TL;DR: Stay in Myeongdong, you save on accommodation and save on travelling.
When XD and I went on a whirlwind #Seoulin30Hours tour, everyone was awe-stricken. Their shock was based on 2 factors: long flight time, and… “How could anyone stay in Seoul only for 30 hours for shopping?”
We first mooted the idea of spending 30 hours at a city, when XD got his first job and, after reviewing his shift pattern, we decided that while other normal office workers could sneak overseas for a quick getaway over the weekend, we could only steal a quickie, one that is even shorter than the average office boy… one that can only be enjoyed in 30 hours.
The talk about such trips never came to fruition, and when the opportunity came, we jumped at it without hesitation.
Luckily for us, we had more than a weekend for us to getaway from work (for me, I had just concluded a gruesome and tiring ‘special duty’ of helping out at F1, and XD happened to be on course, so we both had the public holiday long weekend to play with).
Upon landing from our overnight flight, we went to grab some coffee and breakfast, before spearheading to downtown; since we could only check in to our hotel after 12pm, there was no rush into city. We were still early anyways, and the hotel staff at Savoy Hotel Myeongdong was kind enough to accommodate us.
Tip: Tous Les Jours (at Arrival Hall) provides electrical outlets so that visitors can recharge their handphones, while having breakfast. This meant that there is no need to waste time at the hotel and the adventure can start right away in downtown!
The hotel was right smack in Myeongdong, with 2 beauty shops flanking its entrance and a coffee house at its courtyard. Our first tour of duty was for XD to get his hair done (he wanted to perm his hair) and I just got my hair washed to pass my time. We then had lunch at one of my favourite fried chicken franchise (I love fried chicken and franchise, and too bad, I only recognise the restraurant by its logo), before heading to Dong Dae Mun History and Culture Park, a beautiful piece of architecture with sexy curves (actually, I was there to help my sister purchase something, but the whole mall was closed for Mid-Autumn Festival).
We then made a trip to Korean University, which was a dead town due to Mid-Autumn festival, so that XD could reminisce his exchange days. After climbing up and down the hill KU was on, we then headed to Hongdae to have dinner.
The only form of BBQ that I really enjoy was the teppan noodles served at Hongdae. XD told me that was a favourite of the students (well, I’m young at heart), being cheap and value-worthy. After making an order, the store assistant would help us cook the dish while we looked on (a.k.a eye-power). Of course, the joy was to savour the noodles (and chicken) while it was piping hot, sipping water along the way to quell the spiciness!
Although I loved the food, the other aspects of it (BBQ and spicy food) really wore me out. So we popped by another franchise dessert store Mango Six Cafe just a block away. Mango seemed to be in season and we ordered one hearty portion of it. Unfortunately, the mangoes were sour and did not really satisfy my craving.
The next morning, we went around to clear our shopping list, but not before we had a hearty breakfast at Coffine Gurunaru for some Shibuya Toast (to be frank, I didn’t know it was called Shibuya Toast until recently; I always thought it was just some fancy French toast a la Korean style). I also loved the outlet, for they had seats on the 2nd storey sporting splendid view of the malls across the road.
After that, we decided that the coffee shop beside our hotel was there for some divine reason, and so we popped into it. Surprisingly, they had mango desserts (did I mention it was mango season?) that we ordered to make up for the disappointment we had the previous night. Sure enough, the sweet mangoes atop fluffy whipped cream and crispy waffle put a beautiful stop to our trip.
p/s: Shopping happened in between, and since I’m not a shopping king, I won’t elaborate on my shopping experience.
We are now planning for another whirlwind tour, this time to a European country. Let’s see if it worked as well for #30Hours!
Below is a summary of our flight and lodging, which was made possible through the well-thought-out flight timings of Singapore Airlines.
Departure on Saturday
SQ608 0010hrs – 0740hrs
Savoy Hotel at Myeongdong
Return on Sunday
SQ609 1640hrs – 2200hrs
The accommodation, food and transport cost is SGD200 each (excluding airfare and shopping).
We went in autumn (end September to October), which meant that we could pack light (shirts, shorts and slippers) without having to endure the searing heat of summer (which I experienced the previous year). This also opens up options to take budget airlines like Scoot, or to just board the plane with hand-carry items. Having hand carry items only means no time wasted at the carousel waiting for checked-in luggage, and there’s no need to arrive at Incheon Airport early to check in luggage (which means one can do web or self-service check-in, thereby skipping queueing time).
Back in 2014, I also described how to do tax refunds in Seoul. To maximise time in the city, tax refund should be done in the city as far as possible (this is difficult, since it depends on the tax refund partner). This is much better than doing it at the airport, where, if you are unlucky enough to coincide with the a group of PRC tourists, you will find it hard to even reach the counter, much less to spend time queueing!
At this time of the year, both Singapore Airlines and Scoot are rolling out offers just in time for anyone yearning for a quick September getaway. The 2-to-go offers are always good for office girls and office boys like us to avoid the crazy school-holiday crowd while enjoying the best of travelling.
So why not start planning a #Seoulin30Hours now?