Sunday, 28 September 2008

Seoul, here we come!

Last November, Orchid and Liz joined me for some antics in the ancient city of Beijing. This November the K-popped! Trio will be heading to Seoul!

When I was back in Malaysia earlier this month, the Trio got together for some celebrating, Tarzan play and serious travel planning.

Liz busy studying the KTO booklet for places to visit while Orchid is busy...

... playing Cooking Dash?! Great game, by the way. ;p

We settled flight tickets and squared away accommodation before our get together. I must say, deciding on where to stay was the toughest part. We researched hotels, motels, apartments, guesthouses and homestays.

My e-mail log discussing places to stay in Seoul.
We started researching accommodation in February '08.

In the beginning, we were all for staying in a guesthouse. Cheap rates, okay location... but I must confess, I have this one phobia of guesthouses - having to sleep on a pillow that smells like it belongs to someone else. For my Malaysian buddies - someone else's lakap (bolster) *shudder*. So I was hoping for a decent hotel to pop up somewhere along our search.

I stumbled upon Innostel - a website by the Seoul Metropolitan City Government. Innostel (Innovative Hostel) is a coined term for affordable accommodation in Seoul. The website lists mid to low range hotels that are safe, convenient and 'Seoul certified' for foreign tourists. Or so they say.

Orchid and I found JOATEL at the Innostel site. At USD43 a night, it was too good to be true.

Liz: Er... you can see right into the bathroom.
Rooster: Well, y'know a lot of contemporary hotels have see through bathrooms.
Liz: Sex hotel...
Orchid: Wow! The deco is so nice for a cheap place!
Liz: Sex hotel...
Rooster: I can't read it, but the website seems ok. And it's an INNOSTEL.
Orchid: Maybe we found a gem?
Liz: Sex hotel!
After some more research, we found that Joatel was indeed a 'Love Motel'. There are no keys given for guestrooms and the doors only locked from the inside. Hmmm...
Liz: See, I told you so!
I resigned myself to staying in a guesthouse when Doulos Hotel popped onto my screen. The rate wasn't suspiciously cheap (USD66 per night with breakfast) and it appeared to be a no nonsense business hotel.

Doulos Hotel - no nonsense business hotel.

Doulos is located smack in the middle of Seoul, within walking distance to major attractions and shopping and an airport bus stop nearby. I was still a little unsure because of the whole Love Motel thing, so I was relieved when I found several decent reviews of the hotel.

Doulos is smacked in the middle of Seoul.
I guess we'll see when we get there.

Liz and Orchid seemed to think it was a good choice too. We'd save on transport and we'll be in the centre of everything! So we booked our rooms through the Innostel website where rates were about 20% cheaper than what was listed on the hotel website.

6 more weeks to decide what to see and do.

Now then. What should we do when we get there?

Trio get together for some fun:
K-popped! Trio on their Skytrex Adventure
Liz celebrates her birthday on Chuseok

Planning a trip to Seoul? Here are some sites we browsed for budget accommodation:
Travellers Point
CO-OP Residence
Seoul Guesthouse
Lonely Planet


Anonymous said...

i was in Korea in july but i stayed in seoul only for 2 days, i visited other cities like Muju and Jeonju
in seoul i visited few places like shopping centers in GangNam (downtown) and visited Insadong, you could buy there many souvenirs
also, what i liked the most was Deoksugung palace
unfortunately i couldn't visit many places in seoul, so i can't wait for my next visit ^_^
you guys can find out about more places to visit here

Anonymous said...

i've checked out the joatel's website....and wtfffffff??? the toilet in all the rooms r transparent

Maris said...

I'm so jealous, I've wanted to visit Seoul for so long. Doulos Hotel does look great. Let us know if it really is as good as it looks. :)

Anonymous said...

WOW Congrats on going to Korea *is mad envious*
I know hotels and location are always SUCH AN ORDEAL... esp a place you haven't been! You're so lucky you have a blog with a lot of readers who can advise you!

If i were you I would do the quintessential touristy stuff! Like visiting landmarks and ancient sites but you have, absolutely HAVE TO go and be in the crowd of one of those music shows! It's always been my dream to go and you have to tell me what it's like!
Seriously what is up with the see through bathroom door? Who wants their "lover" to see them take a dump?

Anonymous said...

oh~~~!!!! COOl!
I'm also planning to go to Seoul
next year ^^

I hope
will be good because if it is then
I'll be staying there too ^^

How is the ticket price?
Because my dad checked .. and
he said it will cost me $700
for a round trip.

chelle said...

hey there~i hav been a regular reader of ur blog even b4 i came 2 korea, now i m studying in korea, so let's travel around when u gals come over~bet it would b heaps of fun!!!

Rachel said...

Have a great time! :)

I hope to get to Korea someday. *dreams* Just need loads of money.

noV said...

u girls must be very rich.. i myself can't even afford a flight ticket to Penang...

g0hy|3 said...

I just came back from Seoul. Went on tour with my mum. It was so much fun to visit there and it is definitely a dream come true.

Hope you gals will have loads of fun there!

Shira said...

i'm waiting for money,falling from the sky so that i can go there someday.haha XD
hv fun girls!

Anonymous said...

Hi! I'd like to know which airline you chose? Did you get good rates on the plane fare? ^_^

Anonymous said...

you guys are going to have so much fun**please do eat alot and shop alot and do post the pictures as well**have fun and enjoy**

02dayang said...

my sister momo and i just got back from seoul 3 weeks ago. it was amazing. we didn't visit the tourist spots as we've made a pack of going back to seoul again next most of the time we spent walking ard downtown and outskirt seoul to check out all the places there... we stayed @ namsan guesthouse...walking distance to myeongdong subway station.

using subway to go around seoul is cheaper. abt 1000 to 1500 (max) won per trip.....

have fun...loads some pictures

Anonymous said...

Take me
Take me
Take me

Have a great trip, bring back LOTS of photos!!

//Vic in Arrowbear, soon Long Beach CA

inquinn said...

wow FINALLY. but i say while u guys are busy deciding on where to go, just make sure u don't get too bugged down with making sure u get all the tourist spots checked. once u step foot there, i guess even bowing and greeting "annyeonghaseyo" to random strangers would be fun :)

Anonymous said...

woahh.. u guys got to go there?? pls tell how much are ur expenses all so tat i could plan too..
planning to go there after i graduate.. wee~~~ oh ya.. .take nice picss.. :D

nyssnisacha said...

@02dayang, momo?why does that name sounds familiar?? momovip?? lolz..u guys went to YG ent. rite?? hmm, i dont know what u guys should do there, but i guess, do what u always wanna some research on it, and take risk..go to some Ent.Company,go watch MusicBank@Inkigayo@Music Core..(Nov. is the time for BigBang comeback rite?) go eat Korean delicacies, and strange food..i think it is better if u guys have some contacts with Malaysian who live there@studying there..i'm sure they are more than willing to lend a hand & take u guys for a tour..anyways,have fun guys..u deserve it!! say hello to WonderGirls for me~~~

Anonymous said...

"sex hotel..." *LOL*

cheri said...

Wow ! You guys are finally going to Korea.I myself may be heading there this Dec but it's still subjected to my mom's confirmation *hopes mom will agree quickly*.
It will be winter by Nov right?
Why don't you guys try skiing at one of the beautiful resorts?

Anonymous said...

go to musicbank,inkigayo and mcountdown as those are free shows (u gotta keep touch with the korean fans tho) but if all fails..beg the security.if ur a foreigner they will help u get in. go watch sukira LIVE at kbs. visit sm (somewhere near to rodeo) and laugh at tvxq fans waiting outside go there around 9/10pm and spot smtowners! or trainees! HANG OUT AT APKU at about 11 to 2 am to see celebs after night out. in nov,there should be lots of concerts and free shows around that time too. oh oh go to HONGDAE and discover korean indies. esp on sound day. it will open up ur eyes to a whole lot mote than commercial kpop XDD

Orchid said...

thanks for sharing your experiences and advice! yes we would like to know more about your trip to Seoul if you've been there. what's great and what's not.

@nov We are not that rich...traveling on a budget, but as Rooster said, i am also a bit scared of unclean places to stay, hence we looked for a hotel...will share budget friendly tips with you guys if we have any.

And yes, will be posting pics. :-)

@anonymous, did you really go to one of those live taped shows? Like KBS Musicbank and SBS Inkigayo? How to get entry? We don't have any Korean contacts :-(

stupigity said...

try western coop


great location. lots of foods around.

Anonymous said...

I hope you all have a great time!

Don't forget to pick up a set of Go-Stop (Hwatu) cards. I just started playing recently and its a fun time killer.


Clammy said...

Sex hotel...
Pretty common thing considering that so many people live with family.

Anyways, is this your first trip to Korea? Hope you have fun! It's getting quite expensive there now though.

I'm currently contemplating moving there for a year before I get too old to do it!

Anonymous said...

omg! have a GREAT trip! take lots of pictures!!

and LOL, good thing you didn't settle on the sex hotel! LOL

Anonymous said...

my 1st time going to shows i dun have contacts either but u just need to go there early and talk to the fans (normally they will be there after school) and make friends there.the kids normally can speak basic english and eager to talk to foreigner. if all fails, speak to the security.they will help you get in.the fans will give those mini cards and fanstuffs to u too (balloons etc). the nicest security is is at mnet show!go to stadium 88. erm, oh yeah go to eat pizza at dbsk junsu papa place. he gave out autographed stuffs to oversea fans.gosh i need to stop.'m such a stalker -_-;; ..

Orchid said...

@Clammy Yeah it's our first trip!!! :-)

Anonymous said...

i was in seoul last year. absolutely in love with it!! my advice, must go shopping at Myeong-dong!!!!!!!

wawa said... guys finally make it!!!
can't wait to read for your news while u are in korea!!! have fun there guys....

p/s: i pray for BYJ oppa to be more successfull next year so my mom will like him more & decided to go to korea!

sLaVe said...

LOL you guys are just too funny. esp the sex hotel thing.


Orchid said...

I've heard that shopping in Myeongdong is nice. Where to go? Shopping complexes there? or little boutiques by the street? What kind of shopping in Myeongdong?

Li said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

hi i was the "Anonymous" who suggested shopping at Myeongdong. it's street shopping type...kinda like in small little alley with some little, some bigger shops...and stalls on the street. very nice...not to be missed!! i went there 2 days in a row! i don't think tourists usually go there because tourists usually go to the plaza type. the shopping area in Meongdong may not be that obvious...well, it really depends which subway exit you take...coz they have a lot of subway exits!! so if you can ask around, that might be good idea. but the first day i went there, i must have taken the not so good exit...and the shopping area was kinda hidden behind all the buildings on the main street. so if not sure or cant find it, maybe look out for crowds of people walking in and out of alleys - because that is kinda how i stumble across Myeongdong. surprisingly, they don't open till late...only until 10pm (if not 9pm - cant remember exactly)...maybe because i was there during weekdays. so not sure what time they close on weekends. i went shopping in other places too (like Gangnam and Dongdaemun), but I had the most fun in Myeongdong personally. also, you should try going to the "Ladies street".... apparently it's near the Women's university (there are 2 women's uni, I think)...i'm not sure which one because that's the one i missed going!!!

btw, i want to say you guys did a great job on this website!!

sasjo said...

Well, if it's just the three of you, what's wrong with the "Love Motel"? Just look the other way when one is in the bathroom lah. :P

Seriously, though, hope this trip turns out to be awesome for you gals - you've been dreaming of it long enough! ;)

sasjo said...

Oh, and err, "Cookie Dash"? What the heck is that?

Orchid said...

Hi Sasjo, yeah, we are really looking forward to the trip!

And it's COOKING DASH. Not cookie! It's a game where you have to rush here and there, serving customers at a restaurant. You need to usher your clients to a seat, take their order, then prepare the food (cook or make juice etc.). Serve them the food, clear the table and the cycle goes on! You will earn $ and then you can upgrade your restaurant or buy better kitchen equipment etc.

It's fun and addictive.

wawa said...

cooking dash???
i have a DINER DASH game in my phone...hahhahaha

Stella said...

hey I was just in Seoul this past weekend. I recommend shopping @ 이마트. It's a big huge store, the one in 가양, with everything from cds, cosmetics, groceries, clothes, etc. Places definitely worth a visit: 남산, 청계천, 동대문 night shopping, eat some delicious 떡복이 @ 신당동, 63 building, coex, eat some yummy green tea donuts @ dunkin donuts, and...

Thats all that I can think of now. Oh most of us, girls that is, like to get our hair done when we go because its so cheap and they do a good job. Oh I hope you guys have fun!

Orchid said...

really, just walk into any hair dresser to get your hair done? do you have to speak Korean?

wahyde said...

waaaaaaaa i wanna go too.... have a nice trip gals

life of boo... said...

orchid, yeah its better if you can speak korean while in korea. i was stucked at conversation with most of them. luckily my gf was there to save my a$$ :P

Stella said...

wait, cheap compared to american standards. im guessing it might be cheap where you guys are as well. so think about that one.

preferably speaking Korean in Korea would be nice although most people understand basic English.

the salons I went to were Fresh Hair in 강남 and Seasons in 목동. if you guys need any other info please don't hesitate to ask.

irain said...

You gals!!!(half reading your travelling blog).So good to have buddies to share the korean craze with! I'm just hoping I'll find ONE person to share my Rain fever with.

irain said...

I mean a real die-hard Rain's fan ; P (love to sing his songs, watch his concert DVDs over and over and over again, love dancing, and think straight; laugh at his OMG hairstyles, and clothes, and $%##$@@ poses). Yo RAIN, I'm still your fan, no offense!

MiShiKa said...

anyong!! i would like to suggest that you guys stay at the Malaysian's cheap and you stay at an apartment with cooking utensils, tv, dvd player, iron and so many's like staying at contact the embassy for more can book via email if not mistaken. so when are you guys going?

Anonymous said...

me n my friends planning to visit korea in feb 2009.i'm still looking for the cheapest airlines and place to stay aver there.anybody help me plss.

Anonymous said...

- Definately get a few pairs of glasses. Bring in your old glasses and they can make new ones off of those or get u a new exam. It's helpful to have someone who can speak Korean with you there tho. At the Namdaemum night market there's a WHOLE street of just eye glass places and a lot of them are open through the night, which is the best time to go cause they have time to talk to you.

- I got my hair permed in Sinchon which is an awesome place to walk around at night. It's where Yonsei University is located so lots of young people walk around here at night. You can also get some awesome all you can eat bbq here for cheap and f u have tie stop by Minto's coffee shop, all you can drink teas that tastes amazing for one price.

- Hongik University is also another hot spot for young people at night. It's where all the clubs and such are located. If you're there on the last friday of the month it's club night and u can get into a set of clubs for one price. One of my favorite clubs was club Catchlight, they always had some performance going on there which is awesome.

- Ewha Woman's University is an awesome place for shopping.

These are some of the younger lesser known touristy places. Of course u have to hit up all of the touristy stuff cause that was awesome too. PS this is a handy website.

It's a subway map. Picking up a t-money card while ur there can save u a bit if you travel a lot.

Orchid said...

@serenaxoxo thanks for the awesome tips! Making spectacles (eye glasses) ~ i've heard this more than there? Cool!!!!

Daniel Gray said...

Hey, if you need some suggestions about food, let me know. is a blog that has a lot of information about the best places to eat^^


Anonymous said...

wow.. sounds like a fun trip!!

have fun!

xsilx said...

This is the first time I've posted a message here, but I've been reading your blog for ages! I love it!!!
I'm Italian (so please forgive me if my English is not so good^^) and I love Korea too, so I can say that I definitely loved your trip to Seoul!
And for this reason I'd like to ask you a couple of questions about the Doulos Hotel (since I'm planning to go there soon!)
I read online many positive comments about the hotel, but the only negative one seems to be about its position:
since I should go with my best friend, do you think it's a safe place at night for 2 girls?
For example, when you came back at night, did you feel a little scared or by any chance did you notice a bad atmosphere around?
Because I read that it's in a hidden alley and if you come back not so early at night it can be a little bit awkward.
What do you advice?

Liz said...

Hi xsilx, I think it is relatively safe for two girls to be walking back to Doulos at night. How late will you be?

When we were there, the place was a real hubbub around 8pm or 9pm as there were stalls along the main road.

If you are afraid to take the alleyway back to the hotel, you can always take the longer route along the main road :-).

However, it gets rather quiet past 11pm on a weekday. We didn't get back later than that while in Seoul. We are the get-up-early instead of stay-up-late gals ;-P.

xsilx said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
xsilx said...

Oh thanks a lot Liz!!!^^
Yes, we are definitely the same type of gals then, I prefer by far waking up early in the morning and going to bed early enough, so I think 10-11 pm is the perfect time to come back too, I really wanted to make sure of this!
Your trip is really a helpful source for who's going to go to Seoul one day!
If I ever need help in the future, then can I feel free to bother you again?^^
Thanks again!


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