Next destination after Japan was South Korea. Another week and a one day. I have been to South Korea before, but that time had no chance to go anywhere but Seoul. This time the itinerary was wider — Seoul to start, then Seoraksan National ParkNaksan-sa Temple Stay and then 2.5 days at Jeju Island. As usual you will find detailed itinerary below.

There are not many photos of Seoul this time, since I’ve been there before… For this time I prepared an experience of staying in a typical old hanok guest house, the one in Bukchon Hanok Village. This location is pretty good for one, maximum two days. It is just near to the most of typical Seoul attractions like all palaces, temples, shrines, etc. For the rest of the time I preferred moving to Hongdae University Area, because of plenty food options, nice bars and shops and good public transport connectivity.

Another interesting activity for the first day in Seoul was Changdeokgung Moonlight Tour. This is a night tour around Changdeokgung Palace. Being in this and rest of the palaces during my previous visit I must say that one night tour is better than all the rest. If you have chance to go to this tour, better go and skip the rest of the places. They are pretty similar and soooo much overcrowded during the day.

For the next day in Seoul we’ve arranged two more activities. The first one, cooking class is something I tried before in other countries. What is good about cooking classes is that it is a chance to try very good quality local food for a reasonable amount of money. Obviously if you do not enjoy cooking better go to some local cafe. But if you passionate about cooking or at least you consider enjoying it, this is a good experience to try. The cooking class we went to was Ongo Food. There are different programs available depending on your skills and day of the week. We were cooking cabbage kimchi and bulgogi. I have to admit that class was very interesting and professional. The school itself has good facilities and doing professional classes as well. Very recommended.

Another activity for the second day was photo session in hanbocks. There are numerous places offering hanbocks, some allow to rent them for a day, another allow you to take selfies, some offer professional photo services. In any case this is more of experience for local culture lovers ;)

Next two days of the trip were dedicated for visit to Seoraksan National Park and Temple Stay in Naksan-sa. There is gonna be separate post about the National Park. As for the temple stay, we got a e-mail the day before visit that there is going to be nobody speaking English during our visit, so we can just come for an overnight stay. While the experience costs about 150 USD for two persons we decided to cancel it and just return to Seoul.

Having additional day in Seoul we decided to go to a traditional Korea Sauna — Siloam. I’ve been there during my previous trip and very much liked. Korean saunas are very much different from what I’ve seen before. It starts with an entrance where you pay the fee and get a key for the shoe locker and kind of pajama. Right after cash desk there are two separate entrances — for men and women. There you can take off you shoes and get another key, for your main locker. After you undress you can go to the main bathing facilities. A typical place has number of showers, water massage cabins, high temperature sauna, mild temperature sauna, a few pools with different temperature water.

After visiting main bath facilities and taking a shower you can return to your locker, get wear the pajama and then go to the upper floors. At the upper floors entrance there are no more separation for men and women. So if you came with you girl- or boyfriend you can meet here. Upper floors typically have a restaurant, sleeping rooms and different thermal rooms — high temperature room, some salt caves, oxygen-rich room, etc. While the entrance to the sauna is around 8-10 USD and not limited time-wise there is a joke that sauna is the cheapest way to stay overnight in Korea ;)

Finally after this we went to airport for our flight to Jeju Island. But there is another post coming about it ;)

ITINERARY

... — Seoul

Arrival to Seoul, my flight was from Osaka, but there are many other options

Bukchon Hanok Village

Our first night was in one of historical buildings of this district, do we anyway had to come here for check-in

Insadong

Just stroll around, have some food and souvenirs

Namsangol Hanok Village

Another hanok village, this one is more like a museum, while still might be interesting

Namsan Tower

Good place to watch sunset, not far from the hanok village

Changdeokgung Moonlight Tour

Night tour to one of the Seoul palaces; held during full moon

Hanok Guesthouse 202

201 Gahoe-dong, Jongno-gu [60 USD / night / 2 persons]

Cooking Class

Kimchi and Bulgogi cooking class; excellent experience [http://ongofood.com/]

Hanbock Photoset

For those who want to get nice photos with local flavour ;)

Dong Seoul Terminal - Sokcho City

Get a bus to Sokcho city, near to Seoraksan

Bus 7 or 7-1 to block C

Local bus that goes to the park entrance; stop will depend on hotel's location

Goodstay Smile Resort

246-82, Seorak-dong Seoraksan Sokcho-si [31 USD / night / 2 persons]

Gwongeumseong Peak

Take a cable car to go to the top, better to go as early as possible, too many people arrive later during th day

Biryeong Falls

Nice and relaxed walk to one the falls within the park

Lunch

There are many places to eat not far from the entrance to the park; kind of fast food restraurant within the cable car station is tasty and cheaper than other options

Climb to Huiungak Shelter

Almost flat for the first 40 minutes; gentle climb for next 2 hours till Yangpok shelter and pretty steep climb to the Huiungak Shelter for the final hour

Huiungak Shelter

Should be reserved in advance, pretty complicated reservation for foreigners; +82-33-636-7700 [7 USD / night / 1 person]

Gongryong Ridge to Biseondae

About 7-8 hours in total to climb the ridge; basic climbing experience required

Biseondae to Park Entrance

Allow another 1-1.3h for return back to the entrance and some rest

Bus to Naksansa Temple

Take 7 or 7-1 back to Seorak Sunrise Park; change to 9 or 9-1 to Naksan-sa

Naksansa Temple

Explore the temple and small town nearby, gives kind of feeling of local life

Naksansa Temple - Sokcho-si

Take 9 or 9-1 back to Sokcho-si

Sokcho-si - Dong Seoul Terminal

Take express bus back to Seoul

Twin Rabbit Guesthouse

567-37 Yeonnam-dong, Mapo-gu [55 USD / night / 2 persons]

Silloam Sauna

Traditional korean sauna is a great experience either you visiting alone or with friends, allow about 3h for a visit

Hongdae - Gimpo Airport

Take Airport Express to Gimpo airport, very convenient from Hongdae University station

Gimpo - Jeju

Flight from smaller Seoul airport to Jeju Island

Bus to Jeju City

Take buses 37, 200 or 500

Hotel Haru

260-10, Yeon-Dong Jeju City [68 USD / night / 2 persons]

Rent a Car

Many rentals available near to the airport, better reserve in advance

Jeju Loveland

Fun love museum, takes about 20-30 minutes to get there

Hiking to Halla Mountain

Hiking to the top and back takes about 6-8 hours

Drive to Jusangjeolli Cliffs

One of good sunset points on Jeju

Sunny Day Jeju

1931 Daepo-dong 697-831 Seogwipo [92 USD / night / 2 persons]

Drive to Seogwipo

Second big city on Jeju

Seogwipo 5-Day Market

Check the dates for market, might be a good place for breakfast

Waterfalls and Parks

Jeongbang Waterfall, Cheonjiyeon Waterfall

Seongeup Folklore Village

Not that much to see on Jeju, so just a folklore village

Anna106 Guesthouse

106, Sanseonghyoja-ro, Seongsan-eup [68 USD / night / 2 persons]

Seongsan Sunrise Peak

Check sunrise time, better to come a little bit earlier and to the south of the actual peak

Drive to Hallim Park
Hallim Park

Large botanical gardens, said to be nice place ;)

Jeju - Gimpo
Explore Hongdae

One of student districts of Seoul, lots of cafes, bars and shops

Hotel The Ore

162-7, Donggyo-ro, Mapo-gu [69 USD / night / 2 persons]