Wednesday, 20 April 2016

FLY TO SEOUL, BUSAN AND JEJU...!

You  can reach South Korea from Malaysia via a few airlines.
Your destination can be Incheon (Seoul) or Gimhae (Busan).
You can go to Gimpo Airport in Seoul from Incheon by Arex commuter train.
It takes about 35 minutes and costs 3350 Won.
Then from Gimpo (Seoul) or Busan, you can take a flight to Jeju Island.
From Busan to Seoul, you can either fly or take the KTX express train

There are direct flights to Korea and others that you need to stopover for a couple of hours.
Malaysia Airlines, Air Asia and Korean Air have direct flights to Korea. It takes about 6 hours to reach the country. Korea is one hour ahead of Malaysia.
Vietnam Airlines, China Eastern, Thai Airways and Cathay Pacific requires you to stopover at certain airports.

Many Malaysians either take Malaysian Airlines or Air Asia, which is usually cheaper.
You have to book in advance if you want to secure a low fare.
If you search the airline websites often and try different dates, you may get cheaper flights!

BUSAN GIMHAE AIRPORT

For example,
Let say you're going on a holiday from 28/11/16 to 4/12/16.

If you book with Air Asia, you will have to pay RM 1163 to RM1493 for return tickets. You will depart from KLIA2.

If you book with Malaysian Airlines, you will have to pay RM1987 to RM2219 for return tickets. You will depart from KLIA.

If you book with Korean Air, you need to pay RM2444 to RM3036 for return tickets. You will depart from KLIA.

Air Asia X :
- cheaper flight of course!
- you can travel to Incheon or Busan.
- you have to buy luggage, food and other things. 20kg for RM55.00 - RM60.00
- halal food

Malaysian Airlines :
- flight is more expensive
- flight is more comfortable
- food and luggage are included
in-flight entertainment
- you can only fly to Incheon
- halal food

Korean Air:
- flight is more expensive
- seats are wider and more comfortable
- food and luggage are included
- in-flight entertainment
- you can only fly to Incheon
- Muslim-friendly food can be booked

INCHEON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

There is no direct flight to Jeju from Malaysia, so you can either fly from Busan or Gimpo (Seoul) once you reach South Korea.
Some of the airlines that fly to Jeju are Korean Air, Asiana Air, Jeju Air and Jin Air.
It takes 65 minutes from Gimpo to Jeju and 55 minutes from Busan to Jeju.

My sister, her friends and I went to Jeju in June last year. We bought our own Air Asia ticket a few months earlier so that we could get cheaper fares to Busan. We didn't have to buy the domestic flight tickets to Jeju ourselves since it was already included in the ground tour package by JejuTnT (Jeju Tour and Travel). The tour was handled by a Malaysian, Ghani Salleh @ Wak who also acted as our guide and chauffeur!
Another Jeju tour you could try is handled by Kina Omar. You can search their Instagram accounts for latest offers and packages.

HALAL FOOD ON BOARD KOREAN AIR


Next topic : Jeju Island Rendezvous.....!




Monday, 18 April 2016

HOW TO GET AROUND SEOUL

You have a few choices of transportation in Seoul. You can either take the subway, bus or taxi. If you join a group tour, you may travel in a rented car or coach / bus. But be warned, you would certainly walk on foot and climb stairs frequently when you are in Seoul....!

T-Money Card 

The easiest way is taking the subway or bus. You can buy T-Money cards for 2500 Won and use it on all trains and most buses in Seoul and other districts. (It is a bit like Touch N Go card in Malaysia). You can buy the card from many Convenience stores or subway ticket booths. You can top up your card from 1000 Won to 90000 Won at the automatic recharging machine at the stations which also come with instruction in English. Usually, the fare will be cheaper by 100 Won with T-Money. If by the end of your trip your card still has money, you can get a refund from the Convenience shops up to 20000 Won but they will retain 500 Won.



Subway Lines

The 15 lines do look complicated but don’t worry, there are instructions and notices in English and the trains keep to the schedule almost to a T. It is rarely late so you have to be punctual. If you miss a train, the next one is probably only a few minutes away. Just make sure you are on the right platform, the right type of train and take the right exit to the place you want to go to.

When you board the train, observe the social rules adhered by the local commuters. Stand aside and let the train commuters come out first. Do not sit on the seats reserved for elderly citizens, etc even if they are empty. You’ll get a stare if you dare sit on one! The commuters tend to stand facing the windows / the seats. I was amazed to see that they could stand without holding to any railing. Their hands were busy clicking on the smart phones while listening on their headphones.
.
Recommended Routes:

LINE
COLOUR
TOURIST ATTRACTIONS
NOTES
1
Blue
Seoul Station is the centre. The line goes around and outside Seoul.
Jonggak
2
Green
Hongik, Shinchon, City Hall, Dongdaemun, Jamsil, Gangnam
Euljira-2, exit 5 (Myeongdong)
Exit 2, exit 9  (Hongdae uni)
Exit 5 (Samseong – COEX)
3
Orange
Sinsa, Apgujeong, Express Bus Terminal, Anguk, Jongno 3-ga tations( Insadong)
Gyeongbokgung
4
Sky blue
Hwehya (Daehangno), Dongdaemun, Myeongdong, Namdaemun, Seoul Station
Sookmyung Women's University (Yeouido Park)
5
Purple
Gimpo Airport - Seoul, Yeouido Park / Station (exit 3)
Exit 2 (Gwanghamun –Gyeongbokgung)
Jonggak (Insadong)
6
Brown
World Cup Stadium, Itaewon
Exit 1 or 2 (Hongdae)
7
Olive green
Euijongbu, Gangnam, Cheongdam

8
Pink
Munjeongdong, Nongsanmul, Garak

9
Gold
Gimpo Airport – Gangnam
Exit 7 Bongeungsa (COEX)
BUNDANG
Yellow
Gangnam – Bundang (Gyeonggi)

SINBUNDANG
Red
Gangnam, Pangyo, Jeonja (driverless)

JUNGANG
Emerald
Yongsan – Yongmun, Yangpyeonggun (Gyeonggi)

GYEONGUI
Light emerald
Seoul – Munsan (DMZ tour)

GYEONGCHUN
Seafoam green
Connects with Line 7 at Sangbong, Cheongpyong, Gapyeong, Chuncheon
Gapyeong (Nami Island) ITX line
AIRPORT RAIL
-
Incheon International Airport & Gimpo Airport – Seoul.
 AREX express train

** KTX Express Line connects Seoul and Busan and the duration of the journey is less than 3 hours.


ITX train from Yongsan to Chuncheon

Bus Service

There are special lanes for buses which other vehicles are not allowed to use. Bus stops come with schedules and even announcement! You will know which bus is approaching from the PA system. There is a rule to follow- you board using the front door but exit using the back door. Don’t forget to use T-Money on the bus. There are also special buses operated by Korea Tourism Organisation that you can board for free. These buses usually take you to other districts in Korea. Check their website and FB page (K-Travel Bus) for news and promotions.

Taxi

Taxis are metred but the fare can be quite expensive. There are a few types of taxi you can ride, depending on your budget and location. If you are going to Nami Island, you will board a train first to Gapyeong Station. From there, you will need to take a taxi to the Namiseom jetty. The ride is only 5 minutes and you pay around 4000 Won.

For further information:
www.seoulistic.com
www.english.visitkorea.or.kr
www.visitseoul.net

Next Topic - Flights to Seoul, Busan and Jeju from Malaysia !



Friday, 15 April 2016

DOWN MEMORY LANES....



I am currently writing about my autumn holiday in Seoul in November 2015.
My next focus would be my Jeju summer vacation in June last year.
I might write about my first time in Seoul, in February 2012.
After that, I would probably go down memory lane to Plymouth, UK. ('91-'97)
The final throwback could be my time spent at MARA Junior Science College, Kuantan. ('86-'90)

If I do get that far anyway.... 😅


*** watch this space...!

Thursday, 14 April 2016

I LOVE ATLAS AND MAPS.

Map of South Korea

image from graphatlas.com

Fun fact: Jeju is three times bigger than Seoul but it has no subway system.... :)


Tourist Attractions in central Seoul



Seoul Map



Seoul Subway Map

image from Google.com

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

KTO TOUR EXPENSES AND CHEAPER ALTERNATIVES....!

I was lucky that everything during the tour was paid for by Korea Tourism Organisation. If I were to pay all those entrance fee, food, performance, rides, flight tickets and accommodation, than I would have to fork out quite a lot of money!

Here’s a breakdown of the total cost if I were to pay for it myself. The price/fare/cost is based on the current information found on the internet. 
The exchange rate at present  is 1000 Korean Won = RM 3.39.





Won
Ringgit
Notes:
Malaysian Airlines flight to Seoul &
Korean Air flight to Kuala Lumpur
558000
2100
Air Asia flight is cheaper!
Centre Mark Hotel, Insadong
88511.99 per night
300 and above
Guesthouses are cheaper!
Ice Gallery and trick-Eye Museum, Hongdae
15000 adult
12000 child
50.85
40.68
Worth your money
Buffet Lunch at Nature Kitchen, Hongdae
12,900  and above
43.73
Many Seafood and Vegetable options
Hello Kitty Cafe
4500 and above
15.25
Only for HK fans
Tuna sandwich breakfast set at Slow Park Garden Cafe, Samcheon-dong
12000
40.68
Worth the scenery
Coffee at Wiki Cafe, Samcheon-dong
4500 and above
15.25
Only for Super Junior fans
Entrance to Deoksugung palace,
1000 adult
500 child
3.39
1.69
Must visit
Entrance fee to Grevin Wax Museum
23000 adult
18000 teenager
15000 child / elderly
77.89
60.95
50.80
optional
Shabu Shabu dinner at nTable, Dongdaemun Design Plaza Basement
16,900 dinner
57.23
optional
Janggu drum experience and Miso play
40000 and above
135.45
optional
Dinner set at Eomoni Saengseon, Insadong
Starts at 12000
40.68
Cheaper if set is shared
ITX train ticket from Yongsan Station to Chuncheon Station
6900 one way
23.39
Cheaper to go to Nami island
Gangchon Rail Park Ride
2-seater bike 25000
4-seater bike 35000
84.66
118.54
optional
Banana milk
1000
3.39
Must try
Drinking water
800
2.71
Must have
Tringular / samgak  tuna gimbap
500 - 700
1.69
Must have
Buffet dinner at Todai, Myeondong
37000
125.31
Hmmm........
Freshly squeezed Pomegranate juice
5000
16.93
Must try
A box of strawberries
10000
33.89
Must try
Shrimp burger set at Lotteria
5400
18.30
Must have
Bibimbap
6000
20.34
Must try






(photo from www.korea.net)

Other must-try options:                     (FREE / CHEAPER / WORTH YOUR MONEY)

Gyeongbokgung palace
1000-3000   1 palace
10000  4 palaces
3.39 -10.15
33.84
Must visit
National Museum of Korea
Free

Must visit
Gwanghamun  square & King Sejong statue
Free


Yongsan Station via ITX train to Gapyeong Station ; then take
Taxi to Nami Island
4800

4000
16.28

13.55
Must visit

Nami entrance fee & round trip ferry
Eco halal cafe – nasi goncang

8000 Foreigners
5000

27.06
16.92

Must try
Buckhon Hanok Village
Free

Must visit
Dongdaemun Design Plaza
???

Optional
Dongdaemun Market
Free

Optional visit for souvenirs
Nandaemun Market
Free

Must visit for souvenirs
Itaewon :  (Seoul Mosque)
Eid halal cafe
Makan cafe
Kebab

Food price from 6000 and above

20.30 and above
Must visit

Should try any of these
Cheonggyecheon stream
Free

Must visit
Lotte World (nearby)
26000
87.97
optional
Everland (far from Seoul)
52000 adult
44000 teenagers
41000 child/ elderly
175.95
148.82
138.67
optional
Myeondong
(Food stalls in the evening)
2000 and above
6.77
Shopping heaven!
Namsan Tower – cable car ride
8500 round trip
28.77
Must try
Nanta Performance Theater, Myeondong
40000 and above
135.45
optional

You can cut down on your expenses by buying cheap Air Asia tickets and book strategic guest houses much earlier. You should visit all the places that are without any or small entrance fee and select several attractions that you can afford. You can always go back to visit the rest in the future....! 

The only thing missing from this list of expenses is the daily / local transportation – train/subway, bus or taxi. That would require you buying T-money card (similar to Touch n Go card) which can be used on most of the public transportation. Now this requires a different blog entry altogether....! 

Stay tune.





Pesantren - Pondok Madani - a religious school with a difference.

Image from : http://www.satumedia.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/cinta-pesantren-gontor-indonesia.jpg I have been neglecting this ...