Friday, October 24, 2014

7 Days 8 Nights South Korea Trip 2014: Summarised Itinerary for Seoul -Jeju Island - Seoul

It might be my first trip to the Land of the Morning Calm but i surprise myself by taking only about 3,500 photographs which was further pared to 2,500.

Personally, i feel it has something to do with my non-existent knowledge of the Korean language and the fact that in Seoul, it was mainly shopping rather than an immersion in historical / cultural sites.

Nevertheless, i shall still post a summarised itinerary on this vacation! As with my Taiwan itinerary, click the hyperlinks for more detailed postings (reviews on restaurants, hotels etc)! Bookmark this entry and check back periodically as it would likely take me months to complete everything!

Singapore - Seoul
[3.18 pm] Departed from Changi International Airport which was supposed to leave at 2.55 pm; like the land traffic / public transportation system in Singapore, you couldn't really second guess the traffic in the air!

[10.30 pm] Arrived safely at Incheon International Airport and we had to immediately rush to the Airport Railroad Express (AREX), buy a ticket and take the train to Seoul Station, where our hotel was located.

[12.20 am] After about an hour on the express train, the teo siblings, tired yet goofy, finally arrived in Seoul Station! Our ordeal had yet to end; the underground routes were a tad confusing and it took us close to twenty minutes to find Hotel Manu!

[1.00 am] Took a much needed shower and it's time to sleep!

Seoul - Jeju Island
[8.00 am] View outside our triple room; how did we manage to spend twenty minutes to get to the hotel when Seoul Station is literally right opposite us?!

[10.15 am] Left Hotel Manu to check out the surrounding after accompanying my sister to the gym! I should consider signing up for a gym membership to tone my fat-covered abs.

[10.33 am] Namdaemun Market (남대문 시장) was superbly near the hotel! I didn't know how close we were then since we walked all the way to Sungnyemun Gate before making a turn.

[11.39 am] Had an early lunch at a Korean restaurant along a street next to the hotel! Unsure about the name since I am hopeless in the hangul written script. For review and location, click here.

[12.30 pm] Left the hotel for Gimpo Airport via AREX again!

[3.13 pm] Our next destination? Jeju Island; also known as the Island of the Gods! There are quite a number of airlines traversing the domestic routes from Seoul to Jeju; i bought my tickets from Jeju Air as the website is available in English.

[4.13 pm] Landed at Jeju International Airport! The first thing i did upon collecting my luggage was to register myself at the car rental booth before taking a complimentary shuttle bus to another area to collect the rented car which i reserved two months ago!

[5.38 pm] With a lot of apprehension, double checking & triple checking (Korea practices left hand driving), we finally got to Yongduam Rock (Dragon Head Rock) (용두암)!

[6.18 pm] Time for the famous black pork street in Jeju! Said to be one of the island's specialties, we had to give it a try! Had such a full meal at Hwaro-Hyang; we swore off pork for the rest of our trip.

[9.00 pm] After roaming a short section of the Dongmun Market Place, we took to the road again and finally arrived at Galeum Guest House, our accommodation in Seogwipo district for the next few days, in one piece.

Jeju Island
[8.00 am] An early start of the day - attempting the "easiest" yeongsil trail on Mount Hallasan (한라산) at Hallasan National Park!

[12.37 pm] Had the best ever green tea latte at OSulloc Tea Museum! Green tea fanatics would be able to indulge themselves crazy on items with green tea content, including but not limited to green tea based desserts.

[2.37 pm] Shopping at one of Jeju's notable hypermarkets; Emart! For those guys who have been through national service, this emart is different from the emart we have in Singapore and sells a wide variety of merchandise.

[4.20 pm] Oedolgae Rock (외돌개) - gained regional (or even global) recognition because it was featured in a scene of a very famous period drama; Daejanggeum (大長今).

[5.12 pm] Relaxing at Cheonjiyeon Falls (천지연폭포), had some bread and coffee at Paris Baguette cafe and checked out the illuminated Saeyeon-Gyo Bridge before returning back to the guest house. Slept at around 10-11pm!

Jeju Island
[4.00 am] Woke up at an ungodly hour so that we can make it on time to catch the sunrise at the world famous Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak (성산일출봉). Failed obviously, the sun was already at the horizon twenty minutes before we even reached the attraction's entrance.

[7.40 am] Whatever the case, it was a journey we persevered to the end and the peak was conquered after climbing for close to 40 minutes, with a break in between where i had a bottle of yummy banana milk and a few slices of egg-batter bread.

[8.16 am] It was not yet time for the Jeju Woman Diver performance but i figured it would not do the ladies any justice if i don't pay them a visit!

[10.00 am] Hiked through the chilly Manjanggul Cave (만장굴) which is one of the world's top 10 longest lava tube! We covered only about a kilometer since the rest are closed to the public.

[12.00 noon] Trick Art Museum! Singapore has one too even though you may wish to note that the ticket pricing in Jeju was only about 50% Singapore's pricing!

[2.00 pm] BANG!!! Car accident! Read about it here.

[4.38 pm] Got a new rental car and our famished tummies were finally placated by a delicious pot of abalone seafood soup and a bowl of abalone porridge at a Korean restaurant next to Cheonjiyeon Falls.

[6.30 pm] Went Emart again; after which would be back to the guesthouse to do our laundry and have a good night sleep at about 9 pm. Lesson learnt from the accident; sleep early!!!

Jeju Island - Seoul
[6.00 am] I know it's still pretty early; we didn't have much choice as instruction from the hospital was that both my sister and i would have to be back that morning to change our dressing! Given the limited time, we checked out and proceeded directly to the hospital. p.s. very pretty nurse and she was extremely gentle with us!

[9.47 am] Jeju International Airport - to board the 11.55 am plane back to Seoul! Jeju has been an unforgettable experience (for better and for worse) BUT i would love to be back again! And, i would still opt for self-drive.

[2.40 pm] An hour of plane ride and 30-minute of train ride via AREX, we were back to Hotel Manu! We got smarter this time and crossed the road from Seoul Station instead of taking the underpass.

[4.00 pm] Gwangjang Market (광장시장) - strongly recommended for those who enjoy the vibe and atmosphere of a local market! Plus point - plenty to eat!

[5.40 pm] Soaking in the atmosphere of Dongdaemun; note, unlike the nearby Gwangjang Market, this area focused more on shopping centres and wholesale markets. By the time we got back to the metro, it was around 11.30 pm! Both sisters can really shop; they actually dumped me in a cafe for an hour!

[10.00 am] Stepped into a rainy, gloomy day at Seoul! After a few days of sunshine at Jeju, this was definitely a marked difference! Mixed feelings about the weather; on one hand, i prefer the lower temperature although on the other hand, the rain was a hindrance to even acceptable photo taking!

[11.30 am] Korean fried chicken was said to be something tourists die die must try when they are in Korea; we did at Two Two Fried Chicken.

[12.33 pm] Crossed the road and Myeongdong (명동) was right ahead of us! This is the place where ladies would go crazy over the many cosmetic shops lining the streets!

[4.37 pm] Cut across Namdaemun Market on our way back to our hotel. Yes, you can walk from Myeongdong back to Hotel Manu!

[9.00 pm] Following a snack-shopping spree at Lotte Market, we were back at Myeongdong! Koreans are night owls i think; the vicinity appeared more vibrant and happening when the sun set.

[10.30 pm] Late night dinner at Yoogane Dak Galbi (유가네 닭갈비); totally didn't regret having this meal! By the way, they have a branch in Singapore!

Seoul - Singapore
[11.39 am] Hotel was fully booked that day and our request for late checkout was rejected. Preparing to check out and store our luggage at the hotel as our flight would only take off at midnight.

[2.34 pm] Split ways with the sisters after lunch at Lotte Mart food court; they shall continue their last minute shopping while i check out Insa-dong (인사동), a cultural district. Yes, it's again a rainy day. :(

[4.23 pm] Had a bowl of boiling ginseng chicken soup from a restaurant known to serve the best in Seoul; Tosokchon (토속촌)

[5.30 pm] Got lost and found this pretty little garden. I enjoy getting lost when i am overseas as it often brings nice little surprises! Note: i have been lucky so far. 

[6.42 pm] Back at Seoul Station well before the time i was supposed to meet up with my sisters. Had a cup of jujube tea at a nearby cafe and took the private shuttle to Incheon International Airport at 8.00pm.

[11.40 pm] Reached in an hour's time; checked in our 86 kilograms of luggage; completed our tax refunds; shopped at the 24-hour duty free shop; took the internal shuttle train to the departure gate and it's time to board SQ603. 

[5.34 am] First thing i did upon arrival at Changi International Airport - purchased dressing for the wound; a gift from Korea that would likely remain permanently etched to my skin! 


  1. Hello! I am Juri from Busan, Korea.
    Your trip is so impressive. There are many places I want to visit and a lot of food I want to try.
    I guess you had searched a lot and made a lot of efforts in preparing your trip.
    I am sorry you have been injured.

    Anyway, I am going to travel Singapore 4th.Jan.
    Last year I visited Singapore and fall in love with that country. That is why I visit again.

    I am just so glad Singaporean which I like most came to Korea.

    1. Hallo Juri!

      I didn't research a lot for this trip actually; my younger sister did all the planning! You are from Busan? Heard there are tonnes are good food from that region!

      No worries about the accident; i am recovering well with just a scar to constantly remind me not to drive if i am feeling sleepy or tired! Haha.

      You are coming to Singapore?!~?! Have a great trip! Weather is rather rainy these few days so bring along a umbrella!


    2. Anonymous11:56 AM

      Hello may i ask, how you send back all your goodies from korea back to singapore. Im taking Korean Air back to singapore, and they only allow 1 baggage even though its 25 kg per person :(

    3. 1 baggage?!?!? i actually boxed my goodies and checked them in as 1 package. You may consider buying e biggest possible luggage bag to squeeze everything inside.

  2. Hi Cavin,

    Chance upon your blog when I search for Manu hotel as I am going to stay there for my upcoming trip. Thanks for the great write up and all the info provided :)

    1. Hallo! You are most welcome! Hope you have a much more enjoyable time than i did in Korea! :)

  3. Hi Cavin!

    Came across your blog while a research, glad your trip was great and sorry about your injury.

    I was wondering if you have any idea if december 2015 would be a good time to visit seoul for snow?


    1. Hallo!

      No worries about the injury; i have fully recovered with just a scar to show it. Most importantly was the lesson learnt; ensure ample sleep!!!

      On your question, i think it would be as my friend encountered snowfall when she went in early November. if you live in Singapore, i would recommend you check with the counter staff at Korea Tourism Organization (Korea Plaza).

      Beware of the cold; heard it can be unbearable.


  4. Hi Calvin, your blog on China tour served as great advice on what to lookout for before booking my trip. This time your blog on Korea trip gave me great inspiration as well. Why no photos of you in the blog? By the way, i am from the Teo family as well.. Haha...


    1. Hi Doreen,

      Thanks for the compliment, fellow relative! I think there is still room for improvement in this blog and some readers actually prefer more photos than words! lol.

      I am relatively low profile in real life but there are some photos of me in the blog; just not that common. hehe.


  5. Thanks for the great read. I’m getting “Reise Fieber” as they say in German, just watching the gorgeous pictures … such a beautiful world !

  6. Hey Cavin

    May I know what did u guys buy back from korea!!?!? I see many boxes of stuff. hahah!

    1. Hallo! Mostly not MY stuff except for a box of goodies from Lotte Mart! Haha. Both my sisters purchased tons of cosmetics; easily a year's supply!!

  7. Anonymous3:20 AM

    Hi Calvin,
    I am surprised how did u managed to book the jeju air's domestic flight from Seoul to jeju,
    I tried to book and when it comes to the processing of credit card it takes forever to load and never get thru.
    FYI i also lived in Singapore.


    1. Hi Matthew,

      Maybe something is wrong with the system because i remember the booking to be glitch free and compared to the rest of the airlines going to Jeju, Jeju Air is the easiest to read and navigate!

      Maybe you can try registering as a member?


  8. Hello. Thank you for this wonderful post. Found myself reading and checking on every detail of your trip :D I and my boyfriend will be coming to SK in March of 2016. We already booked a flight I am now in the process of completing our itinerary. We are also planning to go to Seoul and Jeju. Would you recommend staying at Hotel Manu? And considering that you spent 2 nights at Jeju, did you pay for Hotel Manu for the entire duration of 7 days?

    1. Hallo! Glad you found the itinerary helpful and hope you have a good trip in March!

      Hotel Manu was comfortable and i would prefer it over the guesthouse in Jeju Island but i do find the service to be lacking. You check out my review here!

      We didn't pay for the nights we stored our luggage as there was a luggage storage and we did pay for the first night before returning back for the fifth night. Nevertheless, do check with the hotel beforehand as some hotels have limited space.

  9. Hi Cavin
    It's a really clean and neat piece of blog for a good idea on how you had your itinerary planned out, I know, I saw you mentioned that it was your younger sister.. but it does inspire me on how to plan my blog posts for itinerary >> not to cram too much in one post. really really organized and easy to read! I think I'm gonna be back for more reading of your travel blog posts!

    I'm heading to Seoul end Nov.. I hope by then its gonna have lesser rain, my first trip after so many years of looking forward to go there since Kpop breeze blew into my life in 1999. =)


  10. Hello. I just finished reading your post and it was pretty helpful as i have always wanted to go korea.

    So i want to ask you is there any machine to complete the tax refunds?

  11. Hello. I just finished reading your post and it was pretty helpful as i have always wanted to go korea.

    So i want to ask you is there any machine to complete the tax refunds?

    1. hallo! there wasn't any machine to fill up the form; hard copy is still the way to go for tax rebates. :( sadly.

  12. Hi Cavin, enjoy your blog & the gorgeous pictures! Thanks for sharing. I'll probably follow your itinerary for my coming Korea trip :))

    1. Thanks Eva! Do note that i have always preferred a more relaxed itinerary. My itinerary can be rushed and in the midst of it, may not be as fun. :(

  13. K S Tang10:12 PM

    Very impressive trip to Korea, especially the hiking of Halla Mountain. I wish to travel Jeju Island in June alone and wondering any mode of transportation is suitable for me ? Can you advise ?

    1. Alone?! You are so garang! Haha. I would think public transport would be a good mode for you; however, instructions / directions are likely to be in Korean and i heard frequency is not high.

      You may wish to sign up for tours. I do know that in certain hostels, they might have pre-arranged tours. Go check with the place you would be staying!

  14. Hi Calvin,
    Enjoyed your travel blog, thanks. May I check how fast is arrival customs clearance at Gimpo airport? Wanna check if we are in time to catch the last airport bus or last train, thank you! :)

    1. Hallo! It really depends on the immigration officer and the number of planes that have landed! For Gimpo, since it is more for domestic journey, the wait is definitely shorter than Incheon international airport. In worst case scenario, keep cab!

  15. Im so glad I found your blog, it has been really helpful. Can't wait to go to Korea in 2 weeks!!
    Thank you

  16. Thank you very much for sharing information that will be much helpful for making coursework my effective.

  17. Anonymous4:10 AM

    Hi Cavin,

    Was the car an auto or manual one?


    1. Hallo! It was an automatic car. How i wish it was manual as i prefer stick!


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