Archive for 2014

When I Was In Korea

Hi Guys!

As promised here's my itinerary post on my recent Korean trip. Instead of making an outlined itinerary I thought it'll be better to follow this format. :)

Early last year I was able to book a roundtrip ticket to Seoul for myself. Yes you've read it right just for myself, I usually ask my friends first if they want to join me before booking a trip but Korea is different, it's special to me. So I decided to book first and ask my friends later, simply because If ever someone wants to join me I want to make sure that they really want to. Not just because they got their ticket on an affordable price , not just because they think that they can boss me around since I asked them to go with me (oops there goes my trust issues). I want my Korean trip to be perfect, so I ended up going by myself which is probably one of the best travel decisions that I've done.

Found myself on a coffee shop full of travelers in Hongdae for my first night in Seoul

I arrived in Incheon Airport around 9:00 p.m. KST, I didn't book a place for my first night since I was supposed to couch surf but it didn't turn out well. So I decided to go around Hongdae and look for a place, it was freezing cold so I thought I should have some coffee. I was so happy to find out that most of the coffee shops on my "must try" list are in the area. I ended up having a coffee and a bun in Angel In Us Coffee, the location was perfect for people watching. Hongdae is quite a "party place" while I was having a coffee I was able to witness how some Koreans go crazy after partying (crazy being an understatement).

White Chocolate Mocha and Bun with Cheese
Here are some of the places that I visited in Seoul, with some directions and information that might be helpful if ever you're planning to have a Korean trip in the future. :)

Ewha Womans University

It's probably one of the coolest Universities I've been too...
they even have a huge Church and a such a wonderful garden

About: Ewha Womans University is one of the city's largest institutions of higher learning and currently the world's second-largest female educational institute.

Fun Facts: A lot of Korean dramas shot some "school/university" scenes here (i.e. City Hunter)
Not really a "tourist spot" but with the beauty of the university you should really make some time to drop by.

How to get there: Take the subway Line 2, Ewha Womans University Station Exit no. 2 or 3


Sinchon Street Shopping/ E-dae

 Shopping or not E-dae is a nice place to have a walk at night
Since it's just outside/beside Ehwa Womans university expect to see "girly" establishments here

About: E-dae or Ewha Fashion Street is just around the university is considered as shopping haven for women.

Fun Facts: Not only for shopping, E-dae is also famous for having the best Beauty Salons in Seoul.

How to get there: Take the subway Line 2, Ewha Womans University Station Exit no. 2 or 3 (Same area as Ewha Womans University, you can find the trendy stores the moment you step out Exit 2 or 3)


 Enjoying street performances by Indie artists

About: Hongdae is near Hongik University which is known for its prestigious art college many students/artists perform on the streets at night specially during weekends.

Fun Facts: There's a lot of art galleries, fashion boutiques, bars & restaurants in the area I think I went here almost everyday.

How to get there: Take the subway Line 2, Hongik Station Exit no. 9

Cheonggyecheon Stream

 the long walk is worth it with the artistic murals that you'll see along the stream
 I wonder how do Koreans keep the stream as clean as it is :)
just so you know... I have a lot of things in my pocket lol

About: If you love long walks... Serene atmosphere  and the sound of the running water you'll enjoy Cheonggye Stream 

Fun Facts: Expect to see a lot of couples on their date while strolling along the stream. They conduct annual Lantern Festival on the stream if you're lucky enough you'll be able to see beautiful lanterns at night (yup I don't know when lol).

How to get there: Start your stroll in  Cheonggye plaza,  Take the subway Line 5, Gwanghwamun Station Exit no. 5 

Myeongdong Shopping District

 Fashionable clothes, accessories, cosmetics etc. you can find Everything here in Myeongdong
 Myeongdong in the morning is comparable to a park with standalone shops, it reminds me of Bonifacio High Street...
It's totally different at night with all the lights and stalls in the middle of the street you'll feel like your in Mongkok (Hong Kong)

About: Myeongdong is considered as a major shopping spot in Seoul, you can find everything here from cheap accessories to signature bags.

Fun Facts: Nice view during the day, crazy shopping area at night. If you'll go here for shopping try to schedule it on a weekend they usually have a lot of promos/events during weekends

How to get there: Take the subway Line 4, Myeongdong Station Exit no. 5, 6, 7 or 8


Gangnam is on a different league when it comes to huge buildings
 with my Couchsurfing friends, making new friends is one of my favorite perks of traveling alone
 didn't expect that Gangnam's sunset will be this dramatic

About: Gangnam is considered as one of the most luxurious district in Seoul, it's been one of the most visited district for tourist thanks to PSY's "Gangnam Style" Hit 

Fun Facts: Known for having most of the high-end stores in Seoul you'll be surprised that inside the subway station you can buy a lot of cheap yet fashionable items. My Korean friend told me that shopping might be a little it pricier here but it's definitely better from that of in Myeongdong.

How to get there: Take the subway Line 2 or 3, Gangnam Station.

 Gyeongbokgung Palace

 Watched the "Changing of Guards"
it's a given that when you're in Seoul you must at least visit one of their "Five Grand Palaces"

About: One of the first palace built during the Joseon period,  Gyeongbokgung Palace is open to the public and houses the National Folk Museum of Korea and traditional Korean Gardens

Fun Facts: The admission fee is KRW 3,000.00 while watching the "Changing of Guards" is the highlight of everyone's visit here you can also try on wearing traditional Korean attire (they were on break when I was here so I didn't bother lol).

How to get there: Take the subway Line 3, Gyeongbokgung Station Exit No. 5.

Bukchon Hanok Village

I don't know how I to describe it, all I can say is that I fell in love with the Hanok Village 
About: It's quite rare for a Hanok village to remain as a residential area, since most of it were turned into tourist spots, galleries etc.

Fun Facts: Exploring the narrow alleys of the hanok village is super fun, it gives you a different feel (blast from the past baby!). If you're a foodie make sure to do your homework, there's a lot of specialty restaurants in the area that you might want to try.

How to get there: Take the subway Line 3, Anguk Station Exit no. 3.

Garosu-gil, Sinsa-dong

this place is probably one of the most adorable area in Seoul
every shop has their distinct and cool concept

About: Home of the up and coming artists and fashion designers, if you love shopping and into the latest trend you must drop by this area.

Fun Facts: Garosu-gil is extra lovely during autumn, as you can see there's a lot of Gingko trees in the area. During autumn the trees boast with yellow leaves which adds an indelible warm and nostalgic atmosphere.

How to get there: Take the subway Line 3, Sinsa Station Exit no. 8

N Seoul Tower

 I was speechless when I saw it...
 it was still winter so I was having a dilemma if I'll go up or not (might be too foggy to take a shot of the city)
finally decided to go up the city view was amaziiiiiiiing!!!

About: Located on Mt. Namsan, offers a great panoramic view of the city specially at night.

Fun Facts: N Seoul Tower is not just for tourist as it is considered as one of the ultimate "date place" of the locals. With the famous "Locks of Love", Teddy Bear Museum and cozy restaurants, who wouldn't dream of having a romantic date here (well I was alone so I didn't dare to check the locks of love, don't want to end up jumping on the cliff out of bitterness).

How to get there: Take the subway Line 3, Chungmuro Station Exit no. 2 or Line 4 Chungmuro station Exit no. 4. (you can also take the Cable car or the bus)

 Nami Island

 Winter wonderland!!! yay!
Tree alley... breath taking view 
Met an instant travel bud Aiah

About: Nami Island is famous for having such a lovely scenery all throughout the year, showing different charms every season. It is a half-moon shaped island, named after General Nami of Joseon Dynasty

Fun Facts: Famous for being featured in one of the Kdrama classic Winter Sonata. Admission Fee is KRW 10,000.

How to get there: Reserve a seat on a shuttle bus visit KTO Site for booking details

Trick Eye Museum & Ice Museum

 Unleash the KID in you and have fun taking silly pictures
 I'm your angel ;)

About: One of the newest and most popular indoor spot in Hongdae is Trick Eye Museum. A collection of 3D like murals/wall painting, it gives you a legit reason to be silly and look crazy.

Fun Facts: Make sure to have a friend with you to take your pictures lol, admission is KRW 15,000 (but if you have a KTO coupon you'll get a KRW 3,000 discount). You can also enter the Ice Museum once you purchase a ticket for Trick Eye Museum.

How to get there: Take the subway Line 2, Hongik Station Exit no. 9

YG Entertainment Building

 YG Baby!!!
Fanboy mode lol

About: YG Entertainment Office is famous for Kpop fans like me specially for YG lovers yay!

Fun Facts: If you're lucky you might be able to catch some YG artists coming in and out of the building

That's it hope you enjoyed reading my post, should you want to ask for anything about my trip feel free to comment. :)
Saturday, April 12, 2014
Posted by Francisco Munoz

When In Korea... Enjoy the Discounts!

Hey! I hope you enjoyed my first "When In Korea" post, as promised I'm back with another one. This time I'll be sharing some tips on how to get discounts. :)

After my Vacation in Korea people keep on asking...

"How much was the damage?"
"Isn't it expensive there?"
"Is it budget friendly?"

and about 20 "How much" questions

Most people I know have this thinking that visiting Korea will cost you a lot. Surprisingly if you've been to other Asian countries (i.e. Hong Kong, Thailand etc.) you can actually allot the same budget, Why? because Korea is quite generous on giving tourist discounts. Since I travelled alone I made sure that I'll be able to make the most out of my budget. I've read sole travelers tend to spend more specially for food. So before flying to Seoul I did my homework and researched on how to avail tax refund/tourist discounts and I was delighted to discover that they offer a lot. It might sound as if I'm exaggerating but compared to other countries I visited
Seoul does offer a lot.

KTO Coupons:

Oh! how I love Korean Tourism Organization's website, there's definitely more to KTO than what I expected. Yes they have a lot of information that will come handy on planning my trip, but to my surprise I got discount coupons after registering. Yay! more discounts more fun!

My favorite coupon is probably the Trick Eye Museum Coupon, simply because it's the reason I'm writing this blog entry. Why? because I was with Aiah (fellow solo traveler that I met in Nami Island) who doesn't know about it, she almost purchased the ticket for 15,000 won luckily she's with me so I asked her to get a coupon online and boom! she saved 3,000 won. 
Getting T-Money is a must! something that I learned the hard way...  While I was preparing my Itinerary I was caught in a dilemma which one to avail T-Money or M-Money?. I decided not to buy one until... I got lost in the subway so i transferred from one line to another but my single journey card failed to cover the transfer fee. I was quite in panic when I got the "Insufficient balance" notification after tapping my card. I mean I'm in a foreign country, the last thing that  I want to do is ask around on how to resolve such mishap.
So after that Incident I bought one and as expected it made my transportation experience smoother. I was able to use it in riding the subway & bus, another cool thing about it is that the subway transfers are free when you use T-money. Below is the subway fare matrix, you can check KTO for the bust fare matrix,
 Aside from lower fare & free subway transfer T-money comes with Foreigners Only Coupons. Make sure to purchase one the moment you arrive at the airport to maximize the use of the coupons (I bought mine the day after I went to Seoul tower...SAYANG!) I'm not sure if all T-money card comes with the same set of coupons though.
 Tax Refund
Above are the two logos that you need to be familiar with, if the store that you're in have either GBTF or GTF it means that you can get a tax refund for a minimum of 30,000 won  worth of purchase. Compared to other countries Korea somehow encourage tourists to avail tax refund. The moment you stepped in the shopping area of Myeongdong you'll see Tax Free logos everywhere and I'm telling  you they're pretty noticeable. It's like the logos are shouting "Come here we offer tax refund!!!" hahaha. Here are the  things that you need to do to avail the tax refund,
1) Before paying make sure to ask for the "Refund Receipt", you might need to fill it up right there and then so make sure to have a pen with you. 
2) Once you arrive in the airport ask where you can find the Tax Refund booth (make sure to come early as there might be a long queue)
3)"Global Blue Tax Free" and "Global Tax Free" have different booths so you might need to fall in line twice for each window.
"Events" (Sale)
 Here's my last tip, make sure to do your shopping during the weekend, they usually have "events" or sale. Trust me you can get up to 50% discount during the weekend specially in the shopping districts.
I hope you'll find this post helpful on planning your Korean trip :)
Reference: KTO 
Sunday, March 23, 2014
Posted by Francisco Munoz

When in Korea... Use Digital Lockers

Hey! So Last month I had a 6-day vacation in Seoul, Korea... Alone! I had a lot of fun and thought it'll be nice to share some things that I learned about Korea. Unlike most travelers does I would like to focus more on giving some tips on how you can get around Korea comfortably. Before going there I sure did a lot of research but still there are things that I only learned/discovered during my trip. That's the main reason why I'll be posting a couple of tips, hoping that future tourists will come across my post while planning their trip.

So here's my first tip...

Don't we all hate it early morning or late night arrivals? the agony of waiting for the "check in" time to our respective hotels?. The time wasted on going straight to our hotel to leave our luggage before we can jumpstart our trip?. And for some isn't it a hassle to go around pulling our luggage or looking like a turtle with our huge backpacks?

When in Korea you need not to worry about this things anymore :) You can head straight to your travel plans without thinking about your luggage. All you have to do is use the Digital lockers found in Seoul's subway, I tried this after checking out to my hostel during the afternoon for my 10:00 p.m. flight. If only I knew this before I could've used one  before checking in as well, but hey at least I was able to use it before heading back home.

While going around Seoul I noticed that there's this locker like thing in every subway station, so I checked it and found out that it's a Digital locker. At first I was like "Who will use such locker?" I mean it's in the subway where anyone can access it. But I noticed that most of it are occupied, so when I went back to my hostel I asked the owner if it's safe to use and I got a positive reply. He even told me that it's widely used in Seoul specially in the shopping district, which makes sense. He said that it's safe as long as you make sure that you locked it, and if I'm still hesitant just don't leave valuable things (i.e. money, travel docs etc.).

Then I googled it, I found some instructions on how to use it in KTO site (link below) which made me think that it must be safe to use since it's in KTO site.

Here are the details on how you can use the digital locker as stated on KTO site,

Subway Lockers

Many of the subway stations on Seoul Subway Lines are equipped with paid lockers. In addition to storage, these lockers provide diverse services including shipping and receiving, express delivery, and laundry.

• Locker Usage Fees
  1. 1. Storage: Small lockers 2,000 won / Large lockers 3,000 won (based on 24 hours; extra charge for additional hours)
  2. 2. Home delivery service: Small lockers 2,000 won / Large lockers 3,000 won (based on 24 hours; extra charge for additional hours)
  3. 3. Shipping & Receiving
    • - Shipping: General 6,000 won / Jeju Island 8,000 won / Other islands 10,000 won
    • - Packing (separate charge): 2,000 won (extra charge for weights over 10kg)
  4. 4. Transferring to another station/storage: 10,000 won per box(based on a small box weighing less than 10kg)
  5. 5. Long-term usage: 100,000 won per month (Inquiries: 1588-2625)

• Features of Subway Lockers
  1. 1. LCD screen storage & pick-up information
  2. 2. T-money Card payment
  3. 3. Credit card payment
  4. 4. Receipt pick-up
  5. 5. CCTV video recording

• How to Store Belongings
  1. 1. Locker Usage Options. Select “1 물품 보관하기 (Storage)” on the screen.
  2. 2. Locker Selection. Select your preferred locker, and select “확인 (Confirm).” Available lockers are shown in blue boxes.
  3. 3. Payment Methods. The first row indicates the locker usage fee. (Picture: 2,000 won for a small locker) Select the method of payment: 1) T-money Card; 2) Credit Card; 3) Cell Phone; 4) Cash. Payment with cell phones may be limited for foreign visitors.
  4. 4. Payment. Pay the locker usage fee. (Picture: After selecting payment method #1, place your T-money Card on the T-money Card reader. Make sure there is enough money in the T-money Card balance.)
  5. 5. Open Locker. When your locker opens, put your belongings inside.
  6. 6. Close Locker. Make sure to put your belongings on the red circle inside the locker. Close the locker, and it will lock automatically.
    * Do not lose the card you used to pay with, as you will need it to open the locker again.
• How to Pick Up Stored Belongings
  1. 1. Locker Usage Options. Select “5 물품찾기 (Pick-Up)” on the screen.
  2. 2. Pick-up Options. #1: 본인이 보관한 물품 찾기 (Pick up my belongings) / #2: 타인에게서 전달 받은 물품 또는 택배물품, 다른 역 이동 물품 찾기 (Pick up delivery packages)
  3. 3. Payment Methods. Select the method of payment you used for storing belongings in the locker.
  4. 4. Payment Confirmation. Confirm the payment of the locker usage fee. (Picture: Place your T-money Card that you used for payment on the T-money Card reader)
  5. 5. Pick-up Options. #1: 예 (Yes; Pick up my belongings) / #2: 아니오 (No; Restore my belongings). Extra charge applies for extended use of the locker.
  6. 6. Open Locker. When your locker opens, take out all your belongings.
  7. 7. Close Locker. Take out all your belongings, and close the locker if no longer using it.

Will be back with more "When in Korea" post, hope you liked this one ;)

Reference: KTO
Sunday, March 16, 2014
Posted by Francisco Munoz

Got a new toy!!!

It's not a secret that Korea is one of  my dream destinations, a year ago I was able to book a cheap flight so last month I was able to realize that dream. The thing is this'll be my first time to travel out of the country alone... yeah I'm excited about that but my main concern was who'll take my pictures??? eeehhhh it's not as if I can ask a stranger every single time I want to take a snapshot. Plus the lens of my DSLR is manual, so I decided to get a new toy.  Gopro Hero 3+ black edition, It's probably one of the most compact camera around plus it does produce quality pictures. Getting one isn't that easy I've searched for it over a month but to no avail I resorted to a trusted seller. Got it a week before my Korean trip so what I did was I brought it everyday to the office and play with it during my lunch break as a practice. :)

Will be sharing some of my shots from Korea soon :) and probably a review if I have a chance
Posted by Francisco Munoz


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