Friday, December 29, 2017

8 Days in South Korea (Incheon, Busan, Daegu, Seoul)

Last time I was in South Korea was way back in 2011 when selected FEU teachers made a courtesy visit to FEU Korea. Since it was sort of a business trip, we had limited time touring around Seoul. 
And after six years, I'm back for 8 days.

Day 1

Again, as always, I boarded a Cebu Pacific flight (originally to Busan but was transferred to Incheon). I arrived past 10 pm and the temperature when I arrived was -1. I was so cold and the hard part of it is that I had to locate the hostel in the freezing temperature. I had to board the local train to my hostel and walked around and searching for 20 minutes before locating it. 

The name of the hostel is K-Guesthouse Incheon Airport Town 1. The price for one night stay is KRW 29,000 or PhP1,347 in a single bed in a male dormitory room. 

Tip: Best rate for the currency exchange is at the Incheon Airport or at Nami Island. They both accept US dollar and Philippine Peso.

Day 2 

I woke up early the following morning in order to catch the first KTX trip to Busan. The fare is KRW 72,100 or PhP3,605. It is the fastest way to reach Busan and in just 3 hours and 40 minutes, I reached Busan station.

Tip: You can use bus or the local train but it is a long trip.

Youngjae Lee, my former Korean student who resides near Busan, was kind enough to fetch me at the Busan station. The first thing to do then was to find my stay. 

Tip: Make sure you have the following:
a. map of the specific place
b. app translator
c. AREX Passenger's Guide
d. KTX Time Table Guide
e. Reloadable card for trains and bus

picture was taken at night, I forgot upon arrival =)
This time the name of the hostel is Top Motel Busan. The fee is KRW  47,000 or PhP2,183 in a standard double room. The price was a bit expensive but it was just 100 meters from the station and the amenities were great! It had everything such as television, personal computer, bath tub, wifi, personal accessories, etc.

After my check-in, the only thing to do that day was to enjoy the Busan City Tour. 

For more information about the tour, please visit this link -

We paid KRW 23,000 for two persons (KRW 13,000 for 1 pax) for the Busan City Tour at a discounted price since I used the KTX train. 

First Stop was the Gwangalli Beach.

We took our lunch at the same beach and then proceeded to  Dongbaek Island.

This was the venue of the APEC in 2005.

 This is one of the best places to visit in Busan.

At the other side of the island is Haeundae Beach.

 We were leaving the island when the mother of Lee fetched us and brought us to a temple.

The feeling was as if I was in a movie. 

It was a scenic view!

We were parting ways when Lee's mother offered dinner.

 Thank you for the sumptuous dinner. I am honored and delighted to have met your family.

Day 3

The following morning, I stayed in the hotel and enjoyed its amenities. Past 11 am, I checked-out and went to Daegu using the KTX. The ride was good for nearly 45 minutes and I paid KRW 17,100.

I did not have difficulty finding my next stay. The name of the hostel is Casual House Sono. I paid KRW 29,412 or P1,297 for a one-night stay at a bunk bed in male (4) dormitory room.

After my check-in, I saw the opportunity for a Daegu City Tour and immediately went to the Station 1 in Dongdaegu Station and paid KRW 5,000 for the 14-stop tour.

For more information relative to the tour, please visit this link -

I had to choose from the 14 stops and I chose Gyeongsang-Gamyeong Park and Jongno. I was planning to visit the other stops but due to limited time, I had to end the tour. 

Tip: Some of the stops can be viewed from inside the bus and you can also take pictures from inside the bus.

The Suseongmot Lake and the Gukchae-bosang Memorial Park are some of the best stops. If I will be given another chance to have this city tour, I will try to finish all the stops. Trust me, the stops are great!

Finally, past 6 pm I arrived back at Dongdaegu Station.

Day 4

I had to see the two other stops that I missed the previous day. Again, I paid KRW 5,000.

After seeing the Seomun Market and Dalseong Park, I boarded the bus and went to the Stop No. 10 - Mt. Apsan Observatory.  Reaching Stop No. 10, I hiked for 19 minutes and reached the observatory. Fare was KRW 7,200.

It was very cold at the top of the mountain (probably -2) when I was hiking. I could not feel my feet but I continued walking.

After 300 meters, I reached the observatory.

From the top of observatory, you can see the entire Daegu.

After the tour, I immediately went back to the hostel, got my bag went to Seoul. Again, I used the fastest transport, KTX! Travel time from Dongdaegu to Seoul is only 1 hour and 45 minutes and fare was KRW 43,500.

From the Seoul station, I had difficulty finding the hostel but I managed to find it after several attempts.

This will be my place of stay for 4 nights in Seoul. Total fee for four nights is KRW 147,000 or PhP7,350 in Aroha Guesthouse Hostel.

Best way to end the day is to have the best meal.
Day 5

Important things in Seoul
1. LINE - There are nine (9) lines (subway). The Philippines has only 3 lines. Line 1 (blue) is the most convenient line to use and transfer. Each line has a different color. You have to know either the line number, color of the line or the name of the line itself. Know the end of the line. Just like in Manila for example, in LRT 1 the opposite ends are Baclaran and Monumento.
2. TRACK - Be very cautious on the track of the train in your ticket.
3. ENTRANCE/EXIT - Each line has its own entrance and exit. For Example, Line 1 has Exits 1-14. Each exit has a different destination.
4. You must have a reloadable ticket for your convenience.
5. There are several modes of transportation such as KTX, ITX, subway, monorail (in other cities) taxi and bus.
6. KTX is the fastest mode of transportation and the most expensive.
7. Outside the station make sure to read the sign of subway, taxi or bus when you fall in line.
8. Each station has an Information area and you can ask for direction. You can have it put in writing (ask politely please). For example, what exit, what line, how many transfers, how many stops or station.

There are 3 ways of going to Nami Island, namely: (1) by bus, (2) by ITX  or (3) by local train.The bus is the fastest, most convenient, and the most expensive and you have to make reservation. ITX is the second most convenient. And the local train is the cheapest and the most difficult. I used the ITX and paid KRW 5,200.

Five Easy Steps
  1. Take the Metro to Yongsan Station.
  2. From Yongsan Station, Take the ITX Train to Gapyeong Station (60 minutes)
  3. From Gapyeong Station, take the “Gapyeong Tour Bus or a Taxi” to Nami Island Station. ...
  4. From Nami Island Station, walk to Gapyeong Wharf (2 minutes).
  5. Pay the Nami Visa and board the Jetty to the island. 

From Seoul Station, I boarded the subway using Line 1 and alighted at Yongsan. From Yongsan, boarded the train Gapyeong. Reaching Gapyeong Station, I boarded the taxi and paid KRW 3,000. After 5 minutes, I reached the port and paid the entry visa worth KRW 8,000.

I boarded the jetty.

Proud Filipino!

After 5 minutes, we arrived at the dock.

Explored Nami Island.

Enjoyed Nami Island!

A sight to behold!

Look Ma, I'm stepping on ice! =)

After Nami Island, I went back to Seoul.

I was trying to find the market and ended up somewhere else.

Sometimes it pays to be lost since I had the chance of seeing the Sungnyemun Gate!

Last stop for the day was in Namdaemun Market. Best place in Seoul to buy your souvenir items. I bought my personal accessories and some "pasalubong."

The best way to end the day is to have a sumptuous dinner at the same market!

Day 6
Seoul City Tour Bus - Downtown / Palace (A)

Early the following morning, I woke up early, fixed myself, and headed to my destination. Again, I asked for directions and after 2 lines, I was able to reach Gwanghwamun Station

I had to chose among the 4 tours the Seoul City Tour has to offer (There is another tour by the way named Sightseeing Tour). There is an online reservation. But you can do this tour without any reservation provided that you pay either in Gwanghwamun Ticket Booth or in Seoul Station Stop.

In case you are lost, try to find the Koreana Hotel and the ticket booth is just beside the hotel. The ticket booth opens around 8:45 am. According to the sign, there are times when the tour is closed.

Tour Course Information 
[Single-decker Bus]
City & Palaces Course (22 Stops)
Depart from Gwanghwamun – Deoksugung Palace – Namdaemun Market – Seoul Station – USO – Yongsan Station – The National Museum of Korea – The War Memorial of Korea - Yongsan Garrison – Itaewon – Crown Hotel – Myeong-dong – Namsangol Hanok Village – Sofitel Ambassador Hotel – National Theater of Korea – N Seoul Tower - Hyatt Hotel – Tower Hotel – Shilla Hotel – Dongdaemun Market – Daehangno – Changgyeonggung Palace- Changdeokgung Palace – Insa-dong – Cheong Wa Dae – Korean Folk Village – Gyeongbokgung Palace – Gwanghwamun Gate

Night Course (9 Stops)
Depart from Gwanghwamun – (Deoksugung Palace) – (Mapo Holiday Inn) – (The National Assembly Building) – (Yanghwadaegyo Bridge) – (Gangbyeonbuk-ro) – (Seongsudaegyo Bridge) – (Hannamdaegyo Bridge) – N Seoul Tower – (Namsan Library) – (Sungnyemun Gate) – Cheonggye Plaza

* Departure point: Gwanghwamun Station (Seoul Subway Line 5), Exit 6, beside to Koreana Hotel
* Place in parenthesis are not boarding stops (bus simply passes by the place).

[Double-decker Bus]
Seoul Panorama Course (14 Stops) / Night Course (11 Stops)

* Departure point: Gwanghwamun Station (Seoul Subway Line 5), Exit 6, beside to Koreana Hotel
Operating Hours
[Single-decker City Course]
Operating hours: 09:00–21:00 (Last bus: 19:00)
Intervals: Every 30 min
Duration: 2 hours

[ Single-decker Night Course]
Departure time: 19:30 / departs at 20:00 in summer (July-September)
Intervals: Departs once a day only
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes

[Double-decker bus]
Seoul Panorama Course 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:00, 16:00, 17:00
* The first bus departs at 9:00 during peak season; January, February, April, May, July, August, October, December
Night Course 19:30
* Departs once a day only.

For more information about the tour, please visit this link -

OR their website -

Among the 22 stops, I chose Museum of Korea, Hanok Village, Namsam Seoul Tower, Dongdaemun Market, Changgyeonggung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace, Gyeongbokgung National Museum and Palace.
Hanok Village

The bus comes in different forms. Please remember the sign Seoul City Tour Bus.

Changgyeonggung Palace

Finally, the last stop for the day - Gyeongbokgung Palace.

This is the best part and the most famous! 

This day commemorates the men and women who died while in military service or in the independence movement. On this day, a national commemoration ceremony is held at the Seoul National Cemetery. The day celebrates the promulgation of the Constitution of the Republic of Korea in 1948.

After the tour, I went back to Seoul Station and enjoyed the food in the city.

Just meters away from the station are two best places to eat and enjoy the affordable food. I do not know the name of the two restos since they are in Korean.

After eating my late lunch, I went inside a Lotte Mall and found myself buying a souvenir for the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics. 

Day 7
Panorama Tour 
Gangnam Tour

 I have to take also the other tours i.e. - Tour B and C.

Best place for Tour B is the Namsam Cable car.

It snowed the night before my visit.

This is what I do for a living - snow gathering!

At the Gangnam Transfer Station, I changed to Tour C.

Best spot here is the 4th tallest building in the world, Lotte Tower.

 You can say that Gangnam is the Makati in Seoul.

Also, the Olympic was a good spot to visit.

Rodeo Station

River Cruise

Enjoy the Cruise!

After the tour, I went home and my former student invited me to watch the New Year celebration at Jonggak Station.

But before the fireworks, we went to Myeongdong DongDaemun Market.

Did a bit of shopping for my nieces.

 Finally, the countdown!

1 comment:

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