SOUTH KOREA: A Day in Seoul

Categories International, Travel
A Day in Seoul : South Korea by Catching Carla

Yes, I love to travel, a month in Canada, a week in Singapore, or even a day in Seoul, South Korea. Because I believe that “A Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andre Gide

South Korea, a cute little country between the East Sea and the Yellow Sea, known as the land of zombie-filled trains (Train to Busan), synchronized dancing (K-Pop) and intense drama series (K-Drama). Yes it is probably one of the most visited tourist destinations here in Asia- where people are just as beautiful as their country. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure that I’ll ever get to see this place, but thanks to an airline seat sale and my impulsive personality, here I am. If you are a Filipino like me, then it probably won’t be wise to book a ticket prior to getting a visa, but as I have said, seat sales always get the better of me. I will write a very lengthy post about getting a korean visa soon, but my goal right now is to inspire you to actually want to get that visa.

A Day in Seoul : South Korea | catching carla
The city of Seoul : Photo by @catchingcarla

To start, I didn’t think about my itinerary until a few days before my flight. By then, I was already in panic. I messaged all my friends in Korea to ask if it’s even possible to do what I had in mind, and they were so shocked of my itinerary because I wanted to see everything in just 2 and a half days! They don’t even know if it’s humanly doable. Well, I can assure you that it is INDEED possible, however, expect your feet to blister, your legs to tire and to only have a maximum of 4 hours sleep. But hey! I am in Korea, no time to waste- not even for sleeping.

Preparation and Accommodation

You see, the thing about Seoul is, there is always going to be a subway station nearby. It doesn’t matter where in Seoul, but I would definitely recommend going somewhere close to famous landmarks so you wouldn’t have any problem going back. In my case, I booked an Airbnb close to Jamsil, called Gangdong-Gu. My Airbnb Host Mr. Sang has been very helpful and caring. No doubt he is now one of the most trusted hosts in Seoul, with cheap rates and really nice accommodations. Mr. Sang answers inquiries so fast, that it kind of helped me ease my worries. He also lent me a portable wifi, for as low as 1000 Korean Won per day, and a T-Money train card that I can load in order to travel around. All-in-all Mr. Sang is awesome, book your stay with him. No kidding.

A day in Seoul, South Korea | catching carla
Our tour guide at Changgyeonggung Palace : Photo by @catchingcarla

Also since I have met a few cool korean friends while I was studying in Canada, I was able to ask them a lot about South Korea. I bothered them for like a month until they finally decided to join me (lol). Kidding aside, we are all really excited to finally catch up after such a long time. They advised me to download the app called Subway and explained to me the importance of colors and numbers on the floor, (we’ll get to that later). If you want to know my Itinerary for three days, you can personally ask it from me by contacting me through this link.

The Arrival

I arrived in Korea about 9 pm. I was alone of course, and completely exhausted. I immediately messaged my airbnb host to tell him that I have arrived and where can we meet up. He advised me to take the 6103 bus to go to Co-ex and said that he will be waiting for me there. The airport is huge, so you might need to take the mini train to transfer on the other side of the airport where you can get your bags. If you are really confused, just follow the flow of passengers, they usually know where to go. A few hours in and a very organized line and hassle-free pick up of my bag, I went and asked where is the bus station. Luckily, getting out of the airport is really easy. Buy your bus ticket before going out, and then wait for the bus. Done! Next thing I know, I met up with Mr. Sang, on to the really high-tech electronic Airbnb room door, and slept like a baby.

A Day In Seoul - South Korea by Catching Carla
Loitering around Seoul while waiting for my friend : Photo @catchingcarla

The next day, I planned my entire day at Nami Island, which will be featured on my next post, so let’s skip to that for now and go to my DAY 2: City Tour – Seoul. I arranged a meeting at Changgyeonggung Palace with my really cute Korean Friend Jun. Because I am a little excited (As usual) I arrived at the place two hours ahead of our scheduled meeting (lol). So, I ended up sight-seeing, trying out street food and cute coffee shops before I eventually decided to wait for him inside the Palace itself (yes, I know, I’m impatient).

A Day in Seoul South Korea by catching carla
Loitering around the palaces while waiting for my friend : Photo by @catchingcarla

Changdeokgung Palace

(Entrance Fee : 3,000 won)

All of my friends tell me one thing : Visit one palace, and you’d pretty much saw all the palaces. I researched which palace is the best but, my dear friend Jun recommended this one since it has a Secret Garden (more on that later). The palace was built by King Sejong for his father King Taejong, during the 15th century, making this palace one of the oldest establishments in Korea. Although the Japanese once turned this beautiful palace into a Zoo and botanical garden, the korean government restored the palace in 1983, by relocating the zoo to Seoul land and establishing this palace as a historical national site. My dear sweet friend Jun arrived around 11 am, just in time for the opening of the Secret Garden, but had to return his extra ticket because apparently, he pre-ordered one for me (I didn’t know this so I bought one on-site, oops!) Luckily, he was able to get his refund and we went on with our tour! We had a bit of extra free time to have a last look at the palace and here are the pics:

Secret Garden

(Entrance Fee: 5,000 won)

To be honest, I have only one regret regarding this place. I should have rented a hanbok (Korean traditional clothing) before going here, so I would have had amazing photos to ponder when I get home. I saw some tourists going about the place with their hanboks and I have to admit, I was a bit jealous. Although, it looks freakishly hot and warm underneath all that cloth! So perhaps I made the right decision after all! Koreans call this place “Biwon” or Secret Garden because it is a bit isolated from the rest of the palace. It served as a relaxation and resting place for the former Korean royals. Funny enough, I haven’t heard of this place before, so I have to give a huge hug to my friend for informing me about it. The place looks quaint and refreshing. I can imagine myself doing yoga underneath those trees!

Bukchon Hanok Village

(No Entrance Fee, but Hanbok can be rented for 10,000 won)

Okay, I splurged a little bit on this little village, because I was determined to wear the Korean Hanbok! You can also rent your own hanbok for as low as 8,000 won if you promise to post your photo wearing the traditional clothing on your Instagram account! Rent it here: Hanbok Yoon, Jongno-gu, Gyedong-gil 70-24, on the way to Bukchon Hanok Village. They have A LOT of Hanbok selections, but obviously, I had my heart set on my all pink hanbok, because I need to give justice to my inner childish dreams. The lady was super nice and she even braided my hair for free! In other words, go to Hanbok Yoon, they are awesome. We also visited some sort of a university that I forgot the name about and ate some Korean dessert. (by the way, our trips are usually filled with 60% walking around, and 40% eating). I love you Jun for enduring my never ending appetite! and for being an awesome photographer (instagram prince right there).

Insadong

(Free – and only a few minutes away from Bukchon Hanok Village, Just walk it!)

Yeah well, this is where I had an episode of Marilyn Monroe, and showed the entire Seoul-nation my black underpants (too windy). Insadong is a marketplace, quite similar to Myeongdong, but selling more local items. This is a good place for buying authentic souvenirs! Like cute little chopsticks, handmade notebooks and etc. We didn’t spend too much time here for one reason: I want to eat again. lol

Changgyeonggung River

(Free- and close by Insadong as well)

I initially removed this from my itinerary because I thought we didn’t have time to see it until we passed by the river on our way to Myeongdong. My amazing friend is indeed full of surprises! Apparently, it is even more stunning during night time but honestly, I was too hungry to care (plus my feet is beginning to sore from too much walking). We arrived at the river around sunset, so the place looked so magical as the ray of yellow and orange peek ever so shyly underneath the bridge. Remind me again why I didn’t spend more time chilling at this place.

Myeongdong

(Free entrance and the best place for Money Exchange)

Like all countries in Asia, there is a designated place for your night shopping. In Seoul, it is no other than Myeondong- the land of cheap Korean cosmetics, branded clothes and cute little gadgets. I even saw that huge bear from LINE MESSENGER! (but was too lazy to line up for a picture). This night market is so lively and colorful, it almost reminds me of hong kong. You can find cute coffee shops at every corner, cheap deals and lots of Korean Street Food. This is also the best place to have your money exchanged.

Hello Kitty Cafe

(No entrance fee, but you have to order if you want to stay)

This one is a little extra on my itinerary. I begged my friend Jun to find this place for me (haha!) I saw it on a Facebook post a few days before I left for Korea, and decided that I will not settle until I sipped one cup of coffee at this place. There are no legit Hello Kitty cafe’s in Manila yet, so I was thrilled to finally visit my little land of pink and cats. Well, the pictures below is a solid evidence of my happiness. My friend wasn’t too thrilled about it though, I mean, he is a guy… He will never understand. haha

N Seoul Tower

(Entrance Fee: 10,000 won)

The last but not the least stop of the day! Ride a bus from Myeongdong to N Seoul Tower and be greeted with the best view of Seoul’s Skyline! It is located on top of a hill, which will probably abuse the remaining energy of your body! No need to ride anything to go up the hill, because the view while walking is absolutely breathtaking! There is a Lovelock section on top of the tower, and a SONLY LED Tunnel on the 2nd floor. Be warned: If you are single, get ready to be a little bit bitter. The place was packed with LOVERS and COUPLES, that it made me feel like a sad little traveler. I mean, I’d love to hug my friend Jun, but he is busy with his photography skills. I ended up embracing my freezing ass instead. Whew!

Travel Seoul South Korea
The Main Tower

Hello Kitty World

(Entrace Fee: 2,000 won)

Okay, by this time, I am extremely exhausted. I have literally spent 18 hours of my entire day WALKING. But come on – HELLO KITTY WORLD. Who would want to miss this?

Hello Kitty World: Seoul South Korea
Hello Kitty Family

In conclusion 

I know I might have missed some important details in terms of transportation, but seriously, I just walked and walked and walked so I really cannot give you much info about it. The Train Stations are also very easy to figure out: If you have a T-Money Card, just put in around 2000 won for the entire day. It should be sufficient enough to let you travel around. Transportation is really not that expensive. Using the Subway App, it should tell you which train station should you take, what floor color and number you should line to, and which train stop should you get off. Follow it like your life depended on it! and you should have no problems getting lost. Not a lot of Koreans can speak English, so be very critical whenever you ask questions. I find that the young generations are more helpful than the elderly because of the language barrier. All-in-all, I LOVE SEOUL! I love my buddy Jun-Kyo as well because the girls look at him like he’s a Korean pop-star (oh yes! he is that dreamy! lol) and I like teasing him about it (smirking). Thanks for going through this lengthy post. I hope you got what you need for a day tour around Seoul! Kamsahamnida! <3

Me and my Friend JunKyo- travel seoul south korea
Me and my Friend JunKyo

Want to know more about touring Seoul? Leave a comment below! 

Learn more where I stayed through this link:

Gangdong Gu

Host Name: Sang

Link: https://www.airbnb.com/users/show/17307948

Follow me on my next adventure:


My name is Carla Ramos and I am The Traveling Filipina. I like doing nerdy digital marketing stuff on my laptop and read interesting books - as I sing my way towards my next destination. I also believe that cats are meant to be cuddled, chocolates are meant to be eaten (by me), and that there is no greater love than FOOD.

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