Our recent trip to Korea was definitely a dream come true! And I couldn’t be happier and more content to have spent it with the love of my life. I am not really a fan of the whole Koreanovela Craze but the few ones I have seen were enough to make me go crazy over anything Korean, especially food!
It was only in January, less than 2 months before departure, when Ralph and I decided we wanted to go to Korea. It was only then that we booked our plane tickets and hotel accommodation even before applying for a visa. I know. We were too confident we would get approved. Haha! Luckily, we did!
Since there’s so much to tell about this trip, I have thought of breaking our experiences into a series of posts. Also, I will be sharing our expenses for the whole trip in my final post, in case you are planning to go to Korea too and want to know how much you need to save for your trip. Just don’t cringe, okay? 😊
We flew via Philippine Airlines as always and arrived at Incheon International Airport around 5:30 AM.
Upon arrival, we looked for an Information Desk to ask for directions. Although we knew we would take the train, we still considered some pointers:
TAXI – convenient in terms of not dragging our heavy luggage around to transfer from one station to another and the chance to catch up on our sleep. But, of course, this transportation will no doubt cost us a fortune especially when the distance between airport and Seoul is almost 50kms.
LIMOUSINE BUS – similar to taxi but way cheaper and we have to wait for about 20 minutes to get on another bus if we miss the first one. It is very convenient if our hotel is near the bus stop, which is indeed near as it is just across the hotel. Still, we opted to take the train.
TRAIN – since this was our main transportation in Seoul, we had to learn how to use it as early as when we arrived and be familiar with the stations. Besides, our hotel was just a minute away from the subway station. So yes, this is definitely more convenient and very cost efficient. And who said we wouldn’t be able to sleep inside the train? We were asleep most of the time on our way to the hotel!
- We bought our T-Money Cards, reloadable prepaid card that can be used multiple times, at the Information Desk. We loaded each with ₩50,000 (around P2,240/$45) at a vending machine. We knew this was more than enough for our whole stay in Korea. We just didn’t want to reload every time we run out of balance. Plus, we were told that the remaining balance is refundable.
We arrived at the hotel around 9:30 AM in hopes of an early check-in. But since it was peak season in Korea, the hotel was fully booked. We had to wait until room is available. So, we decided to go around Seoul already as we wait.
Address: 161 Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu
Station: GYEONGBOKGUNG – red line, exit 5
Entrance Fee: ₩3,000
My fascination with temples started after watching the Korean drama series, Goong (Princess Hours), a few years back. Since then, I have been dreaming about going to Korea to understand and experience its culture… And there we were, standing on the grounds of the ancient royal palace, tagged as one of the most iconic sights in Korea.
The major highlight of this palace visit is the Royal Change of Guard Ceremony, which happens every hour between 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Unfortunately, we missed it and we were too impatient that time to wait for the next one.
BUKCHON HANOK VILLAGE
Address: 37, Gyedong-gil, Jongno-gu
Station: ANGUK – red line, exit 1 or 2
Entrance Fee: NONE
After our Prince & Princess hours in Gyeongbokgung, we went to Bukchon Hanok Village to check the traditional houses that it is famous for. I could not exactly tell how to go there because we got lost on foot (blaming it on Ralph for trusting google maps, which suggested that Bukchon was walking distance from the palace *rolls eyes*).
Thankfully, after a long walk and a little argument, we finally saw Korean traditional wooden houses (known as hanok in Seoul) lined up in a small street. That’s when we knew we were in Bukchon. Yay!
We followed the street all the way to the top and found this spot with a view of the Namsan Tower.
Before we headed back to our hotel to rest and call it a day, we had sumptuous lunch somewhere in the village. We were looking for an English sign of the restaurant so we can share how good their food was but we found none. Maybe next time. 😊
That’s just it for DAY 1.
March 15, 2017
For our detailed itinerary and actual expenses, see Seoul: 5 Days Itinerary & Estimated Expenses.