4 days in Seoul + 2 days in Jeju – Korea wanderlust 🎎

Land of the oppas, or rather, the Land of the Morning Calm has been one of the top destinations for tourists especially for Philippine Passport holders residing in the Philippines due to its close proximity. With seat sales from airline companies every now and then, then definitely Korea will be a must-tick in the bucketlist.

Sokor ticked off my bucket list!

I was able to book a promo fare in Air Asia through Skyscanner from Manila to Seoul. However, as I am currently residing in UAE, I scheduled my annual leave the same period my travel dates are going to be. Mind you, I took a risk on this one especially as I haven’t applied my visa yet. If you want to know how I applied my visa in which I got approved after 4 working days, click here.

So after I obtained my visa, I am ready to go with my other arrangements. As I will be travelling to Seoul with my beau, I booked our accommodations through Agoda (Tip: My style is to book hotel/inn which is a walking distance to the metro or train station. Not only it will save time looking into directions, but it will save a great deal in your transportation budget as well. Also, not all accommodations walking distance to the metro station are expensive; I got ours at around KRW 150,000 for 5 nights including daily breakfast). I booked KPOP Guesthouse which is a 3 minute walk from Seoul Station. It was a relief, as Seoul Station is like the main train station in the heart of the city and is very accessible to everywhere.

For my 4th and 5th day, I plan to travel solo to Jeju Island despite my beau desperately wanting to come. I still booked the Seoul hotel for 5 nights, as he will stay in Seoul. I reiterated I wanted an alone time once in a while (independent gals would surely know this kind of feeling). And boy, I surely did not regret this decision, for it made me more self fulfilled and accomplished. It nourishes your mind accordingly, especially as you have your own time in your hands and you plan accordingly by your own.

Hence, I am sharing both my itineraries in Seoul and Jeju. I made it by myself, as I do not want to rely on travel agencies. The only activity I booked thru agency which I booked online via Klook is the Nami Island + Petite France + Gangchon Rail tour. I felt that we would run out of time and would be hassled if we take public transportation on our own to these places, especially as it is our first time in Korea. The destinations are also 1 hr and 30 minutes one way from Seoul, which can really take up our time, and most of the buses do not have english translation.

SEOUL ITINERARY:

Day 1: We arrived in Incheon International Airport at around 12 nn from our Airasia flight from Manila. However, it took a painstakingly over 1 hour in the immigration due to very long lines. I guess it is because we went on a peak season – October 20 onwards is a beautiful autumn season in Korea, so tourists surely flocked.

After we went past the immigration and securing our baggages, we made sure to get the reserved pocket wifi via Klook near the gates. This pocket wifi sure came in handy – navigating through Seoul and Jeju is no easy feat especially for the first timers, and the Seoul trains are much more complicated than Singapore’s and Dubai’s. Also make sure you purchase Tmoney card (KRW 1200) and you will just top it up with the amount depending on how many times you use it; it will save you a lot on the train fares around Seoul. I remember I topped mine around KRW 30000 for 5 days and I still got KRW 5000 left unused. However, in order to get to Seoul Station from Incheon Airport, there are only 2 options of train to choose from – One is the All stop train (KRW 4750) which stops at all stations including Gimpo Station (for domestic flights) and takes approximately 1 hour travel time. The other one is the AREX Express train (KRW 8000) which takes around 47 minutes and does not stop at all stations wherein it will enable to direct you to Seoul faster. Just mind the train timings though, since even though I wanted to ride the Express train, I can’t as I need to wait for one hour compared to the All Stop train which is already there.

Downtown Seoul

We were able to check in at the guesthouse at around 3pm. Right after we dropped our baggages, we just grabbed a quick snack at the nearest conveniece store (of course I purchased their famous binggrae banana yogurt milk which I instantly fell in love with; it is like the Yakult version of Korea) and off we go to our first destination :

  • N Seoul Tower
Boy, the lines were too long going to the tower itself! As it is a weekend, lots of couples and families came. I took this photo while falling in line the cable car going to the tower.
N Seoul tower at night and upclose

My tip would be to go on weekdays and during off peak season to this place. Though I still was able to snap cute photos, I can’t help but think the place is jam packed especially in the evenings. I can understand though, since this place is more beautiful at night.

How to go from Seoul Station: N Seoul Tower is a 15-20 minute walk from Seoul Station or you may take a bus. Just use google or naver maps for the directions or bus schedule.

Entrance Fee: KRW 8000 cable car two way ride; KRW 11000 fee to enter inside tower; KRW 10000 love lock without key or KRW 15000 love lock with key (optional)

Of course, this place is famous for its love locks – couples’ symbol of love. Though the locks are a tad bit overpriced – the cheapest one is KRW 10000, you can get a full meal with this price
Our own! Pardon the handwriting though and the cheesy ‘future wife’ added by my beau 🙄
Lucky! no photobomber at this moment
Felt magical
One of the resting places whenever you got tired of strolling

  • Myeongdong Street

We were able to eat a decent meal here – from Japchae, fishcakes, tteokbeokki, bulgogi, bibimbap, korean pancakes and many more to choose from. I also decided to purchase my pasalubongs during the first day, which is a bit contradictory to most of the people doing it on the last day. As I have a carefully planned schedule, I do not have enough time to go back to Myeongdong especially as I am in Jeju for my last days. Also, pasalubongs in Jeju can go a bit pricier than the rates in Seoul, so if you know how to budget like me, you wont be afraid buying pasalubongs on a first day and not in last minute.

Crowded streets of Myeongdong

You can finally splurge yourself on korean beauty and skincare products here! They offer promos and cheaper rates compares when I buy in Dubai, and they also give you extra freebies when you purchased. Just make sure to keep the receipts with you as i think foreigners can get tax refund in the airport for purchases made not below KRW 50000.

How to get there: From the cable car station, Myeongdong is only 10 minutes walk.

Entrance Fee: Free

Day 2:

  • Chandeokgung Palace

We woke up early to go to Chandeokgung Palace in order to avoid influx of people. Also, we still have to go to a hanbok rental shop which is near the palace.

One local guy jokingly greeted us “Mama!”. It means ‘Majesty’. I think it is because my boyfriend wore a costume designed for a Joseon (ancient Korea) Crown Prince based on the kdramas I have watched.
Majestic Chandeokgung Palace
Kdramas come to life: I must have seen this spot shot in many historical dramas tons of times; minus the actors of course
Strolling the palace grounds in full effect
Felt like a protagonist in my own historical drama lol 🤪
I think this has been the servants or helpers quarters in the palace during the Joseon dynasty
I think I have seen these as Gisaeng’s (Korea’s equivalent of a geisha) quarters in Hwang Jin Yi

How to get there from Seoul Station: Take the subway going to Jongno-3ga station and then from there transfer train and take off at Anguk Station. You can see signs that direct which exit to go toward the Palace.

Entrance Fee: KRW 3000; However if you enter the palace wearing hanbok it’s free; KRW 15000 for a 3 hour hanbok rental (optional)

  • Nari Park

We were supposed to go to Edelweiss Swiss Village, however, the ITX train going to Cheongchun will not arrive until the next couple of hours. Not wanting to waste time, we just opted for the next destination instead.

Beautiful Kochia Saprias
I love the vibrant colors of these flowers! It is somehow energizing
I forgot the name of this flower, but it is breathtakingly pretty indeed especially upclose
Photo inside the flowerfield.. check!
Aegyo photo shot area

How to get there: From Anguk Station go back to Seoul Station. Then take the train going to Yangju Station. From Yangju station, you may take a bus (I remember it’s Bus 80) and ask the driver to drop you at Nari Park.

Entrance Fee: KRW 2000

  • Namdaemun Market

I am glad I already bought pasalubongs in Myeongdong because in my opinion,Namdaemun items being sold are majority if apparels, food and home necessities. Still, I bought here extra keychains and ref magnets.

Korean seafood stew will always be one of my faves.. of course the side dishes (kimchi, korean fishcakes, korean pancakes will so be one for the books)

How to get there: Take the bus back going to Yangju Station. From Yangju Station, go back to Seoul Station. From there, Namdaemun Market is a 10-15 minute walk.

Entrance Fee: Free

Day 3

Through Klook, I was able to book a Nami Island package with S.A. Tours. I have to say they are very organized and kept on sending reminders a couple of days before about the pick up time and place (which was already mentioned upon purchasing online). On the day itself they will also contact via whatsapp about the bus number, color and even the photo of the tour guide is in the group chat. We were even given complimetary bottle of waters and couple of bread each and the tour is inclusive of lunch (which we really enjoyed as it is at a Dokgalbi chicken restaurant; the meal was sumptuous, even myself managed to help myself on 2nd servings).

There are various pick up places, and I chose the Seoul Station pick up point. (Myeongdong, Seoul, Hongdae and Dongdaemun are the pick up points). The meeting place is at a nearby cafe at exactly 6:30am (though we almost got lost locating this place; as you can guess, Seoul Station is very big, and the outside streets are enough to get you more confused. It is good thing we always leave our guesthouse in advance and with time allowance just in case, so I strongly advise to allot ample of time especially if the destination is still unfamilliar).

  • Petite France
Colorful European style houses
You can’t leave this place without the mandatory shot in this area
Happened to see my ultimate korean oppa crush!
A lot of kdramas were filmed here. Aside from My Love from Another Star, the list includes Secret Garden (the best!), Beethoven Virus, Personal Taste and even the longest running variety show, Running Man
My love from another star shooting location.. one of my faves
Honorary signage for Do Min Joon and Cheon Song Yi – main actor and actress of the hit My Love from Another Star
It’s like I was transported to a French themed village
There is a forest walkway also in Petite France aside from its boasted colorful houses. The walkway will direct you to a spectacular view of the province
Peaceful view of the province at the end of the walkway

How to get there by public transport:

Take the ITX Cheongchun going to Cheonpyeong. However, getting ITX tickets can be tricky and needs to be purchased in advance especially during peak season. In Cheonpyeong, take the shuttle bus (KRW 6000 for unlimited shuttle bus ride a day) and ask the driver to drop you off at Petite France. The shuttle also stops in other famous locations such as the entrance to the Nami Island Ferry wharf, Gangchon Rail Park and GArden of the Morning Calm. Take note of the bus timings though.

Entrance Fee: KRW 10000

  • Nami Island

The island was named after the historical figure General Nami. He was given a top position by the late King Sejo in the governmnt however after the latter’s demise, his successor falsely accused General Nami of being a traitor. Thus , the island was named after him to honor him and became his final resting place.

The ferry ride to the island takes about 20-30 minutes
You can’t say you went to Nami Island without taking a mandatory photo here
Recreating our own Kdrama feels

We just can’t get enough of these tall trees as a backdrop
Amazing Colors of Autumn captured in the lens
Winter Sonata iconic scene by actors Bae Yong Jun and Choi Ji Woo immortalized as statues
Autumn in my 💛
Too pretty God’s creations
Another tribute to the kdrama Winter Sonata
Who will forget this legendary scene in Winter Sonata of snow couple kissing? Sweet!

How to get there: From Cheongchun take the shuttle bus and alight Gapyeong Ferry Wharf. You may either take the ferry going to the island itself (KRW 13000 roundtrip inclusive of entrance fee) or by a one way zipline (KRW 44000 inclusive of entrance fee). Note that there is no return zipline from Nami to the Ferry wharf.

  • Gangchon Rail Park
Welcome to Rail Park!

This has been my favorite part of the tour. The 1 hour rail biking is satisfying: We get to see and drink in the sights in a 360 degree view
I am astounded by how many tunnels we passed by – some tunnels had entertainment effects such as music and bubbles
Mountain view after finishing the rail bike course
I am in love with the place. The view is serene and eathereal.
Unsure what this tablet says, but I assume this must be a resting stone tablet for an honorary person

How to get there: Take again the shuttle bus and alight Gangchon Rail Park. The return shuttle bus from end point of rail bike station is free.

Entrance Fee: KRW 30000 for 2 seater and KRW 40000 for 4 seater.

Day 4

  • Huwon Secret Garden

This UNESCO Heritage site located inside the Chandeokgung Palace became also one of our favorites. As we didn’t have much time during our tour on the 2nd day, we weren’t able to check this place. However, I made sure that I will visit this place on my last day in Seoul.

Capturing the beautiful red autumn leaves near the Chandeokgung entrance

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Upon entering the Suwon Secret Garden, you can already feel the magic
This is my favorite area in the garden. The area is serene and relaxing.
The historical hanoks preserved
Wandering along the grounds near the garden.

We see many of these randomly in the garden

How to get there: Take the same transport. going to Chandeokgung Palace. Then follow the signages inside going to the Secret Garden.

Entrance Fee: KRW 8000. Note to come early and purchase tickets as it is a first come , first served basis per schedule.

  • Bukchon Hanok Village
Be careful when you tour this village, as some of the hanoks are residential, hence, homeowners tend to complain the noisy tourists
Hopped back to Joseon era

How to get there: Samcheondong street. 5 minute walk from Anguk Station (nearby Chandeokgung and Gyeongbokgung Palaces)

Entrance Fee: Free

  • Haneul Park
Haneul Park signage in hangul
Appreciated the photo op spots randomly located im the area
You wont have problem dealing with the crowd as the place is large. You can take your photo without worrying about photobombers similar like this one
Flowers in their full bloom
I could feel lost in this fields and never come back 🌾🌾

How to get there: From Anguk station take the subway to Yeonsinnae Station. From there, transfer train and get off at the World Cup Stadium. Take the shuttle van nearby which will drop you directly at the park.

Entrance Fee: Free. The roundtrip shuttle, however cost KRW 3000. You have the option to not take the shuttle, but it will be a long and tiring uphill walk for about 30 minutes. You have been warned.

Day 5

I woke up very early for my Jeju flight. I had already booked in advance months prior the earliest day flight on Eastar Jet at 6:10 am for KRW 98800 (Php 4387; i did not bother to buy baggage allowance anymore as I am only staying in Jeju for 2 days, and they already have free basic baggage of 15kg).

As the Seoul trains does not open until 5am, I have no choice but to get a cab (approx. KRW 30000) going to Gimpo airport. I have to put in a special thanks to the reception in-charge the night before in our accommodation, as he made a korean translation in a piece of paper the airport details just in case I won’t be able to find an English speaking cab driver early in the morning. Good thing I arrived early , since I just realized that I mistakenly asked the cab driver to drop me at the wrong terminal and my flight is on the opposite side of the highway, which is impossible to be reach on foot (and mind you, it is still 4am by that time and the first terminal I went to is still closed, so no one is around and there is nobody you can ask except the cab drivers passing by. Few Chinese and local passengers arrived, but it is hard to talk to them as they cant speak English well). So I took the cab again (KRW 3000) and was able to reach the right terminal on time for my check in.

It was a short 1 hr and 10 minutes flight. I hopped on the bus going to my accommodation (still got lost as I took the wrong bus number, so I took a 2nd bus). Note that there are no trains in Jeju, so the only modes of public transportation are buses and cabs. Sometimes, even though you use internet for maps and directions, it can be confusing and inaccurate. Also, most of the timetables in bus stops are in korean and signage in the bus are not detailed. Don’t worry though, inside the bus there is an audio speaker in english which dictates which station it is stopping. So my tips are search in advance the bus number going to your destination and ask first the bus driver before going inside the bus and confirm if it will really pass by the destination. As the island is divided into 2 main parts – Jeju City (north) and Seogwipo (south). For detailed information, you may refer to the Jeju Island Bus Route Guide.

Jeju buses

For me, it got easier since I booked my accommodation in Yeha Guesthouse (KRW 38000 per night with daily breakfast), which is walking distance to one of the busiest and tourist-friendly bus stops in Jeju – the Hankook Hospital stop. Compared to other remote bus stops I have been to in the island, this is by far the biggest after the Jeju airport. And take note, behind the Hankook Hospital stop is the Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal, wherein you can choose from a variety of buses depending on where you want to go.

I have to say this is one of the nicest and cleanest accommodations I have stayed in during my travels. Compared to my Seoul accommodation, the rooms are more well kept and the oantry is more spacious and relaxing
It has a sitting room, compared to KPOP Guesthouse which there is only 1 dining table in the pantry
I stayed in an all female dorm type room. My roomates that time (I think? from what I remember asking them) is a Chinese, Ukranian and British. Not bad. And as I stayed only 1 night there, I seldomly mingled with them, since like me, all our solo travelers and were out and about the guesthouse.
I would have to say they absolutely nailed their wall design. Classy.
  • Seongsan Ilchubong Peak
First stop in my Jeju escapade,the famous UNESCO Heritage site – Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak
Also commonly known as the Sunrise Peak, the sun evidently feels close to the tourists here
It somewhat reminds me of the Taal Volcano located in the Philippines.
If you go further below, you can see the famous Jeju haenyeo (women divers) performance. They dive for fresh seafoods and seaweeds and sometimes slice them on the spot!
Dol hareubang, Jeju’s official symbol. You can see many of this scattered all around the island.

How to get there: Take the Bus 110-1 and get off at the Seongsan Ilchulbong stop. Trust me, you won’t get lost as majority also of the passengers get off here.

Entrance Fee: KRW 2000; additional KRW 2000 for the diving performance show of women divers

  • Hallabong Garden
There are plentiful of hallabong (tangerine) gardens you can pass by everywhere in Jeju (as long as they are in season, normally during pre-winter and winter season).

How to get there: As the hallabong gardens are randomly seen in Jeju, you can go to anywhere that suits your preference. I forgot the name of where I went to, but I remember it’s somewhere near Seogwipo as I came from Seongsan-ri.

Entrance Fee: Free, but tangerine picking normally cost KRW2000.

  • Teddy Bear Museum
Teddy Bear Museum Entrance
Perfect teddy bear reenactment
Teddy Elvis Presley
Marilyn Monroe wannabee

Fashion Week Bear Edition
“The Thinking Bear”
Couple bears in traditional clothing
Special space as tribute for kdrama ‘Princess Hours / Goong’
Li Shin and Chae Kyung teddies in uniform
Goong teddy bears cosplay!

How to get there: If coming from Jeju Airport, Take the Airport Limousine Bus 600 and alight Yeomiji Botanical Gardens. After 3 minute walk you will see the museum across Ripley’s Believe it or not museum. However, if coming from Jeju City, take Bus 181 and get off Jungmun Post office. From there it will take 15 mins to reach the museum.

Entrance Fee: KRW 10000. As much as the stuffed toys were overly cute, I think the entrance fee is a tad bit overpriced, considering that there aren’t much floors to explore in the museum.

Day 6

  • Hallasan National Park
Mt. Halla is the highest peak in South Korea. The best time to go here is during spring, where bright yellow canola flowers are in full bloom

How to get there: Take the Bus 1131 and get off at the National park. If you want to hike you need to take a taxi going to the trails.

Entrance Fee: Free

After a quick sightseeing in Hallasan, I went back to the Intercity Bus Terminal. From there I eagerly joined the daily Jeju City bus tour that comes hourly and stops in various tourist friendly locations. For complete information on its itineraries and schedule daily, click here. You can purchase a ticket beforehand online or you can buy upon boarding the bus which is what I did (KRW 10000 valid for 24 hrs unlimited usage).

Downtown Jeju
Waterway in downtown Jeju which is mearby the market

Thus, I still visited 3 more spots before I catch my 7pm flight back to Incheon (where my beau is waiting so we can go back together):

  • Yongyeon Suspension Bridge
Picturesque shot from below the suspension bridge
Being a solo traveller means you have to be confident and ask strangers to take photos of you!
My view from above the bridge
Managed to capture scenic details in this shot (boat and temple)
My shot of the bridge from afar

How to get there: Jeju Intercity Daily Hop-on and Hop-off bus tour

Entrance Fee: Free

  • Iho Taewoo Beach
You can almost shoot your own melodramatic music video here
The good thing about navigating thru Jeju is that it isn’t crowded. You can relax away your mind from the hustle and bustle of Seoul

How to get there: Jeju Intercity Daily Hop-on and Hop-off bus tour

Entrance Fee: Free

  • Halla Arboretum
Entrance of Halla Arboretum

Bamboo forest in Halla Arboretum. Halla Arboretum is like the version of SG’s botanical garden.

How to get there: Jeju Intercity Daily Hop-on and Hop-off bus tour

Entrance Fee: Free

After getting my luggage from the guesthouse, I decided to eat my final meal in Jeju in one of the nearby restaurants. As I am in a hurry, I wasn’t able to try Jeju’s famous black pork. Maybe next time though, as I am itching to hike Mt. Halla also.
I made sure I ordered Abalone Seawood soup, since it was my birthday the other day (my last day in Seoul – my beau and I just ate in a samgyupsal restaurant but I forgot to order seaweed soup). Man, the food were delicious, and the sidedishes alone were enough to satisfy my belly.

So that’s it, basically my budget itinerary for my first South Korea experience. Some of you might consider it as a bit fast paced, and I hope when I come back here I will be able to cover lots and more places.

Sources:

Google

https://www.google.com/

Agoda

https://www.agoda.com/?cid=-218

Klook

https://www.klook.com/en-PH/

Skyscanner

https://www.skyscanner.com/

Eastar Jet

https://www.eastarjet.com/

Yeha Guesthouse

http://www.yehaguesthouse.com/

Trazy

https://www.trazy.com/