Thursday, March 31, 2016

Seoul - To Do 25March2016 (Gwangjang Market, Cheonggyecheon River, Dogmyo Flea Market, Dongdaemun, Changdeokgung Palace,Bukchon Hanok Village, Insa-Dong Steet, Itaewon, Bukhansan National Park, Namdaemun Market, Garak Market, Common Ground)

Seoul -To Stay
Seoul - To Do
Seoul - To Eat 
Seoul - To Do
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Check-In and reached hotel at 11am

Gwangjang Market

(Seoul's largest sheltered foodie market)

Click here for ABBA location of Gwangjang Market South Korea, Seoul, Jongno-gu, Changgyeonggung-ro, 88 廣藏市場 광장시장
The place definitely lives up to the name. A cross junction of various food, with each lane specializing in something. One lane having mostly dumpling and soup, whilst another lane has a mix of seafood and animal innards. The other two deals with hot pots and a range of preserved foods, whilst another serving up nothing more than their iconic fried pancakes and other fried items.
There are loads of stalls on the sides as well offering BBQ eats and more hot pot dishes.

Ordered On:


Cockles 10,000Won

BBQ Pork and Eel from side shop 23,000Won

*The Eel the one to try! It's got a textural bite at the center of it similar to tendon. Really good! There's a very light fishy after taste to it was pleasant*
Mussel Soup 7,000Won
*Theres not that much flavor to the mussels themselves, but the broth is superb. Great flavor, relatively light and perfect on a cold day*
Small Raw Crab Free Sampling
*There are two varieties. The small cooked ones which are great to have. Sweet and crunchy.  For the more adventurous, they have the raw ones to try. You have them whole but you don't really eat the shell, just squeeze the good stuff out.*
Large Blue Swimmer Raw Crab 13,000Won
*Drowned in soy sauce, garlic and chillies, the raw crab is 'cooked'. The meat taste sweet and you pretty much suck the meat out from its shell. Warning for the uninitiated or those with food allergies. Like Thai raw prawn salad, some may have a reaction to this style of cuisine*
White Sweet something 3,000Won
*Its like a rice cake exterior. Chewy and stretchy, filled with a sweet white bean interior. Didn't finish it thou. The brown one is the savory version*
Cup of fruit as is or blended as a drink 5,000Won each

Cheonggyecheon River
Click here for Cheonggyecheon river
An off the beaten track attraction, the Cheonggyecheon river has been revitalized and beautified to offer an escape away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The stepping stone offer an alternative to crossing the river. Looks pretty-ish, but that's about it. There are some large fishes swimming in the stream thou. Click here for Cheonggyecheon river

Dogmyo Flea Market
(Sells antiques surrounding the temple)

Another one of those off the beaten track attractions. Specializing largely in antiques, I'd say this place is more of a thieves markets. Old junk that's on sale for the right price and closes shop at about 6pm.


(Fashion shopping district till late)

Click here for ABBA location of Dongdaemun Market, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
I can now see the attraction for this place. Buildings and buildings of shopping fashion accessories, clothing and much more. Tons of shopping options from wholesale dailies, to high end fashion. There's just too much and so much to choose from. Prices at a glance are very reasonable and can be bargained. 

Up to 8% tax back are offered at some of the malls that makes tax refunds much easier. Passport and a credit card are needed for the processing.

Alternatively tax back at the airport is simple. Pass immigration at Icheon international, walk towards gate 41. Staff are on hand to process the tax refund and pay you back in cash. (You don't get back all but about 5-6%cash back)
Click here for ABBA location of Dongdaemun Market, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea



Changdeokgung Palace
(World Unesco Site)
8,000Won includes entrance and
entrance to the secret garden (Accessible only by tour)
Free Wifi on site

Click here for ABBA location of South Korea, 서울특별시 종로구 율곡로 99 (권농동) Changdeokgung Palace and Huwon
The grounds itself sits beautifully with the mountains in the backdrop. There are sufficient plaques to have a self guided tour, but I'd highly recommend to go for the free tours for a more complete experience.

The entrance to the secret gardens is allowable only through ticketed guided tour. Don't expect a botanic gardens sort of showing of flowers but rather enjoy the place as it would have been during its era. 
The secret gardens as the grounds for the king or prince to enjoy on his off days or run special events. Perhaps visiting in the peaks of other season would be better as reflected by the tour guide cue cards of some amazing shots of the place during the seasons. I wouldn't mind a revisit during a change of season.
Click here for ABBA location of South Korea, 서울특별시 종로구 율곡로 99 (권농동) Changdeokgung Palace and Huwon

Bukchon Hanok Village

(Traditional Korean homes located beside Changdeokgung Palace)

Click here for ABBA location of Bukchon Hanok Village, Gye-dong, Seoul, South Korea
I thought the whole uphill street was lined with traditional Korean homes, but it turns out, as quite a pleasant surprise, to be more of a hipster stretch, selling cool stuff and trendy cafes. The traditional homes are still there tucked around the corner and up the side alleys.

Residents still reside within the traditional compounds but some have had the homes retrofitted to have them rented out to tourist. It's sad to see that due to the ugly side of tourism, there's been a rising problem of littering and noise at Bukchon Village, affecting the local residence.    
Click here for ABBA location of Bukchon Hanok Village, Gye-dong, Seoul, South Korea

Insa-Dong Steet

(Known for Korean arts and crafts and souvenirs)

Click here for ABBA location of Insadong
The entire street is lined with various trinkets and supposedly famous (cause of the loads of pictures which line the shop) street eats. Checkout the individual shopping malls which offer a great range of products and on the weekends home crafted items for sale. It's quite interesting to visit and do some souvenir shopping. Variety is not a problem.
(Impromptu Fashion show on-going in Insa-Dong)




(Itaewon Station)
 (Known for international Eats, antique furniture, bags and embroidery services)

Click here for ABBA location of Itaewon Station
As said in the one liner tag line, that pretty much sums up Itaewon. Bought a large foldable bag for 15,000Won. I was curious about the metal embroidery services they had but those too were closed on Sunday's. Click here for Bag Buying ABBA joint.

It's really more of a place to visit in the night for an international selection of eats.

The antique stalls were quite interesting but it was unfortunate most of those stalls were closed on Sundays. The few that were open, the items for sale weren't cheap. A magnifying glass we saw going for 150,000Won.
Visit after 11am when most of the shops both dining and retail open.
Avoid Sundays as embroidery services do not operate then. Click here for ABBA details of embroidery services. 
Click here for ABBA location of Itaewon Station

War Memorial Museum
Free Entry
Free English tours at 10am and 2pm
(Samgakj Station)

Click here for ABBA location of museum near War Memorial of Korea, Seoul, South Korea
Definitely for war historical buffs. There are sufficient static displays both on the outside and inside of the place with loads of plaques giving a good write up. The tour is definitely worth going as it tells the story of how much South Korea had loss and hard they had to fight back in order to hold onto its democracy.

The displays on the inside were really good too, with some 4D shows as well. However, the real restriction was that each show was limited to 15pax, with each show lasting 7mins and spaced 30mins intervals apart. You can imagine the long queue.

Unfortunately I was feeling under the weather and had to cut the visit short. 
Click here for ABBA location of museum near War Memorial of Korea, Seoul, South Korea

Bukhansan National Park
(Dobongsan Station)
Free to enter

There are no trash bins on site. All trash needs to be bagged and taken back with you to dispose of properly.

The way the place is setup, it's like the base camp of mount everest. The place has got some serious gear being sold from major brands. They've got loads of eats there, for your 'last meal' or available for packeting away to enjoy as a picnic whilst on hike.
Not sure where to walk from the station? Just follow the large crowds of aged over 50, seasoned hikers. Watch as they put you to shame when they overtakes and conquer you along the hiking.

The trails aren't that hard, and relatively clear and easy stepping stones. Signages are plenty and easy to follow with distances and difficulty level clearly illustrated.

The highlighted track brings you to the very peak, Jaunbong Peak (740m) and it's reported to be 3 hour round journey to complete. One can stop at other train stops and pick another entry way to try other hiking tracks and scenery. The place, like Changdeokgung's secret gardens would be completely different and a different enjoyable experience in other seasons.
Click here for ABBA location of Bukhansan National Park, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul, South Korea 

Namdaemun Market

(Know for being Seoul's largest and oldest street Market)
(Hoehyeon Station)

Click here for ABBA location of Namdaemun Market, Namdaemunsijang 4-gil, Seoul, South Korea
An assault on the senses for sure. Loads of shopping on all sides. Accessories galore, military wear, clothes, shoes, kitchen wear. You name it, they've probably got it.

The shopping malls are really impressive. Being able to squeeze so much in the space, with each level selling different items. Some of the malls are connected via bridges, keeping you above the chaos below, but keeping you within the mayhem of the malls. So much chaos to sift through.

Worth the visit and slow exploration. Things don't seem to have a fixed priced according to tourist aids there and maybe bargained down. We purchased a Korean hotplate for 30,000Won down from 38,000Won. 
Click here for ABBA location of Namdaemun Market, Namdaemunsijang 4-gil, Seoul, South Korea


Garak Market
(Garak Market Station)
(Largest wholesale market that supplies to many restaurant in Seoul)
Huge structures that sell the freshest produce. The seafood section. The place to see, I'd say is setup very similar to Noryangjin Market. Fresh foods maybe purchased and can be cooked onsite at a fee. Some of the stalls have arrangements with diners. They give a phone call to have the Restaurant staff come down to fetch you to their restaurants.

Ordered On:

Fresh Eel about 600g (20,000Won)
1kg Scallops (15,000Won)
2 Medium-Small Abalone (10,000Won)
Paid 16,000Won for cooking services

Cooking fees payment guide
Per individual sit down fee is 2000Won/pax
Cooking Fees
Boil 5,000Won/kg
BBQ 7,000Won
Sukiyaki 12,000Won

Don't expect elaborate cooking here but rather homestyle simple cooking at these establishments and enjoy the freshness of the seafood. The Eel was BBQ nicely and was fantastic with a bowl of rice. 
Click here for ABBA location of Garak Market

Common Ground

Click here for ABBA location of Common Ground
Common Ground was another one of those of the grid attractions. It has a unique concept but the products it housed didn't quite match up. One could probably get the same items at Dongdaemun.

However, it's very trendy offering great photo ops. It is a cool place to grab trendy tastes meals on the upper decks or at the various food trucks located on the ground floor. I had the grilled cheese which was simple and fantastic on the roof top.

It may mot be worth to travel all the way out to visit the place, but it's worth while for a meal if along the way to/from Garack Market or Lotte World.

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