One Month in South Korea

It was way back in 2013 when I made one of the biggest decisions of my life. I quit my decade-long teaching job and went backpacking around South Korea for a month before deciding on what to do with my life. It seemed like an impulsive decision to many at that time but it was actually an accumulation of events which deserves another blog post altogether.

I wished I had more time to go on to more places like China and Japan but commitments and obligations beckoned me home.

Didn’t really invest much time or effort to plan for this trip other than booking my first accommodation in Incheon and Seoul. Most of the planning was done along the way, booking places through Hostelworld and getting suggestions from fellow travelers on what to do. This ain’t the best itinerary crafted meticulously with Excel spreadsheets in order to maximise my time but I enjoyed myself thoroughly, meeting new people and going to new places. Most of all, I had the time and space all to myself; I could be selfish, just for once in my life.

During pockets of time when I had nowhere to go or nothing much to do, I planned for my next stop in cafes and also managed to fill pages after pages of my diary, a luxurious activity in my once busy life, with interesting stories during the trip and my reflections about my short span of three decades on this earth. Having the time to just think and not just to do stuff was liberating.

One Month In South Korea

Day 1 

  • Arrived at Incheon Airport at about close to midnight on a Scoot flight
  • Transferred to Lazybird Guesthouse for the night. Was picked up by the kind owner who didn’t want me to waste my money on a taxi ride. Guesthouse was a 5 minute walk from Unseo Arex station.

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Source: A’REX

Day 2 – Incheon

  • Wolmido – small island getaway for the locals with a retro theme park
  • Chinatown
  • Bupyeong shopping district
  • Transferred to K-pop Stay Hostel in Hongdae via AREX train
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K-Pop Stay Hostel in Hongdae

Day 3 – Seoul

  • Namsangol Hanok Village – Korean traditional games, straw sandals weaving and a thrilling 30 – minute TKD performance
  • Gwangjang Market – Gimbap (rice rolls), tteokpokki (spicy rice cakes), fishcakes, bindaetteok (mung bean pancake), jokbal  (pig trotters), assorted kimchi, hanboks, handicrafts and a vintage market
  • Ewha Women’s University – Really cool University campus surrounded by cheap shopping and cafes
  • Changgyeonggung Palace Night Tour
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Changgyeonggung at night

Day 4 – Sokcho

  • Dong-Seoul Bus terminal, bus ticket for Sokcho was 18,000won
  • Inter-city bus to Sokcho, The House Hostel (3 hour ride)
  • Sokcho Music Festival in town
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The House Hostel @ Sokcho

Day 5 & 6 – Seoraksan

  • Cable car ride with 50 ahjummas (shudders)
  • Yangpok course – Yangpok shelter (6 km , 4 hours/ no reservations required)
  • Overnight in Yangpok shelter with 50 ahjussis and ahjummas (more shudders)
    • Morning hike to Daecheongbong Peak (3 hours, very steep climb until you reach the ridge which is mostly flat)
    • Descend towards Osaek Springs entrance (3 hours, trail was treacherous, having to haul myself down steep slopes with the help of ropes)
    • Bus back to Sokcho

seorak-eng-Yangpok(0)

(Source: Korean National Parks Service)

Day 7 – Seoul

Day 8 – Seoul

  • Cheongju – James and Teresa’s wedding (buffet with free flow of alcohol and non-stop entertainment by James’ family. Singing runs in that family)

Day 9 – Jeju

  • Hongik University (interesting architecture and pretended to be an exchange student)
  • Busan Air flight from Seoul to Jeju
  • YEHA Guesthouse

Day 10 – Jeju

Day 11 – Jeju

  • Udo
  • Seongsan Illchulbong
  • Bijarim Forest
  • Jeongbang Falls

Day 12 – Jeju

  • Hallasan – Yongsil Trail
  • Jusangjeolli Cliffs
  • Teddy Bear Museum

Day 13 – Jeju/ Gyeongju

  • Olle Trail 9
  • Busan Air flight to Busan
  • Transfered to Gyeongju via inter-city bus at airport. Stayed at local motel (don’t ask)

Day 14 – Gyeongju

  • Bulgaksa Temple
  • Seokguram Grotto
  • Night – Anapji Pond

Day 15 – Gyeongju

  • Gyeongju National Museum
  • Cheongsamdae Observatory
  • Gyerim Forest
  • Tomb of the Flying Horse

Day 16 – Busan

  • KTX train from Gyeongju to Haeundae station
  • Checked in at The New Day Hostel
  • Jagalchi Market
  • Yongdusan Park
  • Nampo shopping area

Day 17 – Busan

  • Taejongdae
  • Gamcheon Culture Village

Day 18 – Busan

  • Haeundae beach
  • Narimuru APEC House
  • Gwangalli beach – Busan Fireworks Festival 2013

Day 19 – Suncheon

Day 20 – Suncheon

  • Suncheon Flower Expo
  • Suncheon Ecological Bay

Day 21 – Suncheon

  • Naganeupseong Folk Village

Day 22 – Jeonju

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Jeondong Cathedral in Jeonju

Day 23 – Seoul

Day 24 –  Seoul

  • DMZ Full-day Tour (Imjingak Park – Freedom Bridge – The 3rd infiltration Tunnel – DMZ Theater / Exhibition Hall – Dora observatory – Dorasan Station – Unification Village (Pass by) – Lunch – ID Check point – Camp Bonifas (Slide show and Briefing) – JSA Tour (Freedom House, Conference room, Bridge of No Return, Ax Murder Incident Area) – Drop off at Lotte Hotel (Sogongdong) Namdaemun market)
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Imjingak Park
  • Shinsegae ( free food samples at basement food hall!)
  • Namsan Tower – night view

Day 25 – Seoul

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Lake Soyang

Day 26 –  Seoul

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Papa Bear’s chair in Heyri

Day 27 – Seoul

  • Suwon – Fortress walk and Yongin Folk Village
  • National Folk Museum
  • Gyeongbukgung Night Tour

Day 28 –  Seoul

  • Bukguksan Hike -Seoul Fortress walk
  • Buamdong – Club Espresso and Samootoonge cafe
  • Gwanghuamun Kyobo Store
  • Gwanghuamun – Story of Yi Sun Shin and King Sejong museums

Day 29 –  Seoul

  • Changdeokgung and Biwon tour
  • Changgyecheon stream walk
  • Hangang cycling (Yeouinaru to Seonyudo and back)
  • Banpo bridge Rainbow Fountain show

Day 30 –  Seoul

Day 31 – Afternoon flight back to Singapore

Click on the following links for my posts on the different parts of South Korea I’ve been to.

Climbing Seoraksan

Top 5 Favourite Places in Jeju

Tips for Jeju

10 Favourite places in Seoul 

Free Things to Do and See in Seoul 

Best Hostel in Seoul

3 Days in Busan

Heyri

Suwon and Yongin 

Boseong Green Tea Plantation 

Suncheon

Jeonju, of Hanoks, Bibimbap, Chocopies and Beansprout soup

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