South Korea - my own travels

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South Korea - my own travels

Postby TravelFun » Tue Jun 18, 2013 6:00 pm

Hello all,

I recently went to South Korea and decided to tackle this country independently although did go with a friend who was happy to go along with my plan and itinerary. I did alot of research and I was so surprised at all the choices and variety the country has to offer. There is so much to see and do in Korea and I just touched the surface. I was pleasantly surprised at South Korea, its growth and most of all its warmth and friendliness of the people.

Here's my itinerary:
Day 1 – Seoul arrival into Incheon Airport. I took the train to the city centre and then metro to the hotel.
Day 2 – Seoul: Walked around the Insadong area and its surrounding areas to get familiar with the place.
Day 3 – Seoul: Wandered around Myeongdong and went to the N Seoul Tower for a buffet dinner.
Day 3 – Seoul: day trip to Suwon Hwaseong Fortress.
A good day of walking and I really enjoyed the views. It’s known as the best restored fortress in the country, with its impressive wall, historic gates and towers climbing a mountain in the middle of the now-modern city. I took the return train from Seoul Station to Suwon Station and then a taxi to the Fortress entrance. There is a tourist centre outside Suwon station.
Day 4 – Seoul: DMZ Panmunjom tour.
A must-do for anyone coming to Seoul and I found it very interesting learning about the history and the conflicts with North Korea. You have to go with a guided tour. I booked with panmunjomtour. They were very helpful whilst booking and communicated via email. Due to time difference it took upto 48 hrs for a response but very efficient.
Day 5 – Seoul: Changdeokgung Palace (closed mon), Gyeongbokgung Palace (closed tues),Buckchon village.
I did this on a Wednesday when both palaces were open. Most palaces were flattened and rebuilt therefore the painting and designs of the palaces were quite similar (found this throughout my travels in the country) but still worth the visit. Evening Train: Seoul to Dondaegu 1hr 50mins.
Day 6 – Dondaegu: Did a day trip to Haeinsa Temple in Gayasan National Park from here.
I loved this temple and it holds the famous Tripitaka Koreana (the world's most complete collection of Buddhist scriptures). Engraved in Hanja (Chinese script) on over 80,000 wooden blocks, the birch-wood blocks date from 1237 to 1248. It’s in a building with wooden slats which you can see through (although not close up).
I took the bus from Daegu North Bus Terminal->Haeinsa. It’s the last stop and the bus runs every 20mins, takes 1hr.
Evening Train: Dondaegu to Singyeongju 20mins and then took a taxi to hotel in Gyeongju city. Singyeongju is a new station and located on the outskirts of the city (reminded me of an airport).
Day 7 – Gyeongju: Walked around the city and went by bus to Bulguksa Temple & Seokguram Grotto. Try to do this early morning to avoid the crowd or late afternoon/early evening when the place is lit up. Take Bus 10 or 11 and get off at Bulguksa Temple and from Bulguksa Temple, take Bus 12 to Seokguram Grotto (30min intervals). I went to the Grotto first by the buses and then walked to the Temple (it’s downhill this way). Evening Train: Singyeongju to Busan 35mins.
Day 8 - Busan: Found Jagalchi Market interesting and general sight-seeing and relaxing on Haeundae beach.
Day 9 – Flight to Osaka, Japan to join the G Adventures trip on the following day: ... AJJR/2013/

I went to places which were served by the KTX train line, KORAIL. You can purchase passes based on the number of days (3, 5, 7, 10) you intend to travel. Online and guidebooks say you can only purchase this pass outside of South Korea…not true. I purchased the pass from Seoul station where you have to show your passport and they complete the application.
The trains are super-efficient and run on time and leave on time…a rarity in England!

I know most people always have one question and yes, English is not spoken much yet the Koreans are really nice and try to help whenever they can. At the stations there are English signs but attendants are around to help but again it can take time to communicate so patience is required. At restaurants/cafes I went to places where there were pictures on the menu…Korean was too difficult to learn but pointing, using maps etc worked and managed to get from Seoul to Busan with no problems at all. Use maps as an indication of where you are and not all are precise plus you won’t see street names everywhere so I just looked out for signs as my guide to remember things.

I found Korean cuisine quite unique and the use of many flavours was new to me which made it interesting and challenging at times.

So put South Korea on your list and you'll love it.

If anyone has any specific questions then please ask and I'll try to help.

Happy Travels!
DO THE RIGHT THING ...all the time, every time!

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Re: South Korea - my own travels

Postby bluesforshoes » Sun Jul 28, 2013 6:25 pm

Excellent information. I will keep this in mind when planning next year's travels.

Jeremy G.
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