I am a lazy person when comes to writing, but, I had promised myself to write at least two articles. So, here is the second part of the Korea trip.
Day 4: 30th April 2016
Since, we have plan our own trip, I did not continue my trip with Constantine. I planned to go to Gapyeong on Day 4 so I woke up earlier because the trip to Gapyeong from Seoul (Cheongnyangni) is around 45 minutes with ITX.
From Hyehwa station (Line 4), I took subway to Dongdaemun Station (line 1). Then from Dongdaemun Station, I took subway to Cheongnyangni. Why I need to go to Cheongnyangni? It is because Cheongnyangni is the nearest ITX (fast train) station to go to Gapyeong.
ITX ticket can be booked online or can be bought through the ticket machine. However, you have to know Korean language in order to use the machine. The ticket price is differ based on the seat you choose. You can choose to have a seat (comfortably) or you can choose to stand. I chose to stand because I want to save money. 45 minutes is quite long if you are not a “standing” person. But I just took it as an exercise.
Here I show you all how to book train ticket online. You can collect your ticket in the counter when you reach Cheongnyangni.
Go to the Korail website. Then fill in the details (Date and time you want). Please make sure you choose “Normal type” for Travel Categories and “Direct” for Travel Type. After you have filled in the details, please click “Inquiry”.
Step 2: Choose the departure time you want and click “Select” for the train you chose. If the train seat is fully booked, it means you have to stand and you might need to buy the ticket through machine because it will not be available online.
Step 3: After you select, you need to fill in the form for confirmation. Please remember to read the term and conditions before you book so you know how to get your ticket on time in order to avoid the delay of your trip.
Gapyeong Trip – Nami Island and Petite France
Once you reach Gapyeong, please find for the shuttle bus to Namiseom and Petite France. It should be very easy to find because all people wait at the same bus stop.
Please buy the bus ticket with bus driver. The ticket is 6000 won. No credit card or debit card are accepted. So, please bear in mind to prepare enough cash and keep the ticket for the returning bus as the fee has included that.
Normally people will Nami Island first when they reach Gapyeong. I bet this is a tradition or a “Holy Place” for the tourists because Nami Island is famous for “Winter Sonata“. For people who don’t know Winter Sonata? You have outdated. K-drama and K-pop became so famous in this world because of this drama and of course “Autumn in My Heart“. Nami Island a.k.a Namiseom is famous for beautiful scenery with trees which were planted in rows and columns. I personally think that the best season to visit Namiseom is during Spring and Autumn. I have visited during Spring time, so I wish to visit Namiseom again during Autumn!
The entrance fee to Namiseom is 8000 Won for overseas tourist. The fee has included the ferry to Namiseom and out from Namiseom.
The scenery is so impressive! I really love here. I rank Namiseom as No. 2 must visit place (I will reveal number 1 soon) in Korea. You surely can’t miss it!
It is the best if you can visit and feel the atmosphere by yourself. I bet nature lover will come back again and again.
However, I felt disappointed with Petite France. I think 8000 won entry fee is not worth the trip. This is because it is very small and not much activities can be done except drinking coffee and take pictures. But I do admit that the buildings are beautiful.
Actually I planned to go to Garden of Morning Calm after Petite France, but I realized it was too late. So, I decided to skip this and rush back to Gapyeong terminal. The last shutter bus from Morning Calm Arboretum to Gapyeong Terminal is 5pm as the duration is 1 hour and 25 minutes.
Then, without wasting my time in Korea, I rushed to Banpo Bridge at Hangang river to watch the Banpo Bridge Rainbow Water Show. Please keep in mind to check the time before you go to Korea to ensure you do not missed this. The way to go to Hangang is a little tricky and far by walking distance. So, please wear a comfortable shoes to go unless you want to go by Taxi.
There were a lot of people especially professional photographers to capture photos and trucks which sell Korean street food. Just imagine you have a cup of hot tteokbokki and soju (I will not drink anymore, one bottle is enough) in the cold weather! So enjoy!
After Banpo Bridge, I went back with extremely exhausted body. Once again I bought Bento at CU mart and enjoyed my dinner at Bong House. I slept soundly afterwards!
Day 5: 1st May 2016
Day 5 was a relax day. I woke up a little late, around 9 am, had my breakfast (toast with strawberry jam and my Organo Gold Hot Chocolate), and then went out to Yeouido Hangang Park. Early May is almost the end of Spring in Korea. So I had missed the chance to enjoy the Flower Festival. However, the flowers are still beautiful and the weather was lovely.
Yeouido Park is definitely a place for relaxing, singing and dancing (Yup, I saw few groups of youngster had their group practice and performance here).
After Yeouido, I went to Deoksugung. It is nearby City Hall Station and it is pretty hard to miss. I finally had the chance to wear free Hanbok for 5 minutes. Yes, only 5 minutes. If you want to wear Hanbok for longer period, you can rent them. I do not sure about the price but it is easy to excess around Seoul. You may Google it.
There are three times of royal guard changing ceremony in Deoksugung per day. You may check online for the time as it might change.
Please wait for it to finish, then you rent the Hanbok and take photos with the guards.
The lady who took the photo together with me is a Chinese-Malaysian, like me. I was wondering why she spoke Chinese to me as many Korean people spoke Korean to me as they thought I am Korean *No, I do not look like typical Korean, hahaha!* She was lovely and helpful, asked me whether I want to snap more photos as I helped her earlier. She was travelling alone too. It was nice to meet someone from Malaysia in foreign country.
I went to famous university area – Hongik University/Ehwa University after that. There are many people around this area especially university students. The clothes are cheaper and trendy, skincare/makeup shops are everywhere and of course food stalls/restaurants. I did not know what happened but I just felt that this area is not my cup of tea. Maybe I am a boring person, haha! I am a nature lover and I love unique architecture.
I did not take pictures in this area because I left pretty fast. I took Subway back to Bong House and rest until night. Then, I walked around Sungkyunkwan area and had my dinner. *Hey, I was lazy already, but this is the fun of travelling alone, you can control what you want to do.*
I bought soju and one pack of local snack for dinner as all people said we should try soju in Korea. Unfortunately, after i finished the bottle, I felt so dizzy so I laid down on my bed. Maybe because I drank soju with empty stomach, I vomited and I swore I will not drink soju again.
Day 6 : 2nd May 2016
I was lazy again so I woke up late. Day 6 was tiring and adventurous, because I walked alone up to Naksan to see the Seoul City Wall. There are many routes you can choose as it is impossible for you to complete the journey by visiting the whole wall in one day. It was recommended by a Canadian who stayed in Bong House with me and he said all people should visit this place even though it is tiring. The recommended way to walk around Seoul City Wall is to go up to the highest place, then walk down from the hill, so you do not feel tired. I did the other way round, so I ended up super tired and hot because Seoul was sunny during that time. Please wear a comfortable shoes and ready to get sweat.
Naksan is nearby to Hyehwa-dong. Follow the sign board or ask for direction if you lost. If they cannot tell you the exact way, just ask Google Map or Waze, they are super helpful. If you do not want to walk up to Naksan, just take a bus. There are buses which travel from the city to Naksan. From there, you can start to walk down while hunting for famous mural drawings around Hyehwa-dong.
I spent hours in these area because I lost. The neighbourhood is big and there are similar houses everywhere. So, just be ready for it if you want to travel here.
My journey in Seoul continued with wandering around Hyehwa-dong because I felt tired to go to other places. I stopped by the art center to enjoy some photographers’ exhibition.
You can stop by and enjoy the exhibition for free, and buy their masterpiece. I enjoyed my tea time at Angel in Us coffee shop by drinking milk tea and have a slide of cake. After that, I walked back to Bong House (It was a long journey) and took my rest. I met newcomers from Malaysia (two Chinese ladies and two Malay ladies) and we discussed about the places in Korea. I introduced and recommended them must-go places in Seoul and they decided to visit those places.
Day 7 : 3rd May 2016
However, the rain god came to visit us again in Day 7, so five of us had to cancel our own plan and went to National Museum. All of them were disappointed because they wanted to go to Nami Island and Petite France.
After visiting National Museum, the rain started to become heavy around 12pm and I went to Itaewon area. I was pretty disappointed because I can’t explore Itaewon, the well-known tourist spot of Seoul. Itaewon is the central part of Seoul which all the foreigners love to hang out here. The food price is higher in Itaewon compared to other parts of Seoul. Thus, I decided to order Shrimp burger in McDonald, which cannot be found in Malaysia.
I also cancelled my trip to Itaewon Line and Friends Shop and Cafe because my umbrella was broken. So I have to rush back to Bong House with a wet body.
In case you want to know the address:
Line Flagship Store @ Itaewon
Address: 126 Hangangno-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Contact: +82 2-790-0901
Operation Hours: 11:30am – 10:00pm
Station: Itaewon Station, Exit 3
Since I did “nothing” on Day 6, I went to Myeongdong during night time to have some window shopping. I bought skincares from Innisfree and cute stockings for 1000 won per pair. It is a good deal because the quality is good.
For Innisfree/Korean skincares & cosmetics lovers, here are some tips for you before you start your shopping in Myeongdong.
- Please do not go to big shop, choose a smaller shop, they give more free samples. The big shops normally are full of tourists and the sales persons are not really helpful and sometimes they are rude.
- Don’t ever think that all Innisfree/other skincare shops are owned by one company. There are different owners and every shop has different discounts and promotions. Please do your surveys before buying anything.
- I enjoyed my shopping in Olive Young, more variety of products.
Day 8 : 4th May 2016
Ahh! Day 8 is my favourite day in Korea because I visited the no. 1 place in Korea, which is Suwon! Please wake up early if you want to go to Suwon. I stayed in Hyehwa which is located at northern part of Seoul and Suwon is located at southern part of Seoul. I took 1 hour and 16 minutes subway in order to reach Suwon station. Suwon is famous for UNESCO World Heritage Site which is Hwaseong Fortress and my favourite place, Suwon Korean Folk Village. Free shutter bus is provided from Suwon Station to Korean Folk Village. The schedule is as follows:
Departure from Suwon Station Exit 4 to SKFV : 10.30/12.30/14.30
Departure from SKFV to Suwon Station Exit 4 : 14.00/15.30/16.30
The journey took around 1 hour to reach SKFV and my advice is to go early as possible as you will miss the exciting and interesting activities in KFV.
Besides traditional dance, you can watch horse performance and also break dance by the young people.
You can buy souvenirs here or even traditional food. All the workers here wear traditional clothes. You will feel like you are living in Joseon Dynasty. *I love it*
I really enjoy my moment here. Don’t forget to mention, the entrance fee is 15000 won, which is a little pricey but I think it is totally worth it!
I went back to Bong House by taking the last available shutter bus to Suwon Station and then went back to Hyehwa by subway.
Day 9 : 5th May 2016
Bongeunsa Temple is one of the largest and most beautiful Buddhist temple in Seoul as well as South Korea. I am amazed with Korea because in the middle of busy city like Seoul, there is a place for praying, so peaceful and so beautiful. It is located at the north of COEX building, which is the largest shopping center (trading center) in Seoul.
You can buy rice for the poor or make donation here. There are counters for inquiries if you do not know how to do it.
Bongeunsa temple is a place worth to visit even you are not a Buddhist. The building architecture is so impressive and beautiful. If you want to understand more on Buddhism, you may join the temple stay. However, please make reservation online before you attend.
Another reminder to all people who want to go to Bongeunsa Temple :
a) Do not talk loudly
b) Take off your shoes when enter every hall/building
After that, I went to COEX building. For me, it is similar to KLCC in Malaysia, nothing too interesting to me.
I continued my trip to N Seoul Tower by waiting Namsan Shutter Bus (No. 3) at Seoul Station Exit 9. The bus comes every 20 minutes. The last bus is around 11.30 pm, so make sure you can catch the bus if you plan to go up late.
I made a crazy decision during that time because I chose to walk up to Namsan from Namsan Park. I thought it should be quite near but in reality, it is very far away. So, please wait until last stop if you do not want to exercise and sweat much. There are people who choose to walk to Namsan as well, even older ladies and men. One thing I do feel surprise about Korean is they can walk very fast and long distance. The office ladies can walk with super high heels elegantly and go up stairs without feel tired. Oh man, no wonder Malaysia has high percentage of Obese people while Korean people are slim. *Don’t hit me, I speak the truth*
I did not go up to N Seoul Tower because the queue was endless. Too many people waited and the ticket is pretty pricey. But, if you have budget for that, please go up. I believe the Seoul night view will be unforgettable.
Actually I wanted to ask the artist to draw my portrait but unfortunately all of them wanted to end their business of the day, so I missed. It is quite depressive but I know I will get the chance again next time!
If you want to go to Namsan by cable car, please remember to buy round trip ticket (8500 won) as the road is quite dark if you want to go down by bus. Furthermore, it is a bonus to enjoy beautiful night view of Seoul from cable car even the trip is just 3~5 minutes.
The exit of cable car is connected to Myeong-dong. So, you can buy your food here (especially street food) and do some shopping.
Day 10 : 6th May 2016
Literally I did nothing. I went to Lotte Mart to buy some snacks for my family and friends and enjoy my last day in Korea. I also did some last minutes skin care shopping at nearest Olive Young in Hyehwa.
Day 11 : 7th May 2016 (Last day)
I left Bong House around 4 a.m to catch the bus to Incheon Airport. For your information, there are buses operating around 4 a.m morning in Korea. A lot of people start their day in this hour, so you can get your breakfast at local kimbap shops pretty easily.
I really happy with my solo trip to Korea and I hope I can inspire more people to start their first solo trip to Korea especially ladies. Korea is a safe country and the people are friendly. If you want to get direction, please ask an adult (working people) who can understand your needs.
Here I end my Korea trip blog and I hope my experience can help you to find your way in Korea.
Good luck, be safe and have fun!