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Renting a Hanbok in Korea (Experience & Review)
Tuesday, 25 July 2017 at 11:44 | 0 Comments
As everyone should know by now, I went to Korea at the end of May 2017, and one of the 'must-do' activities for me was to wear a Hanbok! 'Hanbok' is Korea's traditional costume and if you watch historical Korean dramas, hanboks are no stranger to you. In modern days, Hanboks are still widely available in the country as modern Koreans still wear them during celebrations, new year, thanksgiving, as well as other special occasions.

Hanbok Rental itself is very popular between locals and foreigners, especially at Gyeongbukgong and Anguk, where you will be able to find a ton of Hanbok Rental shops. Prior to my trip, I didn't know that there will be that many shops renting hanboks at the area. Therefore, I just reserved a slot online at Oneday Hanbok as it was widely advertised on Facebook.

Oneday Hanbok is located at Anguk station, and they have another outlet called Seohwa Hanbok located at Gyeongbukgong. We decided to go for Oneday Hanbok because it is cheaper than the latter. When we arrived, we were a few minutes late and so our reservation was taken off the list. We waited for about 15 minutes before we could go in to pick our Hanbok. The selecting area is separated into male and female, but it's just side by side and so you can still communicate with your boyfriend/girlfriend/friends if you want to. That area was small, cramped and packed with other customers and staff. There are a few different sizes to choose from, the smallest being 4. I am quite sure I'm a 4 but the staff told me to try a 5 or a 6.

Basically how it works is, you get to pick any of the Hanboks on the racks, it already comes in one set (the top part and the skirt) so you're not allowed to mix and match. The size is written at the insides of the shirt and you can hold it in your hand to 'reserve' them, to prevent them from getting 'snatched' by someone else. Once you've decided on one set, you notify their staff who will then help you put it on. You wear the hanbok right on top of whatever you're wearing so make sure you're not wearing any complicated clothes or outerwear. If the hanbok doesn't fit, you get to pick another one and that's it. For a third try, you will have to pay so you only get 2 precious chances!

When I went in, it was chaotic as everyone inside was already snatching the pretty pieces and it doesn't help that there were a lot of size 6 which is definitely too big for me. There are 2 different types of Hanboks available. The more lacey ones and pastel coloured ones that tightens at your waist, as well as the more brightly and bold coloured ones that is loose from the boob area all the way down. I went for the first type because I don't want to look fat in photos. The first pretty piece I found was a size 6, which I was told will be able to fit, and so I went for it since all the smaller sized pretty pieces were all gone. It did fit, but it looked quite big and so I decided to pick something else. My boyfriend and I also decided to go for a stereotypical Blue and Pink couple look so pink was my main deciding factor.

The second piece I got was also a size 6 because as I mentioned, the smaller sized ones were all gone! The top fitted better but the skirt was way too long. The staff told me to pay an additional 2,000won for an underskirt which is a wired skirt which will puff up the skirt, making it shorter. I went for it since it was already my second try and it was too late to change. It helped but the skirt was still too long which was the most irritating thing ever. After you are done with your Hanbok, the girls get to move to another area for hair styling and accessories. And when I say hair styling, I mean styling your own hair by yourself. They provide free rubber bands, head accessories as well as a tacky handbag so you don't have to carry your mismatching, modern-looking bag. For guys, the only free accessory is a rope belt and my boyfriend had to pay an additional 2,000won for his hat. They also provide storage for your bags which I am very grateful about because I cannot imagine my boyfriend carrying his backpack with his costume.

After which, we had to pay a deposit as well as the actual rental fees of 15,000won per Hanbok for 4 hours. We did a rough check on the Hanboks for any existing defects before heading out.

You can get your admission fees to Gyeongbukgong Palace waived if you wear a Hanbok and so that was what we did! It was a 25 minutes walk from Oneday Hanbok to Gyeongbukgong Palace and it was a torturing walk. Because the skirt was too long, I constantly trip over it and because we have to keep it clean, I had to hold it up to prevent it from touching the ground. I was so annoyed because they knew that it was too long but still allowed me to head out with it. The weather was also not in our favour as it was one of the hottest day and we were wearing 2 layers of clothes. Not to mention that the Hanboks are in a thick material.

When we arrived at Gyeongbukgong Palace, it was very crowded with noisy kids on a school trip. We tried our to best to take as many photos as possible at different locations, as quickly as possible, because we were just dying from the heat. We couldn't even last an hour in Gyeonbukgong Palace in the Hanbok and so we took them off while we were inside and carried it all the way back to Oneday Hanbok to return it.

I think what drained most of our energy was the journey to and fro Gyeongbokgong Palace and Oneday Hanbok. There were so many Hanbok rental shops located just across the street from Gyeongbokgong Palace with cheaper rental prices (10,000won~) and so we totally regretted getting ours at Oneday Hanbok. Because of their excessive marketing on Facebook, they are very well-known to foreigners which was why the place was packed. We noticed that many locals just rented from nearby shops and we didn't feel like our Hanboks were of more superior quality than theirs. One good thing about Oneday Hanbok is that the place is managed by Taiwanese and so they speak in fluent Chinese (but not English).

In conclusion, wearing the Hanbok was a good experience and I highly recommend you to try when you are in Korea. However, I do suggest you look around while you are there instead of reserving a slot online, as you will be able to find a variety of Hanbok rental shops there to choose from and from there, you can make the best option.

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Touching up my roots + Hair Cut with Hair Plus Korean Salon
Tuesday, 18 July 2017 at 09:32 | 0 Comments
When I came back to Singapore from chilly Seoul, I literally felt like I was dying from the heat. I was getting so annoyed with my thick and long hair as it really weighs me down and not to mention, it was such a fuss to style and maintain in this humid weather. With that, I decided to pay a visit to Hair Plus Korean Salon once again to have my hair cut. 

In the past, I'll probably just grab a pair of scissors and start cutting my own hair in the toilet. But ever since I got my first haircut at Hair Plus Korean Salon, I knew what a difference it makes, getting your hair cut by a professional, and so I decided to be patient, and schedule an appointment with them. They very kindly offered to touch up my roots as well which I really appreciate! 

As usual, as hair colouring involves chemicals, they first applied a layer of scalp protector onto my hair to protect my scalp from the harmful chemicals. This is a complimentary service for any of their customers with sensitive scalp, so that they can enjoy the colouring service without their scalp being irritated. After the scalp protector was applied, my hairstylist Jane and her assistant started to apply the dye all over my roots. The process was quick with both of them working on my hair at the same time. Jane also makes sure to go over her assistant's work to check if it was done properly. 

About 15 to 20 minutes later, it was time to rinse the dye off. Hair washes at Hair Plus Korean Salon are done by the hairstylist's assistant and she ensured to use a nourishing shampoo on me because she noted that my scalp looked a little dry. I always enjoy the hair washes at Hair Plus Korean Salon because they are done with so much effort and it literally feels like a massage. 

Since my scalp was still quite dry, Jane used a Scalp Soother Spray‎ that moisturises and calms down irritated scalp, before she started working on my hair. Then, it's finally time for my hair cut! As I will be attending the "K-Beauty Showcase" event with Hair Plus Korean Salon at Suntec City East Atrium on the 30th July, the event will include a hair-styling demonstration with one of their Korean hairstylist, therefore it was advisable for me to leave a good length of my hair to showcase the different styles. I was actually aiming to go really short, but I ended up only getting rid of about 1 inch of my hair length which I kinda like as well! I love how Jane also helped thin out my thick hair so it's easier to maintain and style. 

If you read my previous blog post with Hair Plus Korean Salon, you'll know that I went for their Korean Cinderella Protein Care treatment again. I thought I'll do a little update on the condition of my hair. Currently, it has been more than a month (I did a treatment on the 12th of June) and my hair still feels extremely manageable and soft! Jane taught me how to maintain the smoothness in my hair and it really worked wonders! I am usually (very) lazy when it comes to my hair and I'd just let it air dry (even without combing haha!), but I decided to take Jane's advice and use a hair dryer after washing my hair and my hair turned out so soft and smooth! After the treatment and hair cut, my hair was easier to manage, and I actually bothered styling my hair again. 

Don't miss out! From now up till the end of July 2017, Hair Plus Korean Salon is having a 10% off promotion for my favourite Korean Cinderella Protein Care treatment, and if you mention my name ("Maureen"), you get to have an additional 5% off! 

After the hair cut was done, Jane styled my hair by giving it some soft bouncy curls and I love it! I've actually never touched up my roots before, like I'd always just go in with an entirely new hair colour, but touching up of my roots made my hair looked more put together and less messy without adding more damage to the rest of my hair. 

Once again, I left the salon feeling extremely pleased and happy with my hair. The pictures above were taken about 1 to 2 weeks after my appointment and my hair still looks so healthy and shiny! I already can't wait for my next appointment with them. For the month of July up till the end of August, Hair Plus Korean Salon will also be having a 20% off their Korean Digital Perm, which is a type of perm that creates C-curls, S-curls, as well as Natural volume wave, so make sure to book an appointment to avoid any disappointments at 6235 2234 (Far East Plaza)/6235 5883 (Suntec City)!

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10 Places to Shop In Seoul, Korea + Shopping tips!
Monday, 17 July 2017 at 09:51 | 0 Comments
Seoul is a shopping heaven for both girls and guys (trust me guys, there's something for you too). So during my trip to Seoul last month, I tried my best to cover all the popular shopping districts to make sure I shop till I drop! I spent a total of 8 days in Seoul and so I feel like I did manage to go to quite a number of shopping areas. Some places, I wished I didn't go to because I felt like it was a waste of time. Therefore, I've decided to share with you the places I shopped at to give you an idea of what these places sell, so you can decide for yourself whether or not it is worth it to make a trip down. I will also be including a couple of shopping tips I've picked up while I was there!

*I won't be sharing with you the cosmetics I bought because cosmetics stores are literally at every corner of Seoul. But if you're interested, feel free to watch my Korean Beauty Haul!

1. Ewha Woman's University (Edae)

Directions: Alight at Ewha University on Line 2 (green line). Our favourite route is to exit via Exit 3 and walk downwards towards the University. On the way, you'll be able to spot loads of cosmetic shops and street food. Once you arrive at the University, turn left and you'll see even more cosmetic shops as well as Elcube Lotte. Walk further down and you'll see alleys of clothing shops.

This is probably hands down my favourite place to shop at. If you love cheap and trendy clothes, this is the place to go. Boys, I know what you're thinking. Ewha Woman's University, it's a place for women. Well, you're not entirely wrong as I'd say 85% of the shops cater to women. But there are still a couple of (cheap) clothes and bags and accessories for guys! We only planned to visit Ewha University once, but one night, we decided to forgo Noryangjin Fish Market and head to Ewha University again instead.

(inside ElCube Lotte at Ehwa University) 

If I were to compare Ewha University to a shopping area in Singapore, I'd say Bugis Street and Scape. Although most of their clothes are not of supreme quality, they are still of good and decent quality which can definitely last a long time. The best part is, *spoiler* it's the cheapest. Prices of the clothes, shoes and bags at Ewha mostly ranges from 5,000won to 10,000won (S$8 to S$12). Prices of trench coats and outerwear can reach up to 30,000won (S$37), but I don't think I've come across anything that is above 30,000won.

Tip #1: Like Bugis Street and Scape, majority of the clothes at Ewha in Seoul are Free Size (unless they are legit stores like SPAO, 8 seconds, Forever 21, etc). And that means one size fits all. They do love baggy clothes and so you'll definitely see a lot of oversized button downs and T-shirts. The only thing that is not free size is probably bottoms such as jeans or denim shorts.

Tip #2: Koreans love their button downs, floral prints, oversized T-shirts, and while I was there, they were obsessed with the trend of wearing a spaghetti top or dress over either a button down or a T-shirt. So literally every shop sells pretty similar, if not, the exact same clothes. Therefore, if you're not into the Korean Fashion trend... It's gonna be quite tough to find something that's different.

Located at the basement of Elcube Lotte is a shop that sells clothes, accessories and bags for both men and women. Most of their clothes range from 5,000won to 20,000won too, and they even have unisex clothes that you can get as couple wear!

As we visited Ewha right after we landed, my boyfriend also got himself this 10,000won (S$12) backpack which he used for the rest of his trip. Despite it being so cheap, it came with loads of compartments and it is also well-padded inside with a laptop compartment too. It was probably one of his best buys.

(Watch my Korea Vlog Day 1 here! Featuring Ewha University and Myeongdong.)

2. Myeongdong

Directions: You can either alight at Myeongdong station on Line 4 (blue line) or the station we always alight at, Euljiro-san(3) Station on Line 2 (green line). Both stations are located at the shopping area, and you can easily walk to the other station too, so I don't think alighting at either stations will make any difference. For us, we like to alight at Euljiro-san(3) Station because our Airbnb is located on Line 2 and it is just a couple of stops away from Ewha University. If you choose to alight at Euljiro-san(3), just follow the Exit that says "Myeongdong".

Myeongdong is known to be the place to shop for cosmetics. At Myeongdong, you will be able to find rows and rows of cosmetic stores, even the same one at different alleys. Some of the special shops you'll find will be the 3CE Style Nanda Pink Hotel, Chosungah, LUSH, InnisFree Cafe, as well as Aland, where you'll be able to find brands like Corsx and Heimish.

Along the street, there are also rows of street food, cheap T-shirts (like the "I love Korea" type of shirts) and cheap bags selling for 10,000won to 15,000won. If you're looking for clothes similar to the ones at Ewha, you won't be able to find them at Myeongdong.

At Myeongdong, you will be able to find clothes only at shops like 8 Seconds, Top Ten, Aland, SPAO, Style Nanda, Folder etc, and majority of their clothes range from 30,000won and above, although they are definitely more trendy looking and of better quality.

(Inside the 3CE Pink Hotel)

Tip #3: Boys, if oversized T-shirts are not your thing, 8 seconds and Top Ten are pretty good places to find some decent clothes. Apart from button downs, I feel like 90% of the T-shirts for men are oversized

Tip #4: The salespeople at the cosmetics stores are EXTREMELY pushy. So be very firm and reject their offers as early as possible. If things go out of hand, just leave the store immediately. Like I mentioned, you can find the same shops at every alley or street at Myeongdong, so you'll be able to find another one within a few steps. If you're keen to know more about my horrible experience at one of the Saem stores, feel free to click here to hear my story.

Tip #5: Most shops offers Tax Refund for tourists, especially legit shops like cosmetic shops, and the apparel stores I've mentioned above. Obviously, small shops like the clothing stores at Ewha don't provide such service. Sometimes, they don't state it at their cashiers, but Tax Refunds can be done for transactions 30,000won and above, so whenever you hit that amount, just ask! Keep in mind that you will need to present your passport (not a photocopied version, the actual passport!) for them to scan to their system and deduct the money for you. For some tax refunds (in my experience, certain Aritaum outlets, Shoopen, and Aland), you will only get the refund at the airport.

At Myeongdong, I only bought a pair of jeans at 8 Seconds. I found the need to get at least one piece of clothing item because G-dragon is their current ambassador. Unfortunately, I got the smallest pair without trying and it was still quite loose fitting.

3. Hongik University (Hongdae)

Directions: Alight at Hongik University on Line 2 (green line). Exit via exits 1, 9, 2, 8. Just don't go towards Exit 4, there's nothing there.

I really like Hongdae when it's the day time, on a weekday, when it's pretty much deserted and quiet. The first day we arrived at Hongdae was a Monday morning where we had brunch at Ugly Stove. The streets were almost dead, but peaceful. At night, Hongdae is a totally different place. Crowded, noisy, street performances everywhere. We did enjoy some of the performances, but it was the crowd we hated. It was so crowded that the subway station exits were jammed up.

Nevertheless, during the day time, you will be able to find not a lot, but a decent amount of apparel stores and cosmetic shops like Memebox. The 3CE Style Nanda Flagship Store is also located at Hongdae, where you can use their free photobooth. Opposite of the flagship store is another apparel store called Chuu, but we didn't enter as it was closed. I bought a pair of sunglasses from Style Nanda, but was quite disappointed to find out that other shops sells them too.

At night, you will be able to find even more stores as the street stores will be opened too. I don't know the exact location, but we ended up in this wide "alley" filled with rows of shops selling clothes, caps, socks, phone cases, etc. The clothes are similar to the ones at Ewha University, but I didn't get anything there as the prices starts from 12,000 to 15,000won whereas the prices in Ewha starts at 5,000won.

Tip #6: My boyfriend did get a coat/cardigan for his mom at 25,000won and we previously saw the same (or similar) cardigan at another store selling at 29,000won. The initial price of the cardigan was 27,000won but after the salesgirl saw us hesitating, she offered to sell it to us at 25,000won. Therefore, I suggest walking around first as most shops sell the same type of clothes. Also, bargaining is totally fine and acceptable!

(Watch my Korea Vlog Day 2 and Day 7 here! Featuring Hongdae)

4. Common Ground

Directions: Alight at Konkuk University on Line 2 (green line) and exit via Exit 6. Walk straight down and you'll easily spot the huge blue containers.

Inside the containers, you will be able to find shops that sells a variety of things, from handmade jewelry, to hippy clothes, Kpop merchandises, and more. One of the containers is filled with men clothing stores, but they were too expensive for us to afford. Well, majority of the items inside the containers are quite expensive anyway. The apparels at Common Ground are more unique in my opinion, as the place itself is quite "hippy", you'd expect to find a lot of fashionable pieces that you can imagine hipsters wear.

For cheaper alternative, you can take a look at the flea market outside the containers.

Lucky for us, we actually stumbled upon this shop that sells pretty and reasonably priced clothes for both men and women, inside one of the containers! My boyfriend bought himself 2 pairs of smart bottoms for work (sizes available) for 35,000won each, and I bought myself a summery lemon peplum spaghetti top for 12,900won which is one of my favourite pieces!

(Watch my Korea Vlog Day 7 here! Featuring Common Ground.)

5. Dongdaemun

Directions: Alight at Dongdaemun Station on Line 1 or 4 (dark blue and light blue) and choose the exit that will bring you towards Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP). Walk through DDP and you'll see a row of shopping malls.

Dongdaemun is known for its midnight shopping experience as the malls there open all the way until 5 in the morning. The first mall we went to was Dooda Mall and I bought 2 character home slippers from the LINE friends store for US$16 each. For some weird reasons, all the items are priced in USD. Apart from the LINE friends store, Dooda Mall reminds me of TANGS in Singapore as the layout, type of clothes, and prices are very similar.

If you're into local designer items, they have a level dedicated to local designer clothes which all looked amazing! If you watch Q2Han on Youtube, you'll know the brand Eyeye which is available at Dooda Mall too. I really wanted to get something from Eyeye, but it was way too expensive. We left the mall within 30 minutes because most of the clothes there are more suited for older working adults, and all their clothes range from about 70,000won (S$87) and above.

The next mall we went to was Migliore Mall. You can also find Migliore Mall at Myeongdong. Migliore Mall looks exactly like Platinum Mall in Bangkok, except it's pretty dead. I don't think any locals shop there as the only customers I saw were a few foreigners. You will be able to find button downs, trench coats, as well as school uniform-ish clothes, like the ones girl groups wear. Again, I didn't get anything there as the prices starts from 15,000won and above and I was sure that I will be able to find a better deal elsewhere.

The third mall we went to was just beside Migliore Mall and it looks pretty much the same as Migliore Mall, empty and dead. We went up to the "Mens wear" level, only be greeted by creepy salespeople who were desperately fighting for us to visit their shop. I freaked out a little and quickly exited the mall.

To me, Dongdaemun was a waste of time. What's not a waste of time though is definitely the Dongdaemun Grilled Fish Street located at Dongdaemun market. But, if you are into expensive clothes, Dongdaemun is the place to go!

6. Sinchon

Directions: Alight at Sinchon Station on Line 2 (green line).

Sinchon is usually not in the list of "places to shop at", but I genuinely recommend you to check this place out. Located right in the middle of Ewha University and Hongdae, Sinchon is a food heaven. Of course, this is a shopping blog post so let's not talk too much about food, but basically we went to Sinchon twice for Dakgalbi and Jjajjangmyeon on the last couple of days in Seoul and there were surprisingly a really good amount of apparels and cosmetics shops!

Because it was our last day, we had to carry our luggage around and so I didn't shop much. But I was just on a to spend the rest of my cash away so I did keep my eyes wide open for any interesting shops. I ended up spending all my money in Olive Young and Memebox, but I also went into this huge store selling a huge variety of button downs, spaghetti tops, oversized T-shirts, denim shorts, skirts, dresses, all within the range of 10,000won to about 18,000won! Since I completed my mission, I didn't walk further down, but I did see more clothing shops along the street, as well as a handful of cosmetic shops.

I think Sinchon is great as it's literally filled with popular restaurants too so you don't have to worry about food when you are shopping!

7. Namdaemun Market 

Directions: Alight at Hoehyeon station on Line 4 (blue line) and follow the exit that says "Namdaemun Market".

Namdaemun Market is a traditional market where you can find loads of Korean snacks, big packets of seaweed, souvenirs, street food, and clothes that are more suitable for ahjummas and ahjusshis. If you're planning to get those mainstream sovenirs such as magnets, keychains, pens and whatnot with "Korea" written all over it, this is the place to go! Because honestly this is the only place where I saw those souvenirs. Granted they're not cheap, so I decided to let it pass. I ended up buying souvenirs in Jeju which was more unique (and slightly cheaper) in my opinion.

There is also an entire alley selling really pretty baby and children clothes, so if you're looking for children clothes, you can come and check them out too.

If you're interested in "I love Seoul", or those "Supreme" T-shirts, you can find many of them at Namdaemun as well for 3 for 10,000won if I remembered correctly. Also, clothes like pajamas, track pants, can be easily found here. With that said, this is not a place for you to buy trendy clothes. Nevertheless, I do recommend you to drop by for awhile to experience the buzzing atmosphere of a traditional Korean market!

(Watch my Korea Vlog Day 4 here! Featuring Dongdaemun and Namdaemun.)

8. Apgujeong / Garosugil 

Directions: Alight at Sinsa Station and exit via Exit 8.

Apgujeong and Garosugil are both located near Sinsa Station and honestly, I can't tell the 2 places apart. I believe Garosugil is a smaller area between Sinsa and Apgujeong? I'm not sure. But I do know is that these 2 places are well-known for their variety of unique cafes, which is great for cafe-hoppers. Apart from cafes, of course, there are a ton of shopping spots too.

When we arrived at Apgujeong, the atmosphere felt different. With branded cars parked all along the roadside and models posing and having their shots taken, even while they walk... It gave me the impression that this is the place for (rich) hipsters. The clothes offered at Apgujeong are definitely prettier, classier, and much more unique than the ones sold at Ewha University or Hongik University. For a comparison, I'll say that they are similar to clothes from brands like LazyOaf, Zara, and Motel Rocks. One of the shops we went into was SJYP which is quite a popular local designer brand. I only took about 10 steps in because I left immediately after looking at the price tag.

You can also find the 3CE Style Nanda Cinema Flagship Store which we didn't enter, as well as a 3 or 4-stories Aland.

We also went into ElCube Lotte and this time round, the shops inside were completely different (apart from the YG Entertainment shop) from the ones at Ewha University. At the very first floor is a shop selling home ware, kitchen ware, stationary, party essentials and all sorts of quirky items. On the top floors, they have a "K-pop Street Wear" section, the YG Entertainment shop, a cafe and a few other apparel shops. All of the items were quite pricey in my opinion. The basement is an area of toy crane machines and at the rooftop, there is a lounge area where you can sit and chill with your friends for free. My favourite part of this ElCube Lotte is probably this 2 huge snow globe thing where you can enter and take pictures inside! This is located on the first floor just beside the main entrance of the building.

If you love LINE friends, just thought I'll mention that you will be able to find a huge LINE friends cafe at Apgujeong. The top floor is a photo area where you can take pictures with various LINE friends characters, and at the basement, there is a clothing shop as well as the actual cafe.

Of course, you will be able to find cosmetic shops here, but there are surprisingly not a lot. So if you just wanna get cosmetics, I'd say just go to Myeongdong.

Although we didn't get to buy anything from Apgujeong and Garosugil, we really enjoyed exploring around the area and it was pretty cool seeing all these pretty models doing their thang. We also saw a girl dancing in middle of a street while filming herself and that was quite eye-opening. I don't think there were any street shops there, so don't expect to find any cheap clothes. But if you're looking for unique pieces and you don't mind spending more for your clothes, make sure you check this area out!

(Watch my Korea Vlog Day 5 here! Featuring Apgujeong and Garosugil.)

9. Anguk

Directions: Alight at Anguk Station and exit via Exit 1.

Anguk station is where you will alight if you are planning to visit the Bukchon Hanok Village. This is usually not mentioned in "where to shop" lists, but I actually bought quite a number of apparels here so I thought I'll share.

We actually went here twice, first to rent our hanbok, second for Mukshidonna Ddeokbokki and oh my god this ddeokbokki is one of the best dishes we had during our trip (there is also an outlet in Sinchon)! Whoops, going off topic again...

Unfortunately, I have no idea what is the name of the shop, but on our way to Mukshidonna Ddeokbokki, we passed by a shop that sells 1+1 clothes at 10,000won (meaning one for 5,000)! I went in and bought 2 oversized T-shirts as well as a sling bag for a total of 20,000won. There were a huge variety of clothes, jeans, trousers, skirts, dresses, button downs and they were all priced within 5,000 to 20,000won which was so affordable! I really wished I have gotten more oversized T-shirts!

We also discovered a flea market at an alley that sells mostly handmade items such as magnets, keychains, bags and pouches. I really liked the flea market even though we didn't get anything, but the atmosphere was really relaxed as there were some street performances (of acoustic guitar) along the alley and you will be able to see so many people walking around in hanboks too!

10. Gangnam Underground Shopping Centre

Directions: Alight at Gangnam Station, tap out and you've arrived at the Gangnam Underground Shopping Centre!

The Gangnam Underground Shopping Centre reminds me of the second floor of Bugis Street. It is packed with apparel shops that sells similar and affordable looking clothes, crowded, and busy. Again, the clothes here are very Korean-styled, and are pretty much 90% identical to the ones at Ewha and Hongik, and the prices are quite competitive too.

What attracted my attention was 2 shops selling 10,000won denim jeans. I managed to get a pair of slightly bell-bottomed jeans, which is also a popular trend in Korea at the moment. Unfortunately, trying is not allowed and the jeans wasn't a perfect fit for me. I could have gotten the right size if I noticed that those jeans were not high-waisted but oh well, they were 10,000won.

So that sums up the 10 places to shop in Seoul. Personally, my favourites are definitely the shophouses type of shops as compared to shopping malls because they are relatively more affordable, yet they still offer very trendy and good quality clothes! Where is your favourite place to shop in Seoul?

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Review: Funtastic Korea 3-in-1 Package (Garden of Morning Calm, Nami Island, Gangchon Rail Bike)
Monday, 10 July 2017 at 22:01 | 0 Comments
Nami Island, Garden of Morning Calm, and Petite France, are 3 super popular tourist attractions in Seoul. However, one bad thing about these places is that they are located near Gapyeong area which is... Extremely far from central Seoul. Another bad thing is, they are not actually near one another too.

To get to these attractions, the cheapest option is to take a train to Gapyeong station and then transfer to a payable shuttle bus. But if you're living in central Seoul, that would take up to 2 to 3 hours of travelling time! Once you arrived, you probably won't have enough time to explore more than 2 places as well, as you're probably extremely worn out after the second place.

So to make my life easier and to ensure that I will get to cover at least 3 locations, I decided to get one of the packages from Funtastic Korea. Instead of visiting Nami Island, Garden of Morning Calm, and Petite France, my boyfriend and I decided to give Petite France a miss and go for the Gangchon Rail Bike instead as it was something I've always wanted to do in Korea. It costs S$100.10 per pax and it includes an English speaking tour guide, a shuttle bus, as well as all entrance tickets.

Our pick-up time was 7.20AM at Hongik University station, so we arrived at about 7-ish. Our tour guide John spotted us and gave us his contact details and took down our contact details as well. We hopped onto the bus and went to pick up a few others at Myeongdong and Dongdaemun.

The bus also stopped at a convenience store so we could grab something for breakfast. Then, it's time to head to our first location which is the Garden of Morning Calm. The good thing about having a tour guide and a shuttle bus is that we get to sleep on the way and don't have to worry about missing our stop!

It took us 1 hour and 30 minutes to arrive. Upon arriving, our tour guide John went to buy the tickets for us and then it's free and easy time. I think we had about an hour to an hour and a half there which was more than enough. Oh! Another good thing about having a shuttle bus is that we can leave any heavy bags or belongings (obvious not anything expensive) on the bus as John will be staying on the bus to help us look after them.

I love the Garden of Morning Calm. It's essentially just a garden but it was so peaceful and the air was soooo fresh! My boyfriend and I couldn't stop taking in deep breaths because of how fresh (and cold) the air was. It literally felt like we were cleansing our lungs from all the city pollution. The garden itself is actually pretty huge with various "attractions" such as a herb garden, a little stream, a bridge, wild flowers collection and more.

It was also the first time I saw an autumn leaf! If you're hungry, there is also a Korean restaurant within the garden. We didn't go in, but the food smelled incredible. Honestly, I really didn't expect myself to like a garden, but being there made me feel relaxed and free from all the noise and problems in the city, and back in Singapore.

After everyone has gathered, we proceeded to our next stop, Nami Island! It took us about 40 minutes by bus to arrive. As usual, John went to get the tickets for us and we can choose to either go in first, or have lunch outside of Nami Island. Either way, it's free and easy again for the next 3 hours. Since we have packed our own lunch, we went in and hopped onto the ferry that will bring us to Nami Island (there was already a ferry there so we didn't had to queue!). The ferry comes every 15 minutes and it takes 5 minutes to reach Nami Island.

When we arrived at Nami Island, we set off to find a spot for our picnic and was happy to see these little huts at a corner! Many locals pack their own lunch to Nami as well and we sure enjoyed our little picnic there! After our bellies were filled, it's time to explore Nami Island. I guess we were quite lucky too because when we arrived, there weren't many people.

Nami Island is HUGE. We didn't get to walk till the very end which was supposedly a "must-go" area because halfway through it started drizzling and we were already about 2km in, so we were afraid that it would start pouring.

Oh and so we spotted a Merlion at the Winter Sonata glass bridge! As a Singaporean, that was pretty fascinating. This area is apparently where the couple on Winter Sonata had their first kiss too!

Within Nami Island, there's a lot of restaurants as well as souvenir shops that we didn't bother going in. But we did get ourselves a 2,000won vanilla ice-cream and it was SO GOOD. Not sure if it was the cold weather that made eating an ice-cream even more satisfying but it just tasted bomb.

While walking around, we also managed to spot a black rabbit, many many squirrels as well as some ducklings roaming around the island too!

As I've mentioned, it started drizzling and so we made our way back to our bus early just in case it starts pouring. While waiting for the rest of the tour group, we chatted a little with John and he is so approachable and friendly!

Everyone in the tour arrived on time and it took us 30 minutes to reach the Gangchon Rail Bike Park. While booking the tour online, you get to choose if you want a 2-seater or a 4-seater. If you opted for the 4-seater but you only have 2 pax, you'll share the bike with another 2 pax within the tour group.

At about 4-ish, it was time to set off with our bikes! The trail is a total of 8km. 6km will be covered by cycling, and 2km will be covered by a train that we will hop on at the 6km mark.

During the trail, there will be a photo point and numerous tunnels! Every tunnel is different which makes the journey super exciting and anticipating. My favourite tunnels are probably the romantic one where there were lights and romantic music (of course if you're there with your friends then it might get kinda awkward), as well as this... I don't know what to call it but upon entering the tunnel, there will be loud noises and along the way there are even fire coming out from the ground! Very exciting.

The cycling portion was quite tiring after awhile, especially when you woke up at 6AM and had explored the Garden of Morning Calm and Nami Island. But I think it was fine when all 4 of us pedaled together. Apart from the tunnels, we also get to see the beautiful country side of Korea while peddling.

After 6km, we arrived at a stop where we get to buy the photo taken at the photo point. It was 10,000won which I find very reasonable as it also comes in a glass frame. There is also a shop selling corn dogs, rice crackers, coffee, etc so we can enjoy them while waiting for the train.

The train was the most boring part of the journey. Tip: Sit on the right hand side of the train! We sat on the left hand side and there was practically no view at all.

Finally, it was time to head back to the city. It took us 2 hours to get back to Hongik University as it was the last stop.

Overall, I enjoyed myself so much during this tour and I highly recommend it. It does seem pricey but I assure you, it's really worth the money. Before I booked the tour, my boyfriend did complain about it being too expensive, but at the end of the trip, he also noted that it was really worth the money. I cannot imagine taking the public bus and train back to Seoul City after using up all my energy and having someone to get the tickets and arrange everything for us just made the journey a breeze and fuss-free.

If you wish to watch our day at these 3 places in motion, click here to watch the vlog!

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