Sunday, July 13, 2014

Ivy's Travel: Korea Trip Part 1

Since our honeymoon back in 2010, I think this Korea trip is the second longest trip we had just the two of us. We travel, but mostly short one or together with the fams. The country was not really our first pick, Australia was, but due to one another reason, we decided to go to Korea and postpone our Oz trip. Honestly speaking, the country might not be our chosen country to die die want to go back but Korea is beautiful, the city is very clean and has this amazing culture. The trip was so much fun for us because we got to be in a quite long holiday just the two of us (something rare), and I always love to go to a new place, to see their culture, to see the place where we used to only see via tv or movies, is just priceless. BTW, if you are wondering, we went by ourselves, I never like the idea of traveling with tour.

I thought about making the post short like what I did previously on my Hong Kong and Macau's's posts, but since it was my first Korea trip, to be honest, I'm not that confident to make a "things to know/ to do" kind of post since there is no way I could give a complete information by only one trip. Hence, I decided to make the post more like a travel diary and maybe do a recap of a things to know at the end of the posts. Hopefully it would still help in some point for Ivy's Life's readers who happen to plan on going to the same place. 

So, let's dig in!

VISA application

You'll need to apply for VISA first, but not to worry, Korea visa is easy, pretty much very simple. Unless you are very unlucky, most likely the application will go through smoothly. You can apply through travel agent, but we applied directly to the embassy. Incase you are wondering, there is no interview. You only drop the document and paid the visa money, then they will give you some kind of receipt and ask you to come back around 5 days.  
Pls click here for more info.

Day 1: Oct 9th, 2013 (Jakarta - Singapore)

We were thinking on going with Korean Air before last minute changes and took Singapore Airlines instead. I could never resist a short trip to Spore, we transit for 2 days before taking the early flight to Seoul on Oct 11th. 

Day 2: Oct 10th, 2013 (Singapore)

Day 3: Oct 11th, 2013 (Seoul: Incheon Airport, Hotel Aropa and Myeongdong)

The best time would be taking the red eye flight, so you would arrive early morning at Seoul, unfortunately due to last minute booking, the only available flight for us is the morning 9, arrived Seoul almost 5 noon.

There are several alternatives to go from Incheon Airport to city (Seoul station):
1. By Arex (subway train): Stop at Seoul station, duration +/- 50 mins. Price: 4.050 won
2. By bus
3. By Airport bus shuttle
Click here for more details. 

Seeing it was the fastest and cheapest way, we went with Arex thinking it was the right choice. Tettttt. WRONG. The train was surprisingly crowded, we didn't get any seats, so we have to stand for 50mins with two big luggages and 1 small one. Arriving at Seoul station, we took subway to Myeongdong station and the train was super super packed, we have to squeezed in with the luggages. Then, just like the torture was not enough, the subway doesn't come with elevator! Only stairs! So, we have to drag and carry our 2 big luggages and 1 small one using stairs!!!
Trust me, after 5 hours flight, you will not like it to have to stand for 50mins straight, switching trains with those luggages, squeezed inside crowded train and found out that you have to carry your big luggages by stairs. During our days at Seoul, we found out that most of the subway underground doesn't come with elevators. Jeez, no wonder I almost didn't see any fattie there. 

My recommendation would be: take the bus! Unless you're an athlete. 

Hotel Aropa (*4)
17-2 Bukchang-dong, Jung-gu, Myeong-dong, Seoul
Price: IDR 1.500.000/ night via

Picture taken from Agoda

There's a lot of places to stay in Seoul. When I say a lot, I mean, a LOT! I got headache when I need to decide where we should stay. If you are on budget, there are plenty of hostels to stay, and don't worry a friend of mine who once studied there say that all the hostels are perfectly clean, and most of them are like Hanok (Korean traditional house), cute right? If you are one of those Korean drama fans, you should definitely try to stay at least one night in their Hanok.

I'm not saying that we are not in a budget, but when I saw the hostels are mostly comes with no bed, just mattress on floor like the one you see in the Korean movie, I rule them out from the options.

When I saw Hotel Aropa comes as quite a recommendation at, I decided to book the hotel for our place to stay in Seoul, since the room looks alright from the website and the price is affordable. Turns out, I regretted it since the first day we checked in. In the end, we moved out and booked another hotel, but that story comes later.

Images from hotel website
Don't get me wrong, Aropa is not bad. The hotel is clean! I think when it comes to cleanliness in Korea, you don't have to be worry. All the public places and the restroom are all very clean. Anyway, the hotel is not bad. It's clean and modern minimalist. Why then we decided to forfeit the booking which had been paid is because the room is too small, and the location sucks. It located inside an alley which is fine in the day, but it got so quiet and dark starts around 8pm. If you are okay with that, then you would probably had no problem staying here.

Myeongdong - My favorite place at Seoul 

Typical or not, Myeongdong is definitely my favorite spot in the entire Seoul. I love everything about the place, even the major overly crowded people. If you happen to have no clue on what Myeongdong is, it's one of the most popular main shopping district in Seoul where hundreds of shops and hawker foods! I could easily spend days only wandering around here. 

The street foods are everywhere, not exactly cheap like the one in Bangkok though. They sell lots of snack food,  price approximately around 3000 won (33k rupiah) per pcs. Also lots of street vendors selling fake bags, fake new balance sneakers (fyi, new balance is hugely popular in Korea. Infact, the country has the highest selling of New Balance in all over Asia), most of the goods sold by the street vendors are around 10,000 won (110k rupiah).

Lemon drink 2500 won = 27,5k rupiah
Tall Ice Cream Cone. Yum!

Barbeque night at Wangbijib Myeongdong

Wangbijib is a Korean restaurant specializes in grilled meat. I've read somewhere that they serve good galbi and always packed during dinner time. Well, they got one right. The place was super crowded with locals. We were the only foreigner. Being a couple who digs Korean bbq, we were super thrilled to finally able to really eat a Korean bbq in the country. Everything seems to be the same except there are no staff who help you to grill the meat. I guess, it's normal seeing it's a local restaurant and they kinda expect everyone can do it.

We tried their Grilled assorted pork (26,000 won = 286k rupiah) and Grilled marinated beef (15,000 won = 165k rupiah). It was good but not over the top good, but almost all tables seem to keep on ordering. Nevertheless, seeing how packed the place is and located in the heart of Myeongdong, it can be a good option to try. 

Directions: Myeongdong station exit 9, go straight and turn left to the alley next to Skypark Hotel. Take another left and you will see a cosmetic convenience store beautyplex on your left. Wangbijib is at the second floor.

1 won = 11 rupiah (based on the currency at the time we travel)

Continue to Ivy's Travel: Korea trip part 2


jANI Jack said...

Amazing sharing friend! This Trip is like an amazing trip in the world. I hope you enjoy your tour. I really enjoy your blog. The images are good. These presents the Korea is an enjoyable country for visiting. Professionally I’m tourist and like to go in different places. I’m recently come back annapolis family day trips. After reading your blog I must go in Korea remember your trip. I hope you trip experience is also enjoyable for me.

Heru Dharmadi said...

Hi Ivy, may I know where did you finally take a hotel in seoul since you forfeited the Aropa hotel?
Since I'm going to Seoul this December but I have booked this Aropa Hotel via But since it can be cancelled, I think I need second opinion from you. Thanks

Heru Dharmadi said...

Hi Ivy, I will go to Seoul this December 14 and I have booked Aropa Hotel which you forfeited before. May I know where did you finally stayed in? Since I still got a chance to cancelled my booking via Thanks

Ivy said...

Hi Heru... We ended staying at Sejong Hotel at Myeongdong. Very nice location. Recommended as it's conveniently located at Myeongdong. And if you took bus from the airport, the bus stop in front of Sejong. Plus mrt station also within 1 minute walk. Hv fun in Seoul!

jzhenying said...

Arex Express train is the best way to access from the airport to Seoul station. It is fast(it takes only 43 mins to Seoul station) and clean. Plus, the price is also reasonable. It cost 8,000won and if you take one of these airline;Asiana,KAL,Jeju airline, you get some discount(6,900won). Arex Express train info desk is located between gate no.9 and no.8, desk no.45 on 1st floor in the airport.
T-money card is a prepaid public transportation card which means
you have to load some money on your T-money card before you use it
on subway,taxi or bus. And you can purchase a T-money card ata low price
if you head to Seoul station from Incheon airport. Find the Arex info.desk
on 1st floor at the airport. It located between gate #9 and #8, desk no.45.
They have a special promotion for foreigners; Express train ticket to Seoul station
+ T-money card it costs only 8,900 won. The regular price of
the express train ticket is 8,000 won and T-money card is 3,000 won.
So the promotion is a good deal.