Today I finally got the time to share the whole plan to Korea during for 10 days from 27th April 2016 until 7th May 2016.
Surprisingly, this was my first time to have solo trip to a foreign country which I can’t really speak in her language even though I watched tons of Korean dramas. Hahaha!
So, without any delay, I should start with my itinerary.
Day 1: 27th April 2016
I travelled by ETX from Butterworth to KL Sentral. ETS is one of the best thing happen in Malaysia so that the Northern people can travel to KL Sentral within 3.5 to 4 hours depends on which train you choose.
There are two types of ETS seat you can choose:
a) Gold Class (RM59 includes GST)
b) Platinum Class (RM79 includes GST) – Faster and free breakfast-Normally one small box of Milo, a packet of cake/biscuit and a pack of snack.
I have used ETS train service for 4 times and so far I give 4.5/5 star because there was a time ETS and normal KTM got accidents and caused delay for few hours. However, I think it is a rare case.
I reached KL Sentral by ETS and then take shutter bus from there to KLIA2. You can choose to take train as well, but the price is quite high.
a) Bus = Around RM12 (Cheaper, take around 1 hour/1 hour and half to reach, tickets are available at counter)
b) Rapid Train (KLIA Express) = RM55 (More expensive, take around 30~40 minutes to reach. You may use Touch n Go card or you can buy tickets online or at counter)
I reached KLIA2 at around 12 am and I have to cancel my plan to stay in cabin because it was fully booked. So, I just ordered meal at the food counter and spent my long night without sleeping in the airport. I saw a lot of people slept on the floor but I don’t think it is safe if you are alone. So, better don’t sleep! haha!
I knew it was super inconvenient to travel with you huge luggage when you are alone because nobody can help you to look after your belongings when you have to go restroom. So, what I have done or suggested you to do is to get your luggage sent to the locker service for better option. I think I have spent around RM50 for my huge luggage and the rate was calculated based on daily basis.
Day 2: 28th April 2016
Finally it was 7 am and I have to check in my luggage, and have my security check before entering the waiting hall. I was excited and a little nervous because I scared the Korean cannot understand what I am trying to say, but it did turned out well!
Since I did not sleep the whole night, I passed out during the whole journey on plane to Korea. I was so tired that I slept soundly. I am sorry to my next person if I ever slept on your shoulder, =P.
The first thing I have done when I reached Incheon International Airport was not to buy the T-money card (Ya, I didn’t), but I went straight to the SIM card counter for buying/renting the SIM card. You know internet is important when you are in foreign country as it helps to find directions and translate! You can buy T-money card (CU card) at any convenient store, so no need to worry.
I chose to rent the SIM card from Olleh because it is unlimited data and the price is reasonable. However, you need to have credit card to sign up for this plan because they need it for security confirmation. You can choose to pay cash 33000 won (Around RM 120) after they swap your card. For those who can’t speak Korean, you do not need to worry because most of them (counter customer services) can speak good English/Chinese Mandarin. If you go with a group of friends, please choose EGG Wifi, better rate per person. There are many brands you can choose, but I personally prefer Olleh because I have great experience with them.
After that, I went to the bus ticket counter to buy the bus ticket to Hyehwa, the station I should go to my hostel. Hyehwa is located at Northern Seoul, which is quite near to Myeongdong and Dongdaemum. The bus number is 6011 if you want to go to Induk University area (Please click the link for the official route and timetable). The reason I choose to stay in Bong House in Hyehwa is because it is very cheap and the owner will provide additional 5% discount if you book through their website. Furthermore, it is really near to SungkyunKwan university which means you can meet a lot of students in this area.
Bong House is near to Hyehwa Subway Exit 4. I think the friendly Staff in Bong House really good in recommending great food and location to visit. They are hired by Mr. Bong (The Owner of Bong House) to help to manage the hostels (Ya, Mr. Bong owns several hostels nearby Hyehwa area).
As you can see from the map, in this area, you can find almost everything such as food, skin care shopping shops like Olive Young, Toly Moly, Innisfree and etc. The convenient stores are everywhere like CU Mart and 7-Eleven. If you want some fast food and coffee, McDonalds, Starbucks and some Korean Coffee Shops are in walking distance.
However, since you want to Explore Korea, you should try the local food! My favourite dish TOP 1 is Jajangmyeon ( 짜장면), which is the black bean paste noodles. Even though the Korean claims it is a Chinese dish, I never eat it before.
However, I want to be honest with you all. I don’t really care much on my food, and I just want to try local cheap food. So, I normally settle my meal by visiting CU mart right opposite Bong House. Hehehehe.
I remembered I reached Bong House around 7pm because I got lost. I went to another side of the street towards the Hyehwa Subway Exit 4. However, with the help of Bong House staff and map, I managed to find it! *Yay*!
The weather during end of April to Early May is nice. I really enjoyed the weather in Seoul because Malaysia is super hot at 37 degree Celsius at that time. It was around 16~18 degree Celcius in Seoul and I wore shorts to go out!
Day 2 was tiring so I had my dinner and went out to Myeongdong to have a walk without any shopping. I planned to come back few days before I went back to Malaysia to have huge shopping. But actually I was stunned and blurred because the whole Myeongdong area was like a maze. All shops are similar and the people speak Mandarin. I had hard time to determine whether I was in Korea or China.
For those who want to change money in Korea, I have a great money exchanger to introduce to all of you. It is one of the best rate providers in Seoul and also South Korea. The name is “一品香”. I do not sure what is the shop name in Korean and English, but I have attached the map and the shop photo at here. Photo credited to this website.
My advice to all my friends, please change USD before go to Korea because it provides the best rate compared to you change Korean Won in your local money changer. However, please do change a few hundred thousand Won for bus fees and food. The airport money changer is the worst, so don’t change there.
After Myeongdong trip, I decided to rest early because the next day I went to all the palaces and museum as planned.
Day 3: 29th April 2016
I woke up around 7 am because the sky was bright like a diamond in this hour *Metaphor till max* and I found out there was a man sitting on sofa. Immediately I felt awake and I helped him to call Mr. Bong to handle his registration.
So, later on I asked him whether he wanted to join me for the trip to palaces or not as he seemed to be blurred. *I know I am bad*
So, it turned out okay as he said he wanted to join me so we walked around the Gyeongbokgong area in a day. We have visited total 3 palaces, a museum, Gwanghwamun Square, Jogyesa Temple, and Bukchon Hanok Village. It was a tiring day but we did have fun.
If you want to watch the Royal Guard Changing Ceremony in Gyeongbokgung (Gwanghwamun Gate), please be in Gyeongbokgung before 10 a.m. The time may vary depending on the seasons, so please check before you go to Korea.
Then, we visited around the palaces for different buildings. There are similarities between the architecture of Chinese and Korea due to historical culture exchange.
The next destination was Jogyesa Temple. It was decorated with colorful lanterns which makes the temple looks beautiful.
Korean Buddhist celebrates Buddha Day differently from the Buddhist in Malaysia. Normally in Malaysia, we celebrate Wesak Day during Mid-May but they celebrate earlier. However, I do believe all the understanding and teaching of Buddha are the same regardless of race and culture.
It was lunch time after we visited Jogyesa Temple so we walked to Insadong to have our lunch. Insadong is one of the tourism spot in Seoul as there are many souvenir shops for the tourists to look into. Constantine (My new friend) had been spotted by the locals as he has blonde hair and the local kids asked him to take photos with them. (*Koreans are curious and very into Blondie with Green Eyes* , LOL.)
So, finally we settled in a Korean restaurant to have our lunch. The lunch set is 6000 won (Quite expensive though).
I ordered Kimchi Stew for myself and he ordered some seaweed and tofu rice? (I forgot the actual name) as he cannot take spicy food. The portion is large but it is just sufficient because we walked a lot (Actually I ate most of the side dishes, haha). The taste is ok, not super impressive because I have high-class taste buds (Don’t be silly).
After we finished (He can’t), we continue our journey to Bukchon Hanok Village. If you worried you will get lost there, please feel free to visit their tourism center at the beginning of the road. They will provide you the map and explain the route you can go around the area and lastly end up at the nearest subway station to go back to your hostel. It is nearby to Gyeongbokgung and Cheong Wa Dae 청와대 – a.k.a President’s House).
Bukchon Hanok Village is a culture heritage place where the houses are still remained the same like the houses in Joseon Dynasty. The tourists are requested to stay quiet and do not speak loudly as there are residents. Some of the owners have renovate their houses into guesthouses and cultural centers to enables tourists to experience the lifestyle of a Korean back in those days. You can rent Hanbok here and even learn KiSaeng Art.
After that, we walked around the streets and found out some cute shops (mostly coffee shops, restaurants and clothes shop). There is a “Before I die” board for people to write down what they want to achieve/do before they die.
So, I was thinking, what I want to do before I die? Of course with a person I love, travel to other places in the world and have my own successful career. *Finger crossed*
Our last station was at Cheong Wa Dae, it is really beautiful with a lot of flowers. The guards are super helpful even though some of them can’t speak good English. I guess the mountain behind provide a good fengshui for the president, hahaha!
I was super tired on Day 3 because we walked total of 17 km. Omg, it was crazy and my legs were uncontrollable after we reached hostel. I asked the hotel assistance to help me to order Jajangmyeon and I slept soundly after bath.