bus number you are supposed to ride. Bus takes 20-30 minutes to come. We got to Suwon station in about 20-30 minutes, we decided to eat dinner in Suwon since it was a long travel back to Dongmyo (more than 1 hour). This was the best decision of our lives, since we saw a restaurant packed by locals. The english word that stood out was 'cheese', it served very good food. I do not even know what its called, but its so good. And the unlimited laver made it even more great. We spent 38000 krw for 4 people. It was such a good meal, that we all enjoyed. Then we went to twosome cafe to get some cakes for dessert, I did not enjoy the cakes. On our way back to the subway station, R bought a very fashionable coat in the mini subway store for 45000 krw. It was really nice but I think we got ripped off. Anyway, we need to support local businesses so that they will thrive. We arrived at the hotel around 11 PM.
Grabbed some Churros for appetizer
LOVE THIS!
Mix it up!
We ordered 3 and 4 <3
Our half table
Name of the Restaurant
Cheese Receipt
How to work around the spiciness - put mayo and wrap in seaweed
Love this!
Twosome Place



Day 3: Petite France and Nami Island Tour 
We got picked up at our hotel by 9 AM sharp by our tour guide Duke. I booked with One Day Korea via their website, and it cost 49 usd per person. Which covers transpo and photo coverage. It was just us 4 at the van. Very comfy, we slept throughout the trip. Duke was very soft spoken and shy at first, but he had mad driving skills...i mean he drove to fast that there was 2 instances wherein we woke since he stepped on the break too strongly. haha. He talked a bit during the ride, he said he was 30 years old and is graduating this year on Accounting and Marketing. I think I felt light with him instantly is because he looked very much like my fiance. haha. We stopped by Petite France first. 
Me and european plates
My family
Ticket prices
Appreciating some art
Petite France
Houses and flowers
Little Price exhibit
Me and Little Price
Tour Guide Duke
Candid
We paid 8000krw. My sister paid extra 500 krw since she wanted to participate in the stamp hunt to get the limited edition post card. We walked around the area and took photos, it was hot and there were very few toilets. We walked fast and took photos with the Little Prince statues and left the area. I am not sure if our guide did not tour us around the whole area, but based from what I saw... I do not see myself going back to Petite France in the near future due to the fact that I have nothing much to see there. From there we headed to a local restaurant to have some grilled chicken and pork for lunch. We spent about 15000krw per person. It was a good homey family run restaurant, though the taste was not something remarkable but I loved their service so I will come back. 
Lunch
Meat!
Some rice and soup too
Next stop which was 30 mins to 1 hour away was Nami Island. We paid 8000 krw for the ferry ride and entrance. We took photos almost at all sites we possibly can, we just stayed there for 2 hours since we did not want to get caught in traffic back to seoul. This day was independence day and it was known that it has the 2nd longest traffic. Sadly even we left 4:30 at Nami... we got caught in traffic and spent 4 hours in the car. 
Buying Tickets
Waiting on the Ferry
Nami!
With the Lonely Tree
Hug!
Bye Nami!
Thanks Duke!
I am a giant.
Love this guy.
Kudos to Duke, he did not fell sleepy nor did he complain. He had a cheerful disposition throughout and did not mind that we slept the whole ride. He endured his bladder and when we got to the hotel, he rushed to the toilet. We did not manage to properly say goodbye. :( After the hotel, we headed to a nearby BBQ place (which we ate at last Jan). We ate our hearts out. I LOVE THEIR BBQ so much! We spent almost 20000 krw per person but it was so worth it. I really love their beef! It so well marinated. 
dinner table with much love for meat!

premium beef

Yummy Restaurant in Dongmyo



Day 4: Gyeongbukgung Palace. Dragon Hill Spa. Dinner at Sangu.
We left the hotel by 9+ AM and rode the subway to Gyeongbukgung station exit 5. We just arrived perfectly since it was the Royal Guard changing ceremony. We watched until the ceremony was over, then we went to the small station by the outside gate to wear royal guard uniforms for 5 mins for free. We got to take photos. They do not allow taking photos inside the palace since they avoid the uniforms to get ruined. 5 mins was just perfect for me. Happy I was able to wear them. Next we purchased palace tickets for 3000 krw per person. It was worth it since we were just in time for the English guided tour around the palace. Our guide was Ms Jinri, I have been to the palace before but with the information given to me by the guide I was able to appreciate the palace better. I enjoyed the sequenced tour and the humor she injects on it. The 1 hour tour passed by quickly and we did not even cover the whole palace. The one thing that stuck with me is when she said the main throne room was left untouched by the colonists and is the heart of the palace, all the rest was destroyed by Japan and is being rebuilt slowly by the Korean government. By 2030, the palace will be 70+% restored. I will definitely go back to see it. Now its only at 20+%. We also passed by the Korean Museum since we were already there. We quickly passed by the exhibits since we were too hungry. By 1 PM, we ate at a local bibimbap restaurant across. We ate some bibimbap and korean pancake, spent about 9500 krw per person. Then we rode the train to Yongsan station to go to Dragon Hill Spa, which is a known korean health spa. Just go down the main escalator to the streets, its on the right side. You cannot miss its huge sign. We paid 9500krw for the entrance since we had the seoul summer sale coupon. We were given towels and shirt/short to change. We removed our shoes and we headed to the gender separated changing rooms to change our clothes. Like almost all korean spas, people are walking around naked in the changing rooms. We managed to just change quickly in the toilet and go to the common area where everyone was dressed. I was too hungry so I bought myself some Rice Juice and Mango Shaved Ice spent 13200 krw (warning food here is expensive). Then R and I tried out their 30 min sports massage which cost 29000 krw per person. It was too quick but I liked the strength of my massager. We tried to make the most of our payment by trying out the common saunas. 
Price List
You do not need your wallet with you since all expenses will be tagged in your ID
Men and women are separated
Arcade inside
Cafeteria
Juice and shaved ice
You remove your shoes before you can go inside
By 6 PM we left for Sangu. Our guide Duke recommended a dessert cafe here and we were looking for it, sadly when we found it...it was closed. BUT so happy that we went to Sangu, we happen to try Ttang Cho Hot Food. It was the best Ttokbokki I have ever tried. And its the first rice cake that made me eat a lot and drink lots of water. I love the way they seasoned and cooked it. I will definitely go back here. I recommend this restaurant for all SPICY lovers out there. Best news we only spent 6000 krw for dinner! I LOVE THIS PLACE. Take note that its really deadly spicy, we already ate the "not so spicy" and we were breathing fire, when we saw that the other locals were eating something much more red than ours we were shocked. Even the locals find it spicy. haha. You have to try this!


Menu
Comes with free juice
Rice Ball - 2000 krw per order; we got 3
Best ttokbokki ever!
dinner table for 4
very satisfied
For dessert we went to a cafe nearby that had a very lovely interior, we were surprised that the only lady server was the roaster/owner/enthusiast of the place. She was really friendly and I was amazed with all her equipment and award. Bought ourselves dark chocolate cookies (1500 krw) and my sister ordered her specialty coffee (8500 krw). It was really good. I suggest this to all coffee lovers. On our way back to the hotel, we dropped by the convenience store and bought my sister all her noodles to bring back home.





Great woman behind it all

Cookie!
awards left and right
She is a pro
Homey feel





Day 5: Flight to Manila.
We left the hotel by 930 AM. We went to the Meyongdong Tourist Information Center to get our freebies from the Seoul promotion, we disembarked at Euljiro 1-ga station exit 5. R bought me an apron I love and we even took photos in korean traditional clothing. R and I were able to try 3 pairs of clothes in 10 mins. haha. 
Myeongdong Tourist Information Center Building
Green Screen
Triplets Love!! <3 Song Brothers
Where the magic happens
Next we headed to Myeongdong station, on our way we ate a korean restaurant which I truly regretted. The server had poor attitude and she kept talking to me in chinese and forcing her suggestion, when we clearly do not like what she was insisting. In the end, we just agreed to what she was saying since she was ignoring what we were pointing at. We were served by another lady who cooked the beef, pork meat. To my much regret the food was very poor in taste and it does not justify out cost of 23000 krw per person. I had a very bad experience here and will never go back to this restaurant. I wanted to eat their rice meals and some grilled meat, but we were forced to just order grilled meat which was the most expensive ones on the menu. Truly hated the experience.

Good review sign
Prepared side dishes
Meat insisted on us


Was not good
Never shall I eat here ever again
Good thing, we bought some strawberry mochi on the streets for 2500 krw each. 
Yummy mochi
Cute store
Love the packaging
It even has this smart wrapper with ribbons
What is inside
It was very yummy. Loved it. We bough some more socks. Ate some cakes at starbucks for 5000 krw. 
Light and sweet
Did not like this
Mom bought some fish balls before we rode the train. Fishball in a cup. <3




We then went back to the hotel to get our luggage then off we went to seoul station to ride the Arex. We paid P6000 krw per person and luckily we were just 7 mins before the train left. We saved time! yey. Upon getting at the airport, we were too early that we decided to eat at the Food Street Court area. Again this is another regret which I will not do or suggest. The Food Street served very plain tasting food. I especially disliked the gimbap that kept breaking and had very poor taste, one cost 8500 krw. I regret that I did not eat at a proper korean restaurant which would cost about 17000 krw a meal but with all appetizers. After we checked in the AirAsia gate, got our tax refund, and lastly returned our wifi rental. Off we went to board our plane back home. Happily, our dinner was served in flight. And I was able to forget the bad food experiences I had for the day. 

Street Food Court
In Flight Meals
In Flight Meals
I love Korea and Seoul. As I am typing this, I am craving for some korean BBQ. I cannot wait go back to Korea and have new memories. Hope this entry helped you in your planning. If you have any questions, let me know. Cheers!

2 comments:

Geleni@Korea said...

Very informative, like it much...i will surely email you in the coming days for more inquiries I may have (and hopefully you will accommmodate) as a first-timer in Korea.

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