There is currently direct flight from Kota Kinabalu to Seoul by Jin Air. The other cheapest method to visit Seoul from Kota Kinabalu is by Air Asia x connecting at Kuala Lumpur. Direct Flight from Kota Kinabalu to Seoul take 5 hours 15 minutes. Seoul time is 1 hour faster than Malaysia time.
The most important Apps you ever need when traveling to Seoul is Jihachul for the smartphone user. This app is free and available for iPhone / IOS users. it got the comprehensive map of Seoul subway map and the exit information for all the station. Seoul Subway consisting of 18 rapid transit, light metro, commuter rail and people mover lines, you can easily lose your way and the interchange station is usually far apart and you need to walk a lot when in Seoul. A far cry from our lives in Kota Kinabalu where we drive everywhere.
The cheapest way to travel from Incheon airport to Seoul city is by taking airport railroad or better known as AREX. The clearance sometimes can take a long time as Incheon airport is a very big and busy airport. Follow the airport train sign after leaving the departure hall and its a long walk to the station which is at another building. the last train depart from the airport an 11pm . From the station, you can get the T money card from the vending machine.
The all stop train from Incheon to Hongik Station take around 40 minutes and cost 4500 Won one way. Hondae area (hongik University area) is one of the most popular night life spots for Koreans and foreigners. The area has a thriving underground music, with many clubs showcasing live bands on weekends. Like any other college area in Korea, there are also many pool halls, noraebangs, and movie rooms.
Our first meal at Hondae area, Kimchi soup serve with Tofu and pork. Pork is the favorite meat for Koreans and you can get pork in almost all the food. the serving for a meal is big but Restaurant in Seoul expect you to order a meal a person. A meal usually cost about 20000 Won to 30000 Won.
Beef meat which tastes like our local Burger meat serves with onions.
Since its Saturday night and the Hondae area is bustling with life as there is a lot club and cafe with all the young and fashionable people getting drunk and having a good time. Many cafes opens until 6am in the morning and we decide to have some coffee and their local coffee cafe
you can get free wifi at most of the cafe and the internet speed in Seoul is blazing fast. how I wish we can get this speed in Malaysia.
The next morning , we wake up and have some light breakfast at their local bakery shop
Paris Baguette bakery which is common in Seoul.
We meet up with friends from Malaysia studying at Seoul at the Hyehwa subway station exit 9.
after meet up with our friends, we went for our lunch at Hyehwa-dong. Hyehwa is right beside Seoul National University Hospital. There are a lot of young people near this neighborhood and there are a couple Universities here. there is also Filipino market on Sunday around the subway station.
we were introduced to the traditional stew chicken dish at the restaurant at Hyewha-dong. apparently its stew in soya sauce , vege, and mushroom. taste nice!
after lunch , we went for coffee at one of the famous cafes around the area
A happy fish pancake seller on Hyehwa street
Hyehwa-dong street shopping and also entertainment. there is also cinema karaoke and DVD room for rental here
a shop assistant creating bubble effect for the bubble bath. maybe there will be some demo later?
Seoul Hilly terrain
after shopping around hyewha area, our friend asks us if we want to visit his University, we were curious and apparently that University student like to bring the friend to their University for a visit. Even though its Sunday, the study room is full of student and many of them stay overnight in the study room for the concentration of their study. I don’t think any Malaysian fancy staying in their university for so many hours. the University is beautiful with parks and there is also family bringing their children to relax around the garden.
beautiful dome inside the Korea University main building.
Wake up from a good rest. We had breakfast at a Bakery nearby our hotel since its already pass breakfast hour .
the cozy ambiance in the cafe.
we took the subway to Myeongdong station , a huge shopping area. You can basically get anything here, H&M , Zara, Forever 21 and many local cosmetic shops .
trendy and young locals also like to shop here.
promoter dress up in different character to catch the attention of passerby
tourist guide can be seen at major tourist area. They can speak in many languages and give very good direction to tourists. they are dress in a red T-shirt and red hat. Thumbs up to them to walk around and work hard even though its rainy day.
enjoying a cup of coffee at Krispy Kreme with a perfect view of Myeongdong street.
after shopping for long hours , we visit Namsan park where the Seoul tower is located.
there are few ways to reach Seoul tower.
1)From Myeongdong subway station take exit 3 and turn left, you will see a street , walk up the street and you will come to a junction, you will see Pacific Hotel on your right and take the right turn. walk till you come to a stairs. you will see cable car station on your right. It will take 15 minutes walk and you need to pay 8500 Won per person 2 way and (6000 Won 1 way) for the 15 minutes rides up to Seoul Tower
2) find your way to Namsan park entrance and walk up the scenic and winding road up to Seoul Tower. It will take 1 hour up but there are benches and nice scenery along the way.
you will be greeted by Haechi Seoul.
Seoul Tower house an observatory and teddy bear museum. Entrance fees to the observatory are 10,000 Won. I didn’t buy the observatory ticket as the weather is foggy and the customer service inform me that I would not see anything on the observatory.
lovers padlock can be seen all at the viewing platform. so much that it actually block the view .
many young lover “lock” their love here hoping for everlasting love
love is everywhere. Good place for lovers to hangout
after visit to Seoul Tower, we had our dinner at the western restaurant Seoul tower. it claims to serve the best burger in Seoul and the beef patties are freshly made. reasonably price.
the best time to go up Seoul tower is during the evening time. you can see the whole Seoul city view through the observatory if the weather is clear. we take the cable car down from Seoul tower but the ride is quite boring and expensive. We decide to walk down the path from cable car station to Myeongdong. going down is easier than going uphill and it only take us 10 minutes reach Myeongdong.
Start of our day by visiting Insadong. The Insadong consist of many galleries and shops selling art supplies, antiques, and handicrafts along one main street and many side alleys. It can be reached by taking the subway to Jongno 3 (sam)-ga Station (exit 1) tourist information booth is located just outside the subway station.
tile art at Jongno 3 (sam)-ga Station wall.
the main insa-dong street (Insadong-gil) is blocked off during the weekend.
Starbucks logo at Insadong written in Korean 스타벅스 커피
It is a good place for souvenir shopping and a lot of tea and coffee house can be found here. You will meet loads of tourist both local and foreigners, scout and comb the streets of Insadong looking for gift and souvenirs. Do wander to the small alley for hidden tea house and traditional recipe restaurants
after finish shopping at Insadong, we walk back to the subway station and opposite direction to Samcheong-dong. It takes around 10 minutes walk from Jongno 3 (sam)-ga Station or you can approach via exit 1 of Anguk Station, line 3. Walk in the direction of Gwanghwamun Gate and swing a right at the Dongsipjagak Intersection. Keep walking until you get to the street.
Samcheong-dong lies in the middle of Gyeongbokgung Palace and Changdeokgung Palace with Insadong with Cheong Wa Dae (the President’s Office) and Insadong at north and south. Samcheong-dong is famous for its Bukchon Hanok (Korean traditional houses) Village. Many of it have been converted to chic galleries, restaurants, cafés, and accessory shops.
Every shop has its own unique style inside and outside. the area is quite and less commercialize than other areas of Seoul. You can walk around the area shopping and or enjoy a cup of coffee as there is so many cafe and specialty shop to see around the area
since its still too early for dinner time, we take the subway train to Namdaemun market (Hoehyeon Station, Line 4.). Namdaemun market is one of the oldest continually running markets in South Korea and one of the largest retail markets in Seoul.
the street is busy with lots of people. Many resellers from many country come to get their products from the wholesaler here as they cater mainly to bulk buying.
promoter on the street
you can find some street food here. This roasted squid is quite tasty and not too chewy
Food delivery in action
lots of people queue up to buy pork bun. The bun is filled with onions, garlic, pork, and leek. I prefer our Malaysian pork bun
meet up with our friends again for dinner. Decide to have Korean BBQ and you can choose the different part of the pig. Koreans really love their pork. We cook the meat ourselves and you get an unlimited refill of side dish. total price for 3 people set with beers cost us 33000 Won.
after dinner and hang out at their local pub, we walk to nearby Cheonggyecheon. A massive restoration was carried out here to create a public recreation space. Surrounding Cheonggyecheon, flowing through the central part of Seoul, are a variety of fun activities and delicious eateries open to the public. Museums, a palace, and outdoor cafes and restaurants surround the starting point of Cheonggyecheon. A walk along this stream (around 5km long) along Cheonggyecheon is remarkably quiet because the stream is more than 1below street level and feels a little like a dugout.
Street performer singing to the crowd . everyone seems to be having a good time and singing along
you can see many couples relaxing here.
we walk from Cheonggyecheon to the nearby gyeongbokgung passing US embassy on the way. After a long and tiring walk, we decide to took subway train back to our hotel. The subway stop at 12 am and we continue our way back by taking taxi. Extra 20 percent is added to the fare between midnight and 04:00
Day 5 – Last Day at Seoul
We decided to visit Ewha Womans University on our last day. (subway station : Ewha Womans University). we check out from our hotel and left our luggage at the automated locker at Hongik University station. The Ewha Womans University area is one of the most popular shopping districts in Seoul. Clothing stores in the area are affordable and stylish cater mostly for young people as their is a lot of University student in the area.
This area is super cool with mostly college students hanging around. There are many cool retro shops around the area.
the clothing here is on the cheaper side
even the food here also on the cheaper side. Restaurants in the area cater to the tastes of young women. There is a wide selection of restaurant serving local food and also western food to choose from.
drop by one of the restaurants and order a Ramen with Tuna. The sauce is a bit too sweet for my liking.
after lunch, saw this “Utility Van ” selling various kind of household item. Does their traffic police allow this?
Next stop is Gyeongbokgung . Take Subway to Gyeongbokgung Station (Subway Line #3), and follow exit no. 5. you will come out directly inside the compound of Gyeongbokgung palace. Opposite Gyeongbokgung is the Folk Museum and Palace Museum. Admission is free for this museum. Entrance fees for Gyeongbokgung are 3000 Won. they have a performance every hour in the different language outside the courtyard of the palace.
Built in 1395. Gyeongbokgung is considered the most beautiful and grandest palace among other palaces from the same era in Korea.
nothing much to say about the palace as I been to forbidden city in Beijing and I think Gyeongbokgung look like a mini version of forbidden city.
Gyeongbokgung views from the gate
since its still too early to go to the airport. we walk to the nearby Samcheong-dong. Stop by Zoo coffee for a cup of coffee and relax
you can find animals soft toys for sale inside the cafe.
we leave for Hongik University station to collect our luggage and take the airport train to Incheon International airport. Its is better to take Airport bus if you got big luggage. there is a wide variety of shops inside the departure terminal and the shop close at 9.30 pm. so for girls who want to get their cosmetic and designer bag. Do spend more time at the airport as the price is cheaper than Malaysia.