My Lunch Box at Seoul’s Tongin Market

Tongin Market is one of the oldest traditional markets located in Seoul. It was once a public market set up for the Japanese residents back in 1941 when Korea was under Japanese rule. Tongin Market is near Gyeongbokgung Palace.

Although, there are other famous traditional markets in Korea like Gwangjang Market, I chose to visit Tongin Market for a unique experience. It is famous for the Yeopjeon (엽전)  and Dosirak (도시락). Yeopjeon is a Korean brass coin with a square cut in the middle and was used during the Joseon Dynasty. Dosirak literally means lunchbox.

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After our tour at Gyeongbokgung, I asked my friends to come with me to Tongin Market for lunch. I was in a hurry because the Yeopjeon Dosirak is only available from 11am to 4pm. And take note that is it closed every third Sunday of month and the Dosirak Cafe is closed every Monday.

I was told that there’s an Ahjusshi who sells Yeopjeon at the entrance of the market but I didn’t find him maybe because it was already getting late. So I went to the Dosirak Cafe at the 2nd floor to buy the Yeopjeon. I paid ₩5,000 and the lady gave me an empty lunchbox and 10 Yeopjeon. Then I immediately went down to fill my lunchbox with variety of Korean  dishes and street foods. 10 Yeopjeon is enough to buy 5 to 6 kinds of foods. Most dishes are worth 2 coins and the others you can buy for 1 coin. It’s totally worth it. After spending my coins, I went back to the 2nd floor to eat and enjoy my filled lunchbox.

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Yeopjeon

I actually kept 1 coin in my wallet as a souvenir 🙂

If you are a foodie who wants to try out Korean foods when you visit Seoul, I recommend Tongin Market.

Getting there: Take subway Line 3 and get off at Gyeongbokgung Station, Exit 2. Continue straight for approx. 700m. The market will be on your left.

 

 

Haeinsa Temple and the Tripitaka Koreana in Hapcheon

Last year’s autumn, I planned on visiting both Haeinsa Temple and Hapcheon Image Theme Park in Hapcheon, but I ended up with only the Image Theme Park because of lack of time since I only had the whole day in Hapcheon. The Image Theme is huge and there are a lot of interesting places that’s why it took me almost the whole day to explore it. Hapcheon is not a big city, it’s a countryside in Gyeongsangnam-do so transportation is limited. I had to catch the last bus at 7pm going back to Changwon. I promised myself that I will go to Haeinsa on my next Korea trip and it happened.

This year’s spring, special thanks to our Korean friend who drove us from Changwon to Haeinsa, I finally fulfilled my promised. After a 1.5 hour trip, we arrived in Hapcheon. The way to Haeinsa was so peaceful as it is in the middle of a mountain. Haeinsa houses the Tripitaka Koreana, a collection of Buddhists texts engraved in over 80,000 woodblocks. According to a friend, many people believed that the Tripitaka Koreana protected them from the Japanese.

The Haeinsa Temple Janggyeong Panjeon, the Depositories for the Tripitaka Koreana Woodblocks is recognized as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site.

Before reaching the main temple we passed by this site which at first I honestly had no idea what it is about until our friend explained its story. That’s the good thing about travelling with someone who’s familiar about the place. hehe.

I was stunned by the dandelions. I don’t why, but it always cheers me up every time I see dandelions.

Haeinsa Temple

This the main entrance of Haeinsa. There are colorful lanterns in the temple since it was the during the month of May, the time when they celebrate Buddha’s birthday. Most temples in Korea are decorated by beautiful colorful lanterns usually every April to May for Buddha’s birthday.

Now we’ve reached the main temple. This is Haeinsa Temple. I have been to several temples in Korea but Haeinsa really captivates me. It’s too peaceful and the people who are visiting are devotedly praying.

sdrThe collection of the woodblocks or the Tripitaka Koreana is located at the back of the main temple.

Apparently, these woodblocks are precious cultural assets so they are stored inside and I didn’t get to see them up close.

This picture looks so real that you will really look like you are inside and touching the woodblocks.

Of course it’s spring and I spotted beautifully bloomed flowers in the temple. They add more color and appeal to the place.

Gaya Mountain

Haeinsa is located in the southwestern part of Gaya mountain. We followed this path to witness breathtaking scenery and fantastic landscape around the vicinity. It’s more than what I expected.

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A lady, who I bumped into and was staying in this place, told me to go up higher ‘coz the view is more beautiful so I did. Well, she’s right. It’s simply mesmerizing. No one is around but me.

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We also passed by other places in Gaya mountain. My visit to Haeinsa and Gaya mountain was so worth the long walk. Haeinsa is one of the three jewels temples in Korea and they offer temple stay program. Something you might be interested about, check it out.  It’s really an amazing place.

My 4 Seasons of Happiness in Korea

Like other countries, Korea has 4 seasons and all of them have made me always long to travel back to the country. You will never run out of places to visit and activities to do as there are festivals happening all year round. I have been asked several times what is the best season to visit Korea and I couldn’t pick one season to recommend because honestly I like them all. Let me share with you some photos of my trips and recommended places each season.

SPRING

Autumn is really beautiful but I think spring is my favorite. Mainly because of the weather. The temperature is getting warm and it’s easier for me to wander around. Of course, the flowers are blooming which makes the surroundings romantic. Though I’m not a romantic person but I find spring to be the most romantic of all seasons. You’ll see couples strolling around wearing couple outfits and families are having picnics at the parks. They are out having fun after hibernating during the freezing winter. It’s like a start of new life, as what my Korean friend said.

Now you might wonder what’s with spring? What you can expect to see in spring? It’s cherry blossom season. Cherry blossoms only last for about 2 weeks. They usually start blooming on late March and at its peak on the first week of April in some places. If you want to catch the cherry blossoms check out the forecast that’s being announced by the Korea Tourism Organization.

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This photo was taken at Gyeongbukgung Palace in Seoul

Jinhae Cherry Blossom festival is the biggest cherry blossom festival in the South Korea. Jinhae is a district in the city of Changwon in South Gyeongsang Province where over 350,000 cherry blossom trees bloom during spring. The festival is being held every first week of April.

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The 2 famous spots in Jinhae Cherry Blossom festival are Yeojwacheon Stream and the  Gyeonghwa Station.

The Yeojwacheon is also famously known as the Romance Bridge because it is a filming location of Korean drama “Romance”.

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Get your cameras ready when approaching the Gyeonghwa Station. You’ll be passing the cherry trees lined rail road.

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Getting there: If you are in Busan, you are less than 1 hour away from Jinhae by bus. If you are coming from Seoul, traveling via KTX is the best option. There is no KTX line in Jinhae Station though, you have to transfer Mugunghwa Line in Masan or Changwon Station. And take note that train to Jinhae Station runs only during the festival.

If you don’t have time to go Jinhae, head over to Yeouido in Seoul for the Yeouido Cherry Blossom festival.

Getting there: Get off at Yeouinaru Station (Subway Line 5), Exit 1. 20 minute walk.

In case you miss the cherry blossoms, don’t worry. There are other festivals to look forward to in spring. There’s the Yuchae Flower festival in Daejo Eco-Park along Nakdong River in Busan. Also known as rapeseed or canola flowers. You can see these flowers by mid April.

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Getting there: Get off at Gangseo-gu Office Station and go out exit 1 or 3

Another highlight of spring is the Taean Tulip Festival in Taean-gun, in South Chungcheong Province. I believe it’s one of the best tulips festivals in the world.

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Check out my previous post about the Taean Tulip Festival 2017 for more info.

AUTUMN

Who wouldn’t fall for autumn? It’s the most colorful season. You can spot autumn foliage everywhere in the country. Nami Island is beautiful all season and it’s stunning in autumn.

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The Ginkgo Tree Avenue is Asan is also one of the best places to witness the beauty of autumn.

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More details about my trip to Ginkgo Tree Avenue here.

If you don’t have time to go to other places outside Seoul, it’s okay, you can still have a wonderful autumn experience in Seoul. Don’t forget to visit Deoksugung, it’s a palace that’s famous for autumn foliage.

I also spotted this huge Ginkgo tree inside Gyeongbukgung Palace.

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WINTER

Winter in Korea can be really harsh. Most people hate the freezing winter. But since I live in tropical country, I enjoyed winter so much. It’s a dream come true to experience snow. Gangwon province is the most popular during winter season. There are a lot of ski resorts in Gangwon-do. It’s the host province of the 2018 Winter Olympics which will be held in Pyeongchang this February.

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One of the most accessible ski resorts is the Elysian Gangchon Ski Resort. It’s near Nami Island.

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Getting there: Get off at Baegyang-ri Station. A complimentary shuttle ride is provided from Baegyangri Station to the resort.

SUMMER

Summer is not a new season to me. I grew up and still living in a country where it’s like summer all year hehe. Summer in Korea is really hot but not humid. It can also be considered as the rainy season in Korea.  It’s the season when I traveled to Jeju Island. I was lucky it didn’t rain too much during my trip. I like the bright green leaves of summer.

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Because it’s summer, it’s time to sunbathe. Haeundae Beach in Busan is also a must-visit place during summer to enjoy the sun.

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I don’t claim to be an expert, there might be some things I’ve missed but I’m glad I’m able to share the things I learned from my trips because it’s always been a fulfilling experience to travel around Korea whatever season it may be.

Now it’s up to you to decide in which season you would want to travel to Korea. Let me know if you need more information.

Happy travels everyone!