Monday, January 15, 2018

FIRST TIME IN SEOUL, KOREA | Autumn in Korea 2017

What to expect on your first time in Seoul? Here are some of my tips plus few mishaps and adventures when I went to Seoul for the first time and had to travel alone.

I never thought I would someday be able to travel to South Korea. I have been reading travel blogs about South Korea since 2010. I know you are reading this because you also dream of traveling or are already planning your trip to Korea. I hope you find this blog post useful for your trip. Don't forget that you can also check out my YouTube vlogs to see more of my Korea adventure! 

TRAVEL DATE : November 3 to November 12, 2017
SEASON : Autumn / Fall
PURPOSE : Blogger event in Seoul

I went to Korea from November 3 to November 12, 2017. It was the perfect season because I came in Autumn, which was my ultimate dream season to visit Korea! I originally went to attend a blogger event happening in Seoul sponsored by Charis. But they were kind enough to allow me to extend my stay in Seoul so I could explore the city and visit some tourist spots. I went by plane through Philippines Airlines. My departure from NAIA was at 1:00 AM and my arrival at Incheon Airport was at 6 AM.

I was exhilarated to take the plane! The feeling got even more intense when I noticed 80% of the passengers were Korean. It's as if I was on a "warm-up" period before the real adventure!

I got so lucky because I got window seat and I was positioned near the comfort room. I flew alone so I couldn't really sleep and relax on the way because I have to be mindful of my stuff, check the correct gates, make sure I follow flight rules, etc. But I was really feeling excited. It takes 4 hours from Manila to Seoul, but I landed at 6 AM because Korea is 1 hour ahead. 

Oops, this is not Korea yet! This is Manila at night! It's so pretty, isn't it? 

I was the most excited to find out how cool/cold the weather is during Autumn season so I was ecstatic when I finally got out of the airport! It's the perfect weather!

For a reason I couldn't disclose yet until after I upload the video I did for it, I was picked up by a service from the airport going to my first stop in Seoul. My service was a black SUV, which made me feel like an instant "K-pop Star". I mean, K-pop stars ride black SUVs, don't they? Hehe

 After ahjussi dropped me off my first stop was where the real "ALONE IN KOREA" adventure began. To save you from hassle, here are some things I advise you to prepare before your flight :
  •  Enough Korean Won so you have money to purchase necessities : food, bus/train ticket
  • Address of your destination. Have it written on a paper in both English romanization and Korean writing. 
  • Local phone number of your hotel/Airbnb contact
  • A nice and warm jacket or coat
  • Wifi router or local sim card for phone data
  • Few Korean expressions to help you get around

Hotels and Airbnbs in Korea don't accept check-in until around 3PM. I checked in at an Airbnb in Jongno. Unlike hotels where you could leave your luggages at the reception, Airbnbs usually do not offer it so you have to look for nearby luggage storage units/centers. 

Because it was my first time in the city, I had a difficult time finding the Tourism Center/Luggage storage in Myeongdong. I wasn't familiar with train stations either so I was a clueless girl with 34-KILO baggage wandering alone in Myeongdong on a cool morning.

 After about 2 hours of walking and going through every corner and asking every ahjussi I see, I finally saw the Myeongdong Tourist Information Center!

 Since I really had hard time finding this center, it would be best to refer to their website for more information. 
Click here to go their site. 

The Myeongdong Tourist Information Center offers different services for the convenience of tourists and locals : luggage storage, maps and guide, information, Hanbok rental and a whole lot more!

Their Luggage Storage service is open from 9:00 AM to 7:50 PM. If you leave your stuff here, be sure to claim it before 7:50 PM! Else, you will only be able to claim it at 9:00 AM the next day. Koreans are very precise when it comes to time.

Each BIG unit costs W 4,000 each or around Php 200. The SMALL units are around W 2,000 or Php 100.

It felt so good to finally be able to roam without tugging alone 1 20-kilo and 1 10-kilo luggages! 

After leaving my luggages, the next problem was to find local sim card so I could have internet data on my phone. The attendant at the Tourism Center recommended a nearby telco place where I could purchase one.  

What you have to take note about Korea is that their internet is really top class! No wonder, 1GB costs W 35,000 or around Php 1,670! Here in the Philippines, we have affordable data packages that often come down to 20 to 50 Pesos for 1 GB!

Because I am such a lame solo traveler, I only had W 50,000 when I flew. I thought it would be best to exchange my Peso directly in Seoul. But when I paid for 2 units of luggage storage and for my local sim, I knew the next thing I must do was to find a money changer! 

IMPORTANT! Unlike other Asian countries (like HK) where money changer is almost everywhere, Korea is different. I had a hard time finding money changer. The few ones are in Insadong, Myeongdong, Gangnam and at the Airport. I was starving but couldn't eat because I didn't have enough money, Guys, please don't be like me. hehe

So with an empty stomach yet joyful heart, I explored Myeongdong! 

The first spot I saw was the Myeongdong Cathedral Church. If you think this is familiar, it's because this is often used a K drama filming location. 

I am sorry that the photo does not do justice to how beautiful it is i real life. The trees were vibrant red, orange, yellow and brown! The church facade is also breath-taking!

A cute father and son moment. You will surely squeal and die every moment if you are a Kpop or K drama fan. Every corner feels like a live Korean drama scene! I hope you get what I mean. 

This was the FIRST-EVER selfie I took in Seoul! Finally, my dram came true and I couldn't be any happier. I was the happiest person in Myeongdong that day!!!

It's really lovely in Seoul, especially in Autumn! You don't need any phone photo editing app as every place is truly Instagram-able!

If you are wondering, here is the inside of the Myeongdong Church. It is a Catholic church where masses are held.

At 12 noon, I had to meet a Korean friend to do a YouTube vlog. I haven't posted about it yet so I hope you guys stay tuned for it!

I was still starving at 12 noon and I swear I would have eaten 2 huge rolls of Kimbap if only I had money. Anyway, my watch is from Daniel Wellington! Hehe

I remembered Peppero Day was coming soon so I got excited. Peppero Day is celebrated on 11-11 or November 11. On that day, people, usually lovers, gift each other Peppero stick biscuits. It started as a marketing strategy which later became a regular celebration in Korea.

At night, I went around Gangnam. I wanted to have my photo by the famous Gangnam Style hand but I didn't find it. 

I thought my day was coming to an end when lo and behold!!! MY CAMERA GOT BROKEN. I MEAN, ON THE FIRST DAY OF MY TRIP!!! The Korean friend I was with tripped it with her hand while I was vlogging. It dropped dead on the floor, with it's screen dented and broken. The first thing I thought was "OH NO, MY VLOGS! HOW WILL I SURVIVE WITHOUT A CAMERA?!"

But guess what, Korea will be Korea! In Gangnam, they have a camera rental shop where you could rent any camera unit imaginable. Because the camera I have is a Canon G7Xii, my Korean friend rented for me the same camera unit. She said she will take my camera to Canon Korea and have it fixed there. She handled everything from the camera rental to the camera repair fee. Ahh, Koreans are on a different level when it comes to professionalism. 

The shop is called SLR RENT. It is located in Gangnam. My Korean friend said she paid 100,000 Won or Php 5,000 for the full 5 days t he rented G7Xii was with me. This could be useful tip when you are traveling to Seoul and your camera breaks, too. (I hope it doesn't because that's really inconvenient!)

After all the adventure, my Korean friend and I ate at a Jjajangmyeon shop in Myeongdong. BTW, we almost didn't make it on time from Gangnam going back to the Myeongdong Tourist Center. We left Gangnam, at 7:00 PM but because it was rush time, we were caught in traffic and almost didn't make it. Good thing, we arrived in the nick of time. 

Ending, because the Jjajangmyeon shop was located on the second floor and they didn't have elevator or escalator, I had to carry and lift the 20-KILO luggage all by myself up! 

Good thing, the food was sumptuous so it compensated all my lost fats and calories due to extreme luggage carrying that day. hehe

After dinner, my Korean friend was even kind enough to take me from Myeongdong going to my Airbnb in Jongno-gu. We got lost in the cold streets and only found the place after 30 minutes of looking! Hehe 

I did a vlog on my Airbnb so be sure to watch that as well. Blog and more photos of my pretty room will be up here on the blog soon, so please stay tuned!


But it was really fun and memorable. I wouldn't trade or change anything that happened that day. All the mishaps made this trip even more memorable. 

I stayed in Korea for 10 days. This is just PART 1 of my Korea blog series. Check back on this blog from time to time to read the next parts of my story.

If you liked this post, please don't forget to FOLLOW me on my social media accounts!
INSTAGRAM - @RealAsianBeauty