3 Months Itinerary in South Korea

3 Months Itinerary in South Korea from September 29th until December 26th 2009

I received an email from a reader of my blog for my 3 months itinerary in South Korea. FOR MALAYSIAN: There is a 90 days tourist visa agreement between Malaysia and South Korea and for those who want to do backpacking and stay longer in South Korea, this is a good news.

This is also one of the reason why I decided to visit Korea rather than Japan; because of VISA. Japan lost me on this one..hehe.

Initially my aim is to use only RM 5,000 for the whole journey but it busted around RM 1,000 extra.

Places that I've been to in the order below within 90 days :
Seoul - 5 days
Bonghwa - 2 weeks
Busan - 4 days
Geoje Island - 5 days
Tongyeong - 3 days
Jinju -  1 day
Gwangju - 5 days
Seoul - 1 week
Gwangcheon - 2 weeks
Jinbu - 3 weeks
Busan - 5 days
Gyeongju - 1 day
Seoul - 5 days

I excluded Jeju island eventhough I have heard many raved reviews about it solely because the timing was not right at that time and so many warm and kind people urging me to stay longer with them. No worries, I could come again for Jeju island in future, right?

RM 2,000 - I bought the ticket from Malaysia Airlines (You could actually reduce this flight fare significantly by using Air Asia to Manila and CebuPacific to Incheon - around RM 1,000 return ticket)

RM 3,000 + 1,000(extra) - food, transportation, lodging
I used couchsurfing.com extensively which offers free lodging and did WWOOF for free food and lodging. Hence, the reason why I was able to travel in Korea with that budget.

Click the link for my How-To explanation about Couchsurfing and WWOOF in South Korea.

Please be reminded that I am not a shopaholic so this budget might not be agreeable to those who are. ^^

7 days itinerary in Korea

I have been asked by many, what if they only have a week to spend in Korea, where should they go or what should they do?

Assuming that the whole 7 days you are in Korea and excluding the flight arrival/departure.
This suggestion is not necessary to be done in the order below. It is all up to you and the weather. ^^

1.Myeongdong - Namsan tower - Namdaemun

This three places are in the same location. You can do within one day. From Myeongdong subway station, you could walk around 15 minutes up the hill to Namsan tower cable station. Myeongdong is a great place to shop for younger generation and I like the energy there. If you want to watch Nanta show you could opt for Myeongdong theather. Namdaemun is just across the road after you complete the whole stretch of Myeongdong street and a few shopping complex are around the are - Shinsegae, Lotte and Avenue. I love eating at the basement food court in Lotte but most of the time it's crowded.

2. Insadong - Jongno - Cheongyecheon - Gyeongbok/Chandeok palace - Dongdaemun

If you walk along the Cheongyecheon stream, you could choose the exits to Jongno, Insadong or Dongdaemun. They are just very closed to each other. If you love antiques and arts galleries take the opportunity to savour the beauty of Insadong. There are so many korean traditional restaurant to choose around this area. At the end of the Insadong street you could visit the infamous Gyeongbok/Chandeok palace. Gyeongbok is the masculine type of palace while Chandeok is the feminine counterpart. I love both palace. Try to visit both if you have the time. Dongdaemun is better visited at night because the place is heated up in between 10PM to 5AM.

3.Nami island

The place is a bit further out from Seoul. You may need to take 1 hour and a half train from Cheongyanni Station and stopped at Gapyeong Station. From there, take a taxi to the jetty and a ferry to the island. If you love the Winter Sonata hit drama by Bae Yong Jun and Choi Ji Woo, don't miss this spot. I prefer
this place in autumn and winter.

4. Yeoido/Yeoinaru - Hangang River - 63 Building - Aquaria

If you want to visit the broadcasting stations like KBS and MBC, you should go to Yeoido/Yeoinaru and then visit the 63 building where they have an aquarium attached. Complete your day with Hangang River cruise at night. This place is pretty in spring.

5. Lotte World/Everland

Choose one of the theme parks. Lotte world is just in Seoul near Jamsil but you need to take a 1 hour bus to Everland. The entry price is about the same but Everland is much bigger. Avoid school holidays or public holidays because the queue for the games will be never ending story. One whole day is needed for theme park.

6. DMZ - Demilitarized Zone

Stretched further out from Seoul. This is a place worth visiting cause it is a place like no other in South Korea. DMZ is the border between South Korea and North Korea

7. Apgujeong for K-pop lovers / National Museum for historical lovers/ Shopping 

You might meet your K-pop idols in Apgujeong but this is not a guarantee. Try walking into any of the post salons there and you might bumped into them. Final day should be left for free tour. You could choose the suggested one or just do some shopping before you leave Korea.

There are so many places to visit in Korea which are left out:
Hongik/Hongdae or Ewha/Sinchon - students flock this area because a few universities
are here.
Gwanghamun - King Sejong and General Lee Sun Shin statue and their memorial
Gyeongju - If you have another 2-3 days extra, a MUST visit historical site.
Jeju island - If you have another 2-3 days extra, the infamous island with an inactive volcano mount Halla.

As Featured on ArticleCity.com

Free Shuttle Bus from Seoul

, In accordance with 2010-2012 Visit Korea Year - Visit Korea Year Committee provides Free Shuttle Bus
Source: KNTO website

From :
Seoul (Gwanghamun) to Gyeongju -Thousand year old city
Seoul (Gwanghamun) to Jeonju - city of traditional korean food
Busan to Gyeongju -Thousand year old city

June 1 ~ December 31, 2010 (7 Months)

Applicable for:
Foreign tourists

Everyday (Off on Monday)

+82-1577-2507 / Kim Kyu-hyun (visitkorea_en@chesstours.co.kr)


- First come first serve
- Bring your passport

Go to the website to book your FREE shuttle bus!

HURRY! Seats are filling up very fast!

How To Use Naver Dictionary

For serious learners of Korean language or not so serious one..hehe, you could always take advantage of robust Korean-English Naver dictionary. Previously, I used Google translate to find the meanings of Korean words that I don't understand, but sometimes it returned plainly incorrect or ridiculous result. Hence, I tried Naver dictionary as advised by Min Young. 

Type the url : http://www.naver.com/
Click 사전 means dictionary

There are a few good sides of Naver dictionary that I like. Just for example it offers a few type of dictionary searches:
백과사전 - Encyclopedia
한자사전 - Chinese character dictionary
중국어사전 -Korean - Chinese dictionary
의약학사전 - Medicine dictionary
영어사전 - Korean - English
국어사전 - Korean
일본어사전 - Japanese - Korean 
용어사전 - Glossary

So, which one should you use for Korean-English search?
Use this one. For example if you want to search the meaning of  안녕하세요

전체  - All
단어/숙어 - Words/Idioms 
본문 - Text
예문 - Example
유의어 - Synonym
검색 - Search/Retrieve

Hello, front desk, how may I help you?
안녕하세요. 프런트입니다. 무엇을 도와 드릴까요?

Ratana's 100 Day Birthday

In Korea, 100 days always means something special. A feast is prepared for 100 day's baby, a toast is shared between a couple, a family or colleagues gathered to congratulate an employee for being in the office for 100 days and etc. The 100 day is considered as surviving period of the baby/couple/employee.

I had an experience of one while I was in Santisuk because of the cute baby Ratana. That day was her 100th day Birthday. My happiness was that I was served with my favourite delicacies such as rice cakes, red bean, jabchae. Yummy...

Read more about 100 days birthday here.

Min Young, Casper, Dag and me had our breakfast
before preparing Ratana's party.

Mr Lee, the chef preparing rice cake covered 
with mashed red bean

The rice cake in mashed red bean

Fried fish. This fish is really popular among korean family. I
couldn't remember the name but Bun Sok told me that because
it's cheap if it is that size. If it is bigger, it will be very much

This is the 100 days rice cake. 

Japchae. - a special one for me, without meat. 

Injeolmi - the kind of rice cake that I like. 

Twigim - fried vegetables and fish fillet

All the glorious banchan - side dishes that I miss now.

The main course for the baby party.

Mi Hyeon's husband, Mi Hyeon, Min Young, Casper, 
Nandida and Ratana

Me, holding Ratana with the global family around me.

This was my last day in Santisuk. T_T

Ratana cried because she didn't want me to go. Hehe..

2 pinky girls. 

Seoul Subway Fare Calculation from Naver

Miju from Nowon taught me how to calculate the subway fare from Naver website. It is pretty user-friendly with the exception that it was all in Korean. If you could read Hangul, it is pretty neat right?

You could plan your transportation budget ahead before leaving your hotel just with a click of the mouse. Fret not, that I will help to translate as much as I could. ^__^ In the meantime, memorize that Hangul, fast!!

You may go to the Naver website for 지하철노선도 (Jihacheol noseon do - Subway map) - http://traffic.map.naver.com/Traffic_Browser/SubwayLine2/index.asp

You will see a subway map like this

The subway lines are represented by different colors
Line 1 - Dark blue
Line 2 - Green
Line 3 - Orange
Line 4 - Light Blue
Line 5 - Purple
Line 6 - Dark Brown
Line 7 - Moss green
Line 8 - Pink
Line 9 - BrLight own

There are a few other lines:
Incheon Line 1 - 인천 1 호선
Bundang Line - 분당 선
Jungang Line - 준앙 선
Gyeongui Line - 경의 선

호선 means subway line, so 1호선 is Line 1.

Just click your start and arrival location. In this example; I chose from Incheon Airport 인천국제공항 to Myeongdong 명동.

Departure: 출발
Arrival : 도착

Travel time: Approximately 1 hour and 33 minutes (2 hours including transfers and if you carry big luggage)
Distance: 61.8km
Subway stops: 28 station
There are 3 transfers
Total fare: T-money 카드 - 4,600 won , Cash 현금 -  4,700 won

First, you need to take the grey color - AREX Line from Incheon International Airport to Gimpo Airport.
After that, change to Line 5 -Purple and transfer at Gongdeok Station.
From Gongdeok Station, take Line 6 - dark brown to Samgakji Station
Lastly, transfer to Line 4 - light blue and ride until Myeongdong Station.

For budget comparison:

By Airport Limousine from Incheon Airport to Myeongdong:
Bus Number : 6001
Fare: 14,000 won
Travel Time : 90 minutes
Stop: Ibis hotel (have to walk around 10 minutes to Myeongdong Subway)

Budget saved: 9,300 won (but of course you need to be a sluggard if you have a huge backpack! ^_^)

Try this Interactive Subway Map in English. I have to warn you though that the Naver subway map is more user friendly and informative.

Parents' Day (어버이 날)

This is a backdated post on May 8th, when I helped Min Young and her family selling carnations on Parents' Day.

In the Republic of Korea, Parents' Day (어버이 날) is celebrated on May 8.

Devotion to parents and ancestors was always considered the highest of all virtues in traditional Korean society. Hence it is quite understandable how important an occasion is Parent's Day in Korea, both for kids as well as grown ups. Here the occasion is dedicated not only to parents but also parental figures like parents-in-law and grandparents and even elderly people. While adults hand over greetings and gifts (electronic items, medicine therapy and even beauty treatment packages) to their parents, children usually honor their parents and grandparents with red carnations and the singing of songs themed to Parent's Day.(Source: Wikipedia)

Min Young and I took a few days off from Santisuk and went straight to Incheon to help her mother preparing bucket loads of flowers to sell on Parents' Day. It was quite a new experience for me cause I never really favour flowers and I'm not a creative junkie in terms of craft or even decorations lalala..

From left: Min Young, Min Young's mother and Mara.
I told Min Young not to call her dog as Mara cause in 
Malay Language, it means angry. No wonder her dog
was always angry at me! ^_^

This flower shop is Min Young mother's.
She decided to open one because she
loves plants and flowers and she is extremely

The flower basket was 5,000 won each. My first time
doing it and I thought I was quite talented, wasn't I?
Hehehe...nah..I just stuffed everything into that tiny
basket. No effort wasted there.

The tools and flowers needed for the flower basket.
Why carnation? Beats me. I asked a few other Koreans
why they gave carnation to parents but they couldn't
give me a satisfying answer. 
Hmm..any clue anyone?

Min Young; holding sikhye - my favourite
drink. You could drink this in jjimjilbang too.

Korean rice cake for my lunch. This was 2,000 won.
We bought a few types and this one has some squash
(orange colour) mixed.

Some kimbap and naengmyeon for lunch.


 I took this picture in front of Min Young's house 
while catching a taxi to go the flower shop.

 Min Young, her friend and I sold the flowers in front of

A couple wearing couple shoes. Same color and same
brand. So cheesy..it's a big phenomenon in Korea to
wear the same outfit while you go out with your other
half. Those who are singles will feel left out..hmm.

Some mid or high schoolers. They were still wearing the
long sleeve + coat uniform because it was still cold. It was
already May but I was shivering to my bone. So cold!!
Thanks to the crazy wind blowing our make-shift tent.

After the Nami Island incident, I had taken an oath not
to eat THAT corn again but I broke my words. For the 
second time, I could munch the tasteless corn yet again. 
Why I never learn from history?

The corn up-close. All because of that old grandmother.
I pitied her and broke my oath. In return I got a mediocre

See that man wearing an advertisement with number 2 
on? It was for election and he supposedly rooting for
that guy in the ads.

Our beautiful carnation. We started selling from 
noon until 10 at night. The sale was not so smooth
in the day but when night came, it was pretty brisk
because everybody was rushing to get a gift for
their parents for the next day. 

Min Young's best friend. He's 40 but doesn't look like
one at all!! Thanks to Korean diet and lifestyle. Such
a funny guy and eventhough he couldn't speak English
but we could interact. One of the funniest sentences he
loved to imitate was "Ok buddy!" It was from the 
gag show

 Courtesy of Min Young's best friend: Potato Pizza.

Min Young from Incheon

I met Min Young in April when she was a guest in Santisuk. Right after that we hit it off and became friends though she is more than a decade younger than me. I mean she is 13 years apart from me but her mindset is pretty old for a girl like her. Hehe..mian he min young aa.

I had 5 days off  from 5th May to spend with Min Young and her family in Incheon due to Parent's Day celebration. We hitchhiked 3 times from Santisuk to Jangpyeong bus terminal and took a bus to Wonju. We transferred another bus from there to Incheon.

Jangpyeong bus terminal

Incheon Terminal Complex (bus)

We stopped by at the restroom in the terminal and 
I was amazed at this hand cleaner. Particularly because
there was an LCD TV on top of it. How advance!
Even in the restroom..

We took the metro (subway) to Bupyeong Station
because Min Young wanted to drop by at a 
Pat bing su shop over there.

The Incheon subway is operated by Incheon Metro.
You could take this line to go to Incheon Airport.

The handsome Joe Odagiri and the gorgeous
Song Hye Kyo's Levis ad board. 

Yummy..the pat bing su in Bupyeong.
팥(Pat) = Sweet red beans
빙수 (Bing Su) = Shaved ice

Another type of pat bing su that we tried a few days later.

We took a bus from Bupyeong to Min Young's house.

We ate Mcdonalds for lunch before we returned to 
Santisuk. It was 15 minutes before lunch hour and
we got to see how they changed the menu. It was
changed manually!! ^__^

Our lunch and mine was shrimp burger which I don't
get to eat one in Malaysia. It cost about 3,500 won
for a set menu.

Vandalism in Korea's restroom experience. It was
my first time seeing it. Anyone care to make a 
guess on the meaning? 

Korean kids that I met in front of Min Young's Flower Shop.