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First off, in case you’re wondering, yeah, that’s the correct spelling: Ewha WOMANS University. I also wondered about that years ago but my Korean friend corrected me and said it’s really spelled that way.

Ewha Womans University was Korea’s first educational institute for women. It was founded way back in 1886 by an American missionary and to date, the university has 15 graduate schools, 11 colleges with 67 departments, and several research institutes. The Ewha Campus Complex is the largest underground campus in Korea. It has a library, bookstore, gym, cafes, movie theater, and on the first floor, there are lecture rooms and an eco-park.

Last spring, I was able to check out Ewha Womans University and because it was a Sunday afternoon that time, the university wasn’t busy, and I headed out with my family, we decided to spend some time at the campus and have a lovely afternoon snack there. After going around the school, we walked back to the Ahyeon-dong Wedding Street.

I wasn’t able to take photos of the alleys around Ewha Womans University and of the Ahyeon-dong Wedding Street as I was the one pushing my son’s stroller. But just to give you an idea of what to expect in the area, it is helpful to note that it is a popular shopping district and being a university area, it’s common to see clothes, shoes, and accessories shops, as well as salons, restaurants, and cafes that are mainly intended for the young people.

Parking here with some photos below and I will catch up with you on my next post. Til then, annyeong!

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In my previous visits to Seoul, I have always stayed in the Jongno area, specifically in the heart of Samcheong-dong, and because it’s the neighborhood that I am most familiar with, I have declared so many times in the past that my favorite neighborhood in all of Seoul is Samcheong-dong. Even to date, Samcheong-dong still one of my favorite neighborhoods but my list of favorites is growing the more I visit Seoul.

Last Spring, however, I did not get to spend time in Samcheong-dong at all because I purposely wanted to explore the west of Gyeongbokgung that time. I visited Seochon, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Jongno-gu which translates to “Western Village” as it is geographically located at the west of Gyeongbok Palace. Historically, Korean literature has plenty of references to Seochon neighborhoods. But I did not learn about Seochon through history. I got curious about it after watching “Legendary Witches” because Seochon was the setting for that drama. Actually, if you’ve been to Tosokchon, the famous Samgyetang place near Gyeongbokgung, then you’ve been to Seochon.

Read more about my route going to and around Seochon below.

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One of my favorite places to come back to whenever I am in Seoul is obviously Myeongdong. It is a paradise for shoppers and foodies and while always evolving, it is still home to some of the old-time favorites, both of the locals and tourists like me. I have written about Myeongdong for the first time in 2012 and for the second time in 2014. Despite having been to Myeongdong twice in the past, visiting Myeongdong everyday during the 5-day Seoul leg of my trip felt like it’s always the first time. There’s always something new to experience, something new to discover. Myeongdong continues to excite me (and my palate!), and if you are visiting Seoul for the first time, please make sure that you allot ample time for Myeongdong.

I have a lot to share with you so please be prepared to read a massive wall of post. I stayed in Myeongdong (right outside Exit 2 of  subway station to be precise) and I am going to write a quick review of my guesthouse. I will also update you with my foodie finds in Myeongdong and they’re all drool-worthy that just thinking about them makes me feel like I’m going to pass out from extreme craving. And as usual, I will be ending this post with a clip of our nightly walk from the guesthouse to the famous Myeongdong shopping streets.

*All references to Myeongdong in this post will be hyperlinked to www.myeongdong.org, a great reference for all things about Myeongdong.

Myeongdong MOM House

In my previous visits to Seoul, I stayed at 126 Mansion which was then operating in Palpandong, Jongno, in the heart of Samcheongdong. Had 126 Mansion been operating still, I would have stayed there again this time. However, they closed their guesthouse in Seoul and moved to the countryside which left me looking for a place to stay in for my recent visit. Searching led me to Myeongdong MOM House and I’m just glad to have found this gem.

If you’re a fan of Super Junior, specifically Kyuhyun, you would probably be familiar with Myeongdong MOM House. It’s a relatively new guesthouse, established sometime in 2014, which is situated so close to Myeongdong Station and right across the famous and busy shopping streets of Myeongdong. The station is about 80 meters away from the guesthouse and walking across to the shops will take less than 3 minutes. Another great thing about it is that the bus stop for airport limo bus 6015, the airport bus that stops in Myeongdong, is just across the street so going from/to the airport to reach the guesthouse is a breeze.

But apart from this guesthouse being in the center of it all, what I like about it is that the rooms are clean. They’re small but neat and has the basic things I need like hair dryer, heater, mini ref, TV, and wifi, among others. Breakfast is also served which may be simple but it’s a convenient freebie that I’m thankful for because I need not worry or think about what/where to eat in the morning. And lastly, their rooftop is nice and it’s a place I used to go to when I wanted some quiet time after a tiring day of nothing but pure walking. Their rooftop has a view of N Seoul Tower to boot!

I got Room C for 2 days and transferred to the Family Studio Suite when my husband and preschooler arrived. Their rate is not cheap as compared with the other guesthouses in the area but the location is definitely worth the extra penny.

Myeongdong MOM House Information
  • Address: Myeongdong MOM House, 11, Toegye-ro 22-gil, Jung-gu, 04629 Seoul
  • Telephone: +82-02-779-0000
  • Website: http://mom2014.anywiz.co.kr/
  • How to get there: Take Exit 2 of Myeongdong Station, walk for about 30 meters until you reach the corner of Hotel Prince. Turn right and walk for another 40-50 meters until you see MOM House/De’ete Espresso.
Myeongdong Cathedral

For me and my family, no visit to Seoul is complete without hearing Mass at the Myeongdong Cathedral. When we used to stay in Samcheongdong before, and because we traveled to Seoul in big groups, we would always visit Myeongdong Cathedral by taxi. It’s easier to take a taxi for big groups and it’s more cost-efficient. This time though, since it’s a short distance away from Myeongdong MOM House, we just walked going to the church.

I was still amazed at how disciplined the church goers were. They waited outside for the next Mass unlike here where people squeeze themselves inside the church even if Mass has already started and even if there are no more seats available. In Seoul, church goers are able to follow the Mass because they have pamphlets, Bibles, and monitors evenly distributed inside the church. Everyone gets to a chance to donate regardless of the amount and it is as orderly as the Communion. As always, it is something I hope to experience here in the Philippines.

In my most recent visit to the church, my family had to wait for the next Mass which was why we were able to check out the church’s compound. There’s a mini park at the back with Mama Mary’s grotto and there is some sort of an annex where we were able to find a branch of one of the best cafes in Seoul (the main store, I believe is in Hongdae) – Coffee Libre.

Myeongdong Cathedral Information
  • Address: 74, Myeongdong-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul 서울특별시 중구 명동길 74 (명동2가)
  • Telephone: +82-2-774-1784
  • Website: https://www.mdsd.or.kr/english/parish.asp
  • How to get there: The nearest route is from Exit 8 of Myeongdong Station. Walk for about 10 meters until you reach the first street corner. Turn left and walk along that street for 320 meters until you reach an intersection. Your landmark is Olive Young. Turn right and walk for about 110 meters until you see the ramp/stairs going up to Myeongdong Cathedral. It’s not really a steep walk but if you need to take a lift, before you reach the ramp going up to the Church, you’ll find a flight of stairs going down to some shops. Take that and follow the signs to the lift. It will take you up to Myeongdong Cathedral.
Coffee Libre Myeongdong
  • Address: Seoul, Jung-gu, Myeongdong 2(i)-ga, Myeongdong-gil, 74 102호(명동2가)
  • Telephone and hours: +82 2-774-0615 / Open from 11am to 9pm
  • Website: http://coffeelibre.kr/
  • How to get there: Similar to how you get to Myeongdong Cathedral, take Exit 8 of Myeongdong Station. Walk for 10 meters then turn left at the first street corner. Walk straight for 320 meters until you see an intersection with an Olive Young branch. Turn right and walk for about 100 meters. You’ll see a parking entryway and then after that, a flight of stairs going down. Go down and follow the directions going to where Coffee Libre is. This building has an elevator going up to Myeongdong Cathedral.

For easy reference on where Coffee Libre is or where the elevator to Myeongdong Cathedral is, please see below:

Namdaemun Market

I haven’t had the chance to visit Namdaemun Market in my previous visits to Seoul which was why I made sure that for my visit last spring, and considering that MOM House is in the center of everything I needed to visit in Myeongdong, I had to head over to Namdaemun Market and check out the place.

Namdaemun Market is accessible by subway through Exit 5 of Hoehyeon Station, one station away from Myeongdong. In this post though, I’ll show you how I walked from MOM House to Namdaemun Market. You can actually walk along the main street but I chose to walk inside the shopping streets of Myeongdong so that it doesn’t get too boring as I pass through the shops.

From Myeongdong MOM House, I crossed towards the shopping streets which popularly start from Exits 6/7 of Myeongdong Station. The view from the point is what you’ll see from the very first photo in this post. From there, one can already see the huge Nature Republic wall at the left. I walked towards that corner and turned left. A little walking led me to Line Friends Store in Myeongdong.

If I may digress, you may note a small foreign exchange shop in the photo above which is just beside Line Friends Store. I checked out different foreign exchange shops in the area and for my first 2 days in Seoul, that shop was the one that offered the best exchange rate for Philippine Peso to Won. For the last three days, the shop that offered the best exchange rate was the one in front of Myeongdong Theater. There, you’ll see a Teenie Weenie store with a small entry beside it. Go in there and take the lift to the foreign exchange shop.

Going back to Line Friends Store, there’s a queue for a pictorial with this huge teddy bear so I had to fall in line too. Thankfully, some gracious tourists took my photo. That pose though was something I copied from previous tourists who had their photos taken. I thought it was the “norm” because everyone before me did it but later on I realized it was crazy of me to think that way. Of course, we’re free to pose however which we like but I just didn’t think of that. It was maybe because there was a slight pressure to pose fast as the queue was getting long, and copying those before me definitely was the faster way to do it.

So I continued walking from Line Friends Store for about 200 meters more until I saw Shinsegae Department Store at the other side of the street. The street is a major one which means it’s big and there’s a designated pedestrian lane to cross to the other side. I just walked through the pedestrian lane and continued walking along that street in between Shinsegae Department Store and Shinsegae Main Building.

After another 100 meters more of walking, I reached one part of Namdaemun Market. From Myeongdong MOM House to Namdaemun, following my route, it was about a 600-meter walk all in all. It is definitely not far and for those who are not used to walking, please trust me when I say that this would not hurt you even a tiny bit. The shops and the vibe in the shopping streets will entertain you such that you won’t realize how near Namdaemun Market is.

That’s the map of my route to Namdaemun Market. The market is huge so I added some captions on areas where I found certain items. Actually, you can find accessories, for example, in several stalls in the market but I  added a caption for certain areas where there are a lot of accessory shops situated near each other. IMPORTANT: Note the two parallel red lines with the caption “GALCHI JORIM.” It’s the famous hairtail alley. I don’t have a picture and I know that you gotta take a shot or it didn’t happen. It sucks, I know. But. If you happen to go to Namdaemun Market, please try eating at the Galchi Jorim Alley/Hairtail Alley. You won’t regret it. Promise.

Namdaemun Market is massive. Personally, I think I need one whole day for it. Be prepared to shop but know that the items are priced low as compared to those you’ll find in Myeongdong shops or in department stores. Happy shopping!

Namdaemun Market Information 
  • Address; 21, Namdaemunsijang 4-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul 서울특별시 중구 남대문시장4길 21 (남창동)
  • Telephone and hours: +82-2-753-2805 / 23:00-17:00 (the next day) *Operating hours will vary by shop / Closed on Sundays
  • Website: http://www.namdaemunmarket.co.kr/01_int/01.php
  • How to get there:
    • Option 1: Walking from Myeongdong Shopping Streets to Namdaemun – Take Exit 6/7 of Myeongdong Station and walk to the corner of Nature Republic. Turn left and walk for about 300 meters until you reach a big street with Shinsegae Department Store in front of you. Find the pedestrian crossing to go to the other side. Continue walking after you crossed for another 200 meters or so until you reach Namdaemun Market.
    • Option 2: By subway – Take Exit 5 of Hoehyeon Station (Seoul Subway Line 4).
    • Option 3: Buy bus – Namdaemun Market & Hoehyeon Station Bus Stop
      • Green Bus: 0013, 0014, 0015, 7011, 7013, 7017, 7022
      • Blue Bus: 130, 104, 152, 162, 163, 201, 202, 261, 406, 500, 501, 502, 503, 504, 505, 506, 507, 701, 708
      • Red Bus: 2300, 2500, 9411
      • Airport Bus: 605-1
Restaurant Finds

I got to try a couple of restaurants/cafes in Myeongdong this time. Before going on my trip, I already listed the restaurants I wanna visit in Myeongdong and even plotted them on my map but there wasn’t just enough time to even try a couple of them. Later, I’ll share with you that map for reference.

Yoogane Chicken Galbi

One of the restaurants that I tried was Yoogane with their popular Chicken Galbi dish. The branch that we visited was the one near Exit 8. I’ll show it in the map later.

If you’re bringing your baby with you, know beforehand that they won’t allow strollers inside so your baby should be able to sit on a chair already else he/she would need to be in a baby carrier with you. If you order chicken galbi, the minimum order is 2 servings but what you’re seeing above is 4 servings. They will bring the ingredients and cook everything for you at your table so all you need to do is just wait for the dish to cook and you’re ready to eat. My husband loved the food. I liked it but I’ve tasted better chicken galbis. The one from Nami Island that I tasted way back in 2014 was by far more delicious.

Myeongdong Kyoja

Outside Yoogane was a new branch for Myeongdong Kyoja, known for their kalguksu and mandu. It was still under construction when we were there but on the day of our flight, it was open already. I was amazed at how quick construction in Korea is. I can just imagine that it would have taken months and months for contractors to finish the work here in Manila! (Building our house took more than a year and I can rant without end against our contractor but I’d rather not *sheesh*)

Twosome Coffee

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It’s so ironic that I am not a beach-lover to think that I grew up in a coastal town where my family used to have a vacation house by the beach. I remember spending every summer vacation there since I was kid until college. While I enjoy being at the beach, it’s not something that I will intentionally plot in my upcoming trips calendar unless my 4-year old is coming with me because that little one is an aquaphile.

However, when I was planning for my 10-day Busan/Seoul trip last Spring 2017, I found myself including Haeundae Beach in my itinerary. I intended to visit Haeundae Beach because I’ve never heard of a beach being accessible by subway and I wanted to experience it myself. In short, I was more interested about the transport system than the beach itself. Sure enough, Dynamic Busan didn’t fail to impress. As I said in a previous post, transportation in Korea is seamless and it makes going around the city very convenient, and that includes going to the beach.

Haeundae Beach is the most famous beach in Busan. The Haeundae District is an expensive beach front neighborhood that accounts for about 11% of Busan’s population. It has been developed into a commercial district and in fact, when I visited last April 2017, there’s a lot of road construction going on.

The beach is about 1.5-km long and it creates a beautiful coastline. A lot of people visit Haeundae Beach every summer. There are luxury hotels in the area, and guesthouses or Airbnb places have pretty much increased their presence too. If you go to Busan for the beach, Haeundae district is an ideal option for a homebase. However, I went to Busan for sightseeing and I did not intend to spend a lot of time at the beach and so I opted to stay in Seomyeon instead. If you’re going to Busan for purposes like mine, Haeundae is not going to be an ideal neighborhood because it takes roughly 40 minutes by subway to get to the center of the city.

I remember arriving in Haeundae Beach around 5-6pm. It wasn’t dark yet and I found it a great time to relax. The people I encountered were a combination of tourists and locals but the ones I envy the most are the office workers in their suits who were headed to the beach to unwind after a day’s work. How I wish there’s a place like this somewhere near Metro Manila that I can reach by train in 40 minutes. It will greatly help reduce my cortisol levels!

Haeundae Beach, though not as beautiful as the white sand beaches in Palawan or Boracay, has a distinct charm of its own and is definitely one of the sites you should not miss when visiting Busan. 

Directions to Haeundae Beach:
  • Address: 264, Haeundaehaebyeon-ro, Haeundae-gu, Busan 부산광역시 해운대구 해운대해변로 264 (우동)
  • Directions: Haeundae Station (Busan Subway Line 2), Exit 5, 7. Walk straight to the beach for about 500 meters. You’ll be passing through restaurants, convenience stores and shops along the way and before you know it, you’ll be crossing the pedestrian lane towards the beach (see last photo above of the pedestrian crossing).
BEFORE YOU GO...
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LUGGAGE SERVICE 
  • SAFEX Airport Luggage Services. Drop off your luggage at the airport, and SAFEX will deliver it to your hotel. That means, you can start your tour upon arrival without having to worry about your luggage! On your way back, leave your luggage at your hotel, and SAFEX will pick it up and bring it back to the airport.
  • LuggAgent Seoul Airport Luggage Services. Similar to SAFEX, LuggAgent will take care of your luggage for you so that your time is freed up for other things without you worrying about your luggage!
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The highlight of my Busan trip was my visit to Oryukdo Island. I consider it as the best spot I have visited in Busan because it made me fully understand why a trip to see the ocean was worth all that hype. This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the other spots, but for me, personally, I was just drawn towards Oryukdo because the views there were amazing and it was not at all physically taxing to get there. Whereas it was tiresome to get good views in Taejongdae and that I’ve seen better beaches than Haeundae, on the other hand, Oryukdo was simply breathtaking.

My starting point for going to Oryukdo Island was Busan Station. I actually came from Gamcheon Culture Village in the morning and took a cab to get to Busan Station. In case you missed it in my previous post, the cab ride from Gamcheon Culture Village to Busan Station was about 4,800 won.

Below, I’ll be talking more about how to reach Oryukdo and as always, I’m going to end the post with a short video clip of my visit.

The first time I got to Busan Station was when I arrived from Incheon International Airport via the KTX. At that time, I was exhausted from the flight and transfers plus it’s raining hard so all I really wanted to do was to get to my hotel in Seomyeon and take some much needed rest. In short, I wasn’t able to take a look around the station.

But on that day that I came from Gamcheon Culture Village, I thought of spending some time in Busan Station given that it will be my starting point for Oryukdo. It was then that I was able to explore the different sections inside Busan Station. It’s rather small in actuality than how I perceived it when I saw the movie Busanhaeng (KTX To Busan/Train to Busan).

The iconic Busan Station is the terminus for the most important railway line in South Korea that links Busan with Seoul in just under 3 hours using the high-speed railway that we call the KTX.

I arrived in Busan Station around lunch time. I bought “cup chicken” from one of the stalls at the top of the escalators in front of the main entrance. There were restaurants inside but I was just dying to try this sweet and spicy chicken dish. One cup costs 3,000won in Busan and that’s pure chicken, not mixed with tteokbokki. The same size of cup is being sold in Myeongdong for 5,000won and the chicken is mixed with tteokbokki. My only point is that I like that Busan prices are much lower than Seoul’s.

So what I did was I got the cup chicken to go and ate it under the trees outside Busan Station. There’s like a park with benches in front of the bus stop for Oryukdo. It’s definitely not a fancy thing to do but I enjoyed my lunch so much. If ever you’re in Busan Station, please try the cup chicken. It’s delish!

 

There are two bus stops outside Exit 10 of Busan Station. If you can see clearly from the photo above, there is another bus stop in front of that sign where you can see Bus No. 27. Just follow the signs and make sure you are waiting at the correct bus stop. While we’re on the topic about the two bus stops there, let me just say that the other bus stop is where I hopped onto my bus back to Seomyeon. So I got a taxi from Gamcheon to Busan Station, hopped onto Bus 27 for Oryukdo, got the same bus and went back to Busan Station, and then I just transferred to the other stop and hailed Bus 83 back to Seomyeon. The bus system, or transportation in general, in Seoul and Busan is seamless and it makes getting from one point to another very convenient. Easy peasy.

This is what you’ll see when you get off at the second SK Humun bus stop (back gate)

Now, the bus ride from Busan Station to Oryukdo Island will take about 30-40 minutes. There are many bus stops along the way, I’d say about 25. Your destination is the last stop so you don’t actually need to listen to each stop in fear of missing yours. But for your peace of mind, let me repeat that there will be many bus stops like around 25 of them. When you hear that the next stop is SK Humun, you’re near Oryukdo. However, hold your horses yet because there are two SK Humun stops. The first one is at the front gate, and the next one is at the back gate. Don’t alight at the first SK Humun stop. Get off at the next stop. You’ll know that you are at the correct SK Humun stop because you can see Oryukdo Island from afar.

Oryukdo Island, depending on the day and tide, may appear to be composed of five or six islands (‘o’ means five and ‘yuk’ means six in Korean). Made purely of stones/rocks, five out of the six islands are uninhabited.

The Skywalk is nestled on top of that uphill winding road

The Oryukdo Skywalk construction was completed in 2012 and has been a popular tourist attraction since then. It’s set up over a 35-meter high coastal cliff and is composed of a 15-meter glass bridge overlooking the ocean. Because it is made of glass, visitors will be able to see the waves while looking down through the glass floor.

Unfortunately, the Skywalk was closed when we visited. Some repairs were going on and might take a day or two to finish.

Notwithstanding the temporary closure of the Oryukdo Skywalk, the stunning views totally made up for it and that fact didn’t deter us from enjoying our visit. Oryukdo is so beautiful. The weather also contributed greatly. I went there a little after lunch when the sun is all out, but it wasn’t hot at all because the cold spring wind was blowing so comfortably. If there’s one thing you should not miss in Busan, it definitely is a trip down to Oryukdo Island and it will be perfect if you visit in spring.

I’m parking here for now. Until my next post, Annyeong!

Directions to Oryukdo Island/Oryukdo Skywalk:
  • Address: 137, Oryukdo-ro, Nam-gu, Busan 부산광역시 남구 오륙도로 137 (용호동)
  • Subway then Bus: At Busan Station, take Exit 10. There are two bus stops there. Take Bus No. 27. After 30-40 minutes, get off at the second SK Humun stop. From there, walk for about 275 meters to reach the Oryukdo Skywalk.
BEFORE YOU GO...
Check out these amazing deals that will make your travel to Korea really convenient and hassle-free!
DISCOUNTED EAST BUSAN EXPLORATION TOURWIFI EGG/SIM CARD
LUGGAGE SERVICE 
  • SAFEX Airport Luggage Services. Drop off your luggage at the airport, and SAFEX will deliver it to your hotel. That means, you can start your tour upon arrival without having to worry about your luggage! On your way back, leave your luggage at your hotel, and SAFEX will pick it up and bring it back to the airport.
  • LuggAgent Seoul Airport Luggage Services. Similar to SAFEX, LuggAgent will take care of your luggage for you so that your time is freed up for other things without you worrying about your luggage!
TRANSPORT/TRANSFERS
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One of the top 10 things to do in Busan as per Tripadvisor is to visit Gamcheon Culture Village. Said to be the Machu Picchu of Busan, Gamcheon Culture Village is composed of colorful houses built on the foothills of a coastal mountain. The many alleys that cut through this community are vibrantly decorated with murals and sculptures created by the residents themselves.

I visited Gamcheon Cultural Village in late April and the weather was perfect because even if it was cold, the sun was out and it made the weather really comfortable for sightseeing. In case you’re wondering about what you should wear in April in Busan or in Seoul, let me tell you that based on my experience, Busan is hotter than Seoul. Late April mornings in Busan would register about 16-18degrees Celsius while in Seoul, that would be around 12-15 degrees. The weather after a rain is colder. It was raining on my first day in Busan and the morning after was really cold like it was around 10-12 degrees.

Based on these temperature ranges, you will still need to wear layers but definitely not winter clothes unless you are super sensitive to cold weather. By layers, I mean long sleeve shirt, a jacket and a scarf. At night, I saw some people still wearing beanies but I personally did not find it necessary. I would suggest bringing a beanie and a pair of gloves only for contingency. At first, I was thinking whether I should wear my Uggs or FitFlop boots but they’re no longer necessary for spring. A comfy pair of sneakers was all I needed and I did not have problems with my feet getting cold or what.

After the jump, I’ll be telling you how to get there, what you can see or do there, and I’m also going to share a quick video clip that I took while in Gamcheon Culture Village.

To get to Gamcheon Culture Village, take the subway and get off at Toseong Station.  My home base in Busan was in Seomyeon and since both Seomyeon and Toseong Stations are both in Line 1, I did not need to transfer subway lines. It took me about 15 minutes to get to Toseong and the subway fare is 1,200won. At Toseong Station, look for Exit 6.

When you get out of Exit 6, you will immediately see a road intersection. Walk towards it and turn right. As you walk, you will see the Pusan National University Hospital Building at the right side of the road.

Continue walking until you see the bus stop where that green bus is.

The bus numbers you need to take are either Saha 1-1, Seogu 2, or Seogu 202 and they will drop you off at Gamcheon Elementary School. They’re local buses which are smaller than the city buses. You can pay in cash or use T-Money. However, the intervals for which the buses arrive at the bus stop are quite long and sometimes, the bus may be full so taking the bus might not be a time-efficient option if you have a packed itinerary.

My suggestion is to take a cab which I did and in less than 10 minutes, traffic permitting, you’ll be at the entrance of Gamcheon Culture Village. The taxi fare I paid amounted to around 3,200 won. I highly suggest getting a cab from Toseong Station especially if you are in a group of at least 3 persons because the taxi fare to Gamcheon Culture Village will turn out cheaper than paying individual bus fares plus it will get you to the village faster than if you wait for the next bus.

I got a cab only from Toseong Station. I’m not sure how much the taxi fare will be if I just went to the village straight from Seomyeon. If, however, you are coming from Busan Station, you can already get a cab from there and the fare will be around 4,800 won. That’s the amount I paid when I went back to Busan Station from Gamcheon Culture Village.

That’s the entrance to the village. Entrance is free but should you want to get a map, the cost is 2,000 won. Turn right at the archway and you’ll find the tourism office at the right.

Aside from the map, you will also be given a card to put stamps on if you visit certain locations. If you complete the stamps, you’ll be getting a reward or something. I didn’t intend to spend a lot of time there so I just got the map. The photos below were primarily taken from the main road. I didn’t go through the alleys but I did enter some shops and cafes to get a better view of the village.

I don’t understand what the hype is all about but tourists take photos of those birds and it seems like it’s a popular thing to do.

There are plenty of shops selling snacks so you won’t really go hungry as you go around the area.

Everybody would like to get a photo with that fish as the background. I found it challenging because there were too many tourists and most of them don’t seem to understand the meaning of waiting for your turn. Rather than having my photo taken with the fish, I just took a photo of it while standing at the other side of the road.

Locks of love in Gamcheon Culture Village

By following the map, you’ll find this famous spot of The Prince overlooking Gamcheon Culture Village in no time. This is a popular photo spot. As you might have read elsewhere, the drill here is that you will sit beside the Prince, put your arm around him, tilt your head towards his head or rest it upon his shoulder, look far away, and have your companion take that shot from behind. The line for a photo with The Prince was long so I decided to skip it. Also, it was too much of a production number for a solo traveler and I was so scared at the thought of sitting beside him which is dangerous, by the way. Just thinking about it is making my knees wobble. Anyhow, if you plan to sit beside The Prince, just be very careful.

Getting a good feel of Gamcheon Culture Village can be done in an hour, I think. However, if you want to spend some time in a cafe or discover more hidden gems in the alleys, then prepare to be there for at least 2 hours.

Hope this post helps. Til my next one, Annyeong!

Directions to Gamcheon Culture Village:
  • Address: 203, Gamnae 2-ro, Saha-gu, Busan 부산광역시 사하구 감내2로 203 (감천동)
  • From Goejeong Station: Goejeong Station (Busan Subway Line 1), Exit 6. Take local bus Sakha 1 or Sakha 1-1 to Gamcheon Elementary School Bus Stop.
  • From Toseong Station: Toseong Station (Busan Subway Line 1), Exit 6. Take local bus Saha 1-1, Seogu 2 or Seogu 2-2 to Gamcheon Elementary School Bus Stop.
  • By Taxi: From Busan Station, taxi fare is around 4,800 won. From Toseong Station, taxi fare is around 3,200 won.
BEFORE YOU GO...
Check out these amazing deals that will make your travel to Korea really convenient and hassle-free!
DISCOUNTED BUSAN EAST COAST CULTURAL DAY TOURWIFI EGG/SIM CARD
LUGGAGE SERVICE 
  • SAFEX Airport Luggage Services. Drop off your luggage at the airport, and SAFEX will deliver it to your hotel. That means, you can start your tour upon arrival without having to worry about your luggage! On your way back, leave your luggage at your hotel, and SAFEX will pick it up and bring it back to the airport.
  • LuggAgent Seoul Airport Luggage Services. Similar to SAFEX, LuggAgent will take care of your luggage for you so that your time is freed up for other things without you worrying about your luggage!
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Last April, I spent 4 days in Busan and as I said in my previous post, I stayed in the area of Seomyeon. It’s a strategic area to stay at for sightseeing because the subway station there is an interchange for Lines 1 and 2 which are mostly used to reach common tourist attractions in Busan. After visiting Nampodong though, I figured it’s also a great neighborhood to stay at when in Busan and even if it doesn’t have a subway interchange, it’s not too inconvenient at all because Nampo Station (Line 1) is just a few stops away from Seomyeon.

Nampodong is a central commercial and shopping area and while it is where most tourists go in Busan, it is not as tourist-infested as Myeongdong. This neighborhood has it all: malls, theaters, shops, restaurants, street food, markets, and even tourist attractions like the BIFF square, Yongdusan Park, and the Busan Tower. I like the vibe of Myeongdong and Seoul in general because it’s livelier than Busan but if we’re talking about shopping, I might choose to shop in Nampo rather than in Myeongdong because it is not too crowded.

If you’re doing a DIY itinerary in Busan, I suggest that you allocate at least half a day for Nampodong. I’ll be sharing a map below which covers pretty much all the must-visit areas in this neighborhood and  you’ll be surprised to know that they’re so close to each other that all you need to do is just to prepare yourself to walk, walk, and walk. 

This is the map that I made and followed when I visited Nampodong. I started at the right side of the map, particularly at the Lotte Department Store Gwangbok Branch, and then I moved my way to the left towards BIFF Square. Just to let you know in advance though that I did not visit Jagalchi Fish Market. A lot of people might say that it is a must-visit in Busan but I never intended to go there because I was not particularly keen to visiting fish markets. However, if you plan to go, Jagalchi Fish Market is across BIFF square. You can see Jagalchi Station at the bottom left of the map; the market is about a 5-minute walk away.

So let’s start with Lotte Department Store Gwangbok Branch. Lotte is one of the major department stores in Korea and this branch in Gwangbok is famous because it is the first seaside department store in the country. While there, I noticed some huge construction going on for what they call Lotte Town. Judging from the tarpaulin signages, I assumed that it’s going to be a huge complex with residential condominiums and more commercial spaces for shopping, eating, entertainment and relaxation.

Do you need to go there if you won’t be shopping anyways? Even if you’re not shopping, it’s still a nice place to see especially if it’s raining or if you can’t think of a place to eat. When at the Lotte Department Store Gwangbok Branch, you can go to the Main Store or to the Aqua Mall.

At the Main Store, you can check out the Sky Park at the 11th floor, the Observation Deck at the 12th floor, and coffee shops at the 13th floor. As for me though, my favorite is Basement 1 because that’s where the Food Court is. If you’re coming with kids, you might want to bring them to the Aqua Mall, specifically at the 6th floor where there’s a kid’s cafe and Hello Kitty and Teddy Bear stores.

If you continue to walk towards the left, you’ll soon be entering Gwangbok-dong Cultural and Fashion Street. It is Busan’s heart of fashion, art, culture and shopping. As I said, it has Myeongdong feels but is less crowded. Walking along Gwangbok-ro will lead you to BIFF Square eventually but when there, I did a quick side tour to Yongdusan Park and Busan Tower.

 

When you enter Gwangbok-ro, stick to the right side of the road and walk for about 150-180 meters and you’ll soon see this flight of stairs or sets of escalators. I don’t want to point out the establishment beside it because it might change anytime but if it has any bearing, at the time I went there, I found the escalators just before Gong Cha.

After going through sets and sets of escalators, I finally reached Yongdusan Park. I still climbed up to the base of Busan Tower but did not go up any further. After going through a major hardship climbing down and up at Taejongdae, seeing more stairs at Yongdusan Park scared the hell out of me! I was just so thankful for the escalators and even if they just go one-way to the top, they’re such a huge blessing. Of course, I had to take the stairs going down but it was rather easy. I’m not sure if I did it correctly but I counted a total of 268 steps from the top. Can you just imagine what could’ve happened to me if the escalators weren’t there?!?

Just before I went back to street level, I had to stop and take a photo of the view up there with Lotte Department Store and the other buildings at the backdrop. I stood there to simply steal a moment to breathe in and out slowly and I found it to be too calming. I didn’t realize that so many happy and thankful thoughts were already racing through my mind that I already spent 20 minutes of quiet time there. It was my first time to travel without my husband and son and I was scared, anxious, and already tired from the flight, transfers and hiking, and it was just my first day! That 20-minute peaceful break gave me back my strength and confidence enough to let me endure the rest of my trip.

Back at street level, I continued walking along Gwangbok-dong Cultural & Fashion Street. I probably have a hundred photos taken there but I sort of just randomly chose 2 photos to post here. What I like about the shops there is that each store is big and spacious and it makes shopping very relaxing. I never experienced bumping into anyone or swerving here and there to avoid people who seem like they will bump into me.

As I walked further, I finally reached Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) Square. If it’s not the festival season, this place is basically just a continuation of the fashion street. What makes it better though is the presence of street food carts! Korean street food is nothing short of amazing.

From Gwangbok fashion street, BIFF Square and the Jagalchi Fish Market will be to your left. If you turn right, you’ll be heading to the Meokja Golmok area of Gukje Market. Connected to Gukje is Bupyeong Market where you can find more eateries. It was already dark when I reached BIFF Square, not to mention that it was also very cold, that I decided not to drop by Gukje or Bupyeong Market anymore. Meokja Golmok is an alley of eateries, usually run by ahjummas selling gimbap, odeng (fish cake), and sikhye (rice drink).

Back at the street food scene in BIFF Square, there’s tteokbokki, hotteok, eomuk, odeng, and everything delicious. I noticed also that there’s a newly opened Uniqlo store there so I went in to have a quick look. After that, I headed to Lotteria to have some burgers for dinner.

I continued to explore the area a little more after which, I headed back to Seomyeon to call it a day. Directions follow. Stay tuned for my next post. Annyeong!

Directions:

Here’s another map of Nampodong. Feel free to use this one or my map above.

  • LOTTE DEPARTMENT STORE GWANGBOK BRANCH. Nampo Station, Exit 10.
  • GWANGBOKDONG CULTURAL & FASHION STREET. Nampo Station, Exit 7. Turn left at Gwangbok-ro Street, the street in front of you upon getting off at Exit 7.
  • YONGDUSAN PARK / BUSAN TOWER.  When already at the Gwangbok Fashion Street, stick to the right and walk for 150-170 meters. The escalators going up to the park and tower are at the right.
  • BIFF SQUARE. From Yongdusan Park, go back to street level and continue walking along Gwangbok Fashion Street towards BIFF Square.
  • GUKJE MARKET. From the street upon going down the escalators to Yongdusan Park, walk for about 375 meters. Stick to the right side of the road and you’ll see Gukje Market at your right. Alternatively, get off at Jagalchi Station, Exit 7. Walk for about 30 meters and turn left at the first alley. Walk until you pass by 3 crossroads for about 5 minutes. Gukje Market will be on your right.
  • BUPYEONG (KKANGTONG) MARKET. Check map above. Bupyeong Kkangtong Market is opposite Gukje. If you’re coming from the subway, get off at Jagalchi Station, Exit 7. Walk for about 30 meters and turn left at the first alley. Walk straight for about 340m. Turn left and walk for a hundred meters more and Bupyeong Market shall be on your right.
BEFORE YOU GO...
Check out these amazing deals that will make your travel to Korea really convenient and hassle-free!
DISCOUNTED BUSAN EAST COAST CULTURAL DAY TOURWIFI EGG/SIM CARD
LUGGAGE SERVICE 
  • SAFEX Airport Luggage Services. Drop off your luggage at the airport, and SAFEX will deliver it to your hotel. That means, you can start your tour upon arrival without having to worry about your luggage! On your way back, leave your luggage at your hotel, and SAFEX will pick it up and bring it back to the airport.
  • LuggAgent Seoul Airport Luggage Services. Similar to SAFEX, LuggAgent will take care of your luggage for you so that your time is freed up for other things without you worrying about your luggage!
TRANSPORT/TRANSFERS
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Even before I flew to South Korea, I was already monitoring the weather in Busan via the Weather Underground app which, by the way, is the most awesome weather app in my opinion. I kinda expected that my first day will be rainy but I was still hoping that I’ll be able to explore a couple of places despite the rain. I planned to visit Shinsegae Centum City which was registered at the Guiness Book of World Records as the largest shopping complex in the world. It’s just about a 30-minute subway ride from Seomyeon; both are in Line 2 so no transfers were needed.

However, because of lack of sleep during my flight and the subsequent transfer to Busan from Incheon Airport, I reached Seomyeon past lunch feeling exhausted and really sleepy. There’s a nearby Kyochon at my hotel so I had my lunch there and soon enough, I was dozing off at the hotel like a dead-tired puppy.

I set the alarm to give me enough time to go to Centum City but I was too tired that I didn’t even hear it! While some people are not deterred by the rain, I personally felt disappointed that I could not make the most of my first day because of it. But rather than stay at the hotel after getting that much needed sleep, I instead spent the rest of the day at the Seomyeon Underground Shopping Center. It’s a great place to hang out when it’s raining because it’s like going around the usual shopping streets but only at a subway station underground.

Seomyeon Underground Shopping Center is huge. It’s like the underground shopping mall of Myeongdong but I think this one is bigger. Seomyeon is a subway interchange for Lines 1 and 2 so it’s a pretty busy subway station. When I was choosing for my homebase in Busan, I was looking at either Nampodong or Seomyeon. I chose Seomyeon because it is as busy as Myeongdong or Hongdae in Seoul but can also give me the benefit of a subway interchange which means I can easily go to my desired tourist attractions without having to undergo too many subway transfers.

 

They say that it is a must to buy Delimanjoo when at a subway station in South Korea. I bought Delimanjoo while at Seomyeon Station and I instantly understood why it’s a must-buy. It was raining and cold outside, and the hot custard filling of that small corn-like pancake totally made up a delicious yet filling snack. If I remember it correctly, I buy one bag everyday when I was in Busan and it’s enough to take care of my morning and afternoon snacks. And do you know how much each delicious bag costs? Just 3,000won!

I stopped by at a GS25 to buy some bottles of water and Binngrae banana milk. GS25 is a convenience store brand in Korea like 7-11, Ministop, or Family Mart. I had to take pictures of the cute packaging of their drinks section. I think my son’s gonna love those minion drinks. I remember that in my previous visits to Korea, I usually hoard banana milk and bring some home. I don’t need to do that anymore. There are plenty of Korean stores in Metro Manila now (there’s even one near our new house!) so I can buy boxes of them whenever I am craving.

There are many shops at the Seomyeon Underground Shopping Center. You can easily find a good store that sells clothes, accessories, hats or caps, shoes, bags, socks, gadgets, cellphone cases, etc.

I spotted some cute clutches like this one which is a Bottega Veneta weave-inspired bag. The texture is really nice and the leather was soft. And the good thing about it is that it’s sold for only 14,000won or roughly P630 Philippine pesos! But I did not buy one. I ended up buying a Chicago Bulls cellphone case for my husband’s phone and you know what? The cellphone case was more expensive!

The popular cosmetic stores have a strong presence at the underground shopping center too. And like anywhere else, some brands have even more than one store.

It stopped raining around 7:30pm and that was when I decided to get out of the station. Bujeon Market (coordinates: 35.16031, 129.0601) is so close nearby, like a block away from the hotel, so going back to my homebase meant seeing lots of fresh fruit stalls. It’s refreshing to transition to fruit stalls after seeing too many cosmetic stores at the underground shopping center.

On a typical sunny day, my route in Busan always started with crossing that street towards the station. If you can see the tree to the left of the pedestrian crossing, that’s where Exit 11 of Seomyeon Station is. It has escalators going up and at the back of that is also an elevator. It’s so helpful knowing that certain exits have escalators or elevators because it’s rare commodity in subways in South Korea.

What I would have done if it wasn’t raining…

Aside from the Bujeon Market and the Seomyeon Underground Shopping Mall, there are so many other places of interest near Seomyeon Station and I planned to visit all of them on my first day. But since it was raining, I got to squeeze them in, one by one, during my free time on other days. But as much as I wanted to really spend time on each place, I was only able to pass by and  have a quick look.

One can easily go to Lotte Department Store Busan because it’s just two blocks away from Exit 7. Sadly, I didn’t have the luxury of time to explore Lotte Department Store even though I actually stopped by the Starbucks branch at the street before it, just a few steps away from Exit 7. There’s also the famous Seomyeon 1-Beonga or Seomyeon First Street which is a few meters away from Exit 1. I did not spend a lot of time there even though I had lunch at some of the restaurants across Exit 1 and I sort of explored that little pocket of stores near the bus stop to Taejongdae.

I also planned to visit Jeonpo Cafe Street but unfortunately, as I said above, I didn’t have enough time. I definitely will be back some other time and all these places that I missed will definitely remain in my checklist.

Until my next post, Annyeong!

Directions Around Seomyeon: 
  • SEOMYEON UNDERGROUND SHOPPING CENTER
    • Directions: Just go through any Seomyeon station exit.
  • BUJEON MARKET
    • Directions: This may not be the easiest route but this is how I go there. From Exit 11, head towards the traffic light where you can see a pedestrian lane. Cross the street and walk to the left. Turn right at the first street. Walk straight for about 180 meters until you reach the market. At that side of the market, I found lots of stalls selling fresh fruits and vegetables. Note also that you will see some popular restaurants along the street with some of them having been featured in TV shows.
  • LOTTE DEPARTMENT STORE BUSAN
    • Directions: Take Exit 7 of Seomyeon Station. Cross two blocks and Lotte Department Store should be at your left.
  • SEOMYEON 1-BEONGA / SEOMYEON FIRST STREET
    • Directions: Walk out of Exit 1, Seomyeon Station, and turn right at the first block. Continue walking for about 100 meters until you reach the second street. Turn left. That’s the start of Seomyeon 1-Beonga.
  • JEONPO CAFE STREET
    • Directions: Head to Jeonpo Station, 1 station away from Seomyeon Station, and get off at Exit 7. Walk for about 140 meters until you reach the 2nd block at the left. Turn left there. That’s the start of Jeonpo Cafe Street.
BEFORE YOU GO...
Check out these amazing deals that will make your travel to Korea really convenient and hassle-free!
DISCOUNTED BUSAN EAST COAST CULTURAL DAY TOURWIFI EGG/SIM CARD
LUGGAGE SERVICE 
  • SAFEX Airport Luggage Services. Drop off your luggage at the airport, and SAFEX will deliver it to your hotel. That means, you can start your tour upon arrival without having to worry about your luggage! On your way back, leave your luggage at your hotel, and SAFEX will pick it up and bring it back to the airport.
  • LuggAgent Seoul Airport Luggage Services. Similar to SAFEX, LuggAgent will take care of your luggage for you so that your time is freed up for other things without you worrying about your luggage!
TRANSPORT/TRANSFERS
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