Just in time to step into the land of Kimchi, Seoul, Korea this October 2015 to witness the beauty of early autumn that comprises a myriad of colours – green, yellow, orange, red, as well as, in between for maples. Our 6D5N trip was 21th – 26th October, which we personally feel, one of the best time to travel in Seoul. Windy and not too cold with temperature around 20 degree celsius during day time (~16 degree celsius at night), occasional rains but blue sky after that.
|Jinokhwa Halmae Wonjo Dakhanmari
SamCheong-Dong Mukshidonna One Pot Cheese Ramen Tteokbokki
KyoChon Fried Chicken 橋村炸雞
|Red Piggy Bank Korean Stone Grill BBQ Restaurant
|MyeongDong Yi Pin Xiang Jajangmyeon
MyeongDong Milky Bee Rose Ice Cream
|Myeongdong Wangbijib Traditional Korean Restaurant
Beans Bin Cafe Waffle
|Sinchon Chun Cheon Dakgalbi
Shin Seon Seolnongtang
|Dong Dae Mun Design Plaza
|Bukchon Village 8 Views
Sam Cheong Dong
Hong Dae Night Life
|MyeongDong Milky Bee Rose Ice Cream
Ehwa Woman University
|N Seoul Tower
LINE Friends Store & Cafe Sinsadong
Hongdae KT&G Sangsangmadang
Hongdae 1300k Stationary Shop
|HyeHwa Station Ihwa Art Mural Streets
Seoul Station LOTTE Duty Free Mart
|Hongdae Hostel Room+Plus
|Hongdae Hostel Room+Plus
|Hongdae Hostel Room+Plus
|Hongdae Hostel Room+Plus
|Hongdae Hostel Room+Plus
|Hongdae Hostel Room+Plus
Seoul Itinerary Day 1: Kuala Lumpur -> Incheon International Airport -> Hongdae Hostel Room+Plus -> DongDaeMun Jinokhwa Halmae Wonjo Dakhanmari (Jin Ok–hwa Original Chicken Restaurant) 陳于華奶奶一只雞 -> Dong Dae Mun Design Plaza (DDP Plaza) 東大門設計廣場 -> Hongdae Hostel Room+Plus
We fly with Air Asia, arriving Incheon International Airport at 3.30PM. Time range is one hour ahead of Malaysia. Modern, busy airport with ample of shops and cafes. There are few ways to reach the city of Seoul – by bus, by train or by cab. Since we are staying at Hongik University Station (Hongdae Station at subway line 2) which directly connected to AREX ( Airport Railway Train), we skipped the hassle to know how to reach Seoul City by bus. Took the lift and went to level B1 at airport, follow the signboard of Airport Railroad to reach.
AREX is categorized into AREX All-Stop-Train and AREX Express Train. For All-Stop-Train, it will stop at 8 stations. You can transfer to different subway line at different station. While for Express Train, as it is named, more express, faster and bring you straight from Incheon International Airport to Seoul Station (Where the famous Lotte Duty Free Mart located). Purchase ticket on the spot, or use T-Money (like our Touch n’ Go). We took about one hour to reach Hongik, with tired-forced-to-smile face.
We stayed at Room+ Plus Hostel, situated just before Hongdae Exit 3. Yeap, we are staying inside the subway station. Very convenient, but more quiet compared to Exit 8 and Exit 9 of Hongik University which filled with plenty of university energy. Very big LINE-inspired room that can sleep up to 4 to 6 pax, overloaded with LINE decorations. So adorable.
First meal in Seoul – Whole Chicken at DongDaeMun Jinokhwa Halmae Wonjo Dakhanmari (Jin Ok-hwa Original Chicken Restaurant陳于華奶奶一只雞) , DongDaemun Station Exit 9. A very straight forward dish, putting together whole chicken, potatoes and Korean sticky rice cake in chicken soup. Not much surprise for the chicken, but the soup was noteworthy for gathering all sweet essence of chicken.
Wanted to walk to DongDaeMun Culture & Historical Park after the dinner, but was all lost, and not sure how long was needed to reach the station. Hence we hopped on the subway and aligned at DongDaeMun Culture & Historical Park Exit 1, finally get to see the breathtaking building DongDaeMun Design Plaza (DDP) helmed with fascinated design. Very, very beautiful at night. Read more HERE.
Seoul Itinerary Day 2: Hongdae Hostel Room+Plus -> Bukchon Village 8 Views 北村八景 -> Sam Cheong Dong 三清洞 -> Cafe 5Cijung -> Insadong Ssamziegil 仁寺洞人人廣場 -> SamCheong-Dong Mukshidonna One Pot Cheese Ramen Tteokbokki 摩西吃休錢走起司年糕鍋 -> KyoChon Fried Chicken 橋村炸雞 -> Hongdae Hostel Room+Plus
Second day morning in Seoul wasn’t cold as we expected. Big hot sun and we were literally sweating from climbing up and down many slopes in Bukchon Village. Nevertheless, it was a worthwhile experience exploring the 8 scenes that took us about 3 hours of walking tour.
Get transported from the past to the current era as soon as we walked down the stone staircase (the 8th Bukchon Village view) – SamCheongDong, one of the most talked about streets in Seoul for travellers. The street is brimming with lots of cafes and shops, from famous Cafe Beans Bins, Haagen Daz, Godiva Cafe to humble Cafe 5Cjiung, and more. Each shop is unique at their own way, carrying different colours and design. A good stop to rest after the tired walking at Bukchon Village.
Visited Cafe 5Cjiung, a white colour small shop situated beside Sweet Pizza. We read from some blog reviews that Souffle here was good but sadly, it wasn’t up to our expectation. Soft and airy but too wet, soggy in texture, with distinct unpleasant eggy taste that made us hard to finish. Vanilla ice cream came along was good though. Coffee was average.
Continued to Insadong -gil which is 5 minutes away from the end of SamCheongDong street. Again, we were back to traditional with so many shops selling antique stuffs along the road. Took a round at Ssamziegil and came out in less than 10 minutes. Nothing interest us, just plenty of small decorations for home living, and gifts. Remember to try out Dung Shape Pancake.
Return to SamCheongDong for early dinner at Mukshidonna, or more known as Eat.Rest.Pay.Leave. (吃休钱走 ) in Chinese. One pot cooked dish, immersing sausages, cabbage, noodles and tteokboki in a bed of thick, sweet orange colour gravy , laced with mild spiciness. Not too bad, and the noodles especially, matching well with the sauce.
Still not get used to too much of walking, so we planned to call it a day. Back to Hongik University Station and packed Original Fried Chicken from KyoChon Restaurant as supper. We actually expected similar fried chicken for KyoChon Malaysia and KyoChon Korea, but somehow, both are kinda different in term of appearance and taste.
Seoul Itinerary Day 3: Hongdae Hostel Room+Plus -> Nami Island 南怡島 -> Petite France 法國小王子村 -> Red Piggy Bank Korean Stone Grill BBQ Restaurant 弘大小豬存錢桶石頭烤肉 -> Hong Dae Night Life -> Hongdae Hostel Room+Plus
Woke up very early on the third day in Seoul as we would be heading to Nami Island. It took about 2 hours plus for train and boat transfer before we could reach there. Reasons for making this effort? No other reason, but to catch the beautiful scenery of Nami Island in Autumn.
Asking if this worth, Summerkid answer is definitely YES. One can actually spend whole day on the island. There are many activities to do in Nami Island, such as bicycle riding, strolling around the island, admiring the nature beauty, walked in the greens, etc.. But we planned to visit France Petite France too, which required time matching with Gapyeong Tourist Bus so we reluctantly left after 3 hours.
Petite France was a disappointment. You don’t lose anything even if you miss this, unless you are a big fan of Petite France. There are many colourful houses, summarizing the history of this character at different decades. Some building are equipped with furnishing in old European, which to us, seems so creepy. You can overnight here too if you wished to, as we saw quite a few guest houses here.
We thought of moving to The Garden of Morning Calm after Petite France but the park killed all our excitement. We felt boring walking in Petite France. To avoid disappointment, we decided to skip third travel destination and returned to Hongdae for dinner instead. Dinner cost 33000won, quite expensive if compared to Malaysia but this is the price range in Seoul. Luckily it was good, and we enjoyed grilling our meat on black stone, the speciality in this Korean Barbecue Restaurant.
Seoul Itinerary Day 4: Hongdae Hostel Room+Plus -> Ehwa Woman University 梨花大學 -> GyeongBokGung 景福宮 -> MyeongDong Yi Pin Xiang Jajangmyeon 明洞一品香炸醬麵 -> MyeongDong Milky Bee Rose Ice Cream 明洞玫瑰冰淇淋 -> Hongdae Hostel Room+Plus
Waking up feeling happy as we saw a trace of blue sky in the morning. The sky had been looking gloomy for the past two days, pale white, foggy. Managed to capture some nice pictures at Ehwa Woman University. A university as tourist destination? Sounds odd but standing in front of the university, the awesome view says it all. European constructions, surrounded by lush greenery. Wide, long hallway, we could hardly take our eyes of this place.
To keep the blue sky in frame, we switched the planned destination to GyeongBokGung Palace at GyeongBokGung Station, 1 station away from Anguk Station (where we visited bukchon village).
No breakfast. No lunch. By the time we walked out from GyeongBokGung, we were exhausted. Forced ourselves to take train, transfer stations and walked through the many staircases in their subway stations (Why is there so many staircases in Seoul subways?) and reached MyeongDong. Went to Yi Pin Xiang and had Jajangmyeon. First time trying out this legendary noodles which looks delicious in Korean drama, but sorry to say that, it wasn’t our favourite, probably due to the very gooey dark sauce. Good try though, as now we know it tasted different from what we thought of all this while.
Had a walk around the busy, happening streets in MyeongDong later and checked out Milky Bee, a brand specializes in gelato ice cream in rose shape. Another gimmick to draw crowds, but who doesn’t like pretty things? Hehe. So we bought one too at 3800won.
Comparing to Ehwa, Sinchon, Hongdae, Myeong Dong is the place we like the least. It is way too touristy. Every shop aims to make as much sales as possible from tourists. Street food are more expensive. Noisy. Countless cosmetic shops like Innisfree, Etude House, Tony Moly, Nature Republic, etc..
Seoul Itinerary Day 5: Hongdae Hostel Room+Plus -> N Seoul Tower N首爾塔(Free Hanbok Experience) -> Myeongdong Wangbijib Traditional Korean Restaurant 明洞王妃傢韓式烤肉 -> Sinsa-Dong Garosu-gil 新沙東林蔭大道 -> LINE Friends Store & Cafe Sinsadong -> Beans Bin Cafe Waffle -> Hongdae KT&G Sangsangmadang, Hongdae 1300k Stationary Shop -> Hongdae Hostel Room+Plus
On the day 5, we visited the last few places we wanted to go, including N Soeul Tower and LINE Friends Store & Cafe. The place seems to have an equal amount of tourists and locals, with festivals and events going on during our visit. Saw many Koreans having picnic too.
You may purchase love locks and lock it on the fence, signifying forever-and-ever never berpisah relationship with your loved one.
We were lucky to experience free Hanbok at Nam Sam Tower. Reservation time is 11AM-12.15PM. By the time we left the place, the booth was already gone to no where. LOL. Suggest to visit N Seoul Tower in the morning because as afternoon reach, the queue begin getting longer at ticket counter. However, it is up to your preference, in case you prefer to go up during sunset time.
Lunch at Myeongdong Wangbijib Traditional Korean Restaurant. This eatery is famous for Korean premium beef which can burn a whole in your pocket. Felt so wanted to try but due to budget constraint, we ordered only Korean BBQ Beef Set Meal and BBQ Pork Set Meal which are more valuable in price. Meat was good, deeply flavoured. Side dishes are generous, including noodles, salad, vegetables, soup and more.
Energy recharged after a heavy meal. It’s time to step into a place we have been longing for long – LINE Friends Store & Cafe at Sinsadong!!
OMG we were so excited jumping around the store, hugging LINE plush toys, taking pictures with the giant BROWN and felt like buying all the magnets, notebook, table ware and many many more back home!!
When we walked out from LINE Store & Cafe, two hours already pass. Didn’t really discover Sinsa-Dong Garosu-gil in detail as the place are again, mostly shops and restaurants, some are familiar international high-street clothing brands. Decided to try out waffle at Beans Bins Cafe since we skipped it when in SamCheongDong. Texture wise, more to fluffy dense but could be more crispy at the edges.
We then went back to Hongdae, tracing down some of the stationary shops there to look for Gold Night View Scratch Book from Lago Design. Luck wasn’t by our side, as we failed to get the big size scratch book, but only Lago Design X Seoul Korea Gold Night View Scratch Book. The very last one, not so good condition, purchased at KT&G Sangsangmadang.
Seoul Itinerary Day 6: Hongdae Hostel Room+Plus -> HyeHwa Station Ihwa Art Mural Streets 惠化壁畫村 -> Sinchon Chun Cheon Dakgalbi 春川辣炒雞排 -> Seoul Station LOTTE Duty Free Mart 樂天免稅店 -> Shin Seon Seolnongtang 神仙雪濃湯 -> Cafe Comma -> Back Malaysia
The very last day was more to leisure time. Visited Ihwa Art Mural Streets art at HyeHwa Stations and appreciate some wall arts randomly, then moved on to Chun Cheon Dakgalbi at Sinchon Station. Even though famous, the dalkgalbi didn’t bring much surprise to the palate, fall short in flavours. Even the Hong Kong couple sat next to our table said the same.
Time for shopping! Market O Brownie, Market O Real Chocolate Biscuits, Seasoned Seaweed, Lotte Marshmallow Chocolate Cake, Banana Milk, Starbucks Canned Coffee, Cafe Bene Coffee, Instant SamGyeTang, Ghana Chocolate, Kimchi, …countless products that made you lose control, buying non-stop.
Since Summerkid suffered from upset stomach after eating sausage bought from the street in Hongdae, we went light for dinner at Shin Seon Seolnongtang. Shin Seon Seolnongtang is famous for their white cloudy soup, boiled for long hours using beef to result in nourishing, nutritious soup. It was rather tasteless, add pinch of salt and pepper to make the entire soup more alright.
Final stop before leaving for Malaysia- A cup of latte and a piece of tiramisu at Hongik Station Cafe Comma Page2. Coffee was still average, same to the cake but not going to complain much again because most coffee we tried out in Seoul was not up to expectation, and we were short of time to try out more cafes to get real good coffee. Bye for now. Will blog and review each place we had visited in detail soon!
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Write Up: Summergirl