Demilitarised Zone – Samcheongdong – Bukchon Hanook
This was one of the highlights of the trip. Earlier on in our trip planning, we had confirmed a tour package at http://www.koreadmztour.net/index.html. Through the tour, we visited the Dorasan Station, which is the last station of the South Korea. The tracks from this station will end in North Korea, but today, no trains are scheduled to pass through. Though in a pristine condition, the atmosphere in the station is sterile and eerie.
The DMZ tour also brought us through the 3rd Infiltration Tunnel – a tunnel that was found to be dug by North Korea, and leading into the centre of South Korea. It was said that this tunnel was part of the greater plan by North Korea to severely damage South Korea through a surprise attack. Some parts of the tunnel are steep, slippery and dark. Prior to entering, all visitors were given safety helmets.
Samcheongdong, Bukchon Hanok
We explored the quaint shops at Samcheongdong, then visited the Bukchon Hanok Village which is one of the few areas that still preserve the traditional houses ‘hanoks’. It is an interesting area to take a leisure afternoon stroll, admiring the architecture, and exploring the back lanes and alleys.
The Trickeye Museum is located in the Hongdae area, which is young and hippy with lots of cafes, lounges and shops. From Myeondong (Line 4), we took the subway Seoul Station, and transferred to City Hall (Line 1), and another transfer to Hongik Station (Line 2). It is also possible to take a more direct route – from Myeongdong to Seoul Station, then transfer to the Gyeongui Line and alight at Hongik Station.
Coming out from Exit 9 of The Hongik Station, we proceeded to locate the Hongdae Tourist Information Centre to obtain a map of the area. From Exit 9, continue walking straight up and you should pass by Citibank and TGIF on the left. Make a left turn at the junction and continue walking straight up for about 2 blocks. H&M will be on the left, and the Tourist Information Centre is right behind it. The Hongdae maps taken from the Tourist Information Centre were extremely clear, and it was easy to communicate with the people on duty.
Trickeye Museum was an awesome choice as a respite from the heat. The only problem we faced was the jostling of space for photo taking. For maximum trickeye effect, the Museum has helped by specifying photo taking spots. There seemed to be a queue for every single photo spot. It is a great chance for anyone with innate dramatic skills to show case his/her talent as well, since most of the photo taking scenes do require one to act to fit properly into the scene. Other than the Museum, the tickets also allows a one-time entrance into the Ice Museum. Trickeye Museum: B1 20 Seogyo Plaza, Hongik-ro 3-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul; Entrance fee: 12,000 Won/ pax. Tip: The usual admission fee is 15,000 Won/pax. Prior to departure, we downloaded and printed discount coupons from http://www.vkc.or.kr/en/benefit/coupon.asp. This included a 20% discount for Petite France.
Bumming at pet cafes
Plenty of pet cafes – both cats and dogs, are scattered around the Hongdae neighbourhood. we spent a relaxing afternoon shopping along the Hongdae streets, and visiting the cafes to get some cuddles and love from our furry friends. Note: different cafes have different rules. At some, it is compulsory to purchase at least one drink; at others, there is an entrance fee to be made – comes with a drink. Continue reading Seoul and Busan: Day 3→
Having purchased the ITX tickets the day before, we made our way to Yongsan station (Line 1) early in the morning. From Myeongdong (Line 4), we took the subway towards Seoul Station, and transferred to Line 4. There were no problems finding our way to the ITX train platforms as the signages were clear. However, we could not locate the transfer machine where we were supposed to tap our T-money cards when transferring from subway to ITX (to be honest, we were so busy talking and engrossed in finding our way to the ITX platforms, we forgot about tapping and therefore were not on the look out for the transfer machines). Accordingly, one is supposed to tap the T-money card during the transfer, since the subway leg of the journey has ended, and the correct amount can then be deducted from the card. We further made the mistake of tapping the T-money card when we exited at Gapyeong. But things were made right when we approached the station masters at Gapyeong, and they did a refund.
The ITX train was right on schedule, and arrived at Yongsan at 0800. Seats were preassigned and printed on our tickets. The train is very comfortable, and comes fully equipped with reclining plush seating, stow table, plenty of leg space, rest rooms and vending machines. It is also possible to purchase snacks on board from the crew who occasionally come pass with their snacks trolley. The 55 min journey was sufficient for us to enjoy our breakfast and coffee, and to catch up on some sleep. Tip: Bakeries can be found at all major subway stations, for one to conveniently grab their breakfasts and coffees before boarding the subway and/or train.
Arrival at Incheon, Sejong Hotel @ Myeondong, Banpo Rainbow Bridge Fountain
China Eastern airline flight: Singapore – Shanghai – Seoul. SGD$604.70/pax. Departure: Midnight; Arrival: Noon next day.
Purchase of T-money card from Incheon Airport’s convenience store. The cards saved us the hassle of queuing to purchase subway tickets each time. It can also be used on buses, as well as on the subways and buses in Busan. A deposit of KRW 500 is non-refundable. Tip: For Wifi connectivity on-the-go, it is possible to rent a wibro egg at the airport. We survived by using the Wifi available in hotels and Cafes.
Took the Airport Limousine Bus (No. 6015) from Incheon Airport to Myeongdong, where we were staying. The bus-stops for the various buses are clearly labelled and are situated at designated areas across the entire level. The route for 6015 includes Seoul Station, Namdaemun Market, Ibis Myeongdong and Sejong Myeongdong. You can find out from your hotel which bus arrives at your hotel. Duration of journey – 75 min. One way bus fare – KRW 10,000/pax
Sejong Hotel. Conveniently located at a corner of Myeongdong, with a subway station and entrances, and bus stop for the airport limousine bus just outside. SGD$431.50/pax for 5 nights.