Started off the week in Seoul, because of international flights to Incheon.
Then, mid-week, we went to Jeju.
Finally, we returned to Seoul and did a few more days of sightseeing.
Hotel: Lotte Hotel in Myeongdong
Very central location, but the rooms are much smaller than some of the other hotels slightly farther away at the same price point.
Check in at 3PM, but they may have your room prepared earlier if you arrive earlier, it doesn't hurt to ask.
My parents arrived at about 4:30 to the Incheon Airport, so it was about 7PM by the time the arrived to the hotel after taking the KAL Airport Limousine.
Since they were jetlagged, we didn't really plan on much that night.
We just went to 자연별곡 (Nature's Kitchen) for dinner.
It's one of my favorite buffets in Korea and is great if you have a lot of different tastes and food preferences in your group. However, some locations are better than others in terms of service and food availability...and also kind of food quality.
We went to the Myeongdong location because of its proximity, but I would definitely recommend a different branch if you have time. I have been semi disappointed the two times I've been to the Myeongdong location.
Cost: 19,900 for adult dinner; 14,900 for adult lunch
Started off with breakfast at the Gwangjang/Kwangjang Market (광장시장), it's a "traditional" market located at Jongno-6-ga (Line 1) station.
We had the "everything pancakes" at 반가네빈대떡. It is called 모듬전 and comes in two sizes. We got the "big" size for 10,000.
We also stopped off and bought some 마약김밥 (crazy addictive kimbap) for later and took in some of the sights.
We then walked to the Bangsan Market and got a little lost because it's so big and comprehensive. Seriously, we learned so much about the world's supply of velcro that day.
We continued our walk to Dongdaemun and went to Dongdaemun Design Plaza.
I have a particular glasses store I always take my friends to just because I think they're service is so good and the staff is knowledgeable. Additionally, the products are REAL. Even though it's technically illegal to sell mislabeled brands here, I think people still do it, so I always want to make sure the items are authentic.
If you are in the market for glasses, I recommend you check out LOOK OPTICAL 룩옵티컬. There are branches all around Seoul.
I was really disappointed by the Myeongdong branch though. In terms of selection, it's quite sparse. The service and quality are still high, but there weren't that many options here. (Another reason I hate Myeongdong...)
The glasses were going to be ready 40 minutes after ordering, so we headed to lunch across the street.
We went to Burger B which is one of my favorite local chains in Korea for burgers. Seriously, Korea has started to have real burgers these days.
Then, we did a little shopping around Myeongdong, which is when I got the text saying the glasses were ready, so we picked them up and went back to the hotel.
We had to do some personal errands, so we had to go south of the river to my neighborhood.
We arrived right at the perfect time for Happy Hour at the Bronx in Sadang, right out exit 4. So, we had a couple of beers and then went on our way.
We planned to go to Gangnam for dinner at my favorite jjimdak restaurants, well maybe not my favorite, but pretty high up on the list. We went to 내가찜한닭 (naega jjim han dak). It's famous for the cheese-topped jjimdak, which is kind one of my favorite Korean foods.
Then, we made the huge trek back to Myeongdong, seriously it's like 50 minutes.
We sent my dad back to the hotel and then my mom and I did a little shopping.
I had been wanting to try the Labiotte wine lip tint for a while now, so we got that and also scored a really good deal on some of their other products. (We were lucky because of the new year's sales.)
More on that later, but basically we got: 2 wine lip tints, 1 wine eye shadow palette, 1 smart lotion, 1 deep moisture cream mist, 1 cleansing water (I've been trying to find an alternative for Bioderma because it's so expensive here), 1 melting cleansing balm, and 1 evening sleep mask. ALL FOR 61,000 KRW.
This was the day we went to Jeju, so we kind of only had time for breakfast in Seoul.
However, it was kind of a failure. Since it was a red day (public holiday), everywhere good was closed, so we had to get McDonald's. The good old reliable golden arches.
Then, we headed to the airport. I am just going to copy/paste the Jeju itinerary here, but if you want to just see it separately it's here
We went over the full Seollal - Lunar New Year - Chinese New Year (설 연휴), which for 2017 was from 27 January to 30 January.
Each person is able to bring one FREE checked bag (15 kg or lighter).
Hotel: Ramada Plaza Jeju Ocean Front (hotel pictures and review to follow)
This hotel is very close to the airport, but there aren't that many tourist attractions nearby. We selected it because of it's semi-central location and proximity to the ocean, literally across the street.
Tip! Rent a car! The public transportation is available in Jeju, but since it is kind of countryside (especially in off-season) you will find yourself waiting a lot longer than you'll find yourself waiting in the city.
Additionally, check the list here to see if there is reciprocity: http://dl.koroad.or.kr/license/en/sub/popInterLicArea.jsp
Otherwise, you can easily get a global driver's permit.
If you do not want to drive, you can hire a driver or a tour guide. Additionally, there are taxi tours available. If you're interested in more information about taxi tours, I can translate the information from a Korean travel book I bought, just leave a comment here.
Jeju Day 1:
Flight scheduled for about 11:20
We arrived really early, like too early for a domestic check-in at Gimpo. (We took a taxi from Myeongdong, it was about 25,000 KRW).
Our scheduled flight was delayed, so we were put on an earlier flight (about 10:15), which was really good service on Eastar's part, but that flight was also delayed, so we didn't board until about 10:45.
So, we arrived around noon to Jeju and it was about 12:15 when we arrived at our hotel.
The first order of business was to go to 제주 김만복, which is a really famous place for 전복 김밥 (abalone kimbap).
We got one kimbap, one rice ball, and one abalone porridge.
It was about 400 meters from our hotel, which was really great.
Then, we picked up our rental car (we rented from the rental car place within our hotel).
We went on a bit of a drive.
I knew we should stop by somewhere wher ewe could see the Jeju stone grandfather statues, so we went to the Stone Museum and Culture Park (제주돌문화공원).
Then, we went to seafood and meat shabu shabu (hot pot) buffet restaurant (천해천 샤브샤브)
Jeju Day 2:
We started off walking to 용두암 (Dragon's Head Rock), which was about a 15-minute walk from our hotel.
Then, we went on a drive to the south, eventually all the way to the South Sea.
We went to InnisFree Jeju House (이니스프리제주하우스) and O'sulloc Tea Museum (오설록티뮤지엄), which are both actually on the same grounds.
Then, we went to the Jungsangjeolli Cliff (중문대포해안 주상절리대). This is a cliff where you can see the columnar lava cliffs.
We were quite close to the Jeju World Cup Stadium, so we stopped off there too (월드컵경기장).
Then, we went to the Cheonjiyeon Waterfall (천지연 폭포)
And then to the Yongmeolli Shore (용머리해안) and Sanbang Mountain (산방산) for sunset, which was great.
Then, on the way back to the hotel, we went back to a really good seafood restaurant that specializes in two of the more famous Jeju dishes - braised hairtail/cutlassfish (galchi jorim 갈치조림) and braised mackerel (godeungeo jorim 고등어조림). We got the galchi jorim and roasted mackerel.
Jeju Day 3:
We decided to go to the east this time, eventually to the East Sea (Sea of Japan).
We started off with a stop at the Hamdeok Seoubong Beach (함덕 서우봉해변), which is famous for a mint green sea and is a pretty famous beach in the summer (according to my guidebook) since it's so scenic and shallow.
Then, we went to the Haenyeo Museum (해녀박물관) to learn about the Jeju diving women, who are designated on the UNESCO World Heritage list. It was kind of rainy, so it was nice to take a break inside for a bit. There's an 8-minute video that is available in English (or Chinese/Japanese), if you request it.
Next, we stopped off near Tokki Island (토끼섬), which is named because it resembles a rabbit (tokki means rabbit in Korean). It was a little hard to see, but we learned about the Hado VIlalge.
By that time, it was about lunch time, so we went to this Japanese fusion restaurant I found, it's called Seopjihyang (섭지향), which I believe means something like the scent of Seopji. We got one of each of the menu items, which isn't as big of an undertaking as it seems, there are only 3 menu items (4 if you include the sashimi that you have to request ahead of time). However, this was our dinner for the day.
We then went to Mango Ray to get a few mango shakes. I got a mango coconut shake.
Then, we went off to the Seopjikoji Beach (섭지코지) - you can see a photo of the view at the top of this post :)
Then, we set off to the final destination for the day - the Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak (Seongsan Sunrise Peak), which is now designated as one of the "new 7 wonders" of the world, not without scandals and rumored cheating, of course. We did a bit of a hike, but stopped about halfway - we kind of just wanted a bit of a view. I probably could have continued going, but my mom had planned on only going halfway.
We then went back to the hotel because we needed to return the rental car by 8PM.
Then, we walked around a bit and I picked up some special dduk for my office. It's called 오메기떡 (omegi dduk) and is a specialty of Jeju. I got mine at 몰랑몰랑 (Mollang Mollang), but there are plenty of other options. My options here were ones filled with Hallabong (special citrus fruit available in Jeju) or ssuk (mugwort).
Jeju Day 4:
Our flight was at 10, so we didn't really have time to do anything this day.
The airport is quite small with poor wifi availability, so plan accordingly, I guess.
There is a pretty big duty free shop, so you could entertain yourself there for a bit, I guess.
BACK IN SEOUL:
We arrived back in Seoul around noon and taxied back to the Lotte Hotel.
Our room wasn't available yet, but the Lotte Hotel let us keep our luggage there and put it in our room when it was available, so we went to lunch.
I had been craving Chinese food for a week or so, so we went to 란즈칼면. This place has been gaining a bit of fame recently for its rather authentic flavors and hand-cut, fresh noodles.
We had the seafood jajangmyun, shrimp fried rice, and sweet and sour fried chicken pieces.
We then had to go back south of the river, I had to put my dduk in my freezer. So, it was another hour on the train.
We then went to Coex Mall and did a little shopping for some souvenir-type items.
Butter, which is kind of my favorite store to just waste time in, was also a hit for my mom.
We ate dinner at Le Saigon in the mall. My mom and I shared the couple set and my dad had a beef banh mi. The bread was much better than the gross bread I had at Le Bunmie.
We went back to Myeongdong and had takeout bingsu from Sulbing!
I bet you didn't know you can takeout from Sulbing! I sure didn't! It's so convenient. I recommend it!
Day 4 in Seoul:
We had tickets for the Kakao Friends Concept Museum in Hongdae (look out for a post in the next week or so) for 10AM, so we had breakfast at Cafe Kinnor in Myeongdong.
Then, took the train to Hongdae to the Kakao Friends Concept Museum.
We spent a good couple hours in there/the Kakao Friends Store, marveling at the Korean marketers.
Then, we went to the Ryan Cafe in the Kakao Store for some coffee and a bit of a rest.
Afterwards, we walked to Sangsu station to go to Mom Aroi for authentic Thai Food. It was so good!!
Then, we went to the National Museum of Contemporary History for my quintessential Seoul shot at my secret spot.
Afterwards, it was about time to eat a little bit of a snack. So, we headed to Cafe Bora for the purple sweet potato ice cream in Samcheongdong.
Then, we headed to the National Museum of Contemporary Art (I'll post an updated post soon with the new exhibitions!)
My parents wanted to just have a meal in the hotel, so we went to the Peninsula Restaurant in the lobby of the Lotte Hotel, it's an Italian restaurant.
Afterwards, we went out for a beer at Radio 70s pub in Myeongdong so my mom can try a Korean craft beer.
Then, I went back to my house because my parents had an early flight in the morning.