Shopping for Korean skincare and cosmetic products is definitely on the to-do-list for many tourists when visiting, with brands such as Tony Moly, Innisfree, The Body Shop, Too Cool For School, Skin Food, Etude House, Nature Republic, Olive young, Holika-holika etc.
It was a pleasure of shopping for the cosmetic and skincare products in Korea and the products always come with all sort of samples and free gifts. The more you purchase, the more free samples you may get.
These free samples include sunblocks, massage pack etc, which are really convenient to take along for holiday trips as a travel pack.
Too Cool For School - More free samples...
Too Cool For School Free Sample: Glossy Blaster Tint Lipstics.
The message on the product was interesting:
"SOMETIMES LIFE CAN BE BORING. BUT YOU CANNOT! YOU ARE NOT BORING, YOU ARE TOO COOL FOR SCHOOL" Perhaps what it really means - rules are meant to be broken, live a creative life!
Too Cool For School - Art Class Sfumato Eye Shadow
This eye shadow has become one of my favorites, the color combination delivers natural yet mysterious look.
Tony Mony Prestige Jeju Wild Ginseng Essence Special Set
One of the reasons I bought this product was because there was literally a Ginseng inside the Essence and I smelled the Ginseng when I tried the sample. It was hard to resist when I was told the ingredients consists of Jeju Ginseng, Jeju honey extract, 24K gold and it provides elasticity improvement. This definitely is a good gift set, especially gifts for mothers.
Tony Moly - Intense Care 24K Gold Snail Essence
Moist ampoule essence for moisturizing, elasticity, nourishment by ferment snail slime extract including pure gold, ginseng callus extract and EGF.
The photo of the pack with "1+1" sticker shows that they were having a promotion of "buy 1 get 1 free" which was a common promotion in Seoul. Seems like the skin care industries were into encouraging tourists to purchase in bulk for a better price to achieve win-win situation.
Too Cool For School - Egg Cream Mask
This set was a very popular set that I saw many tourists bought it when I was there. When I used the mask, the texture was very creamy, sticky and thick such that it really made my skin feel smoother and hydrated after usage.
Animal Masks are among the popular ones, who doesn't want to look adorable when they are with masks? Sometimes the white masks can be very boring, why not try something creative to have fun?
Tony Moly - Intense Care Snail Hydro-gel Mask
This masks really hydrated my skin when I was in Korea. Since I was so tired after walking for a long day, I thought might as well use it immediately?
In Seoul, many brands actually pack them in bulk - such as 30 sheets or 50 sheets and sell it in bulk too. You may find it very often they sell with "1 + 1" meaning buy one set of masks (says 50 sheets), you get another set (says 50 sheets) for free! The only problem to me, these are very heavy items! It could be a few kilos when you get two sets and do you still have room for your luggage? Well, depends how you plan for your luggage limit. Hope you have more room than I did.
Souvenirs for family and friends
Korea has so many small little items that are adorable and functional. Below are some that I found was fun and are suitable to be used as souvenirs for family and friends:
Blackhead Removal - 3 Steps Sheets
You may find many blackhead removal sheets from the market but perhaps you haven't seen the 3 steps removal sheets?
Step 1: Pore Heating Sheet (to soften the pore)
Step 2: Blackhead Clear Sheet (to remove the blackhead)
Step 3: Pore Tightening Sheet (to tighten the pore)
It makes sense to me to use it with three steps to protect the skin and make sure it doesn't leave with large pores as a result.
Sally's Box Friendly Black Head 3 step Sheet for the black head removal
Tony Moly - Panda's Dream Whilte Hand Cream
Looking at the Panda, it is just too adorable that I couldn't help but to buy that as a souvenir for friends.
Tony Moly - Peach Anti-Aging Hand Cream
This little peach shaped hand cream is very handy to keep and use, the hand cream smells like fresh peaches.
Tony Moly - Banana Hand Milk
I bought this as a souvenir for a friend and it smells really just like real banana.
Tony Moly - Mango Hand Butter
The thick cream butter contains fruity mango fragrance, don't you like the little sticker on it?
The last cute little thing that I would like to mention is sleeping mask. Not that you can't find it in other countries, but do check it out in the accessories shops if you are one of the mask collectors!
1. Buy 1 Get 1 Free Promotion
It is very common for this marketing campaign, sometimes they even told me that it was the last night/ day of the promotion to push the sell. I was glad that I had enough time to consider and realized the promotion remained the same for the week that I was there.
2. Tax Refund
Usually skincare/ cosmetic shops are tax refundable if your total purchase price, tax included, is more than 30,000 won and less than 200,000 won (limited to a total of less than 1,000,000 won for the duration of one's trip in Korea). For more information, please check with the official website of the latest details. Remember to let them know that you are a tourist and bring passport with you when you make purchases, they will assist you with standard tax refund procedures accordingly.
3. Random purchase or focus on favorite brands
You may choose to purchase different products with different brands but you get more negotiation power for better deal when you purchase more. When I was considering if I should increase my purchase, the sale lady threw in a cucumber gel, facial wash and more facial masks for free.
Last but not least, enjoy shopping in Seoul!
To choose a hotel, there are so many locations that may cause a headache to everyone. Below are some reasons to consider:
- Depends on your budget, it limits the selections but there are always choices for you.
- This determines if you are going for couch surfing, AirBnB, backpacker, 3 - 6 stars hotels etc.
- Would you like the convenience to best use of your time when you travel?
- Would you like to have those convenient shops, cafe, restaurants, retails etc within walking distance from your hotel?
3. Environment Condition
- Are you looking for cultural places like a historical building?
- Perhaps Hanoks guesthouses maybe suitable for you.
4. Social Environment
- Are you looking to for a fun night out with locations full of entertainment options such as pubs, karaoke etc?
- Perhaps places like Hongdae maybe in your list.
5. Serenity and Quality
- If hotel room quality is what you are after and you may spend more time in hotel rather than the crazy travel itinerary, perhaps a 4 - 6 stars hotels but you may need to take taxi to go everywhere.
After further research, I chose Hotel Ibis Ambassador Seoul Myeongdong during the Korea trip.
- The Airport Shuttle Bus 6015 stops right in front of the hotel.
- Myeongdong is a great area with shopping street just around the corner.
- Lotte Department Store is just opposite the hotel.
- Line 2 Euljiro 1 (il)-ga Station is just a few minutes of walking distance away.
- I chose this station because it is close to places I wanted to visit in this trip: Myeongdong, Bukchon, Insadong, Ewha Woman University, Hongdae, Dongdaemun, Garosugil, Apgujeong etc.
- I wanted to stay close to the happening area, Myeongdong is a great place to even stay out at night.
It is quite obvious that convenience was what I went for when I made decision on this trip.
The ground floor was for luggage reception with two sides of the lifts, one is express lift to go straight to Reception on 19th floor and another for every floors.
The room itself was comfortable and considered specious to me, although there was some old carpet smell in the room. Since I wasn't planning to spend too much time in the room, I was okay with it. Just want to mention that, the house cleaning did a great job of tidying up the room which made my stay more comfortable despite the smell.
There isn’t any drinking water/ water bottles in the room but hot/cold water dispenser & ice machine are available in front of the room #4 on each floor. It was quite inconvenient to walk out a few times especially in pyjamas/ after a long tiring day but it was great when I needed icy cold water after a hot summer day.
The bathroom was great with a pre-heated toilet seat, relatively spacious shower area (compared to Japan) and appropriate space for the basin. That was all i needed, anyway.
I was so glad that the water pump was strong enough that it gave me a good shower. That was what I need after a whole day of walking, so thumb's up!
I will try other hotels in other locations during next trips but for now, hope you guys like this article. Ask me any questions, I will try to share my experience with you.
Q: Can I find larger sizes clothes in Seoul?
Many shops are selling free size but their definition of "Free Size" may be different from yours.
For the current trend (ladies), these fashion are quite suitable for larger sized customers. I didn't find it difficult as there were some shops selling just for larger sizes and I saw those in many locations. The only problem I found was the pants - I couldn't fit in some of the pants for UK10.
For men's clothes, I couldn't find the common western XXL. I visited many shops and Korean's XXL were like L to me.
Just be aware that it is common for the shops (not referring to the high end/ department stores) with "No Fitting Room" policy since they are selling free size clothes, what you see is what you get. Having said that, I found some retail shops actually provided fitting rooms. If you are just shopping for the high end fashion, you most probably do not have this problem.
Usually we are advised to check in 2-3 hours before departure time but does it always work?
I wouldn't want to miss my flight home so I follow the 2-3 hours guideline all the time but not Korea. I was lucky to leave earlier - like a 4 hours since I had nothing else to do, I just made it in time to the boarding gate!
Below are some reasons you may want to consider going to Incheon Airport earlier than the guideline:
1. Travel to airport
The traffic can be very bad that dragging more time than expected. For example, it took 60 mins instead of 30 mins to the airport due to some car accidents.
2. Queue up for Tax Refund Kiosk
There are many tourists especially those shopaholics who purchased a lot of cosmetics, skincare products, ginseng products etc with multiple receipts and desperate to get their tax refunded asap. It is common to have a long queue to get the custom stamps.
3. Queue up for Check-in counter
During my last visit, I queued up for more than 60 minutes for Korean Air. Unless you are traveling during off-peak season and absolutely confident that not many flights depart at that time, I would definitely advise to allow more time to avoid missing your flight.
4. Queue up for immigration counter
The queue to get through the Security Scan as well as immigration counters can be daunting, you may get through less than 15 mins with luck but also may end up with 30 – 60 mins.
5. Queue up for Tax Refund After Custom
Some tax refund require tourists to get refunded after the immigration, in that case you will need to allow a little bit more time to queue for that. I almost forgot to get my tax refunded and that was quite a fair bit of money.
I excluded the time for last minute shopping in the airport as well as the meals time from the list.
Hope some of my tips and finding help your Seoul holiday research and make it a great trip to Korea!
I did some research before visiting Korea and it seems like many reviews mentioned that Hongdae is great or more happening to visit at night, my review is only for night visit. For those who want to check out Hongdae in the daytime, you may want to search for more info from others.
There were a lot of café, restaurants, street stalls, pubs, entertainment such as Karaoke and outdoor live performances in Hongdae.
Since Hongik University is just nearby, there are always lots of youngsters around and live performance at night. I saw a girl singing by herself with just a microphone/sound system and two boys singing with guitars who attracted lots of audience (perhaps 30 – 50 or more). The two boys sang really well in English songs such as Justin Bieber’s “Love yourself”, Ed Sheeran “Photograph” etc.
While one of the boys was enjoying singing with his sweet Korean boy-band look smile, the other boy was creating lots of facial reactions with a funny personality. The combination of these two boys' really made the young girls smile and these ladies wouldn’t stop taking photos or video of them. Ahhh… missing my University/ Colleague life back in Melbourne. Interestingly there was also several serious photographers/ videographers around using tripods to record their performance, perhaps wanting to give the 2 boys a good shot/ record.
I was planning just listen to perhaps two songs before I continue my night but I ended up there for 15-30 mins and more people just joined the crowd.
Here is they performance if you are interested:
It was a great performance hence I tipped them before I left, great job and hope more young performers continue their effort with bright future!
This karaoke was very cool to have great “transparency” for customers – literally transparent glasses installed and there were many “audience” on the road checking that out. Some of the rooms were purely females only and they danced pretty well and absolutely brave knowing pedestrians were watching. Well, there were those who enjoyed singing and dancing in “public” and there were those who enjoyed watching - Why not?
I like the idea to create a corner for the artists to use their creativity for graffiti art display. It’s not the best or most creative graffiti I have ever seen in Australia, Europe or Asia (given the fact that I’m from Melbourne, Australia and there are lots of professional graffiti around especially in Melbourne CBD) but I like the opportunity given to the young artist to show off their art work.
In Hongdae, there were more retail shops selling cute accessories, cloth fashion, technology stuff etc but I was ready to call it a night after all my shopping in Dongdaemun, Ewha Women Univeristy, Myeongdong, Garosugil, Apgujeong, Insadong etc for the past few days. My bad if I didn't cover the rest of the places or activities but it was really hot and humid while I was too tired =P
Before the end of the trip, I checked out a convenient store close the subway station. Finally I saw the Banana Milk that many bloggers have been talking about, there were in fact more flavours in Korea but I really couldn’t try each and every single flavours. I did, however, try on the Banana Milk. Okay, there was banana taste in the milk….. Maybe I just didn’t get it… On the other hand, that kind of made me miss Tokyo Banana! Tokyo Banana is the sponge cake made with banana flavour smooth and creamy custard filling – you can get it from Tokyo Airport.
For those who are interested in night entertainment and happening places, you can definitely consider checking out Hongdae. Once again, it involves a lot of walking so you may need a pair of comfortable shoes for that.
Garosugil is an area full of small boutique shops, restaurants, café etc. This is one of my favourite area to go shopping and café hopping in Seoul. I spent approximately five hours on that day, starting from having authentic yummy brunch, shopping around some interesting art shops, retail fashion, hat specialty shop, café hopping for coffee break, more shopping at some boutique shops, another café for high tea and dessert before I really called it a day. If you enjoy shopping like me, you would most probably enjoy this area.
To start with, I highly recommend to get a tourist Garosugil maps to walk around. With the map, you get to know what shops are around and which café you may be getting close to.
When you get out from Sinsa Station, there are shops everywhere for you start the day!
Garosugil Map Source: Seoul Metropolitan Government
Café hopping culture is strong in this area but you have to search for it for many are not on the main steet.
Walking was pretty much all the "exercise" I did when I was in Garosugil. Many of the cute little boutique shops or buildings with amazing effort in architectural design constantly caught my attention. Those built characteristic to the area, making it with stylish and pleasant for my shopping trip.
One of the interesting cafe in Garosugil, this cafe is also one of those in the small streets. You have got to walk around to look for it.
It was really tempting to go in for Gelato!
Photo Zone! Great, Creative but Expensive advertisement strategy!
Not too sure if I wanted a cup of coffee in the farm during a hot summer day, so I skipped that.
Specialty hat shop! Bought a few hats since it was a hot day and I needed one. There was quite a good selection in it.
Alright, that was enough photos of the shops! Now it's the restaurant and cafe recommendation part - FOOD!
For the spicy food lovers, you may want to consider this particular restaurant - Jipsin Spicy Pork-Ribs Stew. There are lots of restaurants around but I was hunting for local authentic food so this shop grabbed my attention.
Personally, I enjoy spicy food and generally okay with most Southeast Asian food so I thought having a normal taste of 20-30% maybe okay for me.... Perhaps I underestimated Korean's definition of "Hot" & "Spicy"! They cooked the Spicy Steamed Pork Ribs with Cheongyang Pepper (or Chungyang), and served with a Korean hot pot.
I later found out from Wikipedia:
"The Chungyang Red Pepper' is a small-sized chili pepper that has a strong burning sensation when eaten. It is a cultivar of the species Capsicum annuum originating in South Korea and developed by Dr. Il-ung Yoo (유일웅) by hybridizing Thai and Jeju-do cultivars. Chungyang Red Peppers have 10,000 - 23,000 Scoville heat units."
What on earth was I thinking if I could handle 20-30% of that?!
Tips: How did I judge which restaurant was authentic?
Well, these customers were all communicating with Korean instead of tourists with cameras. With this indication, I had been eating lots of yummy Korean food throughout the trip!
My tongue was on fire with this HOT and SPICY "Steamed" pork ribs! It was so delicious that I wanted to finish it all so I turned off the fire, ordered a bowl of steam purple rice and ice water to go with it. In addition, I added the bean paste provided along with some side dishes which really helped to reduce the spiciness and also added flavour to it. If you were to ask if I would go back again, the answer is YES but perhaps go mild 10% spiciness!
Alright, here it goes with my dessert during my shopping break! I don't think you need any explanation from the photos! I simply enjoyed my dessert with such a lovely interior during my shopping break. There are so many cafe in Garosugil and it was difficult to eat in each and every cafe so I guess it's either you spend half an hour in each cafe or simply choose one! I did and I was happy with it =)
Travel Date: Augest 2016
Trip Style: Solo Travel
Transportation: Subway trains
Accommodation: Hotel in Myeongdong
Duration Spent: 6 hours (Shopping, cafe hopping and photography)
Tourists are prohibited from entering Ewha Women University but some tourists still loved to take photos at the entrance or some actually went in. I went to the entrance to take a glance, the university campus looked lovely.
The Campus Guideline in front of the university stated in Korean, English and Chinese to prevent unauthorized entry.
Food and beverage wise, there are lots of restaurants and café waiting for you to explore. Personally I was lucky to have found Injeolmi Bingsu (Traditional wheat nutty flavour shaved ice) at Café Pasiya and Mul naengmyeon (Cold wheat noodle in icy vinegar water topped with radish prickles, sliced cucumber, hardboiled egg and sesame seeds) with hot grilled barbecue pork at a nearby random restaurant. I went in very early the morning, hence there were only a few table of customers. I enjoyed the nice and relaxing summer day with some shaved ice in a relatively empty cafe.
Ewha Women University's surrounding shopping street fashions are targeting to mainly students hence expect the younger crowds and younger trends.
Most of the retails shop practiced no fitting room policy, hence I didn't get to try on the clothes. You may find some shops are selling similar fashion depends on the trends or the latest drama, so it’s always better to compare prices and quality if you have time to spare.
One lesson I learnt from this trip was to buy clothes only to compare a few shops, I missed one of the top simply I thought I could have found that in Dongdaemun. The retail owner said it was sold and no more orders when I went back the day after ..... Ugh!
You may find some F&B shops and skincare/cosmetics shops around (not as much as Myeongdong), but there are lots of small fashion shops.
Creative butt shaped stone seats, feel free to sit on it when you get tired.
Authentic Korean Restaurant where I had delicious Korean Cold Noodle!
Mul naengmyeon - Korean Cold Noodle and Barbeque Pork
Creative Renovated Shop House
A very cool exterior of a Hair and Nail Saloon
Travel Date: Augest 2016
Trip Style: Solo Travel
Transportation: Subway trains
Accommodation: Hotel in Myeongdong
Duration Spent: 2 hours (Shopping, Meals and photography)
There is something about Korean cuisine that I find it very attractive - various of small dishes to try! Each and every dish has its own unique taste. This trip, I tried to keep it simple for normal common Korean food you can easily find anywhere in Seoul and also easier for solo traveller to order.
I wouldn't tell you those are top 23 dishes that you have to try when you visit Seoul, but those were absolutely amazing delicious cuisine that I had to try when I was in Seoul - South Korea! I was glad to have tried these all during a five day trip! Strictly speaking, I skipped most breakfast because I slept too late. So those were just my lunch and dinner!
1. Banchan (Korean Side Dishes)
Who doesn't like Korean Side Dishes? I love it! Generally those are some side dishes that marinated with salt, vinegar, sugar, sesame seed oil etc.
Please click the "play" button" at the top left corner of below photo for slide shows.
You may find various side dishes are provided by different restaurant, depends on the chef's decision which one to serve to you. That's the exciting part to me, I always look forward to receiving the dishes with surprise.
2. Korean Dumplings
I had it for my breakfast, a healthy selection. The Kimchi Dumpling that I ordered with ingredient of kimchi, glass noodle, sesame seeds, sesame oil and spring onions.
3. Kimchi Pancake
A good Kimchi pancake to me, it's cooked to have a crispy texture outside and soft inside. This is a typical Korean Kimchi Pancake with Kimchi and spring onions dipping into the soy sauce. Yummy!
4. Korean Seafood Pancake
If you are not a big fan of vegetarian or sick of Kimchi pancake, seafood pancake is another option! I guess this seafood pancake that I ordered appears to have more cutter fish than prawns but still, delicious!
5. Spicy Stir-fried Pork with Rice Leaf Wrap set (Bulgogi)
One of my Korean Classic dish, it would be difficult not to order it when I am in a Korean Restaurant. The Bulgogi sauce generally is a combination of soy sauce, sugar, green onion, garlic, sesame seeds, sesame oil and ground black pepper.
Don't you love Korean food when it always comes with all these small side dishes?
This is how you eat it - wrapped them all! It usually comes with a leafy vegetable to wrap the ingredients but that was the first time I ate it with Korean Perilla leaves. Interesting green aromatic taste as compared to lettuce.
6. Korean Cold Wheat Noodle with Barbecue Pork (Mul Naengmyeon with BBQ Pork)
It is a buckwheat noodle with an icy broth that contained vinegar, finished with marinated pickled radish, cucumber, hard boiled egg and sesame seeds. It came with grilled BBQ sliced Pork as a combo and that was a fantastic idea!
The buckwheat noodle was long and tangled but nicely cooked, I was given a scissor to cut it so that it was easier to eat. How should I describe it? It was a very unique feeling to eat icy noodle with vinegar taste and it was yummy with a light touch of sesame taste. When I took the second bite with the pickled radish and cucumber, it gave a refreshing flavor. During the third bite, I ate the BBQ pork immediately after the icy cold noodle - OMG! The hot BBQ sweet pork combined with icy cold light sour noodle along with refreshing radish and cucumber - THAT WAS ABSOLUTELY APPETIZING to play around with all sort of tastes in one mouthful of food. Imagine you have a bite of sweet, sour, smoky, salty and some leafy taste all together - hot and icy cold combination?! You have got to try it to feel it and taste it.
These were the BBQ sliced pork.
7. Tteokbokki Stew With Ramen
The buttery stew with chewy ramen, tteokbokki (Korean chewy rice cake), hard boiled egg, deep fried Korean dumpling (with glass noodle), deep friend seaweed wrapped with glass noodle, fish cake slices, rice cake ball and spring onion. This dish had lots of flavors, definitely mouth watering!
Close shot to show the filling in the deep fried dumpling.
8. Ginseng Chicken Soup
How could I leave Korea without eating Ginseng Chicken Soup again? This is served hot with the whole chicken stuffed with ginseng, other herbs and glutinous rice with slow cooked soup. The chicken tasted more delicious when you dip it with some salt.
9. Classic Bibimbap
Traditional Korean mixed rice, you can choose the combination of vegetables only/ with beef/ with pork/ tobiko fish roes etc.
This is how you eat Bibimbap - Mix them all! Every mouthful came with satisfaction!
10. Tobiko Fish Roes (Eggs) Bibimbap
This was the first time I tried such a unique bibimbap, Tobiko fish roes (eggs). Compared to a normal bibimbap, the Tobiko fish roes added the crunchy texture and a mild smoky yet salty flavor into it.
This is how it looked like after I mixed the Bibimbap tobiko fish eggs.
11. Spicy Stewed Pork Ribs
It is a dish that you order the hot level: 10%, 20%, 30%, 50%, 70% & 100%. They made it with Cheongyang Peppers and it was literally HOT and SPICY!
I chose level 30% which was a moderate level but I didn't expect them to put the hot pot on stove and continued cooking it while served on my table (Of course I turned it off after that). It was quite an experience but luckily it came with fresh cabbage, carrot sticks, korean side dishes and I ordered a bowl of purple rice to go with it. The hot pot contained ingredients such as pork ribs, bean curd, leeks, green chilli (or Cheongyang pepper), rice calls wrapped with glass noodle, rice cake, spring onions and onion.
It was an interesting combination, it was hot and spicy, the experience gets even better when you drink a glass of ice water down to your throat! Awwwwwesome!
Korean Purple Rice
This was the first time for me to try on Purple Rice, it tasted light sweet and nutty flavour. It wasn't too soft but with some firm texture. I would strongly recommend to try this when you are in Korea.
12. Korean Bingsu
This is Injeomi Bingsu, Korean shaved Ice with wheat powder, rice cake and almond slices. There are all sort of Bingsu in Korea - shaved ice with all sort of topping to your liking such as red bean, green tea, black sesame, fruits, chocolate, coffee etc. It is a popular desert in summer.
This photo shows how they made the bingsu - layer and layer of wheat powder. Please note that not all bingsu is made in the same method.
13. Korean Patbingsu (Shaved ice)
This is a very popular saved ice in Korea - Patbingsu made of sweet red bean with rice cake, wheat powder and almond slices.
I had two way of eating the bingsu - One is to pick each ingredient on the spoon and try the individual flavor. This is the mixing-everything-way and it was delicious! Not too sweet and not too plain either. I guess I love the nutty flavor from the wheat powder.
14. Pumpkin Shaved ice, Korean traditional sweets and cookies, Sunflower Seeds
It was very interesting to have the pumpkin shaved ice, the taste was sweet with a hint of nutty flavor. Having the Pumpkin Shaved Ice with the Korean traditional snacks, it was refreshing during summer visit. The experience was unique because the Tea House used very unique handcrafted kitchen tableware.
15. Korean Fish Shaped Waffle with Vanilla Ice Cream and Honeycomb
It was interesting simply because of the honeycomb as topping, delicious and fun to eat. The vanilla ice cream was smooth and creamy while the honeycomb was oozing down all over the ice cream, further enhanced the smoothness texture. I believe both adult and kids would enjoy having this dessert.
16. Binggrae Banana Flavored Milk
I noticed many people recommended this Binggrae Banana Flavored Milk but personally I am not a big fan of it. I bought it, tasted it but didn't get it. To be honest, I am not that into milky milk to start with so please ignore my personal taste.
This reminded me of Tokyo Banana Sponge Cake (From Japan) which contained amazing banana flavour custard in it. I love Tokyo Banana!
17. Rose Ice Cream
Presentation wise, it was creative to have the ice cream in rose shape and it was colourful. As for the taste, it was unforgettable and I could have it again in my next trip to Korea. The original flavour yogurt was so refreshing that I could taste the light sour yet sweet yogurt. It goes well with Strawberry flavour which was a great combination for a summer treat! As compared to the Gelato from Italy or Australia which was smooth and thick, the Korean Rose Shaped Ice Cream was refreshing and light.
18. Freshly squeezed Mandarin Juice
It is refreshing to have freshly squeezed juice during summer. You may find those stalls sell it along the street with Orange, Watermelon, Grapefruit etc. It is packaged in such a way that you can reseal and take away with you.
This is the traditional Korean rice/ wheat alcoholic beverage. As you can see the colour is rather pale white served in a bow. It is commonly 6-8% alcohol content. Please don't take this lightly, the alcohol caught up to me after I took half of it (well, I'm not a good drinker to start with so perhaps it is better for you to try and judge it yourself). It tasted like light sweet milky Soju but smooth and easy to drink.
20. Tteokbokki with deep fried chicken pieces coated with glazed sweet chilly sauce
This is easily at the top of my favorite street food in Korea! I ate it two days in a row and wouldn't mind eating it again if the third day dinner was not too heavy. I would say this is better than Sweet and Sour Pork where you can find in any asian restaurant around the world. It is a brilliant combination of the rice cake with deep fried chicken and coated with glazed sweet and chilly sauce!
21. Egg Bun (Gaeran Bbang)
It is sort of Korean Baked Egg Bread but it tasted more like muffin with egg. The one that I bought was more like some bean muffin with egg: Muffin was soft and tasty but the egg was too dry for me.
22. Dak Kkochi
One of the common street food - Korean Skewered Chicken Kebab glazed in different sauces such as BBQ or sweet and chilly sauce.
23. Eomuk Kkochi
These are processed seafood made from ground white fish, potato starch, salt, sugar and vegetables. There are lots of street stalls selling it from early the morning till late night, it's convenient for the commuter to purchase and eat it immediately. It was great during winter to eat it fresh from the hot boiled broth.
After reading all these food that I ate during 5 days travel, ARE YOU READY FOR KOREA?
Travel Date: Augest 2016
Trip Style: Solo Travel
Transportation: Subway trains
Accommodation: Hotel in Myeongdong
Samcheong-dong & Bukchon Hanok Village
This is one of my favourite destinations in Seoul for its beautiful history and architecture building combined with trendy café and amazing natural scenery.
To have a great start of the journey, I went to the Tourist information centre outside the Anguk Station to get the map and asked if it was a great idea to take a bus to somewhere uphill and walked down. Since I had been walking for the past few days and it was a very hot day to walk around, I was looking for a more relaxing short cut.
With the most honest advice, I was told the only way to travel is to WALK!
Well, I followed what was advised and it turned out with a wonderful day and in fact - the best day of the entire trip.
Samcheong-dong & Bukchon Hanok Village Map - Source: Seoul Metropolitan Government
It is definitely worth to spend half a day to a day walking trip depends on how much you enjoy older village with history.
For photography lovers, there are lots of interesting buildings photography opportunity.
There are some hanoks with absolute original structure, some with half original and half modern, some totally modernised renovated and some have been converted into shops.
Tips: You may want to visit earlier to avoid tourists who traveled in groups. It gets harder to take photos unless you are okay with lots of tourists as your backdrops in the photos.
Small town with old traditional buildings, boutique businesses, interesting café with beautiful scenery and small alleyways.
It was great to come across all sort of cafe along the way, these cafes are all with hanoks. It was such a enjoyment to have some Korean tea and dessert before continue the walking journey.
There are some art galleries that worth visiting along the way, some local artists are living and working in their hanoks. I came across this studio and went in to check out the artwork, he was so sweet to draw something for me on the spot as a gift before I left. He was such a sweet artist -
he wrote: Esther in Seoul - There were three form of Esther - One in Calligraphy, followed by Korean translation and English. He definitely had made my solo trip with a wonderful surprise!
Hanoks - Shh~ Keep your voice down~
There are allocated personals sitting or walking around with a board with different languages to request tourists to keep the voice down. There are still residents living in the old buildings despite the area become a popular tourist’s destination. It is unavoidable to feel excited to take photos with the historical background but please be considerate to keep voice down to respect the residents. During my visit, there were still lots of tourists failed to do so.
Bukchon Traditional Crafts Experience Center opens for tourist to experience the Korean Traditional Craft. You may find it interesting to join the Korean Dak Paper (Hanji) dolls making, Yi Ci Dyeing Workshop, Traditional Accessories such as Donglim Knot making workshop etc. Please note that it may take a few hours for those workshop, perhaps you can consider making reservation before your visit or allowing more time for that.
There are lots of shops provide the Korean Costume experience – you may rent one and walk around the Bukchon area to take photos with the historical buildings. Once again, you will need to allocate sometime for those activities should this be in your to do list.
Tea House Cafe
This cafe located in such a great location with view and this building itself is a hanok house.
If you are lucky to get the window seat, you've got the seats for great hill/ mountain view. Although I didn't get a chance for that seats, I managed to get a seat with garden view - good enough for me! After hours of walking under the sun in summer, it was great to take a break to have some refreshment in this lovely cafe.
The waitress recommended to try on the Korean Traditional Sweets and Cookies along with a pumpkin shaved ice - it was refreshing! They provided a sunflower seeds as side dish.
To my surprise, there were many local Korean dressed with traditional Korean costume to have high tea or walk around the area. I came across quite a few groups of Korean ladies and wondered if it was for a pre-wedding celebration drinks or perhaps birthday celebration. One of the ladies was so lovely to give me the answer - they sometime dressed up just for casual gathering. How amazing to get into the atmosphere of traditional environment. I felt like getting into a time machine and entered into olden days in Korea.
I wasn't planning to visit Samcheong-dong to start with but thanks to my usual sense of direction, I ended up to Samcheong-dong Street. My sense of direction always leads me to the path that I wasn't planning for but always comes with surprises.
There were lots of shops especially cafe and boutique shops around
Recently I received request for English Map with dining and café information so here I am attaching the useful map for your reference. Please note that I do not own the copyright, it all belongs to the source of the guidebook as stated below.
You can get a free copy of this book at the Bukchon Information Center at:
3-8, Samcheong-ro 2-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea
Operating Hour: 11:00AM - 05:00PM
Alternatively they allocated those guidebooks on the brochure stands on the streets when you get there.
If Myeongdong is the skincare cosmetic products paradise, then Dongdaemun is the designer fashion shopping paradise!
There is a tourist centre when you walk out from the Dongdaemun History Culture Park Station, exit 13 or 14. It’s always great checking out for any information that you are after before starting your journey. Dongdaemun is not a small area if you would like to check out all shopping malls namely Lotte Fitin, Goodmorning City, Hello apM, Milgliore, Doota, Maxstyle etc.
With the reputation as the Seoul No 1 fashion district, I was happily shopping for clothes, shoes, hats, scarfs, accessories etc for a whole day in Dongdaemun. It was absolutely awwwwwesome and I felt so gooooood for shopping!
Dongdaemun Map - Source: Seoul Metropolitan Government
With all these excitement kicked in, some of you may have the same question like mine – where should I start?
Personally, I started my shopping trip from Doota, Milgliore and all the way back to Lotte Fitin with a simple reasons:
1. I do not intend to spend more than a day shopping in Dongdaemun so I want an effective shopping day.
2. I am not good at checking out every single shop and I would like to buy something I like then move on to the next to save my time. In doing so, I might have bought something that slightly more expensive but I didn't want to miss out the design that I wanted.
To compare prices in general, Doota’s shops are relatively more expensive compared to shopping centre such as Milgliore. Ideally with sufficient time and if you are after lower cost fashion and happy to miss some upmarket items, it’s good to shop from Goodmorning City, Hello apM, Milgliore to Doota etc.
P/S: I found the same clothes costs 58,000 Won in Doota was selling 15,000 Won at the next building and you still can negotiate with the seller from 15,000 Won down to 13,000 Won if you are lucky! I managed to get that with two pieces and she was happy to sell that. Once again, it’s time to brush up your negotiation skills.
It’s good to think - you pay for what you see! Ahh… Are you sure?
1. No Fitting Room Policy ~~ Free size?! ~~
It is very common for the shops to have no fitting room hence you can’t try on the clothes before you buy it. It is very risky to purchase first and try it later in your hotel. Most retails do not allow to try on the clothes hence it's too bad if it looks better on the mannequin than on you.
*Watch out for Free Size – I am not a big size lady (perhaps size 10 but I can’t fit into some Free Size skirts/ Pants!
2. Fitting Room Available! ~~ Are you sure it's a good news?! ~~
You may be at the losing end even though some retailers allow to try on the clothes before making any purchase. Why? Watch out for some retailers who installed slimming mirrors and adjusted the angle/ position. From my personal experience, I looked so much taller and slimmer with the clothes I tried in the shops but back to reality when I tried again in hotel room. Don’t get me wrong, I am still happy with the clothes that I bought but just felt less when I came back to reality (I didn't look as tall and slim as in the shops). It is not something you can avoid since it is quite common in retail industry but just to set an expectation for you so that you are prepared for what may happen to you.
When you really like something, BUY IT if you think the price is affordable to you and you won't regret even if you find cheaper prices later. I was considering for a top for two days since I had a few days of shopping to Myeongdong/ Ewha Women University Dongdaemun/ Garosugil etc but couldn’t find it anywhere hence I went back to the same shop and - it was GONE! Sold.Out. Urgh….
Basement Food Court
I always love to try authentic local food wherever I go, Korea definitely is not an exception. I had a yummy lunch in Doota basement food centre that definitely would like to share with you
- Tteokbokki with Ramen
It was a spicy dish with lots of ingredients in it such as rice cake, fish cake, hard boiled egg, deep fried seaweed wrapped with glass noodle etc, large portion and the chef cooked it just right - the right temperature with the right texture. I still missed this dish after I left...
Some shopping centres closed on Mondays/ Tuesdays/ National Holidays such as Milgliore, Goodmorning City and Hello apM, Etc so it’s better to plan for your calendar perhaps to shop Wed – Sun and avoid Mon, Tue and National holidays. If you are not a shopaholic, just go with whichever is open – since there are enough shops for you to shop till you drop!
Mon-Sat from 10:30am to 5:00am next day/ Sun 10:30am to 12:00am (Closed on National Holidays only)
From 10:20am to 04:20am of next day (Closed on Tuesday)
From 10:30am to 04:30am of next day (Closed on Mondays)
Sun-Wed 11:00am to 12:00am; Thu/Fri/Sat from 11:00am to 02:00am of next day (Closed on national holidays)
Please check on their official websites for updated operation hours from time to time.
The hours provided above is for reference only, it was correct at the time of publishing.
A country rich in history, culture. If you have never tried the delicious Korean food, it's colourful culture, or perhaps check out the plastic surgery industry - this definitely is a popular destination for Asia.