The Seoul trip last month was kind of impromptu and I had only bqooked tickets and accommodation a month before so it was pretty pricey but the chance to just escape from all the crap down here was simply too alluring. And there was no regrets at all though travelling with the little one was really quite a headache.
Our hotel was right smack in Myeongdong, also known as the beauty shopping street because there are so many skincare and cosmetic shops around. Here you can find Etude House, Innisfree, The Face Shop, Nature Republic, Olive Young and the list goes on. Many K-beauty fanatics like to come here to shop for their beauty supplies, which is probably cheaper only if you buy in bulk. However, with the convenience of online shopping, I can noticed that I could easily get the same items from online platforms such as Qoo10 which ships from Korea at around the same price too. So shopping wasn’t exactly a top priority for me this trip.
Apart from beauty brands, you could also find many fashion stores and theme cafes along this shopping district. However, not everything is cheap, in fact, some of the items could be even more expensive than a brick-and-mortar store. This is after all a tourist location so expect tourist prices. As night falls, there would be a night market showcasing various wares from grilled snacks to clothing to mobile accessories. The night market happens daily but it is more crowded during weekends. So if you wish to take your time and stroll around then it would be better to go on a weekday evening instead. As during weekends, it tends to get really crowded and you can expect some pushing which can be annoying when you are trying to enjoy your food on the streets.
One of the popular stalls would be the BBQ cheese lobster, going at 15,000 won. Topped with melted cheese, corn and spring onions, this delicious night snack is a must-try when you visit the Myeongdong night market. Should you be keen to find out more about the street food at Myeongdong, please check out this article which I had written for MFP.
So in short, we spent the first day exploring a little of surrounding area of our hotel before retreating back to our hotel to rest. Our hotel was a budget hotel, Ekonomy Hotel Premier Myeongdong, which was located on the top two levels of the LINE Friends store. So basically, this giant LINE bear was our landmark to locate the hotel.
If you really wanna do some shopping then the underground shopping mall at the Express Bus Terminal station is where you should head to. So we took the subway from Myeongdong station over to the Express Bus Terminal station. It was around 9 stops away.
This place was recommended by a girlfriend who makes annual trips to Seoul and there’s more than 600 over stores here. They sell almost everything from clothes, accessories, bedding to household decorative stuff and even fresh flowers. Best of all, they are open from 10am to 10pm, however, the operating hours of each store might vary. Just reach before noon, do some shopping then go grab lunch in the same area before continuing your shopping.
There were many shops but the ones which took my breath away were the flower shops. I just have to share these flower photos because they were so pretty. All of these bouquets contain real, fresh flowers. I am looking to draw some inspiration from them for my online floral shop.
Anyway, I had managed to score some great bargains here for winter wear since I had packed light. I had gotten a cute sweater and really sweet cardigan both at 10,000 won each. There were a few shops selling scarves from just 2000 won to 5000 won and I bought one too. I had also managed to get some pants which were supposed to be for layering at 5000 won too. But I wore them at night as PJ pants because I had forgotten to bring any. So this was we spent our day 2 in Seoul, shopping away at the underground shopping mall of Express Bus Terminal station.
Day 3 was a tour land package which we had taken up via Fantastic Korea. The mini bus picked us up from our hotel and our first stop was Nami Island. According to the Korea Tourism website, Namiseom Island was formed as a result of the construction of Cheongpyeong Dam. It is a half moon-shaped isle, and on it is the grave of General Nami, who led a great victory against the rebels in the 13th year of the 7th king of the Joseon Dynasty, King Sejo (reign 1455-1468).
Coming here in Autumn was amazing because of the picturesque scenery, which I am sure looked just as breath-taking during the other seasons. There are so many beautiful spots for photo-taking opportunities, I am sure this would be a hot favourite among couples for pre-wedding shoots.
I guess we had underestimated the temperature cause we did not wear any gloves. But our hands were freezing cold because the temperates had dipped over at Chuncheon. As much as we enjoyed the scenic views, we decided to rest in the nearby cafe for a nice, hot drink to escape from the cold. I bought thick ski gloves from the gift shop for 12,000 won only to not really wear them again later at Myeongdong because no one was wearing gloves even though it was freezing!
The next stop in our tour was Petite France, a French cultural village set in the heart of the Korean countryside. As mentioned on the Korea Tourism website, Petite France serves as both a French cultural village and a youth training facility (Goseong Youth Training Center), and consists of 16 French-style buildings where visitors can lodge and experience French food, clothing, and household culture.
The concept of Petite France encapsulates ‘flowers, stars, and the Little Prince.’ The village contains a memorial hall dedicated to Saint-Exupery, the author of the celebrated French novel, Le Petit Prince (1943) and as such it is called the Little Prince theme park. It also has a gallery displaying sculptures and paintings of le coq gaulois (the Gallic rooster), the national symbol of France; Orgel House where a 200-year-old music box plays a sweet melody; a shop that sells herbal and aromatic products; a souvenir shop; and many other locales where you can experience French culture. The village can accommodate up to 200 visitors with 34 guest rooms that hold four to ten people each.
I pretty much enjoyed touring around Petite France and exploring each whimsical house. The whole place had this old town rustic vibes in a fairy-tale manner. I did not know there were guest houses over here too. I think staying a night there would be pretty interesting just for the experience.
And last but not least, we headed over to the N Seoul Tower. According to the Korea Tourism website, Seoul Tower opened to the public on October 15, 1980 and has since become a major tourist attraction. The 236.7 meter tower sits atop Namsan Mountain (243m). The observatory offers panoramic views of Seoul and the surrounding areas.
It was rather foggy when we were up on the observatory tower that day so we did not manage to get any good photos. And we were deadbeat by then. This sort of summaries the first three days of my Seoul trip. I will continue again with another blog post about the rest of the days.