A paradise called ‘Jeju Island’

Jeju Island is one of the most captivating places in Korea. It is well-known for its scenic volcanic landscapes as well as beautiful beaches. A famous holiday destinations for travelers and honeymooners.

Over the years, i thought traveling to Jeju would cost a fortune. But then I realized that you can travel to Jeju on a budget.

There are over 200 flights to Jeju in a day. Most airlines fly like every 15mins to every 30mins to and from Jeju. I booked online at Korean Air when had their promo. It was around P1,600 for one way ticket from Gimpo Aiport. I know it was expensive compared to other airlines. But it’s Korean Air anyway, so fair enough. There are also guesthouses, pensions and hostels if you don’t want to stay in expensive hotels and resorts.

The most convenient way to explore Jeju is to rent a taxi for a day. It will cost more than traveling by bus but it will save time and you can visit more places. Jeju Island is said to be 3 or 4 times the size of Seoul. So if you cannot visit all places in Seoul in one day, how much more in Jeju, right?

If you’re wondering where to go in Jeju, check these places I visited for 2 days.

Day 1

1. Eco Land Theme Park

I think this is the only place where you can ride a train in Jeju. The train runs through Gotjawal forest. It will take around 1-2 hours to explore the place.

Admission Fee: ₩12,000

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2. Jeju Stone Park

This is one of my favorite places in Jeju. Some people say ‘Those were just stones’. But for me they are more than stones. These stones came from Halla Mountain. In the museum, they play a 15-minute video about how Jeju Island was formed. It was an interesting story.

Admission Fee: ₩5,000

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3. Jeju Mini Land

It’s like you’ve travelled around the world in Jeju. This park features miniature versions of all famous landmarks in the world.

Admission Fee: ₩9,000

4. Jusangjeolli Cliff

These are rock pillars formed from the lava of Halla Mountain

Admission Fee: ₩2,000

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5. Jungmun Beach

This is one of the most famous beaches in Jeju. We just dropped by to take pictures.

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6. Hello Kitty Island

There was a moment when I had to choose between the Teddy Bear Museum and Hello Kitty Island. I’m not a hello kitty fan but this one is on my bukcketlist.

Admission Fee: ₩12,000

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7. Cafe Bomnal and Guesthouse

Calling all Korean Drama fans! This is the shooting location of Warm and Cozy. I’m glad I made it here. There’s also a coastal walk path nearby where you can feel the breeze and smell the ocean.

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Day 2

1. Udo Island

Udo Island is what I call An Island in an Island. You will need atleast 4 hours to visit Udo.

Ferry cost: ₩5,500 per head; ₩21,600 for the car

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2. Seongsan Ilchulbong

A visit to Jeju will never be complete without visiting the UNESCO World Heritage site, Sunrise Peak or the Seongsan Ilchulbong.

Admission Fee: ₩2,000

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3. Seopjikoji

Seopjikoji is also another filming location of Korean Dramas.

Admission Fee: Free

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4. Gimnyeong Maze Park

There are 2 maze parks in Jeju. Gimnyeong Maze park is the smaller one. It took us about an hour to find the way out. I’m not good at this. I almost want to give up. It was a dream come true to be lost in a maze.

Admission Fee: ₩3,300

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I’d recommend our driver, Mr. Koh if you want to visit these places. He speaks English well, you won’t have problem communicating with him. He’s nice, good driver/tour guide and good photographer as well.

When you are in Jeju, never ever forget to try their abalone. Abalone porridge and abalone stew are my favorite.

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Another famous thing in Jeju is the ‘Haenyeo’. They are the lady divers who dive into the ocean to gather different kinds of seafoods. Some of them aged over 80 years old. They are often called the Korean Mermaids. They dive even on a freezing winter.

There are other places I want to see in Jeju. I will surely find time to visit these island again some other season.

You might want to include Jeju in your itinerary on your Korea trip. It’s a place worth visiting. Happy travels!

Budget Travel Tips for your South Korea trip

Every time I go on a trip, I always get feedback from friends and family that I am rich and that I have a lot of money because I can afford to travel. I actually don’t like it because I am not rich, how I wish I am. Lol. Money is not everything you need when you travel. It also requires an open mind and a lot of courage. Well of course I need money to travel but I always travel on a budget. If Korea is your dream destination but there are things that are holding you back from traveling, these tips I will share might help you achieve your dream trip to the Land of the Morning Calm.

Be aware of the airline promos

It all starts with the promo fares. You can book a round trip ticket to Incheon or Busan for as low as P4,900. It does not include baggage allowance yet but you can just add later on. Cebu Pacific, Air Asia and Jeju Air have direct flights from Manila to Incheon. I follow their Facebook pages and I’m subscribed to newsletters for updates.

Find an affordable place to stay

So you already have a plane ticket. The next thing to do is to look for an affordable place to stay. There are a lot of guesthouses, pension houses and hostels in Korea which you can book from P800-P1,200 per night. If you don’t mind sharing a room with strangers, you may look for a dorm type room which is way cheaper. Plus you’ll get to meet new friends. I always book at Booking.com for rooms with free cancellations. What I like about it is that you’ll have to pay directly at the property upon check in. And by the way, I’m already a Genius member in Booking.com, which means I get additional discounts in some properties. I don’t know how I unlocked that stage but maybe because I booked 5 times in a year.  Well, loyalty really leads to discounts and perks.

Visa application

Applying for a visa can be very stressful especially for Filipinos, I understand it very well. You have to prepare all the documents, go to the bank and to your HR. Sometimes while your visa is on process, you can hardly sleep thinking what would be the result of the application. But Korea visa is probably one of easiest visa to apply for. It is free if you are applying for a tourist visa which is a maximum of 59 days of stay. You don’t have to pay thousands of pesos unlike other visas. But if you are going to apply through a travel agency, then you might have to pay for a service fee. No need to set appointments, just go to Korean Embassy to submit your papers. Easy, right? Just make sure all your documents are complete before going to the embassy.

One question I get a lot is about the how much show money do you need in your bank accounts. The Korean Embassy doesn’t really require an amount or a show money. You just have to have enough money to fund your whole trip. Check out their site for the requirements and updates.

Save up

How do I fund my trip? Months before I travel, I set aside a portion of my salary every payday and every day I put a small amount to my travel fund if I have a extra money. As little as P50-P100 per day.

Annyeong Korea!

Now you already have a plane ticket, booked a place to stay, you have your visa and your pocket money, it’s time now to fly to Korea. I always have a detailed itinerary every time I go to Korea. Shopping areas and amusement parks are not on my list. Those are the places where you’d most likely to spend huge amount of money. The fact that I’m not a shopaholic and I don’t enjoy those crazy rides,  I’d rather spend my money on food.

When it comes to food, it is usually expensive in popular areas such as Myeongdong, Gangnam and Dongdaemun. I always stay in Dongdaemun area, but I have found some affordable restaurants and cafe’s. You just have to explore the place. That’s what you are there for in the first place, to explore. You’ll find them in the not so crowded area and some narrow alleys. When I was in Myeongdong I had my favorite caramel macchiato in one of the cafe’s there which costs around₩5,000. But then, there’s this cafe near the places I stay in Dongdaemun, where I got the my caramel macchiato for only₩2,500. That’s exactly half the price. If you are really on a tight budget, there are what they call “lunch boxes” in convenience stores which cost around ₩2,500-₩5,000. It’s already a complete meal, including rice, meat, veggies and side dishes.

Going around Korea is very easy and convenient. You don’t have to take taxi all the time because their transportation system is very efficient. Most places can be reached by subway or bus. Use the T-money card instead of purchasing single journey tickets. You can save ₩100 each ride by using T-money.

Popular places in Korea, particularly in Seoul and Busan have no entrance fees. If there are, it’s only minimum amount usually from ₩1,000-₩5,000 except for theme parks which are more expensive.

Here are some popular places you can visit for free:

SEOUL

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Gwanghwamun Square is just across the Gyeongbukgung. You can see the statues of King Sejong and Admiral Yi Sun Shin. You can also try wearing a Hanbok for free.

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Ihwa Mural Village is in the area of Ihwa-dong. It is the most popular mural village in Seoul. You can find paintings on the walls of the houses and art installations.

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Naksan Park is near the Ihwa Mural Village. You can see the Seoul Fortress Wall and a stunning view of the city.

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Take a relaxing and romantic walk through the 10km long Cheonggyecheon Stream in downtown Seoul.

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Bukchon Hanok Village is the most popular hanok village in Seoul. 

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Namsangol Hanok Village is another hanok village in Seoul which you can visit for free. 

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The Namsan mountain where the N Seoul tower is located is also entrance free unless you want to go to the observatory, you’ll have to pay for ₩10,000 admission fee. 

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Yeouido Park and Yeouido Hangang Park is a recreational area near Han River. Don’t miss this place during spring when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom.

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Another place to catch the cherry blossoms on spring is on the 15km long Yangjae Stream. 

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The Hall of Peace in Kyunghee University is an event’s place where a variety of events are being held regularly.

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The K-star road in Gangnam is a must visit place for all K-pop fans out there. Most talent agencies of your favorite K-pop stars are located within the area. 

BUSAN

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Haeundae Beach is the one of the most visited places in Busan. 

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Gwangalli Beach is my favorite place in Busan especially at night. 

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Gamcheon Culture Village is village of colorful houses and you’ll find painted murals all over the place. 

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Unlike most temples in Korea which are located in the moutains, Haedong Yonggungsa Temple is in northeastern coast part of Busan.

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Dongbeak Island is an island in Busan where you can see both the Haeundae and Gwangalli beach. 

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Nurimaru APEC House is situated in Dongbaek Island. You can go inside for free.

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The Busan Tower is situated at Yongdusan Park. There are also more to see in the park such as the statue of Admiral Yi Sun Shin, a flower clock and stunning view of Busan.

Find out more about these places for you to be able to save more on your trip. Korea is not all about K-pop and K-drama, the country has a lot to offer.

Travelling to Korea doesn’t have to be that expensive.  But it still depends on how you travel. For me, travelling is about learning, not only about the places you see but also learning about yourself.

Check out https://maewanderer.com/2017/06/11/essential-tips-for-your-south-korea-trip/  for more travel tips. Enjoy exploring Korea as much as I do!

 

[Jeonju] Time Travel to Joseon Dynasty

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Jeonju is a city in South Korea and the capital of North Jeolla Province. It is famous for the Jeonju Hanok Village which is the largest hanok village in South Korea and they call it Slow City. Upon entering the village, you will really feel like you have been transported back to Joseon Dynasty.

Jeonju Hanok Village has over 800 traditional styled houses and buildings including hanok guesthouses, cafes, restaurants and shops.

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You’ll find Hanbok rental shops everywhere. Prices ranging from ₩10,000-₩25000. You’ll get to choose the style and the color you want plus they will fix your hair and put on some accessories.

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One of the places in Hanok Village is the Gyeonggijeon Shrine. It holds the portrait of founder of the Joseon Dynasty, King Tae-jo. Taking pictures is prohibited inside the museum so it’s best to go down to Jeonju to see it yourself.

 

 

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I stayed in PinetreeView Hanok Guesthouse inside the hanok village. They offer free breakfast and free use of Hanok. Yes, it’s free. But the thing is, nobody will assist you in putting on the hanbok. I went out early the next morning to go to Jeonjuhyanggyo Confucian School. The advantage of having free hanbok in the guesthouse is that you can wear them anytime.

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I was able to witness a ceremony in the Confucian School. I didn’t understand a thing but I am glad to I was there and it felt like I was part of Joseon Dynasty.

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If you are thinking where to eat the best bibimbap in Korea, well, it’s in Jeonju. It has a unique taste that you cannot find in other bibimbaps. Though I don’t know what it is but it’s definitely the best bibimbap I’ve tasted. The food in Jeonju is quite affordable compared to other cities.

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Too bad I stayed in Jeonju for only one night. I should have stayed longer. Looking forward to visiting this place again.

Thanks for dropping by.  If you’re interested in exploring Jeonju or if you need more details,  just let me know. I’d be more than willing to assist you. Annyeong!

 

Travel guide to your favorite K-Drama filming locations

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEvery Korean drama lovers’ dream is to meet their Oppa, (ahem..yes, i feel you) or to visit the filming locations of their favorite dramas. Here are some filming locations of K-dramas I visited during my Korea trips.

1. Nami Island 남이섬 종합휴양지

K-drama : Winter Sonata (겨울연가)

One of the most visited places in Korea outside Seoul. It’s definitely a place you shouldn’t miss whether you are K-drama fan or not. Nami Island is a beauty all year round, whatever season it is.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIMG_0829How to get there: from Gapyeong Station, take the Gapyeong tourists bus or taxi to Gapyeong Wharf. Ride the ferry to Nami Island.

Admission Fee: 8,000 won

2. Hanmi Bookstore 한미서점

K-drama : Goblin (도깨비)

Goblin_hanmiHanmi Bookstore is located in Baedari Used Books Store street in  Incheon. It’s featured in the popular drama Goblin.

852115061_151682852116806_150367Address: 14-4 Geumchang-dong, Dong-gu, Incheon

How to get there: Dowon Station Exit 2, cross the street and walk straight for 500 meters.

Admission Fee: Free

3. Gyeonggijeon Shrine 경기전

K-Drama : Moonlight Drawn by Clouds (구르미 그린 달빛)

Screenshot from 2017-06-17 15-39-11Gyeonggijeon Shrine is located in Jeonju Hanok Village, the largest hanok village in Korea as far as I know. When I arrived in Jeonju Hanok Village I felt like I travelled back to Joseon Dynasty.

20170425_143541Address: 44, Taejo-ro, Wansan-gu, Jeonju-si, Jeollabuk-do

How to get there: From Jeonju Intercity Bus Terminal, take bus 5-1 or 79.
Get off at Jeondong Cathedral (Hanok Village) Bus Stop and walk 20min.

Admission Fee: 3,000 won

4. Jeonjuhyanggyo Confucian School 전주향교

K-Drama : Moonlight Drawn by Clouds (구르미 그린 달빛)

Screenshot from 2017-06-17 16-00-12Screenshot from 2017-06-17 16-15-17Jeonju Hyanggyo is a Confucian school that was established during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) and is designated historical treasure No. 379. This was a national education center during the Joseon period. The school was originally located at the Gyeonggijeon Shrine site, but was relocated in 1603. Information Credit: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr

20170426_121907IMG_4986Address: 139, Hyanggyo-gil, Wansan-gu, Jeonju-si, Jeollabuk-do

How to get there: From Jeonju Intercity Bus Terminal, take bus 5-1 or 79.
Get off at Jeondong Cathedral (Hanok Village) Bus Stop and walk 20min.

Admission Fee: Free

5. Dongbaek Island 동백공원

K-Drama : Shopping King Louie (쇼핑왕 루이)

Screenshot from 2017-06-17 16-36-34Dongbaek Island is an island in Busan where you can see both Haeundae beach and Gwangalli Beach. It is also the place where the Nurimaru APEC House is located.

852114252_142947Address: U-dong, Haeundae-gu, Busan

How to get there: Take Line 2 to Dongbaek Station (Busan Subway) Exit 1 and walk for 700meters.

Admission Fee: Free

6. Gwangalli Beach 광안리해수욕장

K-Drama : Shopping King Louie  (쇼핑왕 루이)

Screenshot from 2017-06-17 17-01-43Gwangalli Beach is my favorite place in Busan. The area is filled with restaurants, cafes and entertainment. Many people come at night to witness the bright lights of Gwangan Bridge.

IMG_6275Address: 219, Gwanganhaebyeon-ro, Suyeong-gu, Busan

How to get there: Gwangan Station Exit 5, walk straight towards the beach area.

Admission Fee: Free

7. Edelweiss Swiss Theme Park 에델바이스 테마파크

K-Drama : Remember – War of the Sons (리멤버 – 아들의 전쟁)

Screenshot from 2017-06-17 15-07-14Screenshot from 2017-06-17 15-07-07Edelweiss Swiss Theme Park is in Gapyeong, where the popular places like Nami Island and Petite France is also located. Not many people know about this place maybe because it is not accessible as other tourists destinations. But they offer free shuttle service during weekends and holidays.

IMG_6591IMG_6698Address: 226-57 Darakjae-ro, Seorak-myeon, Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do,

How to get there: Take free shuttle bus from Cheongpyeong Station Exit 2 during weekends and holidays. Shuttle bus time: From Cheongpyeong Station: 9:30 / 11:00 / 13:00 / 15:00 ; From Edelweiss : 10:10 / 12:00 / 14:00 / 17:30

Admission Fee: 10, 000 won

8. Cafe & Guesthouse Bomnal 카페 & 게스트하우스 봄날

K-Drama : Warm and Cozy (맨도롱 또똣)

Screenshot from 2017-06-17 17-27-23Cafe and Guesthouse Bomnal is located in front of the Handam Beach in Aewol-eup, Jeju.

IMG_5310IMG_1313Address: 25 Aewollo 1(il)-gil, Aewol-eup, Jeju-si, Jeju-do

How to get there: From Jeju Intercity Bus terminal take bus line Seo-Ilju and get off at Handam-dong

9. Gyeonggi English Village Paju Camp 경기영어마을 파주캠프

K-Drama : Tomorrow With You (내일 그대와)

Screenshot from 2017-06-17 18-05-16Screenshot from 2017-06-17 18-00-10There are other English Villages in South Korea but I think one of the biggest is the Paju Camp in Gyeonggi-do. Their main goal is to promote English learning to create global Koreans.

IMG_3773IMG_3725IMG_3844Address: 40 Eoreumsil-ro, Tanhyeon-myeon, Paju-si, Gyeonggi-do

How to get there: Take bus #200 at Hapjeong Station Exit 2 and get off at English Village bus stop.

Admission Fee: 3,000 won (weekdays) ; 5,000 won (weekends)

10. Windy Hill 바람의 언덕

K-drama : Introverted Boss (내성적인 보스)

Screenshot from 2017-06-17 20-56-03Screenshot from 2017-06-17 20-53-44A growing number visitors come to the place after it was used a filming site for popular Korean dramas such as Eve’s Garden (2003, SBS) and Merry- Go-Round (2004, MBC). The name “Windy Hill” was given by those who visited the island and became a fan. Walking toward the hill along the wooden promenade from the wharf, one can see Hakdong Village from a distance. Info Credits: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr

P1110583IMG_1991IMG_1939Address: Nambu-myeon, Geoje-si, Gyeongsangnam-do

How to get there: From Express Bus Terminal in Seoul, take an express bus bound for Gohyeon Bus Terminal. Take a taxi to the Windy Hill (25.4 km/ around 45 min)

Admission Fee: Free

11. Hakdong Mongdol Beach 학동몽돌해변

K-drama : Introverted Boss (내성적인 보스)

Screenshot from 2017-06-17 20-57-03Screenshot from 2017-06-17 20-57-57Hakdong Mongdol Beach or the Black Pebble beach is located in Geoje. Find out more about the Black Pebble beach in my previous post here.

IMG_1836Address: 18-1, Hakdong 6-gil, Dongbu-myeon, Geoje-si, Gyeongsangnam-do

How to get there: From Geojae Bus Terminal, take bus 56, 67 towards Hakdong Pebble Beach.

Admission Fee: Free

There you go! Those were just some Korean Drama filming locations I visited outside Seoul. If you need more information, please comment below. I’d be glad to help you achieve your dream trip to Korea.

Essential tips for your South Korea trip

South Korea is now one of the most popular destinations in Asia. Some people say that the country is getting popular because K-pop and Korean dramas are now being recognized around the world. But for me there’s so much more about Korea, you just have to explore it.

Since your reading this, i bet you are planning to visit Korea anytime soon. So here’s some travel tips on how to enjoy your trip to Korea, as much i always do, and how to travel like a local.

DIY (Do-It-Yourself)

Don’t join group or package tours. Explore and don’t be afraid of getting lost. You’ll discover a lot of things about the place and about yourself.

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My very first solo travel happened in autumn of 2014 in Seoul. It wasn’t planned, it’s just that my friend’s visa got denied so I ended up travelling alone. I was scared at first since it was my first time, but then learned that travelling alone is one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done.

Research and plan well

There are so many places to visit in Korea. It would be easier for you to roam around when you know where to go and how to get there. It will save you a lot of time and you can visit as many places as you can. Before going to Korea, I always prepare a detailed itinerary so I can also budget my trip. If you want to know about the places you want to visit, check out the official site of the Korea Tourism Organization.

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Go out early and stay out late

I usually go out as early as 6am or 7am especially if I’m going to far places and stay out until 10pm to maximize the time.

Meet the Locals

Most Koreans cannot speak English. But that doesn’t stop them from being so welcoming and helpful to people especially to tourists.

Koreans, I should say, love the Filipinos. Something to do about history. I’ve experience it myself during my first trip. There’s this Ahjumma in the subway, while waiting for the train, she smiled at me and asked me if I’m from Malaysia. When I said I’m from the Philippines, I was surprised by her reaction. She seemed so happy to meet me and told me that Korea and Philippines have good relationship and we had a really good conversation. When I got on the train, there’s an old couple who also asked me if I’m from the Philippines and started talking to me in Korean and unfortunately we didn’t understand each other. That’s when I decided to learn Hanguel. That was probably one reason why I got so attached to this country.

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Wear comfortable shoes

Trust me about this one. It doesn’t matter what your OOTD is but if you really want to explore Korea, wear comfortable shoes. You’ll do a lot of walking, I’m pretty sure about that.

Remember this things and I’m sure you’d want to come back to Korea right after your trip. What fascinates me most is their deep history and rich culture. I’ve been to Korea 5 times already and now I’m planning for my next trip. So, let’s go and explore Korea.