Hi! Sorry for the delayed updates. Got back from Seoul last week, on Sunday – had a terrible flight from Seoul to Singapore, the turbulence was so bad, and for the first time ever I actually got an air sickness. My flight hours after that (from SG – BWN) was nowhere better. I was still sick and couldn’t even eat. Anyways, I’ll be dividing my posts into several parts.
And here’s a guide on Seoul!
Where to stay? Most people (even Malaysians and Singaporeans – observed from their blogs) do not stay at the hotels in Seoul. Even us. We decided to stay at one of the guesthouses there. Even along the street, there were several other guesthouses.So why should you choose guesthouse over hotel room? Well, it’s actually cheaper, and some guesthouse can accommodate a family in a big room, or backpackers into rooms that can fit two or three people. They usually provide free breakfast, and of course, everyone’s favorite – WiFi! and even laundry (self-service).We stayed at Namsan Guest House’s Namsan 1, VIP Room (as this is bigger and fits the whole family). Yes, they have English-speaking workers.To get there by subway, you stop at Myeongdong (명동) Station Exit 3, you will see 7-Eleven, so just go straight uphill. Oh yes, please bear in mind, Seoul is a very hilly area. You’re lucky if you get Namsan 2 or 3. If you get Namsan 1 (where I stayed), it’s double the distance, and it gets steeper). But lucky for you, it takes 5-8 minutes walk uphill from Namsan 1 to get to Namsan Cable Car which will bring you to the famous N Seoul Tower.
If you opt for airport pickup, please make sure you keep your guest house phone numbers. The airport is quite big, with several arrival gates. We stayed at the airport for about 40 min to 1 hour because we couldn’t find the person and you cannot buy a simcard in Korea just like you do in Singapore and Malaysia. So, the first thing we did was to…
- RENT A PHONE
We asked for a cheap one (About 3,000 won per day = roughly about BND$3+) but of course we asked for the most basic, not a smart phone, thus no internet. But then again, your guest house will usually have Wi-Fi, and the subway has free Wi-Fi (connect to iptime).
- M PASS
Now what is M Pass? Main transportation in Seoul is by subway or buses. M Pass works the same like T-Money Card, except this is specially made for visitors. It lets you use it for a limited amount of rides (usually up to 20 rides per day). For more information, click here. This can be purchased at the airport as well.
- Bring enough Korean Won!
Now why do I say this? Despite having a lot of money changer there (trust me, there was a lot. At Namdaemun Market, there was a lot of ahjumma (old lady) sitting under their umbrellas, with extra stool. Apparently they provide money exchange services, lol!) We found a bank and tried to exchange Singapore Dollar but no, they do not accept it. So, I came in with Pounds and AUD, again I was rejected.
There’s one that accepts SGD near Myeongdong Station Exit 3 (Opposite of another convenience store called GS25, near 7-Eleven – but no, they do not accept Pounds), and also a Tourist Information Booth at Namdaemun Market (I had to convince her for a good 3 minutes – and yes, I spoke Korean to her. She was quite surprised. Hahah!)
- Learn basic Korean phrases
I went there, ready with my basic, broken Korean. Being a fan girl, I obviously ended up learning how to read, write and speak Korean Language. So, communicating wasn’t a big deal for me (unless they started talking to me in long sentences). Koreans do not speak English. Don’t even try approaching them asking ‘Excuse Me’. Mama did, and the young lady walked away covering her face.I do not know how to say any of their currencies (eg 1,000 won) in Korean. So, I usually ask them in Korean, and they will either show it with their fingers or calculator.During my stay there, I was asked several times whether I am a university student there or not, and how on Earth do I know how to speak their language. I also amused a couple of people with my ability to write Hanggeul. Lol! Yes, I was proud back there. Hahaha!
Alright, back to my main objective! I’ll provide you several phrases that will help you there – just print this out and you’re good to goHi – An-nyeong-ha-se-yo
Thank You – Kam-sa-ham-ni-da
Excuse me (when grabbing attention) – Cho-gi-yo
One moment please/Wait a minute – Jam-shi-man-yo or Cham-kan-man-yo
How much? (asking for price) – eol-ma-a-yo? (eol – pronounced as ‘ol’; a – pronounced just like the letter ‘a’)
Where is ___? – ___ nun oe-di is-seo-yo?
This – e-go (you may say ‘e-go eol-ma-a-yo?’ when asking ‘How much is this?’)
One banana juice please – Banana juice han-kae ju-se-yo (replace banana juice with whatever you want, ‘han’ means one, ju-se-yo means please) *
Do you have ___? – ___ is-seo-yo?
Don’t have – eob-seo-yo
Yes – Ne/Ye
No – A-ni-yo
Do you speak English? – Yeong-o hal-su is-seo-yo?
* you may download korean language app for numbers
Quick note – ‘yo’ at the end of these sentences is necessary, otherwise it will seem like you’re talking rudely to them.
It’s not necessary to memorize this, but just incase, do print this part out. Trust me, even ‘Engrish’ is hard for them to understand.
- Subway app
Since we only made use of the subway, a subway app is the most important one you should have. For android users – search for Subway made by Broong Inc (or click here if you’re reading this using your phone). This app lets you choose your departing station and arriving station, tells you how many stops and which station to get off from if you have to transfer, and the nearest transfer doors and what not.The subway itself is easy to use as long as you know where to go. They do show station name in English both at the station and in the subway. But bear in mind, there are several stations with the same name (different spelling in Korean Hanggeul) because we did get lost. So make sure you know which subway line your destination is at!
Book accommodation and save their phone number
Make sure you decide whether you want an airport pick up or not
Rent a phone (at the airport)
Get an M Pass
Bring enough Korean Won
Learn basic Korean because it helps a lot!
Download Subway app
And you’re good to go! Will be back with posts on where to go and what to eat.