Green Tea Field in Boseong-gun, Korea

Hey green tea lovers! I’ve got something for you.  Have you heard about the Green Tea field in Boseong-gun? It has always been on my travel bucket list and I finally got to visit  during my recent trip to Korea. I know not everyone likes green tea but I’m pretty sure whether you like or not, you’re gonna fall for this place. In Korea it’s called 녹차밭 (Nok Cha Pat). The name of the green tea field is Daehan Dawon. As far as I know it’s the only tourist tea plantation in the country.

I’ve been to several places in Korea and I must say this is one of my favorite.

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In case you are interested to visit the place, here’s how I got there. Boseong is a county in Jeollanam-do. I came in from Gwangju. I purchased a intercity bus ticket bound for Boseong at U-Square Terminal. Travel time is 1.5 hrs. When you arrive at Boseong Bus Terminal, check the schedule of the buses posted in the wall. The schedules are all written in Korean though. The terminal is quite small and there are only few buses. The bus to the Daehan Dawon runs only every hour. You might want to check the schedule first to save your waiting time. Since it was my first time and I didn’t want to get lost, I asked all the  drivers if it’s the bus going to 녹차밭. Most of them understand English. So don’t worry about communicating with them.

While walking towards the field, you’ll pass by these woods. So beautiful. It was a very nice day.

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Entrance fee is 4,000 won.

Did you know that this field has been a shooting location for some Korean dramas and movies?  They’ve labelled each area where the particular drama or movie has been filmed. The latest drama I’ve watched that’s been filmed here is The Legend of the Blue Sea starring Lee Min Ho and Jeon Ji Hyeon.

There’s the autumn foliage and some autumn flowers.

Follow this path to arrive at the observatory.

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First you’ll see the view of Boseong and if you go up further, you’ll find a refreshing view of the ocean. Meaning you are already at the top of the mountain. Nice hike!

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After the hike, try out the green tea ice cream and green tea tteokbokki. Yes, you read it right, it’s green tea tteokbokki. A must-try when in the green tea field.

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Going back to the Boseong bus terminal is also easy. Just cross the tunnel and find the bus stop. The schedule is also posted in the bus stop. Remember to be mindful of the bus schedules as not so many buses run in Boseong.

 

Ginkgo Tree Avenue in Asan, Chungcheongnam-do

We all know that Korea has four seasons and each season have their own charms.  Autumn is definitely one of my many reasons to visit the country again. The yellow, red and orange fall foliage can be spotted everywhere. Nami Island is the most visited place outside Seoul especially for first time travelers to Korea. But have you also heard about the Ginkgo Tree Avenue in the city of Asan? If you try to look for the best places to visit in autumn, this place would always be on the list.

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It’s a 2km ginkgo tree-lined road. During autumn, the ginkgo leaves turn into golden yellow color. I went to see the ginkgo avenue on the 4th of November and it was a little early as most leaves are still colored green. The view is still amazing though.

I didn’t expect to see a variety of beautiful flowers in full bloom beside the lake.

Say Hello to the Cosmos flowers 🙂

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There were also chrysanthemum, sunflowers, silver grass and others.

It’s like autumn meets spring in Asan.

To go to the Gingko tree Avenue, via metro subway, get off at Onyang Ocheon Station (Line 1). Or via KTX, get off at Asan-Cheonan Station and transfer to Line 1 and get off at Onyang-Ocheon Station.

Upon exit, cross the road to find the bus stop and take bus #900 , #910 or #920. Or take a taxi, it will cost around ₩6,000.

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If you miss the Ginkgo tree avenue this year, don’t worry, it’s never too early to plan for the next autumn. So, let’s start planning. 🙂

 

 

Day trip to Damyang county in Jeollanam-do

I was told before that there’s nothing much to see in Damyang so I skipped it last April during my spring trip. But then, I felt like my trip was not complete because I missed Damyang. Then I planned another trip to Korea, this time it’s autumn. One of the best seasons to visit Korea. I decided to stay in Gwangju, it’s the closest city to Damyang-gun. From Gwangju, it takes less than an hour to go to Damyang County.

On my way to Damyang, I only had 3 places in my mind. First is the Bamboo Forest and second is the Metasequioa-lined road. The 3rd one is the Geumseongsanseong Fortress, which is a bit far so I know I won’t make it there.

How to go to Bamboo Forest from Gwangju? Take Bus #311 in the bus stop in front of Gwangju U-square bus terminal. Tell the driver you are going to 죽녹원 (Juknokwon). Get off at Juknokwon bus stop. Travel time is about 45mins.

This is the kind of view you’ll see the moment you get off the bus.

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Entrance fee is ₩3,000.

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This is so relaxing. It was too quiet. There were only 2 or 3 people during that time because it was early.

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The sound of the bamboo leaves as it dances with the wind made me want to fall asleep in this hammock.

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The rear entrance of the Bamboo Forest looks like this in autumn.

While walking towards the Metasequioa tree-lined road we passed by another scenic spot, the Gwanbangjerim forest.

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Finally,  I’ve reached the famous Metasequioa tree lined road in Damyang. It’s also a filming location of some K-dramas.

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Beside the Metasequioa trees, there’s the Kids Provence Metasequioa Land.

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Make sure to try out these traditional meal while you are in Damyang. I always like Korean food and I enjoy them every time I visit, but this one is one of the best meal I ever had in Korea.

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There is a Tourist information center near Juknokwon bus stop, which is on the opposite side of the Bamboo Forest. I was surprised when I got the tourist guide map that there are so many beautiful places to see in Damyang. Too bad I only allotted 1 day. Now there’s more reasons to come back.

 

 

 

 

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. 

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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!

 

Places to visit in Gyeongju, South Korea

I always wanted to visit Gyeongju before but I couldn’t because of some reasons. One of them is that I’m not living in Korea. I just travel from time to time for a short vacation and I only have limited time to visit places. But now, on my 5th trip to Korea, I finally made it to the city of Gyeongju in North Gyeongsang Province. Thanks to our Korean friend who drove us all the way to the city. Upon entering the toll gate, I’ve noticed the traditional-styled buildings including the toll gate itself, gas stations, restaurants and others.

Gyeongju is the Silla Kingdom capital of Korea. One of the three Kingdoms of Korea. It is also a place where you  can find several UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Here’s the list of the places I visited in Gyeongju which you might want to check out if you are planning to visit the city anytime soon.

Daereungwon Tomb Complex

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Daereungwon is where you’ll see the large royal tombs of the kings and nobles of the Silla Kingdom. They are large that they look like hills.

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The park has a really peaceful ambiance plus they play soothing music which will make you feel relax while strolling around the area.

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The photo above is the entrance to Cheonmachong. The crown and others relics can be found inside as shown in the photos below.

Cheomseongdae

Cheomseongdae is said to be the oldest existing astronomical observatory in Asia. It is a star-gazing tower, unfortunately the place is closed at that time.

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Seokbinggo

On our way to the Anapji Pond, we passed by Seokbinggo or the Stone Ice Storage.

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Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond

The Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond, formerly known as Anapji pond was a part of the palace complex of the ancient Silla. The place is open until 10pm, so you might want to save the night for Anapji to get some night shots of the beautifully lit up pond.

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Gyochon Traditional Village

Gyochon Traditional Village is small hanok village which allows you to look into the life of the famous Choi clan.

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It was spring and I enjoyed walking around the village with beautifully bloomed flowers lined up in the streets.

All places above are close to each other. They can be reached by foot but I suggest to rent a bicycle because the place is huge. There’s a bicycle rental near the Daereungwon.

Bulguksa Temple

Lastly, the Bulguksa Temple, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is a home to many cultural relics.

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That’s it for my Gyeongju trip this year. I am still hoping to visit the city again because of two things, first, I was not able to see Cheomseongdae and the second one is I want to see the night view of Wolji pond.

Let me know you have questions or share your photos and stories if you’ve already been to Gyeongju.

[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!