Traveling to Korea :)

Discussion in 'Travel' started by barre05, Feb 7, 2010.

  1. barre05

    barre05 Well-Known Member

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    Hi folks.

    I'll be traveling to Korea (Seoul, specifically) this spring (April).

    Any tips on what to see, what to do, what to eat?

    Also, are there Apple Stores in Seoul?

    Thanks, guys!

    P.S.
    I found a thread on Korea (http://philmug.ph/forum/showthread.php?t=50144), but it's more about living there long term, hence the new thread.
     
  2. kentamayo

    kentamayo Active Member

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    HI Barre05 - 1st and more importantly, yes, there are Apple Stores there, I saw a big one in the Myeongdong District of Seoul. Korea in Spring is going to be very, very nice indeed, great weather and very warm people will really remind you of the Philippines. Namdaemun Market is also a good place to shop, there are a lot of nifty little shops on the strip. Also, there's a cool Tea Shop in the Antique district of Seoul, (forgot the name) :p
    Finally, you should try having dinner on top of Namsan Tower, there's a rotating skydeck restaurant that'll give you a 360 degree view of Seoul at night. I hope you enjoy your stay there! I wish I could really go back. :)

    I have a complete Gallery here: http://kentamayo.smugmug.com/Travel/Korea-an-E-P1-gallery/9318311_4TNEZ#622914409_7TtZY

    Page 1 is in Ulsan, Pages 2 and 3 are in Seoul

    Here are some photos of the places I was talking about:

    [​IMG]
    Frisbee Apple Store in Myeongdong

    [​IMG]
    Some shots of Myeongdong District

    [​IMG]
    The Tea shop I was talking about

    [​IMG]
    Namdaemun Market

    [​IMG]
    Namsan Tower

    [​IMG]Seoul Skyline
     
  3. barre05

    barre05 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, Ken. Just Barre. the '05' is just for the handle. :)

    Great shots. I'm assuming the last (cityscape) is from the tower?

    Thanks for the recommendations. I'm staying in the Myeongdong area, so it's good to hear that there are a lot of things to do there. :)
     
  4. kentamayo

    kentamayo Active Member

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    Haha No problem Barre, There are literally dozens of shops in Myeongdong, I think I counted 3 Premium Resellers there, prices however are close to our prices here. Oh also, there's an Onitsuka Tiger Shop in Myeongdong also, as well as a 4 story Starbucks. :)

    Yup the Skyline photo was taken from Namsan's Rotating resto. hard to get a good shot off since it creeps along at about 5 ft per minute :p
     
  5. loko__loko

    loko__loko Active Member

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    if you are into camera, i saw a strip of camera shops there... lots of leica, as in.

    if you are w/ kids, you can ride their train goin to lotte indoor theme park..

    must eat- ginseng chicken somewhere...

    im not good w/ names, ill look for those pic in the other computer

    re apple reseller, dont bother, items cheaper here
     
  6. barre05

    barre05 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the replies. Very much appreciated. :) Keep 'em coming. It's my first time to visit Seoul, outside of the stopover kind. Haha.
     
  7. penmanila

    penmanila The Pinoy Penman
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  8. barre05

    barre05 Well-Known Member

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  9. Cake

    Cake Member

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    Very practical tip: Never, EVER let them take you to a "sauna". Seriously.

    It's popular for professionals working in Seoul. I was brought to one right after arriving early morning at Incheon so that I could freshen up, they said. What I was expecting was something very different from what I got. @_@
     
  10. kentamayo

    kentamayo Active Member

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    Actually, Communal Baths aren't at all that bad, it's just, if it isn't your cup of tea, our host at least offered the option of both the communal bath or visit the world's largest department store... our party chose the latter :p
     
  11. Cake

    Cake Member

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    Actually, now that I look back to it, it's not that bad nga. I was just unprepared.

    Like, we went in, left our shoes in the shoe lockers by the reception area, and walked into the locker rooms. When we turned the corner (there were no doors!) I was greeted by naked Korean men in the locker room. Most were grooming their faces and fixing their hair on the mirror which is totally fine, except that they were butt naked! xD

    I was so shocked that I stood in front of my locker thinking how I was going to get out of it. And that's when my host appeared in his birthday suit asking me to come with him. Lol.

    Apart from that, the facilities were awesome. They had a hot tub, sauna, a small wading pool, and a barber shop right inside! I would've gotten a shave but I felt weird sitting on a barber's chair naked while getting a shave.
     
  12. NiX88

    NiX88 Active Member

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  13. wiretap_MD

    wiretap_MD Member

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    How long will you be staying in Korea? Will you be here with family?

    I've been based in Seoul since July 2009 for my fellowship training and so far it has been a good experience living in Seoul. I'll just share some basic stuff about life in Korea to help you get started since Ken and the others have shared already some of the scenic spots.

    First thing you need to do when you arrive is show yourself at the Seoul Immigration main office to register yourself as an alien, and get your ARC (Alien Registration Card). This will allow you to open up a bank account and be able to apply for utilities, such as a cellphone line (depending on your visa status). You can also apply here for a multiple re-entry visa in case you need to go in and out of the country.

    The cellular system here in Korea is different. There are only 2 major networks here: SK Telecom (SKT) and Korean Telecom (KT). Both operate only on the 3G frequency. Therefore if you plan to roam in Korea, make sure you bring a 3G capable cellphone. All cellphones issued by this 2 companies have their IMEIs whitelisted into the main database. What this means is that you can't just use their simcards (USIM) and put it into a cellphone that was not issued by them. Prepaid simcard kits do not exist here. So incase you have an iphone (or any cellphone for that matter) and you wish to use it here, you will only be able to use it either by:
    1. Roaming through your own home network - this is what I do.
    2. Register via the Korean testing certification agency (http://www.kes.co.kr/) and pay around $500. They will get your phone, test it and then return it to you after a week with a certificate. You can now bring this certificate to either a KT or SKT office and then they will whitelist your phone into the network IMEI database.

    By the way, the Iphone 3GS was just released about 3 months ago through KT SHOW. Koreans have gone crazy over it. In just a 2 month span, about 300,000 units have already been sold. More information can be found here: http://iphoneinkorea.com/

    Regarding your Apple stores inquiry, there is no official apple store here in Korea. There are only authorized distributors present that can also offer servicing if needed. The largest one, Frisbee, is located in Myeongdong shopping district. There is another one also, A-store, which is located at the COEX mall in Gangnam. Apple product prices here are no different from Manila, sometimes even higher. Charlie/Digital Hub still offer better prices.

    Getting around Seoul isn't much of a problem. Their rapid transit subway system here is one of the best and cleanest in the world (http://www.smrt.co.kr/Eng/index.jsp). In fact, Korea has even designed the subway systems of other countries. They have an online map system (http://www.smrt.co.kr/Train/Subwaymap/Eng/Subwaymap.jsp) where you enter your origin and destination routes, and then it gives you the quickest route, as well as fare information and transfer points. The bus system here is also good, but a bit confusing since there are several routes. There is also a corresponding bus online map.

    It is best to get yourself a T-money card (http://www.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/TR/TR_EN_5_4.jsp. You basically load it up at any subway station or 7-11/GS25 convenience store. You can then use this to ride either the bus, subway, or taxis by just swiping it at the terminals. Its nice because you don't have to carry that much cash, and the good thing is that you can get free transfers between bus-subway and vice versa. The T-money can be used also as a debit card in most business establishments.

    Seoul is a very safe city. Crime is almost non-existent, according to my Korean friends. You will never hear of any reports of muggings, rape, murder, etc. You can walk almost anywhere even in the dead of the night and feel very safe. In your stay here, the only unusual experiences you would ever see at night would be the numerous drunk Koreans walking around with partners in tow and laughing boisterously.

    April will be a perfect time for you to come because it won't be that cold anymore. Korea is notorious for its bitter winter. Our temps here are about 10-20F on the average during winter. Presently, its about 20-30F, going to the low teens at night. Koreans boast that they have 4 seasons. Summer season starts around July -September. It gets hot, but it isn't humid unlike our weather back home so you really don't sweat a lot. The rainy seasons also starts around August. Fall here is very beautiful though I never really got to go outdoors to enjoy it because I was so busy at that time last year in the hospital.

    Cake's post about the "sauna" here in Korea makes me recount also a funny experience I had before. It is true that the barber "poles" here do not mean a barber shop at all. Well, it is a barber shop, but the barber inside isn't really a legitimate shop. Think of it as a massage parlor with "extra services". I nearly made the mistake of going in the first time I needed a haircut. The only legitimate barbershops here are by the "BLUE CLUB". They have several branches throughout the city. Prices range from KW6000-8000.

    Speaking of the Korean currency, it is called the Korean Won. Their denominations are in 1k, 5k, 10k, 50k, and 100k. Prices here are by the thousands, so its pretty hard to be bringing lots of bills around. When you arrive, do not exchange your money at the airport because they have a very bad exchange rate there. Neither should you try to buy Korean Won in the Philippines because of the terrible rate. Instead, bring US Dollars, then exchange it at the Myeongdong money changers where they give good rates. Presently, the exchange rate for KW to Php is about KW10,000 = P390.

    If you need more information about Korea, try to read as much pinoy blogs about it. One of the more popular ones is http://www.buhaykorea.com/. From there, it has several links to the others so you can probably start from this site. These have helped me a lot.

    There is a large Filipino community in Korea, mostly OFWs, those married to Koreans, and those catering to the entertainment area. They usually converge at Hyehwa for the regular Sunday mass as well as to partake at the weekly Filipino market. You can try to search for the pics I posted about this in the "Foreign food" thread. For your spiritual needs if you are a Catholic, there is a Catholic mass every Sunday at 9:00am in the Myeongdong cathedral or at 9:30am at Yeoksam Church foreigner mass.

    Do post more of your questions and I'd be more than happy to share whatever I know. I'm sure you'll enjoy Korea as much as I did. Most especially if you dig Korean beauty, you'll definitely go crazy with all the eye-candy around you :D

    Oh, and if you plan to travel back and forth Incheon and Manila, take advantage of Cebu Pacific's Go Fare prices. I've travelled back and forth from Manila about 5 times already since July and have had good experience with Cebu Pacific so far (crossing fingers).
     
    #13 wiretap_MD, Feb 8, 2010
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2010
  14. barre05

    barre05 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks! I've also availed of CebuPac's promo fares, but I booked over a month ago.

    I'm traveling with the girlfriend, and we'll be there for 6 days.

    Regarding the weather, my sister also said that spring is a great time to visit there, which is good, considering I just came from Beijing's harsh winter.

    Great advice. I'll keep these things in mind when we get there.

    Thank you again. :)
     
  15. greta87

    greta87 PhilMUG Addict Member

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    I had a similar experience during my first visit and I was a bit surprised when my Korean hosts (all business execs) started taking everything off. & you will notice right away that it's no big deal for them, so I just pretended that it wasn't a big deal for me as well. unfortunately, I found the water too hot for comfort, I felt like I was being cooked.. alive. so I had to leave the pool & just waited for my hosts to finish what they were doing. they did say that the natural hot springs is really good for the skin.
     
  16. kalirayacs

    kalirayacs Active Member

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    guys whats the weather in korea on november? i will be going there with my siblings via the cebu pac promo.
     
  17. jagged

    jagged Member

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    Hello! I'm going to visit Korea next week for a few days but still undecided which area to stay.

    Can anyone recommend? Is it better to stay near the city center or do you suggest Gangnam instead? I'll be traveling with young kids this time.

    Thanks!
     
  18. Charlie

    Charlie Beyond The Box/DW/Digital Hub

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    I like Myung dong area better :) but you can't go wrong with Gangnam also
     
  19. penmanila

    penmanila The Pinoy Penman
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    jeju island is a pretty place to visit!
     
  20. wiretap_MD

    wiretap_MD Member

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    Weather presently is pretty good. High 60s to 70s.
     

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