Korea was Seoul good!

I’m finally back after a long break! Part of the reason for my absence was because I was away in Korea for 10 days. The longest break since the last US trip in 2008! Another part of the reason, is the emotional fatigue from work as things have changed a lot after I came back from my holiday. But anyway, I’m here to talk about happy things, so yes about my trip. I’ve been asked if I found it difficult to get around in Seoul on our own since we went on a free and easy trip. Many also asked if the language difference was indeed a barrier. Firstly, it is true that most Koreans don’t understand English or only understand very basic English, so it’s hard to ask the locals for help or have any form of conversations with them. But what helped was all the planning that took place before the trip. And for this, I’m giving props to the hubby for the amount of research he did, especially on the accommodation, transport and also the directions and information on the places that we had planned to visit. All I did was to pick the places I wanted to go. Aren’t I a lucky girl? 🙂 So I’ve put together an essential list when travelling to Korea, that I hope will be useful to travelers toKorea. 1. Plan, plan, plan This is especially so if you’re planning to go free and easy. One useful place to pick up Korea guide books is the Korea Plaza at Samsung Hub. Korea Plaza is operated by Korea Tourism Organization and you can get useful information on travel, accommodation and tourist attractions. I picked up a couple of brochures, maps and travel guides which were all provided free of charge. If you need any specific assistance to book from a Korean website, they can provide contacts as well. Address of Korea Plaza: Samsung Hub, #01-02, 3 Church Street, Singapore 049483. Mon to Fri – 10am to 7pm. Sat – 10am to 5pm (excluding Public Holidays or otherwise stated) Alexis also found the Korean equivalent of Google Street View called, Naver. While we don’t know a word of Korean, what we did was to find the landmarks via the subway lines from the maps we got earlier and marked them on the map. This allowed us to get an idea on how to walk there from the subway as it even provided a view on the exit to use and some of the surrounding shops to look out for to get our destination. 2. Getting About- Transportation To get from the airport to your hotel, do check if the limousine buses run along the route. For a fare of 10,000 won, the verdict for our one and a half hour ride to the hotel was affordable, convenient and comfortable.

To get around in Seoul, we traveled mostly by their subway which was very well connected. Once we arrived at the airport, we purchased the T-money card, which is a stored value card that can be used on the buses, subways, trains and even some taxis. This can be purchased at the subway or convenience stores with a T-money logo. I would also recommend this great app that Alexis found. The Jihachul app provided us with directions on the subways lines to take after we provided our initial and final destination, which line to transfer where necessary, and the estimated travelling time. 20111203-104833.jpg 20111203-104847.jpg 3. Where to stay-Accommodation

For accommodation, we stayed at two different love motels. Before your alarms bells start to ring, I can tell you that I too was initially very skeptical when Alexis first suggested that to me. Will they be sleazy, clean and erm noisy? But after my stay, I would definitely recommend it as the motels are clean, comfortable, convenient and affordable at an average of $100,000 won per night. I got to stay in a Hello Kitty themed room! Want to know more about our experience, more in another post.   4. Exploring outside Seoul Going to Jeju island for 2 days added another dimension to our holiday in Korea. We enjoyed the escape away from the city as we soaked in the sights of nature as well as some of the interesting museums. I would highly recommend staying in Jeju for at least 2 days. Besides Jeju, there are also other options like Busan, Andong and Haeinsa.   5. What to eat-Korean food Korean food needs no introduction, so need I say more? But just in case, I do, here is a picture which paints a thousand words, starting with Kimchi, Bibimbap, BBQ, …

5. Local experiences – Jjimjilbang My most authentic Korean experience must have been at the Jjimjilbang. A Jjimjilbang (찜질방) is a large, gender-segregated public bathhouse in Korea that is furnished with hot tubs, showers, saunas, and massage tables. If you watch Korean dramas, you will not be unfamiliar with this. Going to the Jjimjilbang is quite a family affair as we saw families where each member were all busy with the different offerings in the Jjimjilbang. A must try if you’re ever in Korea!   Last but not least, here’s my 10 day itinerary in Korea to share. I would however recommend going to Jeju once you arrive in Seoul, which is what a lot of tour groups do. It’s for practical reasons, as you wouldn’t want to worry about watching your purchases as you’ll likely fly via a domestic flight where the baggage limit is lower. Hope this is useful. I promise to be back for more on my trip to Korea 🙂

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  1. Klessis December 3, 2011 at 8:45 pm Reply

    Wow thanks for sharing your itinerary! Will definitely take reference from it if I’m going to Korea! Hopefully next year! =P Glad you had a great trip!

    • Susan December 4, 2011 at 4:29 pm Reply

      When are you planning to go? Heard they have cherry blossom and will be quite a sight too. Always great to look forward to the next holiday 🙂

  2. SengkangBabies December 4, 2011 at 10:15 pm Reply

    An Yong Ha Sae Yong, Korea’s Train-network is very easy to navigate, even for foreigners. They might look unfriendly (and will even bump into you), but will stop to help if you prompt for assistance.

    • Susan December 5, 2011 at 2:22 pm Reply

      We were taken aback by their shoving in the trains at first. But soon came to realize that it’s pretty common and not to be taken personally.

  3. June December 5, 2011 at 8:14 pm Reply

    So interesting! Thanks for sharing, Susan! Btw you look real cute in that traditional dress.

  4. Adeline February 8, 2012 at 9:52 am Reply

    Hi,

    im planning for a holiday to korea with my 2 kids this april.
    This is my 1st time going korea.
    can you share how did you do a free and easy?
    how much did your whole trip cost?
    is it advisable to go for a package tour or free and easy ?

    • Susan February 9, 2012 at 12:51 am Reply

      Hi Adeline,
      With kids, it may be easier if you join a tour. To get around Seoul, I took the trains which required changing of lines and it’s mostly stairs and no escalators.
      Planning a free and easy trip requires, well planning 🙂 One place I got alot of useful resource was the Korea Plaza at Samsung Hub. If you have kids, they will love Lotte World, however it’s quite far off and I had to take a two hour train ride. if you go by tour, then transport will be a breeze. Hope this is useful.

  5. Meiqi February 27, 2012 at 9:27 pm Reply

    hi susan!

    i’m planning to travel in november (same period as yours!), but quite concern about the weather. isit very windy, cold that you need to wear long john? and during your stay there, are you still able to see the orange leaves from the autumn?

    thank youu! 😀

    • Susan February 28, 2012 at 11:36 am Reply

      Hi Meiqi,

      When I was there last November, temperature was an average of 10 degrees. It got cooler in the nights and on one day it dipped to 3-7 degrees. So I would definitely recommend wearing long johns. I had to wear them on some days as well.

      Unfortunately mid Nov was too late catch the sight of orange leaves. I’m guessing mid October would be better. Don’t miss going to Jeju too. Very lovely place to take in the sights of nature.

      .

  6. Karyn March 7, 2012 at 1:54 pm Reply

    hi susan!

    I would like to ask you if you booked the domestic flight to Jeju in Korea itself or through the internet?

    Also, as a fellow Hello Kitty fan I am interested in Design Hotel Pop too but through agoda.com I wasn’t able to choose the the type of room at the website. Will the choice of room be given after booking online?

    Thank you!

    • Susan March 7, 2012 at 9:06 pm Reply

      The domestic flight to Jeju was booked at the airport itself. There are a couple of airlines that fly there, so we just had to choose the earliest flight.

      You can’t choose the type of room at the website. Initially, they told us that we can’t choose the room, but I told them I really liked Hello Kitty. Since no one was staying, they agreed to let us have it. Very lucky for me, I guess. 🙂

      • Karyn April 14, 2012 at 12:15 am Reply

        Thank you for your reply:)

        I managed to booked the domestic flight through JejuAir’s website recently:)

        Hopefully they will allow me to get the hello kitty room too! May I ask which type of room did you book at the website? They are quite a few types of room available for booking and perhaps if I book the same type of room as you did there will be a chance for me to request for the hello kitty themed room.

        Thank you!

  7. Peter Sibley March 21, 2012 at 6:09 pm Reply

    Sounds like you really liked Jeju! It seems like such a pain, dealing with intra-Korean flights, but you’ve got me thinking about it.

    • Susan March 22, 2012 at 8:37 am Reply

      I’ve been recommending Jeju to all my friends who are visiting Korea. As I live in the city, Jeju’s relax pace as well as nature sights makes it a delight for tourists who like to soak in the local way of life. I ought to do a post on Jeju so you can consider some of the attractions that I went.

  8. Denise April 2, 2012 at 1:14 am Reply

    Yes, you should really do a post on jeju! I’m planning to go korea the coming july, free&easy. Quite intereseted to go jeju! Is the travelling at jeju difficult? Thanks 🙂

    • Susan April 2, 2012 at 9:17 pm Reply

      We rented a car and drove around, so it wasn’t difficult. But if you’re planning to get around by bus, then it may be difficult since they may not understand much English.

  9. huiqi April 3, 2012 at 1:42 pm Reply

    hi susan! i chanced upon your website by accident! not sure if you rmb me, but i used to intern in your office 🙂 love the hello kitty cafes, keep up the cool n cute work!

    • Susan April 3, 2012 at 11:23 pm Reply

      Hi Hui Qi,

      Yes, of course I remember you 🙂 Are you planning to go to Korea? if so, then don’t miss the Hello Kitty cafes. It’s a must for for any Hello Kitty fans.

  10. Angie July 11, 2012 at 12:24 pm Reply

    Hey Susan,

    I googled ‘Korea Free & Easy’ and your blog post came up! We’re planning our year end trip and have shortlisted skiing in Korea. Wonder if you can PM me your itinerary? Thanks in advance 🙂 You look so sweet in that Korean traditional dress!

  11. jiakgim August 25, 2012 at 9:29 am Reply

    hi susan,

    thank you the sharing of your korea trip.

    As me, my wife and daughter is planning a free and easy trip this nov. would like to check with you on below.

    1) how did your find the car rental in jeju? wat is the cost?
    2) in jeju is it easy to locate the attraction places?
    3) hw did your order the food since most of them is in korean?
    4) saw those apps your using does it require mobile connection?

    thank you.

    • Alexis August 26, 2012 at 12:36 am Reply

      1. Car rentals can be done online. I think we booked at http://www.ktkumhorent.com/eng/main.do Remember to apply for your international driving permit which can be done on the spot at AA Singapore at Leisure Park Kallang.
      2. Travel is very easy within Jeju. Just remember to request for a English GPS. You enter the places into the GPS via the telephone number, so you don’t need to know Korean.
      3. Order via pointing at pictures. Or just use sign language. Haha.
      4. Most need data connection. Jihachul doesn’t though.

  12. Madeline September 19, 2013 at 5:21 pm Reply

    Hi, your write-up was superb. Enjoyed reading it very much. Unfortunately, I will be joining a tour with my 2 kids this coming end of November. I’ve read a message from a reader about the weather there. Many ppl said that I should wear winter boots for November in Korea. If not, kids shoes & mine will be soaked. Is that true? I know that you need winter boots for snow. Do your shoes get wet while walking on the streets in Seoul? Just wondering. Boots for kids are not cheap. Thanks

    • Susan September 19, 2013 at 10:22 pm Reply

      Yes it will be wet and cold in November. In fact do be prepared that it may rain so boots are definitely a must and do layer up. I actually bought my down jacket and boots in Dongdaemun when I was in Seoul. Cheaper and more variety than Singapore.

  13. Ain February 27, 2014 at 9:35 am Reply

    Ill be visiting in august for a week. Is that a good time to go Jeju as well? We’ll be travelling with a toddler and would prefer free n easy. 2 days in jeju and 5 days in seoul ok or too rush?

  14. […] Korea was Seoul good […]

  15. […] check out my guide on how to plan your own Free and Easy trip to Korea and the  Top 10 things to do in […]

  16. cymphere March 4, 2015 at 11:01 pm Reply

    Hi Susan

    Remember you hv sent taiwan itinerary, finally my family was travelled there last dec, so now our next plan is Seoul and jeju, wonder this time you can forward yr Korea itinerary, thank you once again.

    Rgds
    Cymphere Tan

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