A bunch of questions came to my mind before my trip to Seoul, same ones might come to yours too. Lucky for you, this one is written at the end of my trip, stranded in Kuala Lumpur airport for 5 hours and posted days later (hopefully this time I will have more than 1 chapter posted on my trip).
1. Phone Card vs Rental Phone vs Roaming
Since I will be away for almost 2 weeks and I use a lot of Whatsapp and Line for communication with people back home, after some googling, I decided to get a Phone Card from this website : egsimcard. Although most places have wifi but having the phone card is definitely a good plus since there are also area with no wifi It costs only around 25,000 KRW or around 25 USD. You will get a 1 GB data. Although most places have wifi but having a phone card is definitely a good plus since there are also areas with no wifi. I do not have to worry about my phone bill after the trip also.
2. Choosing an area to stay
With 12 days in Seoul only, I had the luxury to move around. During my preparation, I googled many blogs and seems many people like to stay in HongDae University area. I did not have a chance to stay there though. Most of my days were spent in Myeongdong Area.
If you : willing to pay for a hotel, like shopping, like crowd, Causeway Bay in Hongkong is your favorite place to stay when you visit HK or you prefer to stay around Orchard area when you are in Singapore then Myeongdong will be your best choice. I like Myeongdong the most, this is where you can stay late, a lot of tourists, many restaurants, the center of everything. I happened to move around between Pacific Hotel, Sejong Hotel and Lookhome Guesthouse in Myeongdong, all within walking distance from each other. Loved them all.
Hongdae is actually a lively place to stay also, a lot of things going on until late at night, however, I am just too old to be surrounded by university students.
PS: Guesthouse vs Hotel is a matter of preference so I cannot say. But do try stay in a Hanok (Korean Traditional House) for one night. Loved it.
3. English Mass in Seoul
I have always prepared myself to attend an English Mass whenever possible. Since I would spend two Sundays in Seoul, so I search for the Seoul Cathedral. The schedule and direction can be found here. Unfortunately, I was a little bit loss finding my way both times, so here is the landmark for whoever trying to find Myeongdong Cathedral and attending the 9 am English Mass :
From the Myeongdong Station exit 6 go through the welcome gate until you find a cross road consists of : Myeongdong Theatre, Daiso, Teenie Weenie, and Woori Bank. Go to the right (street between Daiso and Woori Bank). Just straight until you find Royal Hotel. Next to Royal Hotel, there is Coffee Bean and YWCA. The small uphill road across Coffee Bean and YWCA is the entrance to the Cathedral.
3. How much money to bring?
This is relative depend on your travelling habit. Just say all hotel paid, my average cost for meal is between 8 – 14 USD. Although you can always eat ramen, kimbab, tteokbokki which cost less than 3 USD. Calculate your own shopping and bring USD. If you run out of Won, just exchange the USD in Myeongdong area. The best rate for money exchange is in front of the Chinese Embassy. From a small road next to ZARA (across Lotte Young) go straight inside until you find red gate (the Chinese Embassy). Although near ZARA there is also a money changer, this is not the one. During my trip, the one across the Chinese Embassy offers the best rate for USD among other money exchange in Myeongdong or Dongdaemun.
4. Landing in Incheon – How to go to hotel
There is AREX for 14,000 KRW and Airport Limousine for 10,000 KRW. At the time, I chose Airport Limousine since I was not familiar with the subway station. Airport Limousine stop in front of Sejong Hotel in MyeongDong, Ibis Myeongdong and PJ hotel. Within walking distance to Pacific Hotel or Lookhome guesthouse. Although if you are not very adventurous and bring heavy luggage, just stay one night at the hotel where the airport limo stop and find your other hotel the next day.
5. Getting around in Seoul. T-Money vs Seoul Pass vs M-Pass
At first I chose T-Money because I read in someone’s blog that I can get a Hello Kitty T-Money with some additional (hahaha). I couldn’t find it. So I got the regular T-Money from the GS25 at Incheon airport. Although you can used it for taxi and others, I basically used it only for subway and bus. The total cost that I spend for transportation is around 50,000 KRW for 12 days. Slightly cheaper than M-Pass. After many days, I’ve just realised that many of the subway station in Seoul are actually within walking distance. Although if you do not like walking, it’s probably quite far for you. For example, from Seoul Station to Myeongdong you can actually walk. Find the exit to Myeongdong from Seoul Station.
So if you need to move around luggages from Seoul Station to Myeongdong, do not worry to take a taxi. Taxi starts at 3000 KRW (around 3 USD). To help you finding a faster station, download Seoul Subway apps from Playstore. We can put destination station and arrival station, so it will save time finding it on the subway map.
This is the end of my preparation ^_^ (I’m not a very well prepared traveller) …