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Can I get to central London and back to Heathrow with ~10 hour layover?

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Hello !
This is my first real time traveling overseas by myself [normally I followed my mom] and while purchasing a plane ticket to Korea, I was intrigued by a 25 hour plane flight with a 10~11 hour layover in London~

I didn't want to be hasty, because not being able to leave the airport for 10 hours would completely mess me up, so I waited a day to ask around and research online and thanks to my delay, all of the other flights were booked and I only had the option of 10 hours in London, or 9 in Germany.

My research told me that it shouldn't be difficult to leave and re-enter the airport [I am a US citizen, 21 years of age, female] and get into central London as well, but I would like to make sure before I completely screw myself over ...

I leave Newark airport at 9.55PM [May 24] and arrive in Heathrow 10.10AM [May 25], and my flight to depart to Korea is 9PM [May 25].
Thanks to the decent times, the tube will be running I won't need a hotel to check into or anything of that sort ~

My main questions are:
~if I purchased the ->London->Korea as one ticket, will I need to pick my luggage up, or will it be on a direct flight to Korea? If I do need to, can I quickly check it onto the flight to Korea or will I need to hold onto it ?

~I have exactly 10 hours and 50 minutes [given any planes don't delay], how much time should I give myself to play in London? I mostly want to see ~~BIG BEN~~! I'm studying to be a jewelery designer right now and dream of designing watches and clocks in the future ~ but I'm hoping that Big Ben won't be the only thing I'll get to see, maybe walk around downtown and eat something delicious as well?

~How early should I start heading back to the airport? If my plane is 9pm, should I start leaving central London at 5pm? or even 4pm maybe? Better safe than sorry ~ I have a terrible sense of direction, but can get around the subway just fine in NYC as well as Taipei's underground rails.

~How much should I bring at minimum [ie. tube, food, a postcard? My friend requested one ~] or should I bring any pounds at all? I read that taking money out of an ATM in England has no fees, so assuming I can find an ATM in the airport, I should just bring my debit card? I bank at Wells Fargo and they told me that they don't charge any exchange fees but I exchanged Japanese Yen at one point because the rate was really good, and found that they charged roughly 2%. My credit card charges 2.7% for international use.

~And of course, most importantly, can I even leave? I'll definitely have my ticket to Korea and passport on hand, so proving identification and that I'll only be staying for a little should not be an issue.


Sorry for the long post! I'm just really nervous as it's the very start of my trip and I don't want to get discouraged before I depart to 3 foreign countries ... haha

And also~ yes! I still have a ~very~ long way to go before the actual trip but once school starts, I get buried in work and spend 10~14 hours a day everyday in school, so I need to plan and get all my facts straight before my winter holidays end. Thank you thank you for anyone that reads this and has any advice for me ~ Cheers!

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