Last year’s autumn, I planned on visiting both Haeinsa Temple and Hapcheon Image Theme Park in Hapcheon, but I ended up with only the Image Theme Park because of lack of time since I only had the whole day in Hapcheon. The Image Theme is huge and there are a lot of interesting places that’s why it took me almost the whole day to explore it. Hapcheon is not a big city, it’s a countryside in Gyeongsangnam-do so transportation is limited. I had to catch the last bus at 7pm going back to Changwon. I promised myself that I will go to Haeinsa on my next Korea trip and it happened.
This year’s spring, special thanks to our Korean friend who drove us from Changwon to Haeinsa, I finally fulfilled my promised. After a 1.5 hour trip, we arrived in Hapcheon. The way to Haeinsa was so peaceful as it is in the middle of a mountain. Haeinsa houses the Tripitaka Koreana, a collection of Buddhists texts engraved in over 80,000 woodblocks. According to a friend, many people believed that the Tripitaka Koreana protected them from the Japanese.
The Haeinsa Temple Janggyeong Panjeon, the Depositories for the Tripitaka Koreana Woodblocks is recognized as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site.
Before reaching the main temple we passed by this site which at first I honestly had no idea what it is about until our friend explained its story. That’s the good thing about travelling with someone who’s familiar about the place. hehe.
I was stunned by the dandelions. I don’t why, but it always cheers me up every time I see dandelions.
This the main entrance of Haeinsa. There are colorful lanterns in the temple since it was the during the month of May, the time when they celebrate Buddha’s birthday. Most temples in Korea are decorated by beautiful colorful lanterns usually every April to May for Buddha’s birthday.
Now we’ve reached the main temple. This is Haeinsa Temple. I have been to several temples in Korea but Haeinsa really captivates me. It’s too peaceful and the people who are visiting are devotedly praying.
The collection of the woodblocks or the Tripitaka Koreana is located at the back of the main temple.
Apparently, these woodblocks are precious cultural assets so they are stored inside and I didn’t get to see them up close.
This picture looks so real that you will really look like you are inside and touching the woodblocks.
Of course it’s spring and I spotted beautifully bloomed flowers in the temple. They add more color and appeal to the place.
Haeinsa is located in the southwestern part of Gaya mountain. We followed this path to witness breathtaking scenery and fantastic landscape around the vicinity. It’s more than what I expected.
A lady, who I bumped into and was staying in this place, told me to go up higher ‘coz the view is more beautiful so I did. Well, she’s right. It’s simply mesmerizing. No one is around but me.
We also passed by other places in Gaya mountain. My visit to Haeinsa and Gaya mountain was so worth the long walk. Haeinsa is one of the three jewels temples in Korea and they offer temple stay program. Something you might be interested about, check it out. It’s really an amazing place.
In 2017, Seoul introduced new public spots such as Seoullo 7017, Gyeongchun Forest Line, Seoul Battleship Park and the Oil Tank Culture Park which are part of the regeneration projects of the Seoul Metropolitan Government. It’s really amazing how these facilities were transformed into an environment-friendly sites instead of just knocking them down.
The Oil Tank Culture Park is within 500m distance from the Seoul World Cup Stadium. I got interested about this park because of the Korean Drama Hwayugi so I added it to my itinerary when I came back to Korea last spring. Getting there is easy. You can take the subway and get off at World Cup Stadium Station Line 6 and come out at Exit 2. You will immediately see the World Cup Stadium upon exiting. I was curious about how the stadium looks like and why people are coming in, I entered the main door and just saw the IMAX theater. I didn’t go in further. There was also a shopping area outside the stadium.
The park is connected to the walking path along Maebongsan Mountain. Follow the path and you’ll see signs which will lead you to the culture park.
There are 6 tanks and the first tank I explored was T5 which is tagged as ‘Story Hall’. It was a good idea to see T5 first because it has the history of the culture park. The Mapo Oil Depot has been built to supply oil for future oil crisis and been restricted to public access for decades. It was shut down in the year 2000 when they started the construction of the stadium for the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Later on, the existing tanks has been transformed into cultural facilities such as exhibit hall and performance hall. It was then opened to public in September 2017 as Oil Tank Culture Park.
T2 has an open amphitheater for performances. The Glass Pavilion also known as the shooting location of the popular Korea Drama Hwayugi is located in T1. It appeared several times in the drama.
The T6 is a community center. It’s quite spacious. It’s has a cafe and a meeting or lecture hall.
After visiting this park, I realized that it’s not just because of Korean drama, but learning about the history of this culture park makes it an interesting place and I must say it’s one of the new must-visit places in Seoul for a unique experience.
Are you excited for your trip to South Korea but you don’t know what to do or where to go? Is it your first time traveling to Korea? If yes, read up and keep these things in mind.
1. Wear Comfortable Shoes
They say Koreans travel by BMW (bus, metro and walking). Wear your most comfortable shoes because will definitely do a lot of walking while in Korea.
2. Dress Appropriately
Korea has four seasons. Before traveling to the country, do some research on the weather. It’s freezing during winter season from December to February so make sure to wear something that will keep you warm. It is still cold in early spring, from March to early April. The weather becomes warm from mid April. Summer is from June to August. Summer in Korea can be really hot and it usually rains a lot. Autumn is from September to November. It becomes really cold from late October.
One more thing, girls can wear mini skirts or shorts but please avoid wearing revealing tops.
3. Download the Subway Korea app
The Subway Korea app is an offline app where you can find everything you need in taking the subway. You don’t need to connect to a wifi for it to work accurately. There are a lot of trains in Korea and the transfers can be confusing if you are not to used to their system. So get this app and don’t get lost.
4. Use T-Money Card
T-money is a transportation card which you can use in the subway, bus and some taxis. The train will be your main transportation while in Seoul since most tourist attractions can be reached by train. You can save ₩100 each ride by using T-money than purchasing single journey tickets. You can purchase the T-money card and charge it at any convenience store or subway vending machines.
5. Avoid traveling from midnight to early morning.
Subways are closed at 12 midnight. If you missed the last train and you don’t know which bus you have to take, you’ll probably be looking for a taxi. But taxi fare from 12mn to 4am is relatively high compared to regular rates. In my experience, when we went to Jinhae, we came back to Seoul at past 12midnight so we had to take a taxi to go back to the guest house and it charged us at around ₩26,000 for a 5-minute ride.
6. Tax-free for Foreigners
Foreigners can shop tax-free for a minimum purchase of ₩30,000. There are shops where you can get instant refunds. Some shops will require you to present your passport while others do not. In case you didn’t get instant refund, you can get the refund at Incheon International Airport before departure. Just look for the Tax Refund Counter at the airport and make sure you have the receipts with you.
Just recently, the Korea Tourism Organization announced that foreign tourists are eligible for a 10% tax refund on hotel accommodations. Click on the link for more details and for the list of the hotels.
7. Souvenir Shopping in Insadong
I prefer buying souvenirs in Insadong because it cheaper. Also, if you pay in cash you can get discounts and freebies.
8. Rent a Hanbok
To complete your Korea trip, it’ll be nice to experience to wear their traditional dress, Hanbok. For me, the best souvenir I can have for every Korea trip is a stunning photo wearing a Hanbok in a palace. I like wearing Hanbok because it’s comfortable to wear and it’s colorful.
Did you know that you can enter all 5 palaces, National Folk Museum and Jongmyo Shrine for free if you are wearing a Hanbok? There are Hanbok rentals shops around Insadong and places near the Gyeongbukgung. Rental fees start at ₩14,000 for 4hrs.
9. Eating in Restaurants
In Seoul, you’ll find restaurants in every corner. Most staff in restaurants cannot understand English but they usually have English menus. Take note, some menus require a minimum of 2 portions of order. So don’t get confused when they tell you that you cannot order 1.
When you are done eating, you don’t have to ask the staff for the bill like what we do in the Philippines. You pay on your way out. You should stand up and go to the counter to pay and then you can leave. The counter is usually located near the door.
10. No Tipping
You don’t have to give tips to restaurants, hotels or taxi drivers for their service. South Korea has a no-tipping culture. Koreans are nice and helpful. If someone helps you to carry your luggage or even if someone’s gone out of their way just to help you, you can just sincerely thank them. You don’t need to give tips because they will refuse to accept it or they might feel offended.
But there are also situations where you have to give tips, like if you join group or package tours. Most of the times, you have to give tips to tour guides and drivers.
There are discounts especially for foreigners. You can get discounts coupons when you arrive at the airport or you can get them online.
12. Do not put your powerbank or batteries inside your check-in luggage
This is just a reminder for a hassle-free travel. They scan luggages after check in, so wait until you are cleared to depart Korea. If they cannot reach you, they will open your luggage to remove your powerbank.
13. Respect the Culture and Tradition of the Country
It is a must when traveling to foreign countries. Every country has their own culture and tradition. And you cannot expect the locals to adjust according your needs and wants.
Is it safe to Travel to Korea?
Definitely Yes! I’ve traveled to Korea several times and I’ve never experienced being treated bad or being scammed. You can even leave your stuff in your table at coffee shops or at train/bus stations unattended. No one will be interested.
If you still don’t know where to go, here are the usual places that tourists visit when in Seoul.
Getting there: Gyeongbokgung Station, Exit 5 or Anguk Station and Exit 1.
Changdeokgung Palace and Huwon
Getting there: Anguk Station, Exit 3. Walk straight from the exit (towards east) for about 5-min.
N Seoul Tower
Getting there: Take the Namsan Circular Shuttle Bus or Cable Car
Namsan Circular Shuttle Bus
1. Namsan Circular Shuttle Bus No. 02
– Take the bus from the closest subway station: Chungmuro Station (Seoul Subway Line 3, 4), Exit 2 (in front of Daehan Cinema) or Dongguk University Station (Seoul Subway Line 3), Exit 6.
2. Namsan Circular Shuttle Bus No. 03
– Take the bus from the closest subway station: Seoul Station (Seoul Subway Line 1, 4), Exit 9, Itaewon Station (Seoul Subway Line 6), Exit 4 or Hangangjin Station (Seoul Subway Line 6), Exit 2.
3. Namsan Circular Shuttle Bus No. 05
– Take the bus from the closest subway station: Myeong-dong Station (Seoul Subway Line 4), Exit 3 or Chungmuro Station (Seoul Subway Line 3), Exit 2 (in front of Daehan Cinema).
Get off at Myeong-dong Station (Seoul Subway Line 4) and Exit 3.
Walk for about 15 minutes following the street on the right side of the Pacific Hotel. The cable car boarding place will be seen ahead.
Hey green tea lovers! I’ve got something for you. Have you heard about the Green Tea field in Boseong-gun? It has always been on my travel bucket list and I finally got to visit during my recent trip to Korea. I know not everyone likes green tea but I’m pretty sure whether you like or not, you’re gonna fall for this place. In Korea it’s called 녹차밭 (Nok Cha Pat). The name of the green tea field is Daehan Dawon. As far as I know it’s the only tourist tea plantation in the country.
I’ve been to several places in Korea and I must say this is one of my favorite.
In case you are interested to visit the place, here’s how I got there. Boseong is a county in Jeollanam-do. I came in from Gwangju. I purchased a intercity bus ticket bound for Boseong at U-Square Terminal. Travel time is 1.5 hrs. When you arrive at Boseong Bus Terminal, check the schedule of the buses posted in the wall. The schedules are all written in Korean though. The terminal is quite small and there are only few buses. The bus to the Daehan Dawon runs only every hour. You might want to check the schedule first to save your waiting time. Since it was my first time and I didn’t want to get lost, I asked all the drivers if it’s the bus going to 녹차밭. Most of them understand English. So don’t worry about communicating with them.
While walking towards the field, you’ll pass by these woods. So beautiful. It was a very nice day.
Entrance fee is 4,000 won.
Did you know that this field has been a shooting location for some Korean dramas and movies? They’ve labelled each area where the particular drama or movie has been filmed. The latest drama I’ve watched that’s been filmed here is The Legend of the Blue Sea starring Lee Min Ho and Jeon Ji Hyeon.
There’s the autumn foliage and some autumn flowers.
Follow this path to arrive at the observatory.
First you’ll see the view of Boseong and if you go up further, you’ll find a refreshing view of the ocean. Meaning you are already at the top of the mountain. Nice hike!
After the hike, try out the green tea ice cream and green tea tteokbokki. Yes, you read it right, it’s green tea tteokbokki. A must-try when in the green tea field.
Going back to the Boseong bus terminal is also easy. Just cross the tunnel and find the bus stop. The schedule is also posted in the bus stop. Remember to be mindful of the bus schedules as not so many buses run in Boseong.
We all know that Korea has four seasons and each season have their own charms. Autumn is definitely one of my many reasons to visit the country again. The yellow, red and orange fall foliage can be spotted everywhere. Nami Island is the most visited place outside Seoul especially for first time travelers to Korea. But have you also heard about the Ginkgo Tree Avenue in the city of Asan? If you try to look for the best places to visit in autumn, this place would always be on the list.
It’s a 2km ginkgo tree-lined road. During autumn, the ginkgo leaves turn into golden yellow color. I went to see the ginkgo avenue on the 4th of November and it was a little early as most leaves are still colored green. The view is still amazing though.
I didn’t expect to see a variety of beautiful flowers in full bloom beside the lake.
Say Hello to the Cosmos flowers 🙂
There were also chrysanthemum, sunflowers, silver grass and others.
It’s like autumn meets spring in Asan.
To go to the Gingko tree Avenue, via metro subway, get off at Onyang Ocheon Station (Line 1). Or via KTX, get off at Asan-Cheonan Station and transfer to Line 1 and get off at Onyang-Ocheon Station.
Upon exit, cross the road to find the bus stop and take bus #900 , #910 or #920. Or take a taxi, it will cost around ₩6,000.
If you miss the Ginkgo tree avenue this year, don’t worry, it’s never too early to plan for the next autumn. So, let’s start planning. 🙂
I was told before that there’s nothing much to see in Damyang so I skipped it last April during my spring trip. But then, I felt like my trip was not complete because I missed Damyang. Then I planned another trip to Korea, this time it’s autumn. One of the best seasons to visit Korea. I decided to stay in Gwangju, it’s the closest city to Damyang-gun. From Gwangju, it takes less than an hour to go to Damyang County.
On my way to Damyang, I only had 3 places in my mind. First is the Bamboo Forest and second is the Metasequioa-lined road. The 3rd one is the Geumseongsanseong Fortress, which is a bit far so I know I won’t make it there.
How to go to Bamboo Forest from Gwangju? Take Bus #311 in the bus stop in front of Gwangju U-square bus terminal. Tell the driver you are going to 죽녹원 (Juknokwon). Get off at Juknokwon bus stop. Travel time is about 45mins.
This is the kind of view you’ll see the moment you get off the bus.
Entrance fee is ₩3,000.
This is so relaxing. It was too quiet. There were only 2 or 3 people during that time because it was early.
The sound of the bamboo leaves as it dances with the wind made me want to fall asleep in this hammock.
The rear entrance of the Bamboo Forest looks like this in autumn.
While walking towards the Metasequioa tree-lined road we passed by another scenic spot, the Gwanbangjerim forest.
Finally, I’ve reached the famous Metasequioa tree lined road in Damyang. It’s also a filming location of some K-dramas.
Beside the Metasequioa trees, there’s the Kids Provence Metasequioa Land.
Make sure to try out these traditional meal while you are in Damyang. I always like Korean food and I enjoy them every time I visit, but this one is one of the best meal I ever had in Korea.
There is a Tourist information center near Juknokwon bus stop, which is on the opposite side of the Bamboo Forest. I was surprised when I got the tourist guide map that there are so many beautiful places to see in Damyang. Too bad I only allotted 1 day. Now there’s more reasons to come back.
Jeju Island is one of the most captivating places in Korea. It is well-known for its scenic volcanic landscapes as well as beautiful beaches. A famous holiday destinations for travelers and honeymooners.
Over the years, i thought traveling to Jeju would cost a fortune. But then I realized that you can travel to Jeju on a budget.
There are over 200 flights to Jeju in a day. Most airlines fly like every 15mins to every 30mins to and from Jeju. I booked online at Korean Air when had their promo. It was around P1,600 for one way ticket from Gimpo Aiport. I know it was expensive compared to other airlines. But it’s Korean Air anyway, so fair enough. There are also guesthouses, pensions and hostels if you don’t want to stay in expensive hotels and resorts.
The most convenient way to explore Jeju is to rent a taxi for a day. It will cost more than traveling by bus but it will save time and you can visit more places. Jeju Island is said to be 3 or 4 times the size of Seoul. So if you cannot visit all places in Seoul in one day, how much more in Jeju, right?
If you’re wondering where to go in Jeju, check these places I visited for 2 days.
1. Eco Land Theme Park
I think this is the only place where you can ride a train in Jeju. The train runs through Gotjawal forest. It will take around 1-2 hours to explore the place.
Admission Fee: ₩12,000
2. Jeju Stone Park
This is one of my favorite places in Jeju. Some people say ‘Those were just stones’. But for me they are more than stones. These stones came from Halla Mountain. In the museum, they play a 15-minute video about how Jeju Island was formed. It was an interesting story.
Admission Fee: ₩5,000
3. Jeju Mini Land
It’s like you’ve travelled around the world in Jeju. This park features miniature versions of all famous landmarks in the world.
Admission Fee: ₩9,000
4. Jusangjeolli Cliff
These are rock pillars formed from the lava of Halla Mountain
Admission Fee: ₩2,000
5. Jungmun Beach
This is one of the most famous beaches in Jeju. We just dropped by to take pictures.
6. Hello Kitty Island
There was a moment when I had to choose between the Teddy Bear Museum and Hello Kitty Island. I’m not a hello kitty fan but this one is on my bukcketlist.
Admission Fee: ₩12,000
7. Cafe Bomnal and Guesthouse
Calling all Korean Drama fans! This is the shooting location of Warm and Cozy. I’m glad I made it here. There’s also a coastal walk path nearby where you can feel the breeze and smell the ocean.
1. Udo Island
Udo Island is what I call An Island in an Island. You will need atleast 4 hours to visit Udo.
Ferry cost: ₩5,500 per head; ₩21,600 for the car
2. Seongsan Ilchulbong
A visit to Jeju will never be complete without visiting the UNESCO World Heritage site, Sunrise Peak or the Seongsan Ilchulbong.
Admission Fee: ₩2,000
Seopjikoji is also another filming location of Korean Dramas.
Admission Fee: Free
4. Gimnyeong Maze Park
There are 2 maze parks in Jeju. Gimnyeong Maze park is the smaller one. It took us about an hour to find the way out. I’m not good at this. I almost want to give up. It was a dream come true to be lost in a maze.
Admission Fee: ₩3,300
I’d recommend our driver, Mr. Koh if you want to visit these places. He speaks English well, you won’t have problem communicating with him. He’s nice, good driver/tour guide and good photographer as well.
When you are in Jeju, never ever forget to try their abalone. Abalone porridge and abalone stew are my favorite.
Another famous thing in Jeju is the ‘Haenyeo’. They are the lady divers who dive into the ocean to gather different kinds of seafoods. Some of them aged over 80 years old. They are often called the Korean Mermaids. They dive even on a freezing winter.
There are other places I want to see in Jeju. I will surely find time to visit these island again some other season.
You might want to include Jeju in your itinerary on your Korea trip. It’s a place worth visiting. Happy travels!
I haven’t been to a lot countries because I only have limited time to travel as of now and it comes with limited budget as I’m in the corporate world. But I’m fortunate to have been able to explore some places. Here are some photos of the countries I visited so far where you’ll find reasons why you need to visit them in your next trip.
My 2nd solo trip and my first for this year. I chose Myanmar because I find it very majestic even by just looking at the pictures and that I wanted to explore it myself.
I heard some people say that Myanmar is 40 years behind Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries. But I must say that Burmese people are the most friendly and most sincere people I ever met in Southeast Asia.
Before heading to Yangon, I had to stay in Malaysia for a 14-hr lay over. There’s no direct flights from Manila to Yangon by the way. I decided not to go to KL since I have been there twice. I stayed in Capsule by Container Hotel inside KLIA2 which i booked in Booking.com. It’s a pretty awesome experience to sleep in a container.
here’s my room
The price is I think reasonable since it just inside the airport. They offer free wifi around the facility.
My flight the next day is at 6:55AM and i arrived at Yangon International Airport at 8:00AM and immediately took a taxi going to Backpacker Bed & Breakfast. The hostel is a little difficult to find because it is located at the 2nd floor of a building. But thanks to the friendly taxi driver who helped me. The hostel’s location is perfect because it is in the downtown and very near Sule Pagoda and Bogyoke Market. Check in time is at 12noon so I’m very early that i decided to walk around the area first and tried some yummy street foods.
After check in, my first stop is Bogyoke Market which can be reached by foot.
Me and the friend I met, hired a taxi going to Chaukhtatgyi Buddha Temple and Botataung Pagoda and then back to Bogyoke for only 15,ooo kyats.
Chaukhtatgyi Buddha Temple
Entrance Fee: Donation only
Entrance Fee: 4,000 kyats
Make sure to bring with you a bag or a plastic bag to carry your shoes because you are not allowed to wear them in the pagodas.
After breakfast, i took the taxi to Shwedagon Pagoda, the biggest pagoda in Yangon and the highlight of my trip. It is probably one of the reasons why I was interested in Yangon. It was around 10am and was so hot but I didn’t mind because I was so amazed and I can’t believe that I am actually inside the Shwedagon.
The stairs to the pagoda. I entered the East Gate and i didn’t know that there was an elevator.
There are so many interesting spots inside Shwedagon. You might want to hire a tour guide to show you around plus they are also good in taking pictures.
Entrance Fee: 8,000 kyats
Taxi fare: 3,ooo kyats
It took me about 2 hours to explore the pagoda. After that, I walked towards the Kandawgyi Lake and from there I took a taxi going back to the hostel coz i needed to rest because of the very hot weather.
I can’t get enough of the Shwedagon and I decided to go back at night.
Shwedagon at night
Dinner at Feel Myanmar Restaurant
My last day in Yangon. I went out very early to roam around the city.
The Sule Pagoda
Yangon City Hall
My last stop is the National Museum of Myanmar. From there, i went straight to the airport to catch my evening flight.
Myanmar is now my 2nd favorite country in Asia. I want to go back to see Bagan and Mandalay next time.