For budget, travel info, culture, see Itinerary Part 1.
For Seoul Itinerary Days 1-3, and Day 12, see Parts 2 & 8(a) respectively.
For Andong Itinerary Day 4, see Part 3.
For Gyeongju Itinerary Day 5, see Part 4.
For Busan itinerary Days 6-8, see Part 5.
For Jeju Island Days 9-10, see Part 6.
For Haeinsa at Gayasan National Park Day 11, see Part 7.
Seoul Itinerary Day 13: DMZ & Dong Dae Mun
Long day. Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the 241-km strip of land that seperates North and South Korea, serving as a buffer since the 1953 ceasefire agreement, is the most popular tourism attraction in Korea. You cannot tour it on your own; you have to sign up with a day tour. Try the following tour groups: Panmunjom Tour Information Center; Sally Tour; or my BFF recommends the US Army (USO) tour. He said he felt safer. HAHA. The USO costs less than others but is not as comprehensive. Email them for available tour dates.
For Sale at Dondaemum Market: Branded Paper Bags!
When you return to Seoul in the evening, shop! Shop! SHOP! till you drop! Drop! DROP! like grapes at Dongdaemun Market with 30, 000 shops. Theoretically, it opens 24 hours and isn’t a market; it’s a collection of shopping malls (24 hours) but the roadside vendors set up their stalls only from 12 midnight to 5am. You don’t have to wait for the vendors because they sell similar things in the malls. I prefer the malls because the goods are better material. Don’t bargain. The sellers won’t lower the price and they will show you a black face.
How to Get to Dongdaemun
[Map taken from Visit Korea.]
Seoul Itinerary Day 14: Noryangin, Seoul Museum of Art or National Museum of Korea
After a late-night shopping, wake up late and have brunch at Noryangin Fish Market, the largest and oldest fish market in Korea. Many vendors hire Chinese so there shouldn’t be a problem communicating. After you purchase the seafood, the vendor will lead you to a restaurant where they will cook the food for you in one of the 3 styles: sashimi, steamed or in a spicy hot pot.
I don’t know what this is but I ordered one anyway – tough and chewy.
Sea urchin! Yums!
The seafood was so cheap! Abalone cost only ₩3K! I ate a variety of seafood here, including sea urchin, octopus, etc. The octopus was so fresh it was still wriggling after being chopped and the suction cups were clinging to the plate (see my video below), refusing to be eaten! (Ok, my scientific friend told me the struggle was just rigor mortis setting in, but what a boring story. I prefer my struggle for survival version better.)
After brunch, be cultured:
A car outside Seoul Museum of Art, advertising the current exhibition.
In the afternoon, choose between the Seoul Museum of Art and National Museum of Korea. Since I understand and prefer art to cultural relics, I went to the Art museum. Quite a disappointing experience for me. Firstly, the museum had a special exhibition on Paul Gauguin, whom I don’t like. If I wanted to see his paintings, I’d have gone to Europe. I wanted Korean art. Secondly it was costly for the special exhibition. Thirdly, one of the ushers was very rude. I was happily snapping photos and he approached me and said rudely no photos. I wasn’t aware I couldn’t take photos, so ok. Then he insisted on looking at my camera and deleting the photos I’d taken. This was ridiculous. Who ever heard of asking a tourist to delete photos? This Art Museum seems cater for locals who want to learn about Western art, so give it a miss.
How to Get to Noryangin Fish Market
Subway line 1 to Noryangin Station. Market opens 3am-9pm
How to Get to Seoul Museum of Art
Leading to the art museum, there are some street art at City Hall station: “You are not alone.” I guess this means the Koreans believe in aliens.
Lines 1 & 2 to City Hall Station, exit 10. Turn right on the first street and walk forward for about 2 blocks.
Misulgwan-gil 30 (Seosomun-dong 37), Jung-gu, Seoul (100-813)
M-F: 10am-8pm; Sat, Sun and Holidays: 10am-6pm
How to Get to National Museum of Korea
Line 4 to Ichon Station, Exit 2. Walk 150m towards Yongsan Family Park.
137, Seobinggo-ro (168-6, Yongsan-dong 6-ga), Yongsan-gu, Seoul, 140-797, Korea
T, Th & F: 8am-7pm; W & Sat: 8am-10pm; Sun: 8am-7pm
TIP: Free English-language, hour-long tours offered daily 10.30am and 2.30pm. Meet in front of the info desk. Audio guides ₩1K.
What to Eat Around Seoul City Hall Station
1. Eulji Myun Oak (을지면옥) COLD NOODLES
177-1 Yipjung-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 중구 입정동177-1); +82 2 2266 7052; Open daily, 11 a.m.-9 p.m., closed on the first and third Sunday of every month. Budget: ₩9K
2. Mugyodong Bugeokukjib FISH SOUP
173 Da-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul 100-180, South Korea
3. Unknown KOREAN Restaurant (pictured above, Address: 12 Hangang-daero 88-gil). This restaurant is near Hotel New World, where I stayed. It is run by a family and is so “authentic” that they didn’t even have a business card. I had the owner write the shop’s name and telephone for me. The ginseng chicken soup (pictured below), I thought, tasted homely and was more sincere than the famous Baekje Samyetang at Myeongdong. Exit 5 from Sookmyung Women University Station (Line 4). Turn right at the first road, walk straight for a block, and you’ll see the shop on your right.
4. Unknown CAFE. Ok, I forgot to take down the name of this rustic cafe. But it is near Seoul Museum of Art. I love the unruliness of the cafe, and the cute salarymen taking their coffee break. Decent food too. Had a chicken sandwich (pictured below) and a blueberry smoothie. Take lines 1 or 2 to City Hall Station, exit 10. Turn right on the first street, walk about a block, the cafe is on your right.
Other Areas to Explore
1. Seoul Olympic Park: A nice place to cam-whore with a huge Olympic building. Indoor Olympic pool is open to public, M-F noon-9pm. Subway Line 5 to Olympic Park Station (Exit 3) or Line 8 to Mongchontoseong Station (Exit 1). 426, Ollimpik-ro, Bangi-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul-si 88 서울특별시 송파구 올림픽로 426 (방이동). Park opens daily: 5.30am-10.30pm.
2. APGUJEONG AREA: Known as the “Beverly Hills of Seoul,” Gucci and Versace have stores here. A female friend told me I must must must come to this street called “Garosugil” which means a street lined with trees. This street had the most number of beautiful people I’ve seen in my life–it also has the most number of plastic surgery BUILDINGS I’ve seen. The street reminded me of an affluent Californian street, whitewashed and full of branded shops–but if I wanted to be reminded of California, I might as well go America. I detested the pretentious feel of this place. Line 3 to Sinsa Station, Exit 8. Walk straight (250m), until you see the street on the left.
What to Eat at Apujeong
a. Had a seafood pasta and bingsoo (pictured above) at Jet Balconey at Garosugil. The pasta was kimchi-spicy-with-cream, tasted like laksa! The food was so-so but the quality was humongous. Especially the bingsoo (Korean ice kacang), big enough for four! But all the while I was thinking, I should have gone to Bibigo across the street.
b. Gae Hwa Oak (개화옥) CONTEMPORARY KOREAN
661-18 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 강남구 신사동 661-18); +82 2 549 1459; daily 24 hours; Budget: ₩35K (lunch); other times ₩50K onwards
c. Jung Sik Dang (정식당) MOLECULAR KOREAN
3F, 649-7 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 강남구 신사동649-7 3F); +82 2 517 4654; Open daily, noon-3:30 p.m. (Last call 2 p.m.), 6 p.m.-10 p.m (Last call 8:30 p.m.); Budget: ₩40K onwards
3. GANGNAM AREA: Another affluent area in Seoul, home of COEX Mall and sports luxury stores, attracting young crowd. Many great restaurants here.
What to Eat at Gangnam
a. Goraebul (고래불) KOREAN SEAFOOD
828-53 Yeoksam 1-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 강남구 역삼1동 828-53); +82 2 556 3677; Open daily, 11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Budget: ₩25K (lunch); ₩55K (dinner)
b. Byeokjae Galbi (벽재갈비) KOREAN BBQ (pictured above)
467 Dogok-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 강남구 도곡동 467-29); +82 2 2058 3535; Open daily, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. (Last call at 9:30 p.m.) This was very, very expensive at ₩160K for a short rib and a sirloin but so worth it. It was amazingly out of the world. Excellent service. And the waitresses here are all chio!
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.