Annyeonghasaeyo! To celebrate the end of 3 long years studying in a polytechnic, my close friends and I took a graduation trip to Korea for 10 days!
It was the first time we had to plan an entire itinerary ourselves and had to keep in mind our tight budget. 10 days were spent in an affordable and cosy hotel right next to Myeongdong subway station, just behind the busy shopping district (~$20/person). The room was simple and small, but the convenient location made up for the mediocre place.
K-Guesthouse Myeongdong 1
Address: 103 Toegye-ro, Chungmuro 1(il)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea•+82 70-8800-3650
A guide that was really useful for me when planning was the official 2019 Seoul Official Tourist Guide.
Now, let’s dive into the few places that we enjoyed visiting!
1.Visit Yeouido Park / Yeouido Hangang Park
The first stop was Yeouido Park (outside Yeouido Station), where we took a stroll surrounded by trees and cherry blossoms. Cherry blossoms typically bloom from late March to Mid-April. Since we arrived in Seoul only on 11th April, we were taking a risk of not being able to see the flowers in full bloom.
If seeing cherry blossoms are a high priority on your list, be sure to check the forecast earlier in the year to plan your trip at the right time. Even when we were there, some of the flowers had started to wither… so BE PREPARED!
Full Bloomed Cherry Blossom flowers at Yeouido Park
Take a peaceful stroll down Yeouido Park
A pond at Yeouido Park
Lunch was at a random restaurant we came across along the streets next to the park. Not sure if it was because of all that walking or because we had craved something hot on that chilly afternoon, that lunch turned out to be one of our best meals for the trip.
The restaurant front where we had lunch
Ordering a simple meal of kimchi stew and steamed egg, we were served Korean purple rice (Korean rice cooked with black rice) and a variety of side dishes to accompany the food. Comfort food at its BEST!
The Giant Omelette that seemed to be ordered by every customer in the restaurant
The old lady serving us was very friendly, using her fluency in Mandarin to take our order. She was surprised that we were from Singapore and started telling us about the time she travelled to OUR country. Perhaps the genuine connection and interaction we made with the local made the meal even better, and we left the place feeling extremely satisfied.
Kimchi Stew Noodles with Purple Rice
After lunch, we continued our stroll towards the Hangang river for a breezy walk.
Open park concept at Yeouido Hangang River
2.A Full day of fun at Everland & Lotte World
These theme park tickets can be bought on Klook for a cheaper price. For Everland, I strongly suggest getting the ticket that includes the shuttle bus services as Everland’s location is further away from the city and would require several transfers. We were so glad to be able to sleep on the bus ride back as it stopped us directly at Myeongdong station where we walked a few minutes back to our hotel.
Four Seasons Garden at Everland
The cable car is a good way of getting around Everland to save your energy for the long day
Top 3 rides for Everland (for the thrill seekers):
Queueing up to ride T- Express, the double loop wooden roller coaster known to be the most thrilling in Everland
This was the most popular ride at the theme park, with many visitors and high school kids were running towards the attraction when the park opened.
Thunder Falls is a water flume ride with one of the steepest falling angle and longest waterway in the world. You are sure to get wet from plunging into the water!
It was common to see people wear ponchos on this ride, but we used our jackets to shield us from the cold water.
3.Rolling X Train
Rolling X Train is a super-fast steel roller coaster ride that also has two 360 loops
Most of the rides had a long queue, especially since we went on a Friday. Do be prepared to spend 45 minutes waiting for each ride.
Everland also has its own miniature zoo in the Zootopia section of the park. The “Safari World” and “Lost Valley” ride drives a group of people into a large enclosure with free-roaming safari animals. Due to time constraints, we only managed to ride the Safari World. However, I heard that “ Lost Valley” is better as more animals can be seen and you travel on a specialized convertible amphibian vehicle instead!
Safari World Ride in Everland
Lotte World is a smaller theme park that features smaller and more kids-friendly rides which are less thrilling to me. The queues are much shorter, and we managed to cover the theme park in half a day. The theme park is half enclosed and half open which is great in the case of bad weather. The park works on a Magic Pass system, where you collect a ticket beforehand with an assigned time and return back at your time slot. This allows you to skip most of the queue and cover more rides in one day.
Enclosed section of Lotte World
Top 4 rides for Lotte World:
Atlantis is a high-intensity roller coaster ride with many quick changing turns that travels inside and outside the castle vicinity.
Flume ride is the classic 4-seater theme park boat ride with a steep slope at the end
French Revolution is an indoor extreme roller coaster that travels at fast speeds with 1 inversion
Comet Express is a space-themed roller coaster where riders sit on 360-degree spinning seats and make you feel as though you are flying in space. The entire ride takes place in the dark but has bright lights and projection on the wall and planet fixtures around the room.
Although Lotte World is geared towards kids, I really enjoyed their significantly shorter queues and pleasant rides. The place is smaller which made getting around much easier and faster.
However, if you could only visit 1 theme park, I suggest going to Everland due to the sheer variety of rides that accommodate everyone. The ‘Safari World’ is also a big plus for those who aren’t a big fan of amusement park rides.
3.Shop-till-you-drop at the main shopping districts (Ehwa Women’s University, Myeong Dong, Gangnam Street, Coex mall)
Here is a brief overview of what the respective shopping areas are famous for:
Ehwa Women’s University – Cheap, affordable, trendy clothes and accessories for women
The actual university campus buildings (labelled blue) and known for being the world’s largest female ONLY educational institute
MyeongDong – MANY Korean skin care and cosmetic products and street food
Crowded MyeongDong Street, the place we visited almost every day to buy skin care products and food souvenirs for friends
Coex mall – Largest underground shopping centre in Asia, aesthetic public library
Starfield Library in Starfield COEX Mall
Gangnam Street – A mix of local and international brands, cafes and cosmetics
Kakao Friends Flagship Store in the heart of Gangnam
Also, not forgetting KPOP stars in Korea! If you are lucky enough, you might catch them walking the streets or at publicity events. On the day that we went shopping at the COEX mall, there was a fan signing held by EXO CBX. Fans were showing up 6 hours before they arrived while paparazzi came with huge cameras and ladders. I guess it was truly an experience in itself and we could finally say we saw KPOP idols in real LIFE.
Fans gathering several hours before EXO CBX arrived
4.Relax and wind down in a Korean Spa (Jimjilbang)
After a long day of shopping and activities, going to a sauna house was the perfect way to end the night. We went one that was walking distance from Seoul station, called Siloam Bulgama Sauna. This place had everything – soaking pools, bathing and massaging areas, saunas and entertainment lounges. There was also a cafeteria to have your meals there.
The Jimjilbang entrance
The interior of the Jimjilbang where people sleep and relax
We were most excited about trying the different sauna rooms – salt sauna room, oxygen room, charcoal room etc. All of these rooms had specific benefits to the body which was shown at the door of the room. It was a relaxing 3 hours of baking in the heat and it felt very invigorating.
The ice room where the temperature drops to -12 degrees Celsius
The high-temperature sauna room where even electronics are not allowed inside
5.Take a day trip to Gapyeong (Nami Island, Petite France, Rail Bike Park)
This was probably one of my favourite days in Seoul. We took a ferry to Nami Island, where we walked around and explored the place. The island was quaint and had its own charm. Maps were provided when we entered the island and many tourists roamed freely.
Some photos that were taken at Nami Island, Seoul
Next up was Petite France, an attraction inspired by the Little Prince. We did not have much time to cover everything, but it was mainly admiring the set up with items on display in the houses. There was a performer that holds shows a few times a day. He was really enjoyable to watch.
A puppeteer performing his routine show for his audience
Last stop was the Gapyeong Rail Bike Park. We were put onto a 4-seater paddle bike, where the track led us through the forest and across the sea. The vehicle was easy to use – paddle to go faster and break to stop completely. It was a good end to the day as we could sit down and rest our legs after a long day of walking.
Gapyeong Rail Bike Park
Paddling on the bike track at Gapyeong Rail Bike Park
6.Other places worth visiting: Dongdaemun: Design Plaza, Insadong Ssamziegil, convenience stores and Lotte Mart, Common ground
The entire market place is decorated with art fixtures and paintings
Convenience stores were our go-to place for buying breakfast and snacks. Milk from Seoul Dairy Cooperative (labelled in blue) can be found everywhere.
DID YOU KNOW? Seoul Dairy Cooperative (SDC) is the largest milk producer in Korea. This co-operative consists of dairy ranchers who meet certain specific standards. Known for its freshness, SDC produces First Grade A milk that has succeeded in being sold in 8 other markets as well – including mainland China, the U.S., Canada, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Singapore.
7.Take a picture and place a lock at Namsan Seoul Tower
On our last day in Korea, we went to Namsan Seoul Tower. This place is popularly known for its collection of love locks found around the site. Many couples lock these padlocks as a way to show their endless love for each other. You get a fantastic view of the city, although getting there requires you to take a bus and walking up a hill.
Women Figures dressed in the traditional Korean dress – Hanbok at the Namsan Tower
Thousands of love locks found on the railings of Namsan Tower – a popular tourist spot, especially for couples
When it was time to leave, we took a Limousine bus from Myeongdong to Incheon Airport. I suggest going extra early to the airport as bad traffic might cause you to miss your flight. We left Myeongdong 3+ hours earlier and barely made it through check-in.
Sadly, all good things come to an end. In a blink of an eye, 10 days passed with only memories and pictures to look back on. Although this guide features my personal top 7 attractions, I implore you to venture and discover other places less commonly explored. Who knows what you might find – comment and share with us some of your favourite places too!
Wishing you safe travels and an enjoyable trip in Korea!
This article was written by Ee Kaye Lin Tanya, a first-year Business student from the National University of Singapore. Tanya is currently a Campus & Youth intern at SNCF, passionate about creating new ideas and innovation. She enjoys adventures and spending time with her dogs.