Get a Chance to Travel to South Korea via RCBC’s Ready, Set, Seoul

Asia, Promos, South Korea

Can’t wait to visit famous Korean Landmarks and location shoots of your favorite K-dramas? Or maybe, you’re just dying to try some authentic Korean dish? Your wait may soon be over as RCBC gives everyone a chance to fly to Seoul, simply using RCBC’s MyDebit Mastercard!!!

You ca use your RCBC MyDebit Mastercard to securely pay for your online transactions – flights and accommodations, online shopping, collector’s finds, e-books, app subscriptions, in-app purchases and more. You can also use it for in-store purchases. Every P1,000 transaction earns you a raffle ticket to the “Ready, Set, Seoul” Promo.

This exciting new campaign from RCBC is meant to showcase the power and flexibility of the MyDebit mastercard.

“RCBC MyDebit Mastercard is the one card that truly keeps up with your lifestyle of choice, empowering you to enjoy the best things in life at your own terms,” said Margarita B. Lopez, RCBC Digital Banking and Operations Head.

“You can use it to withdraw cash if you want to, or better yet, securely enjoy convenient cashless transactions and pay for your online purchases practically anytime and anywhere. More importantly, since it is linked to your savings or checking account, you have full visibility of your purchases. It therefore offers convenience, security, and control all in one card,” she added.

korea-1233331_960_720

Ready, Set, Seoul! with RCBC MyDebit Mastercard

As an exciting way to celebrate the launch of RCBC MyDebit Mastercard, RCBC is giving you the chance to enjoy the ultimate South Korea travel experience with the Ready, Set, Seoul promo!

Under the promo, two (2) lucky RCBC MyDebitCard Mastercard holders will win the grand prize of a 4-day, 3-night trip for two to Seoul, South Korea, inclusive of roundtrip airfare, luxury accommodations at the five-star Lotte Hotel World, plus passes to top sites including the Lotte World Aquarium, SkyTower Observatory, and Lotte World Theme Park, the world’s largest indoor theme park.

The grand winners will also receive pocket money so they can live out their K-drama and K-Pop fantasies through engaging tours, check out must-see city landmarks, and savor authentic and mouthwatering Korean dishes around town. Moreover, they will also get Shilla Duty Free shopping vouchers, which they can use to stock up on world-renowned Korean beauty products and shop for trendy fashion pieces, among others.

seoul-2267397_960_720

Get closer to your dream getaway with every secure cashless transaction

“There is no better way to celebrate the launch of RCBC MyDebitCard Mastercard than by showing you just how easy it is to unlock endless possibilities and enjoyable experiences with your debit card! Indeed, with RCBC MyDebitCard Mastercard, you are closer than you think to your dream Seoul getaway – or any goal or adventure for that matter,” said Lopez.

To join, simply use your RCBC MyDebit Mastercard for any in-store or online transaction with any domestic or overseas merchant  from August 18 to November 15, 2017. Every Php1,000 spent in a single transaction gives you one e-raffle entry, so the more you spend, the more chances of winning the Seoul experience of your dreams!

namdaemun-326138_960_720

Aside from the two grand winners of the ultimate South Korea experience, five lucky cardholders will win an overnight stay at Nobu Hotel with free breakfast buffet, while eight lucky cardholders will take home SJCAM SJ5000X Elite Action Cameras for recording their adventures.

The grand draw is on November 16, 2017 so you have enough time to earn and accumulate e-raffle entries with your RCBC MyDebit MasterCard purchases.

Get your RCBC MyDebit Mastercard now and transact your way to your ultimate South Korea adventure!

To know more, visit www.rcbc.com and follow RCBC’s official account on Facebook at www.faceboook.com/RCBCGroup.

Advertisements

What To See At The Korean Folk Village in Seoul

Asia, seoul, South Korea

If you are planning a trip to Seoul, you may want to check out one of the most popular destinations in the city: the Korean Folk Village.

During a recent trip to Seoul for our company’s summer outing, we checked out the place and I found it quite informative, interesting and endearing.

Located in the city of Yongin in the province of Gyeonggi, the Korean Folk Village is a living museum of what traditional Korean villages, houses looked like.

The houses were mostly bungalow style made out of straws and wood. The houses had low ceiling and there were no beds, as common in Korean culture up to this era.

It wouldn’t be a stretch if I say that the place really looks like old Korea.

Therefore, it isn’t a surprise to know that most Korean dramas with the Joseon era theme filmed here. As a matter of fact, you can see life-size posters/murals of the dramas that filed here.

Among the most notable ones are Jewel in the Palace, Hwang Ji-ni, and Rooftop Prince.

Outside of the main gate, there are souvenir stalls selling mementos and restaurants among others.

The entire complex is filled with traditional Korean dwellings. There are installations that mimic shops that sell traditional metal and wooden handicrafts.

There is also the judgment hall where traditional hearings were performed.

Those who were proven guilty of crimes were given penalties that range from whipping to death.

At one area of the vilage, there is a mini ampitheatre where horse exhibitions and cultural performances are held.

I was particularly moved by the dungeon/prison. I have watched so many dramas and I have had a vivid memory of the prison death scenes.

Any trip to Seoul would not be complete without a visit to the Korean Folk Village. It is a must-see place. It is also quite close to Everland so you can hit two birds in one stone.

 

A Visit to Everland in Seoul, South Korea

Asia, South Korea

Without any exaggeration, I can safely say that one will not run out of things to do and see in Seoul.

No matter, what season, this city offers a host of tourist spots and activities for every one.
I zigzagged the entire city by subway for five whole days and those days were still not enough for me to see half of the city.
everland7
The only consolation I can get is that I was able to see one of the highlights in Seoul Korea. For the young adventurers and the young at heart, you should definitely visit Everland.
Located in Yongin, a city in Gyeonggi-do province, South Korea, Everland is about an hour and a half away from Seoul, but don’t worry. I can guarantee that a trip to Everland is definitely worth it.
everland5
Everland, owned by the Samsung group, is the largest theme park in Korea, bigger than its rival Lotte World. Reports said, it has an annual visitor count of 6.6 million tourists, one of the biggest attendance among theme parks in the world.
Admittedly, there are no mascots as recognizable as Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and the Disney princesses are nowhere to be seen (of course) but that doesn’t lessen the fun.
everland4
 The rides and attractions are tailored fit for the Asian culture.
 The highlight is definitely the T-Express. This is the scariest roller coaster ride ever. The first and highest drop was so steep, I thought my head was gonna snap, hahaha. I was so scared during the entire three minutes experience.
A quick chat with the other riders will tell you how crazy the experience was.
Another major stop is the Safari adventure where you will see the Asian white tigers, hyenas, bears and even vultures.
everland14
For fans of the K-pop music, you should definitely visit the K-Pop Hologram museum where you will have the chance to get closer to your K-pop ideols like Big Bang and Super Junior.
everland2
Other highlights include the Double Rock Spon, Hurricane, the Ferris Wheel, and the Lost Valley.
everland6
During the entire afternoon, I felt like a child as I try the rides at Everland.
Whenever I got tired, I would stop at restaurants (there are lots of them to choose from) and enjoy a great afternoon meal.
everland3
  Everland is also one of the cleanest most organized theme parks I have been to. And everywhere you go, there are numerous rest rooms, necessary for children.
everland12
everland9
Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or just a laidback person who love afternoon walks, Everland is perfect for you.
Here are some of the things to will see in Everland:
Enjoy!!!!.

Gangnam: A Favorite Party Central in Seoul

Asia, South Korea

Seoul is a mega city that never sleeps.

And in a city this massive, the possiblities for adventure, dining, sightseeing are just endless.

But for people who are out to have some wild fun and fantastic parties, most people will lead you to just one place.

You will never have a complete experience of Seoul unless you visit Gangnam.

2011-11-14 15.50.21

Even before I visited South Korea, I have always wanted to visit Gangnam, a disctrict located at the southern portion of Seoul, thanks to my exposure to the South Korean culture. Korean dramas, movies mention the district all the name as place where the locals go out to party.

The fancy boys of Boys over Flowers mentioned Gangnam in several instances.

2011-11-14 17.12.08 (1)

There are of course several areas to go to like Hongdae, near Hongik University, where the alternative crowd hang out but the immense land area of Gangnam and the virtually countless choices for shopping, dining and partying make it the indisputable number one.

Take the subway line number 2, get off at Gangnam area  and take the exit number 10 and you will be greeted by a New York-like district, where, during daytime, everyone seems to be hurrying to and from various destinations.

Come nightfall, the city just vibrates with energy and comes alive.

2011-11-14 15.51.04

The entire stretch of Gangnam is lined up with tall buildings with shops of popular brands at the ground floor. There’s your Zara, Massimo Dutti, Giordano, among others.

Every block, you can find interesting restaurants, bars to visit, not to mention the staple chains of coffee stores Starbucks, Caffe Bene and Angels in Us.

Gangnam appeals to a wide range of patrons ranging from the your usual teens, (it’s just a subway station away from the Seoul National University of Education), to yuppies looking to unwind, to the large number of expats and tourists looking for fantastic time.

Take note, there are restaurants serving foreign cuisines in Gangnam so most tourists find comfort here. There are Italian, Spanish, Mexican, Thai and Japanese restaurants as well as Irish pubs.

I met up with my couchsurfing friend Austin and he took me to a small, hidden bar which plays 90’s rock and roll music and serves American draft beer. It was a blast.

We visited another bar later in the night and my stay in Seoul was officially awesome.

So if you’re looking for a great party place in Seoul, be sure to drop by the Gangnam district and you will surely love it.

IMG_5741

Experience Snow Activities All Year Round at Woongjin Playdoci Snowdoci in Gyeonggi, South Korea

South Korea

When I was still a kid, I used to be so jealous of my cousins and other relatives living abroad.

I was not jealous of the fact that they are living overseas but I was reeling from the fact they they lived in countries where they experience snow.

My 10 year-old self was so in love with snow and the fun activities you can do with it like building a snowman, skiing and bobsled. I was in love even with the idea of throwing snow balls against each other.

But living in the Philippines where it never snows, I had to contend with watching snow in TV shows and movies. Deep inside however, I promised myself that I would grow up to be successful, enough to afford trips to countries where it snows.

True enough, after years of hardwork, I can now call myself an accomplished traveler. And yes, I have traveled to colder countries where snow is available. Actually, I can still recall vividly the first time, I experienced snow. It was it Kyoto Japan in 2008 and I couldn’t be happier.

Last June, our office had our annual vacation in Seoul and fortunately, one of our stops was at the Woongjin Playdoci, Snowdoci. It is South Korea’s first and the world’s 12th indoor ski resort.

Woongjin is located in Gyeonggi-do, Bucheon or more than an hour away from Seoul city center. Rates vary depending on your stay. Adults pay from 30,000 won to 45,000 won (morning to night). kids are charged at 19,000 won to 39,00 won

Yes, the ice was artificial but the snow was powdery enough to mimic a real snowy environment and the little child in me could not help but dive into the activities being offered inside this amusement park.

My office mates and I braved the ice tubing and bobsled, not giving a damn whether our clothes would get soaked from the ice. We took repeated turns until we were numb from the cold.

There are lots of things to do inside Woongjin. No doubt however that the main attraction is the park’s many ski slopes.

Woonjin’s main slope is 270 meters long (40m wide) and the secondary slope measures 70 meters. There are also other slopes such as the school slope and the beginner’s and intermediate slope.

I was not an excellent skier but that didnt stop me from having fun. I trekked to the top of the main slope (thanks to the conveyor belt) and rolled freely on the ice like a child. Some of the locals were laughing at me but I didn’t care, I was having fun.

Perhaps affected by my glee, other officemates joined in and frolicked in the snow.

While lying on the snow, I closed my eyes and I looked back into my childhood days. I remembered those times when I would stay up late at night and pretend to create snow angels on my bed.

I always knew that those fantasies would come true someday.

So even with lots of tourists around, foreign and locals alike, I spread my arms and created my own snow angel, laughing as if a child.

How to go to Woongjin Playdoci Snowdoci

To visit Woongjin from Seoul city center, go to Samsan Stadium Station by taking the Seoul Subway Line 7, Exit 1. Then walk sraight for anout 250 meters and cross the road towards the church. Walk another 200 meters and cross to the other side of the road. Take a left turn at the Bupyeong-gu Recycling Center. From there, you can easily see and locate woongjin.

Six Countries, Four Continents, 10 Cities and 31,000 Kilometers in 2014

Australia, Israel, Palestine, South Korea, Spain, The Netherlands, Travel Anecdotes and Then Some

Sometimes, you can be totally focused on the things around you, that you actually forget to look at the bigger picture.

In 2014, I was too pre-occupied with living life on a day to day, week to week basis, intently focused on achieving tasks that I never realized that I was able to accomplish something very few people can achieve.

It wasn’t a continuous ride, but over the past year, I managed to set a personal record of traveling to six countries, four continents, 10 cities, and a total of nearly 32,000 kilometers around the world. (It’s like a half season of Amazing Race!!!!!).

My personal journeys sent me to Israel, Palestine, The Netherlands, and Australia. Then the universe conspired and made my company send me to Spain and South Korea.

These trips are of course on top of short lay-overs in Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong and Jordan.

BREAKING PERSONAL RECORDS 

Except for Seoul, South Korea, all the other cities and countries I visited this year are new ones, breaking all my previous personal records and making my dreams of conquering Europe and the Middle East come true.

Remember my personal goal og going out of Asia? I managed to accomplish just that and so much more this year.

In terms of airlines, it was my first time flying via Emirates, Iberia, Swiss Air, and Qantas,

Every trip, every country, I always tell myself that I was becoming a better traveler. Even if it was a minor life lesson, I consider it to be a valuable instrument I can use to shape the kind of person and traveler I want to be.

In 2014, with the sheer number of amazing experience and awesome people I have met on the road, I found a treasure throve of memories I will cherish for the rest of my days.

ISRAEL

My trip to Israel was a last minute decision. My earlier plans to go to Sapporo, Japan fell through due to visa problems so I opted to go somewhere that will let me in without one.

As early as my first day, however, I quickly fell in love with this country and I thanked God for guiding me in my decision making. The city of Tel Aviv was just the cosmopolitan fun-city I was looking for and I spent days in various beaches, clubs and restaurants in the city.

Jerusalem beach in Tel Aviv

I went around Ha Carmel Market, Old Jaffa, Hilton beach and the marina where I met one of the most awesome and generoud people I have ever met. in this city, I was able to sleep under the stars, aboard a yacht parked in the Mediterranean.

In the holy city of Jerusalem, I reflected on life, my past mistakes and my new life goals as I touched the Wailing Wall. I walked around the Via Dolorosa, where Jesus carried the cross on the way tohis crucifixion. I visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Dome of the Rock. I also had a life-changing moment at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem.

Old Jaffa in Tel Aviv
some of treats sold at Ha-Carmel Market
The Wailing Wall
Damascus Gate of the Old City
A View of Jerusalem

PALESTINE

From the Damascus Gate of the Holy City, I braved the local transport going to Bethlehem in Palestine in the hopes of seeing the birthplace of Jesus Christ. I did manage to visit the Basilica of the Nativity, along with the Milk Grotto. But what really struck me as memorable was the decade’s old Israel-Palestinian wall built at the height of the second intifada. I just stood there gazing at the graffities, stories and cries for help of the oppressed Palestinians wishing for freedom from Israeli rule. While short, I can say that my visit to Palestine was one of the most eye-opening experiences I have ever had.

Basilica of the Nativity
The Milk Grotto
Bethlehem Square
Israel-Palestinian Wall

SOUTH KOREA

No matter how many times you visit South Korea, it remains a great destination where you can create great memories. This time around, I visited South Korea with my officemates and I really enjoyed going around the major tourist destinations, I missed during my solo adventure, two years before.

We went to Suwon Fortress, and to the Woongjin Playdoci Snow complex. There, my childhood memories came back to me as I frolicked in the snow. One thing I like about traveling is that it gives you the chance to fulfill your childhood dreams. I also tried the wicked roller coaster in Everland, which literally shook my world. I went bargain hunting in Insadong and Myeongdong. My latest visit to Seoul also allowed me to to try another first. My couchsurfing host toured me around the city on a high-speed motorcyle ride, It totally rocked.

Locks at the Namsan Tower
Suwon Fortress
Everland
Woongjin SNowdoci
Myeongdong

SPAIN

I never expected it to happen this year. That is why my first visit to Spain and to Europe was such a blessing I continue to be thankful for. Thanks to a company project, I was able to fly to the gorgeous cities of Madrid and Seville.

They say that Europe is an enchanting place and my first few glimpses of Europe was totally that. Spain was totally magical. The archictecture, the transport system, the churches and the people just made me fall in love with the place.

I visited Plaza de Espana, Real Alcazar, Seville Cathedral, Calle Sierpes, Triana, Metropol Parasol, Alameda de Hercules, and the Guadalquivir river. In Madrid, I was mezmerized by the Gran Via, Plaza de Cibeles, Plaza Mayor and the Royal Palace. It was the longest time I spent away from home and it was then the best two weeks of my life.

Plaza de Espana in Seville
Metropol Parasol
Alameda de Hercules
Guadalquivir River
Gran Via

THE NETHERLANDS

Thanks to very cheap flights courtesy of Iberia, I flew to Amsterdam for a hell of a 12-hour visit starting at a late night tour of the city’s Red Light District. I spent a whole evening roaming around the busy streets of Amsterdam, all the while, familiarizing myself with the smell of cannabis. I was totally shocked with the city’s windown prostitutes, but I fell I quickly fell in love with the city’s relaxed atmosphere.

The cool kids of Amsterdam also left a good impression on me. In the morning, I tried to take part in Amsterdam’s time-honored tradition of biking but realized all too soon that it wasn’t meant for me, hahaha. I spent my last few hours in Amsterdam going on a love cruise around the city’s many canals and bridges. Though short, it was definitely an experience and I promise to come back for more adventures.

Amsterdam Centraal Station

Canal Cruise
Cannabis store

AUSTRALIA

I decided to spend my Holiday vacation in Australia and indeed, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my entire life. I had the best Christmas and New year experience in Sydney, meeting and partying with people from virtually all parts of the globe.

The new year celebration alone, which lasted from early morning to midnight, and then daw the following day was enough reason for anyone to come visit. Of course, I tried to create as much memories as possible during my trip so I went around Sydney’s many beaches such as Coogee, Manly, and Bondi.

I hiked through the Blue Mountains and shopped at the city’s Market St.  I spent many hours relaxing and thinking about life in the city’s many gorgeous parks such as Hyde, Elizabeth and Belmont. The decision to come check out the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and Royal Botanical Garden was made later duringt he trip.

As if those trips weren’t enough, I extended my Australia trip to the better part of January 2015, starting my new year on a perfect note. After two weeks in Sydney, I took a 12-hour Greyhound bus to the city of Melbourne and met with a high school friend. Of course, I enjoyed the city’s trams, marina and parks too.

Without a doubt, 2014 has been a banner year for me and if the previous year is any indication of what is to come this year, I can hardly wait.

The Three Sisters
Harbour Bridge
Queen Victoria Building
Luna Park
Bondi Beach
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Manly Wharf

My First International CouchSurfing Experience

South Korea

I first heard the term couch surfing from a fellow backpacker in Khao San Road.

Couch Surfing, he said, is a community of global travelers who want to make the world smaller and make it a virtual playground for travelers who are interested in getting to know and sharing the cultures of other people.

And it is also God’s gift to travelers who want to stretch their budget.

By staying in someone’s house or couch for free, it dramatically cuts down your travel expenses as hotel bills usually account for almost half of one’s total travel budget.

I was so amazed by this community that I immediately signed up after coming back to Manila. But I didn’t get active right away. My account remained dormant for several months until I started joining local events in my area.

Then I realized that while Couch Surfing indeed has lots of traveler members, the number of members actively surfing or hosting is not necessarily huge.

There were lots of concern on security especially when traveling or surfing abroad. Out of the tens of people I’ve met from CS, only less than three people have actually surfed during their foreign trips and even they were cautious, because they’ve had neutral or bad experiences.

The risks are just too high to ignore, they said.

As I’ve shared in my previous post, I have become somewhat active in the community. I met fellow surfers for coffee, surfed locally and I’ve attended local parties and events but I never had the courage and guts to actually surf in someone’s house in a completely foreign territory.

But the opportunity to finally do it presented itself when my vacation leave was approved and I decided to visit Seoul, South Korea for the first time.

The technique to actually secure a host is to make multiple requests in the right amount of time. Two month’s notice is just too far ahead, and your requests will likely be ignored. Make your requests too short notice and you will secure none, unless it is an emergency request.

I made requests to about 30 people 2-3 weeks before my actual trip and two days after, I already got two declines, three maybes and a yes. To be sure, I still waited for other offers before I finalized who I will stay with.

Ultimately, I decided to stay with a Guamanian-Irish American English teacher who lives in Omokgyo, south of Seoul.

He welcomed me at the train station very early morning and was kind enough to carry my heavy luggage, seeing that I was stressed by the rather long travel from the airport to the city proper.

Too excited, I decided to explore the city right away but of course, I didn’t know the directions. My host has work during the weekdays so it was hard for him to actually tour me around but he did give me a short tour of the community and gave me his Seoul Metro pass which allowed me to roam around the city using the subway system.

At night time, after my sightseeing and his teaching job, we would talk about Korean culture, parties and girls in the warmth of his studio apartment.

He let me sleep on the wooden floor (I knew this beforehand), while he slept on the bed. He offered me mattresses and cushions though.

He didn’t ask me to pay or buy anything. Instead he offered me all the contents of his ref and even allowed me to cook whenever I want.

This is where most hosts-surfers relationships falter.

While most hosts would be too shy to ask their surfers to contribute, I believe that surfers should contribute at the very least. I treated my host to a lunch and a dinner and I re-filled the contents of his ref right before I left.

downtown Gangnam in Seoul

But the most amazing thing about my host is that he gave me a spare key allowing me to come in and out whenever I feel like, giving me total control of my itinerary and routine.

I asked him why he was so trusting, knowing that such thing doesn’t happen in most hosting experiences.

He shared that in order to select great and amazing surfers, a host must choose someone whose interest and academic achievemenst are close enough to his. He also selects people who, despite being foreign, can communicate well in a common language.

One important thing to also consider is whether the prospective surfer is actually someone who can pay for his usual hotel expenses but decided to try couchsurfing instead.

This, he said, actually eliminates the possibility of choosing freeloaders who just want to get everything for free.

In the world of couch surfing, one must realize that while the people open up their homes for free, surfers should have the decency to actually make the relationship a two-way traffic. This paves the way for an amazing couch surfing experience.

My first trip to Seoul was a blast and this was largely attributed to my fantastic host who really went out of his way to make me feel welcome, and to make my stay in the city quite memorable.

Now, I am prepared to make new surfing experiences around the globe.

Note: In the interest of privacy and security (I don’t want anyone abusing the kindness of my host), I am withholding his name and photo. i hope you guys understand.

6 Awesome Tourist Spots in Seoul, South Korea

Asia, South Korea

More than a week ago, I was just another traveler dreaming of roaming the bustling streets of Seoul, one of the major mega cities in Asia.

I have been enchanted by the Korean culture thanks to the countless dramas being shown on Philippine TV today. These dramas show the very best of South Korea: the culture, the fashion and its people and they certainly have their own charm.

 And just like any other traveler, I was wondering which places to visit in Seoul. I checked online which places are best for someone like me, but the choices are just too overwhelming,

I just decided to come up with an itinerary when I land.

No thanks to the complicated but very efficient subway system, I was able to explore Seoul from almost end to end without getting lost, and instead discovering interesting places along the way.

Gyeongbokgung Palace

Changing of the guards ceremony

This is one of the major palaces and architectural wonders in Seoul. But the complex is too large for one to roam around in just one day so I decided to just check out the biggest and most popular gate. As it turned out, the main gate is located near Gwanghwamun.

Just outside the subway station, you will marvel at the statue of King Sejong, one of the most important leaders in South Korean history. Just walk past a garden surrounded by Ionic columns, cross the main street and you will be facing the facade of the main gate.

This is a great place to visit since it offers free entertainment in the form of the hourly changing of the guards. I was lucky enough to catch it and it’s really something.

Cheonggyecheon Stream 

 
A definite favorite among locals, this 8.4 kilometer wonder starts at Gwanghwamun and ends at Jongno area. Since its opening in 2005, it has been a major tourism attraction in Seoul. Exhibits, parades and expositions are always held along the banks of the stream so there is always something to do in this area.

The coffee shops and Western restaurants along the major roads parallel to the stream are also a big draw for local and foreign visitors alike.

Locals weary from their daily grind seek refuge along the banks of this multi-million architectural wonder. While during the night, thanks to the mostly cool weather in Seoul, the banks of the Cheonggyecheon stream become a haven for lovers walking hand in hand or for families taking a stroll.

To get there, take the subway line number 5 and get off at Gwanghwamun station. Take the exit number 5 for a direct exit to the stream.

Insadong

If you’re after some pasalubong or souvenirs, then, Insadong is definitely the place to be.

Here, you can find antique items, as well as traditional Korean masks and clothes. There are also several western cosmetic shops catering to the foreign crowd.

You can reach Insadong by taking the 1, 3, or 5 lines of the subway and get off at Jongro station.

The complicated Seoul subway system

The entire stretch of Insadong is lined up with antique stores, restaurants, food stalls and stores selling all kinds of mementos from Seoul. I found it interesting as well that even locals, probably the provinces frequent this area to buy souvenirs for their loved ones.

Itaewon 

This place is commonly regarded by locals as a dump for foreigners, primarily aging servicemen from the nearby American base. But Itaewon definitely has it own charms. The street is filled with Western restaurants ranging from KFC to Burger King. Stores selling bigger-sized shirts are aplenty as well.

One of the main reasons why foreigners frequent Itaewon is the availability of Western Bars in the area.

One place I was able to visit was Dillingers and seven pm on a Monday, it was packed by tourists coming from virtually all continents of the world.

Interestingly, it is also considered as the sex and gay spots in Seoul. There is a place called Hooker Hill in Itaewon, as well as a Homo Hill.

I’m not exactly sure how these names came about but trust me when I say that you don’t wanna get caught hanging around in those areas especially as South Korea is very conservative when it comes to sexuality.

Namdaemun Market

Namdaemun Market
A vendor preparing fish sticks

If you have a relatively small budget and you’re after your money’s worth, then Namdaemun Market is for you. The place is virtually a pirate haven as every stall sells counterfeit items ranging from your fake Prada bags to your fake Nike shoes.

But what’s interesting in this market is the abundance of winter clothes (fur ones included) at amazingly cheap rates.

The food stalls selling octopus, fish sticks, Korean barbecue and jeongul are also a must try.

a view from the N Seoul Tower

To get to Namdaemun market, take the subway line 4 and get off at Hoehyeon.

N Seoul Tower

Whoever your are, no matter where you come from, chances are you are likely to visit the N Seoul Tower.

This structure, the tallest in all of Seoul, gives you a bird’s eye view of the entire city.

This place is also popular because of the cable car at the top of the tower. Roaming around the tower is free but getting inside and using the cable car are not.

It is also interesting to visit the surrounding Namsan (south mountain) Park. Most people go directly to the tower but I found hiking into the mountain quite relaxing.

If you’re lucky, you will be able to watch free martial arts or musical exhibition right at the base of the tower. This is one of the free sights you can enjoy in Seoul.

To get to the N Seoul Tower, tale the subway line 3 or 4, and get off at Chungmuro area. From the exit, you can take a Namsan tour bus (bus number 2).

Awesome Dinner at Todai Seafood Buffet in Myeongdong, Seoul

Asia, buffet, Food and Dining, seoul, South Korea, Weekend Food Trips

Whenever you’re in Seoul, you can’t help but indulge in the various delicacies, and food specialties the city has to offer.

Being a mega city, there are thousands of restaurants available to cater to your gustatory cravings.

Iin the heart of Myeongdong, one of the best shopping districts in the city, lies Todai buffet restaurant.

Located at the 7th Floor of the Noon Square building in the shopping district of Myeongdong, Todai is one of the best restaurants I have ever visited in Seoul.

The place serves awesome sushi that I couldn’t help but eat a lot of sashimi and maki.

I dove into their baked shrimps and steamed seabass.

I think also had two cups of their crabmeat soup.

At the start of our trip, our guide introduced Todai primarily as a seafood buffet restaurant but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that you can also have pastries, beef and pork in the fancy restaurant.

Their steak area is not the biggest, but it does the job. I had 4 medium rare steak strips and I was in food heaven.

The buffet includes unlimited beverage and you have the choice between soda, juices and beer.

The ambiance is quite cozy and the place is perfect for friends, families and people on tour groups.

And as mentioned, it is located in Myeongdong so after a whole day of shopping, you can just relax and partake in the feast Todai has to offer.

Our tour group visited a lot of spots during the day and we spent several hours shopping around in Myeongdong, so you can imagine our appetite.

Todai is a chain of restaurants that’s available in Korea, China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Canada. In the US, it has 20 branches including those in Hawaii, Nevada, Texas and Washington.

With excellent service and food, I wouldn’t be surprised if this buffet chain grows even further.

And with a reasonable price (it costs 38,000 or USD 38 won for a weekend dinner), customers will continue this awesome restaurant.

Hotel Review: A Not So Pleasant Stay At Ibis Ambassador Hotel in Insadong, Seoul

Asia, South Korea

Where you stay plays a big part of your travel. It’s no wonder then that everyone of us , when booking our grand vacation, chooses the best hotels, or the most value for money accommodation.

During our corporate outing in Seoul, we stayed at the Ibis Ambassador Insadong in Seoul, and it was a bit problematic, leading to a not so satisfactory corporate outing.

To be fair, Ibis Ambassador Hotel is a pretty hotel.

The lobby was elegant and the hotel itself has a very welcoming vibe.

All rooms were new, the beds were soft and the sheets were clean.

The bathrooms were really small, but I can live with that given the fact that most hotels in South Korea and Japan are small. It was no biggie.

The food was satisfactory (limited selection but they taste good).

The wi-fi signal is strong and the rates were justified.

Ibis Ambassadr Hotel also boasts of a very central location in Seoul. It is situated at the very heart of Insadong, a known shopping district of art supplies, antiques and cosmetics.

You can go out of the lobby and walk for about five minutes and you will stumble upon Insadong 6.

The staff were very accommodating and went to great lengths to assist our group. They also have a direct shuttle to and from the Incheon Airport.

Our main beef with this hotel, was its problematic airconditioning system which troubled our 4-day stay.

Our Seoul trip was held during the summer season and naturally, we Filipino guests, wanted our rooms to be cool when we want to rest or sleep.

It just so happpened however, that during our stay, Ibis Ambassador Hotel was saving on power or was limiting the electricity load, thus putting the ceiling on the room temperature.

The rooms were so warm and we could barely sleep.

The morning after our first night, everyone was complaining and we were ready to move to a different hotel.

The manager of the hotel apologized and told us what was happening. Unfortunately, the rooms were fully paid and we could not get a refund from the travel operator so we stayed in this hotel.

If the hotel fixes this problem soon, of if they managed to fix it already, then Ibis Ambassador Hotel would be a better hotel.

If you were to ask me though, I will never stay again in this hotel.