Korea trip – day 1

Posted on: May 21, 2011

“YAY! Finally, our long awaited holiday in Seoul starts now!” that was my thought when we first landed at Incheon Airport. Before I go further, for those who wondering how to get Korea visa, go to Korea Immigration Service website. For me, since I technically just had a ‘transit’ in Seoul, I didn’t have to apply for visa. What I mean by ‘transit’ is that I flew from Singapore to South Korea to Canada. So, in their terms, I was ‘bound to another country’. If you have the same situation (a.k.a you visit South Korea prior leaving to another country within 30 days), you might not have to apply for visa. But, it’s only my case, for your 100% assurance, please check out their website in “Visa free Entry of foreigners” section- do NOT blame me if you only use my word as your guide!!! Every person traveling to another country MUST check if they need visa or not, regardless your nationality!

So, now DAY ONE!
Honestly, I got a bit worried since we had to be able to survive the first 2 days by ourselves. I did a LOT of research on getting around Seoul and found that Korea Tourism did a VERY good job to help any tourists. I must say, their website is very very informative! For getting around Seoul, go to Visit Korea. As I said before, Seoul has NINE subway lines with 291 stations connecting airport to city centre to sub-urban area to universities. However, if you’ve never been riding subway before, it can be a challenge since you have to familiarize yourself with the naming, ticketing, and getting to the right exit gate. Every station has English and Korean character on the sign, so it’s pretty straight forward. For the ticket, you have couple options: Single Journey ticket, T-money card, and Seoul City Pass. We bought the single journey ticket every time we rode the subway. The machine has English language option and you have to know your final destination by choosing the station name. Also, you are required to pay 500 won deposit on top of your ticket (usually the price already includes the deposit) which you’ll get back at your final destination by inserting the card to a special machine.

So, how to get out from the airport to the hotel? There are several options according to the Korea Tourism website. Korea is now building a subway line that directly connects Incheon airport to the downtown area called Airport Railroad Express (AREX). However, as in March 2011, they haven’t finish the project, so you have to take an express bus from Incheon to Gimpo Airport (old airport) then take subway to the downtown area. This takes about an hour or so and you have to change subway lines depending on your final destination. Since we carried 2 big and 2 small luggages, we decided that we took airport bus to our hotel in Myeongdong. Again, depending on your final destination, you’ll be using different buses (for information on bus number, click here). As soon as you get out from arrival gate, find the orange counter with “Airport Bus” sign. Here, the reception speaks good English. Just say your destination and they’ll help you decide the correct bus.


Airport Bus Counter

We took 6015 bus from exit 5B (or you can catch the bus from 12A). The bus one-way ticket was 10,000 won which is reasonable since it was about 1.5 hours trip. Our hotel was Ibis Ambassador Myeongdong that has a 6015 bus stop right in front of the hotel! Again, VERY VERY convenient if you have to carry big suitcases! Another reason I chose this hotel was that we have to meet with the tour group at Incheon early morning on the third day. By having the bus stop in front of our hotel door, we could easily run in case we woke up late hehehe… (the first bus from Myeongdong to Incheon is at 4.50 am!).


Bus 6015 from Incheon Airport to Myeongdong Area; You can use exit 5B or 12A to catch the bus.

It was a bit rainy and windy when we arrived. When we got off from the bus, we were really really pleased with our hotel choice. It located exactly beside the Myeongdong shopping area (it’s only 10 steps away!!!!) and in front of the hotel, there are Lotte Young Plaza, Avenue L Mall, and Lotte Department Store! Shopping HEAVEN hahaha… Too bad we only had little time to shop 😦 As soon as we checked in and put the luggage in our rooms, we hit the famous Myeongdong shopping district. There are many cosmetic shops (Missha, House of Etude, etc), clothing store (Zara, Forever 21,H&M, etc), small cafes with varying local and international food, and a Nanta theatre ~ which I’ll review later on Day 6.


Ibis Ambassador Myeongdong; Avenue L in front of Ibis Ambassador


Myeongdong Shopping District; Myeongdong Theatre; Yes! They have Burger King too!


Cosmetic Stores


FOOD! Food stand near the hotel; Another food stands; BEST Snack ever! fish pollack cracker? (2000-4000 won); Long Ice Cream

DINNER TIME! We met with my boyfriend’s ESL friend at our hotel lobby and then we took taxi to the restaurant. I’m not sure with the name of the restaurant since it’s all in Korean but from what his friend said, it serves good noodles. Since it was a bit chilly, we agreed to anything that made us warm. The portion was big and the dumplings were huge! We could barely finished them! And it seems that Anthony Bourdan is true about the kimchi culture. In South Korea, kimchi is served for every dish. Even when we ate breakfast the next day, they gave us kimchi! Anyway, by the time we left the restaurant, we were very full and I could barely walk! Hahahaha…


First dinner in Seoul: Noodle & Nyummmiii Dumpling. The kimchi was very good too!

Since it was still early evening, we decided to walk around the area that happened to be very close to Namsangol Hanok Village. This area is pretty unique. It has a lot of cafes but most of them maintain traditional Korean architecture. The residential houses are also very Korean 😛 There is one spot where you can see the traditional Korean house with -sort of- garden in the middle. Too bad it was already dark when we walked around, so we couldn’t really see the traditional Korean house. But if you like to hang out in the cafe, this area has lots of choices for you. We also saw pretty interesting view: how Korean parks their cars. It seemed very common that you can park your car half way up the pedestrian area ~ see the picture below to get what I said 😛

Unique way to park the car… Apparently, it is very common in Seoul


Cafe everywhere…

We then took a bus to go to Seoul station since we wanted to try out the subway system. Apparently, if you live in Seoul you can apply a credit card with special chip that can be used to pay bus & subway ticket. Pretty high tech, huh?! 🙂 Another cool thing is that the bus stop has a monitor that shows you how far the bus is from where you wait!


Seoul Station; The Subway Lines; High-tech bus stop

The city lights in Seoul were very pretty… Interestingly enough, we caught one building with unique lights resembling people walking the street! COOL! Afterward, we just walked around Myeongdong again and went straight to bed to reserve our energy for tomorrow 🙂


Seoul sky light at night; Unique light; Our late night snack from the subway station 🙂

Ops… I forgot to mention… Our bathroom at Ibis Ambassador was a pretty high tech toilet! It has heated seat and even dryer for your bottom! Wish I had one in my house HA! 🙂


Hi-tech Toilet Bowl hahahaha…


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