Short Getaway: Seoul, January 2020

CGK to ICN.

The calculated distance between Jakarta and Seoul is approximately 3,292 Miles. About 7 hours and 20 minutes in flight duration time.

Honestly, first country I want to visit is not South Korea. Never though before I just spend 3 days in Seoul. But, the vibes for first overseas trip never be the same. I prepared everything well 2 months before d-day, new passport, waited a VISA about 3 weeks, city tour itinerary and winter outfit. Because I visited during winter season, outfit preparation is more complicated. Winter season is new experience for me as a Indonesian and honestly winter in korea is wayyy beyond my expectation. My nose and hands are all red and numb.

Night flight from Terminal 3-Soekarno Hatta International Airport around 11pm, and arrived in Incheon International Airport at 8 am, with immigration, baggage claims, custom, and clothes changing (minus gloves because stupidly I left it in suitcase) I was out of the terminal by 9 am. The first thing I did after leaving the plane was to sneeze! We took a taxi to drive us from airport to the downtown Seoul. It only took 40 minutes via highway. Seoul is the heartbeat of South Korea. On one hand, it is a high-tech metropolis with huge skyscrapers, world-class transport, and urban architecture. On the other, it is a historical city with sprawling palaces, Buddhist temples, and traditional markets.

“no snow for this winter. Usually it snows around 15-20 times during winter season, but climate change” said our taxi driver. Okay, no snow then, little bit disappointed but there was no way to go back. The temperature was below 5 degrees Celsius and all I could see was brown leaves-less trees.

Cheonggyecheon

Right after we checked in our hotel, we walked to The Cheonggye Stream. Luckily our hotel was in Junggu, located between Myeongdong, the business and shopping center of Seoul, and Cheonggyecheon, an oasis in the downtown area. The Cheonggye Stream runs east-west by the end of the Gwanghwamun Plaza and has an interesting history. It was originally built as a drainage system in the early Joseon dynasty in the heart of Seoul, but was covered up in the 60s. The plan to excavated in 2005 was initially unpopular, but now it’s a favourite spots for many people, flowing for 10.9km before joining Jungnangcheon.

Gyeongbokgung Palace

If you have to visit anywhere in Hanbok, Gyeongbokgung is a must. There was so many Hanbok rental we could choose right next to the palace. Gyeongbokgung means “Scenic Lucky Palace” and was built in the late 14th century during the start of the Joseon Dynasty. To get into the palace you have to buy a ticket for 3000 won, but because I visited when Chinese New Year, so it was freee.

There are a few entrance but it’s worth going to the front gate Gwanghwamun in the south. If you time it right, there’s 6 changing of guard ceremonies there every hour on the dot starting from 10am.

Namsan Tower

The official name for Namsan Tower is N Seoul Tower, an observation and communication tower that has become a landmark in Seoul. Located on the Namsan Mountain, it stands at 236m and is an excellent viewpoint in the heart of Seoul. It was built in 1971, with a cable car near Myeongdong as well as trails and bus links.

We had planned to go to the Namsan Tower. To reach the foot of Namsan Tower we thought I have two options; you could either hike the hill for at least 30-45 minutes or take the cable car up. Think taking the cable car was a good idea.

To take the cable car, you have to go to the cable car station which located behind the Myeongdong Station. Don’t be fooled tho. Cause it’s not exactly behind the Myeongdong Station. From the back of Myeongdong Station you still need to walk for about 15 minutes on a hilly road. The ticket to ride the cable car is 9,500 Won for a round trip and it takes about 10-15 minutes to reach the bottom of the tower.

Hangang River

“you know, Han in South Korea means The Greatest” said our taxi driver.

Next day, we went to south district by a taxi over the largest river bridge in Seoul, headed for Hangang Park.The Hangang River is the most important physical landmark in the city, dividing the north and south. Lined with parks and recreational facilities on both banks, it’s the perfect place to rent bikes, , enjoy bird-watching, or go on cruise up the river.

The popular Han River Cruise is operated by E-Land Cruise since 1986. It brings visitors cruising between east and west of Seoul at fairly affordable rates from 15,000 won (per adult) day cruise to 89,000 won dinner fireworks cruise. On the cruise, we could see the surrounding islands, Jeoldusan Park, the 63 City Building, N Seoul Tower, Jamsil’s Multi Sports Complex, and other famous tourist spots.

Myeongdong

The best place to go shopping in Seoul is arguably Myeongdong! Since it was cold, Myeongdong was actually a great place to be because so many shops I could use as a shelter from the cold all the while browsing the skincare products and cute items sold there. You can find all the popular Korean cosmetic brands in Myeongdong, from Innisfree and Etude House to Tony Moly and MISSHA. Look out for the 1+1 (buy one get one free) offers, and don’t be shy to go around collecting free samples! And we found Korean Halal Food named Busan Jib.

So many coffee shops in Seoul. You could find Starbucks every 100 meters you walk.

Enjoy more photos.

Will be back in another season, Seoul.

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