Monday, March 07, 2011

Discovering Seoul

The true purpose of this trip of course was to see Big Bang's Big Show 11. Despite all the standing around for hours in the miserable cold, the concert was definitely worth it.

Fuel taxes to Japan and Korea have increased so this trip was completed with Korean Air (S$835nett). Having lodged at Eastgate Tower 6 months ago, a hotel change was in need so Western Co-op was given a go. (S$70/night) Western Co-op is within the proximity of Myeongdong and Dongdaemun and is a mere 5-7mins walk to hello apM and the Dongdaemun History and Cultural Park train station.

Getting into Seoul
The airport limousine from Incheon Airport starts at 5am in the morning and the bus to take to Western Co-op would be bus no. 6001 at bay 6A or 12B (depending on your arrival gate). The bus fare has increased to 14,000won and you would need to inform the ahjussi at the bus bay of where you intend to stop. He will tag your bag accordingly and you proceed to pay your driver. The bus ride to Seoul is approximately 1-1.5h with various stops at Myeongdong, before arriving at Uljiro 4-ga right in front of Western Co-op. You just need to drag your bags up the walk way and into the lobby.

Incheon Airport: Bus 6001 and en-route to Western Co-op

Uljiro 4-ga-Dongdaemun-Myeongdong-Uljiro 4-ga
Check-in is at 1pm earliest so do consider stashing your bags first and head to DHCP Station Exit 12 to take Line 4 to Myeongdong. DHCP serves Line 2,4 and 5. If you do not have a T-card, you can purchase 1 at the automated kiosk for 3,000won (non-refundable) and top up your card subsequently. Just a mere 2 stops away, exit Myeongdong station at Exit 7 to emerge at the cosmetics/shopping belt. Here you can find The Face Shop, Tony Moly, Holika Holika, Etude House and Nature Republic. Shops open pretty early from 8am onwards. H&M at Noon Square opens from 10am-10pm and there are now 2 H&Ms at Myeongdong.

To return from Myeongdong to Dongdaemun, one can consider taking bus no 105 or 501 from the bus stop closest to H&M at Noon Square. This will drop you across the road from Western Co-op and then proceed back on foot to the hotel. For foreigners, you do not need to worry that you may miss a stop as the recording in the bus will announce the current and next stop in English.

Express Bus Terminal is the go-to place for some good wholesale shopping. To get to the Express Bus Terminal, take Line 2 to Daerim and change to Line 7 Express Bus Terminal. Describing where the wholesale stretch is a bit difficult but go up 1 level, follow the shops selling hordes of shoes, head down another flight of stairs and you will find the wholesale area. Earrings go for 1,000won here and clothes cost 10,000won each.

Co-Ex Mall Line 2 Exit 6 Samsung Station houses Uniqlo, Baskin' Robbins, Zara and well, nothing that you can't find in Myeongdong or Dongdaemun. For me, this place can be given a miss.

Kimchi seaweed (12-15,000won) amazingly enough is difficult to find in Korea but Lotte Department Store's supermarket has a counter dedicated to seaweed. It is near the entrance to the food court and has a cashier next to it. Do taste test the seaweed prior to purchase. This is NOT at the fresh kimchi corner.

Yeolbong Steamed Chicken Restaurant is YG singer se7en's new venture in the Gangnam area. To get to Yeolbong, take Line 2 to Gangnam station Exit 7. Walk straight once out of the exit till you see City Cinema. Turn right up the hill and at the first intersection, turn right. Walk till there is a fork in the road and turn left. Yeolbong is the first shop there across the road from the Noraebang (Karaoke) shop. Yeolbong is pretty easy to spot once you see this life size standee of se7en!

The food at Yeolbong primarily comprises of spicy chicken, kimbap, and rice balls with seaweed. The pineapple and peach juice served at Yeolbong is a must-order.

Streets of Gangnam in the evening

City Cinema and outside of Yeolbong

I was fortunate enough to run into se7en! *SCREAMS* He came into the shop as we were eating and JBB quickly approached him to get his sign and a photo. Se7en was nice to translate for us that no photos were allowed but obligingly signed autographs for many fans. What a lucky lucky day! He is pretty tall and definitely very stylish and good-looking.

Photo montage of who has eaten at Yeolbong

Do take a hotel direction card from your front desk in the event you do want to take a cab. Not all drivers speak English so even though cabs are equipped with GPS, a hard copy card with hotel phone number comes in handy.

Tax Redemption
Any item over 30,000won qualifies for tax free redemption. So if you're patient enough to collect all the receipts from your cosmetics and goods, you can do a customs clearance at the airport and collect your tax refund after you've cleared customs. The redemption booth is at Gate 28 post immigration. Only downside is that you have to show the customs officer your goods bought. So if you've got a lot of liquids, you might want to rethink this.

Randoms of the working class in Seoul and Dream High for Les More

Hotel: Western Co-op Dongdaemun
Hotel Review: Clean and pretty new hotel with very basic amenities like kitchen stove, kettle, relatively small bathroom but a big desk space for you to put and pack your things. Bed is pretty small but we're not HUGE people either.
Weather: -4 to 7c

Kitchenette and desk area. Tele in front of the bed and the tiny twin beds
Posted by fongie on 3/07/2011 08:27:00 PM in , , , ,


Anonymous said...

hi, i'm planning to go to BS concert next year..your blog is very useful! i wanna plan early, so may i knw is the Western Co-op located near the seoul olympic stadium?

fongie said...

Western Co-op is at Dongdaemun Health and Cultural Park station, which is 40-50mins by train to Seoul Olympic Park. Western Co-op is just a 10-15mins bus ride from Myeongdong as well.

I don't know if there are any hotels in the vicinity of Seoul Olympic Park (I'm sure there is) but the park is quite far from say the more popular spots like Myeongdong and Dongdaemun.

Anonymous said...

Owh, in that case it's fine..thnx alot for the explanation..

Hessel said...

Hi! I'm planning to go to Bigbang Concert this March. How much was the rate in this hotel during your stay? How much did you pay? Thanks a lot!

dL rh said...

hi. do you know how can we.get to kbs building? like how do we reach there by transport? or any train line that we could take?

ahdawn said...

dL rh: I've not been there personally, but the official Korea Tourism page has some info on how to get there via the metro (MRT/Subway/whatever you call it).

Page link:
(scroll to the portion about KBS Music Bank, there is a box with its address in it).

You can make use of this Seoul Metro online guide to help plan your route (You can select the start and end points, it will tell you where to transfer).