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14 Hour layover in Seoul

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We are travelling from Alaska to Australia next spring on Korean Airlines and we have a 14 hour layover in Seoul. We arrive at 6:45 a.m. and depart at 8:30 p.m. that evening. We have 2 children ages 11 and 8. I understand the airport is over an hour drive from the city. We would like do some shopping and see some of the sites. Is this possible?

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    The website for Incheon airport is http://www.airport.or.kr/home.jsp. You can find out about the facilities they offer. I don?t think there is high speed rail service yet, so you have to go into Seoul by taxi or bus, which would take about an hour without any traffic (express bus, regular buses would take longer). If my recollection is correct, a taxi would cost you in the region of $35-40 to go into the city center. At the times you are arriving and departing, you probably will encounter traffic once you get closer to Seoul.

    Seoul does not have a whole lot of sights, especially for younger children. There is an amusement part at Lotte World which might be of interest to children, although I have not been there. For shopping, The Insadong Street area has art, antiques, handicrafts, tea houses and other interesting stuff, the Iteawan area is popular with tourists and offers clothing and other items including some handicrafts, the Gwangiang Market has silks and handicrafts. There is also a flea market at Hwanaghak-dong. Note that some of the shopping areas are closed on Mondays. You would need a good guidebook and a good map of Seoul to get around. The subway is not hard to use, but Seoul is quite spread out and the street names and areas can be very confusing.

    Another thought might be to skip Seoul and go to the seaside area around Incehon. I have not been, but others may be able to provide advice or take a look at a guidebook. I understand there are temples, some ancient forts and offshore islands that are interesting.

    I have to say I was exhausted just reading about your flight. I looked up your flight on the Korean Air website. I can?t imagine spending a night on a flight where it is hard enough to get sleep, then having to get through 14 hours with jet lag in a strange city where you don?t speak the language, have to store your carryons or lug them around with you, have to arrange three meals, and then get back out to the airport to get on another flight. You are talking about spending basically two nights without sleep, which I am not sure kids can or should be doing. I suppose there are shower and changing facilities at the airport, so you could get a break there, but really that is a terrible flight schedule. I think you and especially your kids will have a hard time, and especially when you get to Australia after 32 hours in planes and 14 hours of ground time, which is basically 2 days of continuous travelling. You may find yourself wiped out for the first 3 days or more of your vacation in Australia.

    I would suggest you spend the night in Seoul and take the flight to Sydney the following afternoon. Your kids can get at least one good nights sleep. You will also have a base from which to go out and see Seoul. Your flight back looks like you also might want to spend the night in Seoul.

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    Cicerone, Thanks for the advice. I agree our flight schedule is exhausting. Unfortunately we are not able to spend the night in Seoul. We are using frequent flyer miles for this vacation which allowed either one stopover or flying in and out of different locations. We wanted to fly into Sydney and out of Brisbane which meant we could not have a stopover. I have thought about just getting a hotel room near or at the airport (if there are any) and just sleeping and relaxing for the day. Based on your advice that may be the best option. Thanks

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