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Friday, October 4, 2013

Travel Itinerary: Seoul and Korea in 9 Days.

 Since my parents are coming to Seoul to visit me, I decided to make an intense travel itinerary.
I am trying to incorporate the tourist destinations they want to see and also include the places I want to see before I move to Kobe, Japan.

This plan is really intense, but definitely do-able. It's mix-and-match depending on the weather forecast. Actually, I've been living in Seoul off-and-on for nearly three years now, but, actually, the most difficult thing for me to do was plan the tourist-y stuff in Seoul.

I am the most impressed by my ability to include a TON of food and cafe options. There are definitely ones I have forgotten. I also tried to avoid going to chain restaurants, but sometimes that is very difficult to do. For example, my favorite Korean food, jjimdak (steamed chicken), is very difficult to find in a non-chain restaurant, unless you go to Andong. I was considering a one-day trip to Andong, but, as you can see, there is not that much time. If you have more time, you should definitely go there to experience staying in the hanok (traditional Korean house), eat jjimdak, and take part in/watch the tradition Korean mask dance.

If you have any questions, please leave a comment or send me an email! I am happy to help you out more with your planning!

Tutorial: How to use free WiFi on Seoul subways

Korean Shopping Tips

Other Korea Travel Itineraries

Recommended travel books:

If you are traveling to Korea, while English is often available on signs and at tourist destinations, it may be wise to know a few phrases since oftentimes the staff at restaurants and other tourist destinations, bus stations, do not know English well. I have looked over multiple Korean phrasebooks and I recommend the Lonely Planet Korean Phrasebook & Dictionary for its small size (makes it great to carry around) and its ease of use.


If you are planning on staying only in Seoul, I would recommend getting a travel book that is solely about Seoul. Top 10 Seoul (Eyewitness Top 10 Travel Guide) is great! It has color photos, great maps, and is also very compact, making it a great travel companion.
It gives you a feel of all the different neighborhoods and districts of Seoul and a brief overview of what each district is known and how the  city is laid out to help you plan the most efficient and fun trip!


I definitely recommend, if you get the chance, to get out of Seoul and really explore Korea. Each province and city has its own feel and personality. Plus, the country is about the size of Indiana and transportation options abound, so traveling around is definitely do-able.


Choosing the best country guide was a little more difficult for me. I am typically a Lonely Planet fan, but I found their guide to not be quite as current as this Frommer's guide.

Having an up-to-date guide is very important in Korea since things can literally change overnight!  


October 5 (Saturday) –
6pm arrival at Incheon airport.
Airport bus KAL Limousine from Gate 4B à Arrival about 8pm hotel
Dinner at Shipwonjip famous for pabulgogi(bulgogi with spring onion), give gyeranjjim (steamed egg) for free –usually have to pay for it, the fried rice at the end is good too
If you still have energy – night stroll by cheongyecheon (Cheonggye Stream) near City Hall, Gwanghwamun Square (including statue of King Sejong and the fountains).
*We should maybe prepare some food for breakfast for on the bus. If we go to a bread store about 10:30PM, we can get a discount on bread for breakfast.

Dinner at Shipwonjip, near City Hall Station in Seoul

October 6 (Sunday)
Complete Jeonju Itinerary available here: http://eatstretchexplore.blogspot.com/2014/12/jeonju-south-korea-tour-itinerary-hanok.html

7:50 AM
–Be at meeting place for shuttle bus to Jeonju (Donghwa Duty Free Shop Parking Lot at Gwanghwamun)
Depart at 8AM; Arrive at Jeonju Hanok Village at 11AM

Lunch Set Menu at Gyodong Ddeokgalbi in Jeonju

Lunch options:
Gyodong Ddeokgalbi (Lunch set menu 11AM-3PM – Ddeokgalbi + Doenjang-guk + Rice + Naengmyun 13,000W) (http://eatstretchexplore.blogspot.com/2014/06/jeonju-gyodong-dduk-galbi.html)

View of the hanok village from Café Tomorrow
1PM Cho Sunha Pansori Performance (10,000KRW per ticket) - My parents were visiting during the Pansori Festival
Hanok Touring; can also see all of hanok village from the Omokdae
Snacks: There are plenty of teahouses in the Hanok Village including Café Tomorrow: View of the Hanok Village
Mojung kkwabaegi (kkwabaegi means a twisted breadstick; these are handmade and fresh)
Gaeksagil (http://www.ttearth.com/world/asia/korea/jeonju/gaeksa.htm#.Ukwmjoa-2m4) à past the Jeonju Gyungijeon
On the way to Gaeksagil we can try the original chocopie. (http://blog.daum.net/jgkl2/13568512)
Set Course #1 at Yetchon Makkeolli
Dinner: Yetchon Makkeolli - Makkeolli is a traditional Korean alcohol and Yetchon serves it in kettles and has a great set course menu.
Latest time we should leave to make the last train in Seoul 9PM

October 7 (Monday) - We should go around the northern part of Seoul and also I should move my stuff out of my house this day. We can go around Cheonggyecheon, Jongno sightseeing area, Myungdong, Gyungbokgung, Samchungdong, N Tower
Breakfast: Not decided
Gyungbokgung Palace (3,000KRW ticket OR 10,000KRW integrated ticket for all museums, palaces, Jongmyo shrine, etc) – 9AM until 6PM;  even the regular ticket allows for entry into the Palace Museum and the Folk Museum
Walk around Gyungbokgung and then around by the Blue House

Lunch
Daytime walk around Cheonggyecheon
Seoul History Museum (9AM until 8PM; Free admission)
Walk to either Samchungdong or Myungdong
Snack: Chloris Tea Garden (Samchungdong; http://blog.naver.com/PostView.nhn?blogId=pmy3676&logNo=90179306741); Slow Garden (Samchungdonghttp://olpost.com/v/3016050); 6CiJung (Samchungdong,http://anythingnice.egloos.com/2396481); Café Terrace (Samchungdong,http://blog.daum.net/naiad-nana/17442927); Café Coin (Myungdong; homemade green tea ice cream http://blog.daum.net/lovelygreent/943); Café Sicily (Myungdong; famous for parfait http://blog.daum.net/kya921/6045523)
If in Myungdong, there are plenty of street carts/food.
Walk to Myungdong for shopping or else Samchungdong
From Myungdong Station Exit 3 take the #5 Namsan Bus (850KRW using TMoney)
Sunset:
 N Tower


Dinner:
MEAL OPTIONS:
Tosokchon Samgyetang (Samgyetang is chicken soup; this is a famous restaurant because of President Noh Mu Hyun);
Pyungraeok (NK Food;http://blog.daum.net/ansdufrhd/11852493)
Sujebi (Open from 11am; Korean hand-cut noodles at Samchungdong)

Dinner at Myungdong Gyoza
Myungdong Gyoja/Kalguksu (Myungdong; open from 10:30 AM) - This is one of the main places to take visitors new to Korea. Gyoja are steamed dumplings and kalguksu is handcut noodles in a very savory broth

Meokswidon-na (Ddeokbokki; open from 11AMhttp://www.ezday.co.kr/bbs/view_board.html?q_id_info=1103&q_sq_board=4685582)

OR (DINNER ONLY) Jongno Pojangmacha (These are super Korean and appear in Korean dramas all the time…tents on the side of the road where you order food and alcohol)

October 8 (Tuesday)Suwon Hwasung (Fortress) It takes about 1.5 hours from Seoul Station.
At Suwon Station, take multiple options of buses to the Paldalmun bus stop).
Admission fee: 1000KRW; Fortress Museum (Entrance fee 2,000KRW)
Shopping possible at Suwon station

Suwon Galbi Story - So delicious
Lunch: Suwon Galbi Story (Galbi is a famous food in Suwon; http://eatstretchexplore.blogspot.com/2014/10/suwon-restaurant-suwon-galbi-story.html)
Take bus to Seoul to Gangnam Station (3000번 bus to Gangnam Station)
Do some shopping at the Underground Shopping Center and Kyobo Bookstore
Take bus (407 or 140 from Shinnohyun Station to Jongno5ga ~50 mins)

Go to Gwangjang Market (Jongno5ga Station Exit 9) – Famous food at the market:
Buchon Yukhoe (Steak Tartare; http://hotdog-life.tistory.com/58);
Wonjo (original) Mayak Kimbap (We should get this for breakfast for the morning on the way to Seorak Mt.;http://blog.daum.net/_blog/BlogTypeView.do?blogid=0Z6Yh&articleno=193)
Bindae ddeok (순회네; http://blog.naver.com/PostView.nhn?blogId=j9050&logNo=180011086)
Mo-nyo Hwaejip (Hwae is Korean sashimi;http://mooyegil.egloos.com/2110793)

Sleep early since we have to go to Seorak Mountain early in the morning

October 9 (Wednesday)Remember the kimbap from the market; We can also get breakfast and some snacks at the rest stop.
We should take the first train and go to the Express Bus Terminal (Maybe at 5:04AM)
Take the bus to Sokcho (This is by the East Sea). We should arrive around 8 or 9am.
We can either go straight to the mountain by bus from the Intercity Bus Terminal or else we can go around by the East Sea and have a look
The bus ride to the mountain takes about 50 minutes.
There are multiple courses for hiking, so take a look and see which one you prefer…I think we should choose an easy one.http://www.visitkorea.or.kr/ena/SI/SI_EN_3_6.jsp?cid=309426
I think we are also planning on taking the Cable Car.

Food: (Take the bus from the mountain … number 7 or 7-1 to Chungdae Elementary School for the Jjim AND/OR to Gaetbae Entrance)
For breakfast or lunch when we get to the mountain
For our large meal we should eat a steamed seafood/fish dish (Subin-i-ne jjim;http://blog.naver.com/PostView.nhn?blogId=ey6202&logNo=140138740712)
Another day of market…this one will be a shigol market, so it may be slightly different than the one from the 8th, but the market on the 8th is very shigol style.
This market is famous for hoddeok (Korean pancakes; http://0601.tistory.com/224); Chicken (http://y22kball.tistory.com/106#.UkxIL4a-2m4)

October 10 (Thursday)This day is pretty open. I was considering going around Hongdae/Sinchon/Edae area.
This is also closer to the World Cup Stadium and Hanul Park (Line 6; Exit 1)
We can go shopping around in Edae. Hongdae is good for cafes, etc.
The tomb I looked up that seems the most impressive is line 6 Hwarangdae Station (Taereung Tomb) – Exit 1, take the 82 Maeul Bus or else the 108 or 1224 bus to Taereung Gangneung Stop

Shopping: Edae is known for shopping (clothes, accessories, makeup, etc); Hongdae is also known for shopping; Stationary store near Sinchon Station; We can also go to Hapjeong to the new mall and you can experience what shopping at a HomePlus is like

My favorite vegan restaurant in Seoul: Loving Hut. Authentic Korean flavors, no animal products.

Hanul Bon Dak in Sinchoni


Food: Jjimdak - My favorite Korean food (stewed soy chicken)
In Edae there are a ton of street food options: Cup chicken is a favorite of mine, skewered meats, takoyakki, etc.; Dakgalbi; my vegan restaurant…it is really good and actually tastes like meat

Geuridakkum
Snacks: Geuridakkum (strawberry milk, oreo mint hot choco; Caribou Coffee; Homilbat (bingsoo; http://soon2c.tistory.com/325)

October 11: (Friday)
We have to eat lunch with host family, but not sure about time yet. (Munjeong Station; pink line)
This is over by Olympic Park, so we can go to Olympic Park first if you want to

We should do stuff south of the river this day; Gangnam shopping (if we don’t do it on Suwon day)
COEX at Samsung Station and the Temple nearby Samsung Station
If we have time, I put Seoraemaul down…but it’s kind of inconvenient to get to…have to take the subway and then transfer to a town bus and ride for like 15 minutes and then walk like 15 minutes maybe.
The best gamjatang I have ever had, conveniently located in the Gangnam Express Bus Terminal

Go to the Express Bus Terminal for shopping and dinner at my favorite gamjatang (pork bone and potato soup) restaurant.
Tentatively scheduled room for the Han River Cruise, but I am not sure it still exists. We should arrive maybe around 6:40 PM at Yeouido Station
Before the River Cruise, we can go to Yeouido and walk around the IFC mall. There are a lot of options for food including one of my favorite TexMex places in Korea

Food: Many options in Gangnam including Shinsegye food court

October 12 (Saturday)I have planned a shopping day at the markets (Namdaemun, Dongdaemun)

Food options: Namdaemun: there is a famous hoddeok place in the market; also there is a hand-rolled kalguksu (noodle soup) alley at Hoehyun Station exit 5.
The most famous place is Han Sun Ja Sonkalguksu (if you order the kalguksu, you receive naengmyun as “service” aka for free; http://blog.naver.com/PostView.nhn?blogId=elmtreegirl&logNo=30176664561)
We can also go to Myungdong again for last bit of odds and ends we may need (Myungdong Gyoza is an option again, as is Yugane dakgalbi)

October 13 (Sunday)Departure day (if you get to the airport early, there are “cultural immersion” activities…you can make hanji, etc)

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