I know sometimes the city areas in Seoul could get VERY crowded and you just want a breather to get away from people. Shopping and eating could get boring sometimes also right. So here are some of the places which I highly recommend going!
- Incheon Chinatown
Located at the end of Seoul Subway Line 1 (Indigo colour), it takes about 1 hour to get here if you stay at the city area like Sinchon or Hongdae. With Seoul that big, it really means a big deal to be at the terminal station. Not like Joo Koon or Pasir Ris.
There isn’t much to see here honestly, but there are a few dishes which you must try. First is the White Jajangmyeon and second is the konggalbang. I wouldn’t recommend which restaurant specifically to taste both of these dishes because they sell almost about the same thing at similar price! The white jajangmyeon is a special version here, because usually it is sold in black bean paste but this one is made with minced pork, onions and assorted peas in a light-coloured gravy. I must say after eating this white version, I’m never gonna eat the black one again. Ok well I wasn’t a fan of the black bean paste because you get ‘gelat’ or sick of eating it easily. But this one is really easy on your stomach and not as starchy. MUST EAT!
Another specialty is the konggalbang, which is a biscuit with no fillings and not a bread which the name suggests. I guess it is called a ‘bang’ or bun because it is shaped like one. But the recommended way of eating is to break it into small pieces and eat it like a cracker. Because it is glazed on the surface, it instantly reminded me to have a cup of Milo or Kopi to go with it. So buy back to your accommodation and have it for snack or breakfast. It’s nicer that way I think.
There is also a Jajangmyeon museum, the statue of Confucius and a hilltop garden to chillax for the day. But when I went there, it was at night and the place was SOOOOOO quiet we even doubted if we were at Chinatown. So I suggest going around lunch time to fully enjoy Incheon Chinatown.
How to get there: Take Seoul Subway Line 1 (Indigo) all the way. BUT be careful! When you reach Guro station, do take note if your subway heads to Incheon, because it might be going the other direction to Sinchang instead. So take note when you reach Guro!
- Jeonju Hanok Village
Also known as the ‘Slow City’, it is towards the south of South Korea and about 3 to 4 hour bus ride from Seoul. Since 2013, the same travel agency organised free bus rides to Jeonju from Seoul. I’m not sure about 2016, but I believe they will continue this year too. So by the way, it is free for foreigners only! Simply sign up on their website, and pray that you get the tickets because it is by balloting. But when we were there we realised most of the people there do not have the tickets but try their luck anyway. And all of them got on the bus. So… you could try it too?
The purpose of Jeonju is to… EAT! There are seriously lots of things to eat there. From croquettes to fried squid, from grilled octopus to traditional bibimbap, make sure you have enough money and an empty stomach! If you observe closely, you will realise that most of their food stalls will try to feature TV appearances so as Singaporeans, you know that kind of works most of the time.
But! The most famous product from Jeonju is definitely PNB Bakery’s chocolate buns/pies. They also have red bean ones, but their chocolate ones are really nice. There are two outlets, one is more ulu than the other which I chanced upon when I was lost. But just get from the main outlet, you will see a snaking long queue you wouldn’t miss it!
How to get there: Pray that the free shuttle bus service continues this year. Haha joking, I’ll update again if there is one!
- Demilitarised Zone
I think one of the must-visit places in Seoul has to be the DMZ. It’s really an experiential history class and when you’re there, all that you know through news or textbooks just comes to life.
We did not managed to go because… there were tensions at the border following a hydrogen bomb testing earlier in January. OMG HOW LUCKY CAN WE GET. We were seriously very excited though. Damn.
But okay feedback from all my friends who went were really good, so if you want to go, just pray that everything goes well ya? By the way, I’m sure many of us including me, can be really confused about which package to take. Some are more expensive than the others? Well, something that I found out is that do check out the package’s itinerary. Usually if it is cheaper, you do not really go that deep into the DMZ. Also, reserve online to get better prices! I signed up with VIP-Pammunjeon Tour (VVIP Travel) for their basic package. The tour will be conducted in English so no worries about it.
Reserve online, and pay on the spot. Hassle free! And if there are any unforeseen circumstances which causes the tour to be cancelled, you will not be charged for it. That means money saved for more shopping haha.
So if you really get sick of the city life, why not try any of the three above to chillax?