A STRANGER IN SOUTH KOREA

Posted: May 21, 2013 in COUCHSURFING, SOUTH KOREA
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Busan * Gyeongju Seoul

16-23 April 2013

Visiting South Korea was a bonus for me. I like Korean movies and reality shows. I also a fan of Daniel Henney, a famous Korean model and actor. I didn’t know much about Korea before, but I found it really interesting and I learned a lot from it.
I will provide general information and the expenses, followed by my itinerary divided by cities (linked).

Transportation
The subway system in Korea is good. Well, the map looks like spiderweb in Seoul, but the most important thing is that English menu is available on the ticketing machines! Unfortunately you can barely find anyone to assist you at the station, but if you’re desperately need a hand, you can simply find the help button next to the gates or find the office on bigger stations. Sometimes it’s hard to find some exits and not everyone you meet know where the exits are. I suggest you to start earlier than your schedule so you have spare time to change trains or find the exits.
I think you better buy T-money at convenient stores rather than buying tickets all the time. It’s a reloadable and refundable card you can simply tap for transportation system, some vending machines, and even convenient stores. It can be used on public transportations, except inter-city buses, train, and KTX.
The other thing to do is to listen carefully to the announcement and ask if neccessary. You don’t want to miss your destination station.

Accommodation
I used Couchsurfing, so I didn’t spend too much on hostel. I’ll give you the clue of some good areas to stay in each cities I visited.
Busan: My hose lives at PaledeCZ apartment by the Haeundae beach. It’s near the Busan aquarium, open air foot bath, and Dongbaek island. I surfed the internet and found LOL Guesthouse. It looks good🙂

cloudy Haeundae Beach

cloudy Haeundae Beach

Gyeongju has several recommended guest house, like Gyeongju Guest House, Sarangchae Guest House, and Nahbi Guest House.
I stayed 4 nights at Hongdae Guest House in Seoul (female dorm). Comfortable place, great location, friendly service. Loved it!

Female dorm at Hongdae Guest House

Female dorm at Hongdae Guest House

Food and Beverages
What I like the most is that Korean food always comes with plenty of side dishes! My favorite one is kimchi. And you don’t have to order drink because they provide a jar of water once you be seated. I listed some traditional Korean food and beverage you MUST try while you’re in Korea:

Jokbal, Samgyetang, Dakgalbi, Bibimbap, Korean Barbeque, Pa jeon.

dakgalbi

dakgalbi

Street food and snacks: Kimbap, twigim (deep fried vegetables, similar to tempura), eomuk, Topokki (tteokbokki), Gyeran bbang (korean egg bread), Hotdog (Hoddeok), Kimchi.

twigim

twigim

Drinks: Patbingsu, Soju, Makgeolli.

Yes, you can drink the tap water and you may find fresh water to drink outside the temples.

Culture
Korean culture is influenced by Chinese culture, since China had colonized Korea. The colorful palace painting and hanbok (the traditional dress) show it. There are still some Chinese writings, Hanja, on some places (mostly palaces). King Sejong then invented Korean letters (Hangeul) to replace the Hanja.

the colorful painting

the colorful painting

I think hanok (Korean traditional house) has really good architecture. It can be disassembled and reassembled like Lego and it has traditional floor heating system, ondol.
I admire admiral Yi Sun Sin, who led Korea to freedom from Japan colonization. The principles and values of his life are really inspiring.
Cosmetic surgery is very popular in Korea, but they have awesome make up technique as well. One of my favorite Korean cosmetic brands is Etude. They have cute useful stuff. Try BB Cream!
You should go to the Jimjilbang too. It’s the Korean traditional public bath and sauna. Some jimjilbang provide rooms for you to stay overnight. It will be a great experience😀

Communication
You can rent portable wifi for KRW 5,000 per day. It will be so helpful. Most of Korean people can’t speak English. If you want to ask people, choose well. Some younger people can speak English. You might need to learn these:

Excuse me = jogiyo.
Where is … ? = … neun eodiyeyo?
Subway station = jihacheol-yeog.
Train station = gichayeog.
Bus station = beoseu teomineol.
Bus stop = beoseu jeonglyujang.
Toilet = hwajangshil.
Thank you = gamsahamnida.
How much? = eolmayeyo.
Please help = dowajuseyo.

Learn more here.

Useful website and applications.

Check this out for the festivals and freebies: Official Korea Tourism Organization.

Apps: Jihachul, the Korea subway apps. Click here for Android users. Click here for Apple users.

Expenses (KRW)

Date

Detail

Cost

Daily

16

Subway tickets

3,800

34,800

Lunch (jokbal/pig feet, 2 persons)

25,500

Face masks (The Faceshop)

3,000

Dinner (7-11)

2,500

17

One day pass (subway)

4,000

45,800

Bus

2,400

Lunch

9,500

Spa land

12,000

Drink

2,000

Pore controller (for my bro)

8,900

Dinner (kimchijeon & dakgalbi, share)

7,000

18

Coffee (vending machine)

400

67,350

Train to Gyeongju

6,800

Bus

7,200

Bulguksa

4,000

Seokguram grotto

4,000

Donation (striking the bell)

1,000

Express bus to Seoul

30,300

Snack (barley bread)

2,500

Bought a necklace from art student

10,000

Subway ticket

1,150

19

Subway tickets

3,450

336,950

Taxi

15,000

DMZ tour

46,000

Dorasan station

500

Gingseng (share)

118,700

Snacks (donut, snickers, drink)

4,800

Hongdae Guest House (female dorm, 4 nights)

88,000

Cookin’ Nanta ticket

40,000

Dinner (samgyetang)

13,000

T-money & reload 5000

7,500

20

Unhyeongung

700

25,500

Hanbok rent (inside Unhyeongung)

3,300

Snacks (Daiso)

3,500

Face masks (Etude House)

10,000

Lunch (bibimbap)

6,000

Korean hotdog

1,000

Jongmyo

1,000

21

Reload t-money

5,000

17,100

Changdeokgung

3,000

Changgyeongung

1,000

Snacks (C&U)

2,300

Dinner & snacks (7-11)

5,800

22

Gyeongbokgung

3,000

37,000

Korean barbeque

14,000

Cosmetics (Etude House)

20,000

23

reload t-money

2,000

10,000

Breakfast

8,000

T O T A L

574,500

LINKS

Busan * Gyeongju * Seoul

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