Travel Guide to Seoul, South Korea 2015


Bonus: Find out about how to get in K-Pop show and more things to do in Seoul


Just finished my third visit to South Korea, it was enough to write about this simple guide, well or just take it as me sharing my stories. First, for us with Indonesian passport, let's just prepare some documents for visa. Either with or without the travel agent, here's my experience applying Korean Visa through Korean Embassy in Jakarta.

Get In:

By air, most of international flights get in through Incheon International Airport (ICN), though some flights from Japan also flying to Gimpo. First was with Garuda Indonesia. Last year was with Cathay Pacific with a transfer at Hong Kong and a stopover before going back to Jakarta. The airlines I know that have special price for 2 pax purchasing, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific. Service was amazing, personally (for no reason, my un-important thing) I usually make an order for special meal request. From gluten free to vegetarian, it's just fun to experience this thing.

For this trip, it's Korean Air. About 7 hours direct flight from Jakarta to Incheon, ticket was IDR 7,2 million rupiah. Booked it just a week before my trip, lucky me. Also please note that it was not really off-peak season. It can be cheaper with Air Asia (transfer at KLIA 2), at that time it was around 5 million Rupiah, yes everyone can fly.

From Incheon airport to the city, there are few transportation options. Taxi is definitely my last choice, but if you're in a group of four, it should be fine. Limousine bus also very convenient as it stops at the city, for more info check out the website. My preference, AREX (Airport Express) is a non-stop train to Seoul Station, ticket is 8000 won. But of course it will be tiresome if you bring big luggage as you'll need to go up and down, also in case of changing line). The all stops train costs less than 4000 won, you can buy single ticket at the machine or get T-Money card at the airport convenience store. It is possible to top up your T-Money at the machine that usually located in front of station entrance.



Get Out:

There are two airports in Seoul, Gimpo and Incheon International Airport (ICN). While Incheon serves international flights, Gimpo caters local destinations and flights from/to Japan. Public transportation such as Limousine Bus from the major hotel in the city and train, is quite affordable while taxi can be expensive. Taking express non-stop train from Seoul Station to Incheon Airport is about 45 minutes while the all stops train is approximately an hour and so the bus.

ICN is a huge airport, it will take some time for you to get to the counter check-in, passing the immigration, and getting to the gate. Moreover, if you fly with foreign airlines, from the main terminal you need to get to the concourse using underground passageways.


Getting Around:

Subway is the most convenient to get around Seoul. Buying T-Money card is right decision on the arrival, it covers subway, bus, even taxi. It is very easy to find at the convenience stores, such as 7-Eleven, GS25, and C&U. Waiting line is on the right. Do not eat and drink inside the train.




Internet:

Seoul is a wired city, WiFi is everywhere. It's very easy to get free WiFi, especially at tourist area such as Myeongdong, Insadong, Garosugil, Hongdae and Ewha Univ area. Every coffee shops and bakeries also have free WiFi, the password is usually written on the bill, or simply ask the waiter if you can not find it. 

It is possible to buy WiFi ID, the biggest is provided by Olleh. You can purchase one hour or one day internet access, how? Using a credit card or buy it at the convenience store. But please notice that it is not available like everywhere but at certain spots such as subway, the station, tourist and business area. The internet is fast even at the free public WiFi.


Accommodation:

From 5 stars hotel to hostel, Seoul is really a big city, it is very easy to get accommodation here. I have stayed at Seoul Olympic Parktel on my first visit to South Korea with my family. Last summer, the second visit was the longest, about two weeks, stayed at a mini apartment close to Jeungsan Station (Line 6). Booked it using Air BnB. It was a pleasant stay, as nice as my last trip. Lovely local neighborhood, quiet, and food around here were amazing. A hint if you're looking for good Korean Fried Chicken.

Last one, I booked a guest house close to Myeongdong Subway Station, it costed me 336.000 won (around 4 million Rupiah) for 8 nights. Named MoonSun Guesthouse, a bit uphill, and it's 3-5 minutes from Myeongdong Station exit 3. Not the cheapest but really a good location especially if you're into shopping, the room was very clean with private bathroom and small fridge inside. Water dispenser also available, you'll save a lot. There are many guesthouse and hostel around here, simply filter the area when you book a room from your online booking agent.


Money:

The local currency is Korean won. It is better to bring USD or Euro, because if you change it at your home country, I doubt about getting good rate. Money changer is easy to find at tourist area and the airport. Though it is also possible to exchange at the bank. Seoul citizens get used to using card to pay, you may want to bring your credit card for even convenient shopping


What To Eat:

Street food is a surely very interesting, spicy rice cake (tteokbokki), various fries (twigim), fishcakes (omuk/oden ) and kimbap are generally cheap. But it can be more expensive at the major tourist area. Convenience stores have plenty of pre-made food such as kimbapdosirak (rice box), and of course milk. The most popular is banana milk. More about dining in Korean restaurant will be on separate post, so stay tune! A short guide about eating in Seoul, here.



Things To Do:

  • Sight seeing, from Gyeongbok Palace to Buckhon Hanok Village. I found that Insadong also quite interesting but around Anguk, the lovely Samcheongdong is always be on my first place
  • Eat. Korean BBQ is very popular outside of Korea but seriously they have more interesting dishes to try.
  • Shopping. From duty free to shopping streets. Myeongdong is very famous and so Dongdaemun, there are plenty of Korean cosmetic outlets. Garosugil also can be an option, it's where you can find the Line Cafe & Store, read more here
  • Visiting the market. Namdaemun is the very touristy as it's close to Myeongdong. Gwangjang Market also interesting for foodies, but to me Tongin Market. It's not as touristy as Gwagjang, best time to visit is during lunch time. To get there take a train to Gyeongbokgung Station (Subway Line 3) exit 2, walk straight about 700m.
  • Watching pre-recording K-Pop Show, the one I entered last year was Simply K-Pop Arirang TV. Well OK, if you want to experience K-Pop and lucky enough  to be on the show, I will share about "How To Get in Arirang's Simply K-Pop recording session?"
Go to their Twitter @_Simplykpop for schedule updates. Once you got the schedule (usually few days before pre-recording), go to Simply K-Pop Message Board, but first make sure to Sign Up at Arirang website. Write on the board (see the small button on right bottom of the page), fill in your name, e-mail, and phone number, write the tittle as the schedule you got on twitter and which part you want to get in. For example: 8/31 pre-recording part 1. Make sure it's closed as you'll write your personal information. It's not a guarantee that you'll get a ticket because it depends on the quota and you know some artists are more attractive than some other. I had a chance being on pre-recording session with AOA and U-Kiss


Must Buy

  • Korean Cosmetics, why? It is cheap, brands such as Etude, Tony Moly, Missha, Nature Republic, and Laneige are easy to find. The touristy Myeongdong is home for Korean cosmetic outlets. They will give you freebies just to enter the shop, you can ask for samples too for every purchasing.
  • Gochujang aka Korean Red Pepper Paste. For Asian, I believe it's not too spicy. Gochujang is essential in Korean cooking, you can get it in markets, convenience stores, and supermarket.
  • Random things at Daiso. The Japanese origin, Daisho set the flat price IDR 25.000 for each item here in Indonesia, but in Korea, every item has different price. Kitchen stuffs are very affordable, of course there are some items that only available in Korea. The easiest to find it, there's one bigger Daiso at Myeongdong.
  • Socks, usually very cheap around 1000 won, from K-Pop artist to cute cartoon character.
  • If you're a K-Pop fan, you may want to get K-Pop items too. It is everywhere, though I found it quite expensive. Myeongdong underground shopping center is right place if you're looking for K-Pop stuffs, the one close to Myeongdong Station exit 3 was the most crowded.


I hope, I did not miss a thing. Well, feel free to ask me anything related to my trip. Hope my writing can help and give you more information. More over, about eating in Seoul, here. Also check out 15 Must Eat Korean Food including where to get it in Seoul. 

Find me on:

Youtube and Instagram @heytheresia for daily food and travel updates @tereveler

9 comments:

  1. I really like how your class timings of your blog. I enjoyed reading your blog and it is both instructional and interesting.Thanks!

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  2. Arex Express train is the best way to access from the airport to Seoul station. It is fast(it takes only 43 mins to Seoul station) and clean. Plus, the price is also reasonable. It cost 8,000won and if you take one of these airline;Asiana,KAL,Jeju airline, you get some discount(6,900won). Arex Express train info desk is located between gate no.9 and no.8, desk no.45 on 1st floor in the airport.



    T-money card is a prepaid public transportation card which means
    you have to load some money on your T-money card before you use it
    on subway,taxi or bus. And you can purchase a T-money card ata low price
    if you head to Seoul station from Incheon airport. Find the Arex info.desk
    on 1st floor at the airport. It located between gate #9 and #8, desk no.45.
    They have a special promotion for foreigners; Express train ticket to Seoul station
    + T-money card it costs only 8,900 won. The regular price of
    the express train ticket is 8,000 won and T-money card is 3,000 won.
    So the promotion is a good deal.

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  5. Wow! Getting more and more excited for our upcoming trip to Seoul this September! Thank you for the info Theresia!

    God bless!

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    Replies
    1. Hi, nice blog and thanks for sharing. I am from Ulsan, korea

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  7. Wow~ Fantastic!!:) It's really so helpful. When I traveled to Seoul, Korea, I played with Korean local friends who are sooooo kind and really soooooo funny. I want to share the website tourmatekorea.kr ! Enjoy your Trip!:)

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