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Planning for South Korea - comments please

Planning for South Korea - comments please

May 2nd, 2010, 12:56 PM
  #1  
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Planning for South Korea - comments please

Here's my first pass at an itinerary (listing overnights) for the South Korea leg of my RTW. Same background info as for the Japan leg: I'm early 60s, solo female. I'm not really into big cities, neon, nightlife or shopping - although I love markets. I also love mountains, waterfalls and rocky coastline, and I'm interested in architecture, religion and especially food. I prefer crafts - glass, textiles, ceramics, jewelry - to fine arts.

Sun Oct 10 - Arrive Seoul Gimpo 10:40 am
Mon Oct 11 - Seoul
Tue Oct 12 - Travel via Chuncheon and Lake Soyang (bus, boat, bus) to Sokcho/Seoraksan National Park
Wed Oct 13 - Outer Seorak
Thu Oct 14 - Southern Seorak

Note: I'd like to visit both Outer and Southern Seorak. Since I'd have to head out of the park from Outer Seorak to get a bus back in to Southern Seorak I'm wondering about spending three nights in Sokcho instead of staying closer to the park. Maybe two nights at Outer Seorak and the last night at Sokcho - I don't like one nighters, but I'd like to get a head start on the travel on the 15th.

Fri Oct 15 - Taebaek (bus and train)
Sat Oct 16 - Taebaek, day trip to Jeongseon

Note: My first thought was two nights at Samcheok with a visit to Jeongseon on the way to Danyang, but the beaches round Samcheok don't sound that great, and I can visit a cave at Danyang (the other reason to visit Samcheok). I'd prefer to visit Jeongseon during the week, as if I hit the autumn colors there are likely to be lots of people around, but something has to fall on the weekend.

Sun Oct 17 - Danyang
Mon Oct 18 - Danyang, visit Guinsa
Tue Oct 19 - Seoul (via Suwon if there's a left luggage possibility)
Wed Oct 20 - Seoul - possible day trip to an island
Thu Oct 21 - Fly out of Incheon at 9:30 am

BTW, the Korean Tourism web site has links to English language timetables for long distance buses and trains - very much appreciated!
thursdaysd is offline  
May 2nd, 2010, 03:57 PM
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Have you ever visited Korea before?
indianapearl is offline  
May 2nd, 2010, 04:03 PM
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No - this is the first time. May very well be the last... (too many places too little time).
thursdaysd is offline  
May 3rd, 2010, 06:37 AM
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Anyone?
thursdaysd is offline  
May 3rd, 2010, 09:24 AM
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I wish I could help you! I lived in Korea (Kojedo Island) for a year in the early 80s but never managed to do the tourist circuit. Seoul has changed out of all recognition since I was there so I can't even make an intelligent comment on that.
gertie3751 is offline  
May 3rd, 2010, 02:20 PM
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Thanks gertie. There seem to be very few people here who've been to South Korea (I've read all the recent TRs), and even fewer who've traveled outside Seoul. I guess I'll take a look over at thorntree.
thursdaysd is offline  
May 3rd, 2010, 06:37 PM
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we took a narrow gauge rail day-trip from seoul which took us out to the WWII memorial.... it was quite a pleasant day...

we did not much care for korea... we have a day there week after next but will spend it primarily at the hyatt in incheon.
rhkkmk is offline  
May 3rd, 2010, 06:43 PM
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I've only been to Seoul but I've heard that Busan is quite nice.
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May 3rd, 2010, 06:45 PM
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rhkkmk - can you say why you didn't care for Korea? I'll be there for 10 days, so hope it won't be a waste! I am planning to spend a fair amount of the time in the countryside.
thursdaysd is offline  
May 3rd, 2010, 07:23 PM
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maybe you can also try the tripadvisor forum - don't know about Korea but they are good for Japan.....they look a bit more active than Thorntree......
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May 3rd, 2010, 09:56 PM
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I don't know about much other than ceramics at this stage but for ceramics there are a couple of villages that you might be able to get to from your itinerary. A little south west of Danyang is Mungyeong Teabowl Village This is the area from where the Japanese took a lot of potters back to kick start their own industry. On the way back to Seoul you could visit Yeoju or Icheon both pottery villages with many potters - well into the hundreds in each. Both are about halfway between Danyang (or Mungyeong) and Seoul. You might be able to do these on the way out depending on where the bus goes. Best celadons come from Gangjin but thats was down south so probably not an option.

There seems to be very little info on the forums for outside Seoul. One of my best mates lived in Seoul for 6 years but still didn't travel much outside so I can't get much either from her or her friends still living there. You will have to break the ground! Sadly I'll be heading to a different area - mostly around the south, south east and up through the centre so won't be able to give you much on your part either
MaryW is offline  
May 4th, 2010, 07:01 AM
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i guess when i now compare it with the rest of asia it just seems flat....no real interest... the "palaces" are just hollow shells, small and lack any real interest... we saw little of tourist interest...

the shopping is good in seoul however, but nothing in comparison to bali or bangkok...

the people were nice enough but again not as nice as thailand and other SEA countries...

we thought the food marginal...

we did not have time to go to the DMZ which i am sure would be interesting or at least thought provoking...
rhkkmk is offline  
May 4th, 2010, 07:07 AM
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Thanks MaryW - I'll look at what I can take in on the way back to Seoul.

Thanks Bob - I've pretty much decided to skip the DMZ, and I'm not a shopper. I know that between the Japanese occupation and the mid-20th century war a lot of historic buildings got flattened, but I do have hopes for the countryside. Of course, I also have hopes for the food, so sorry to hear you found it marginal!
thursdaysd is offline  
May 4th, 2010, 10:19 AM
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I think Korean food is good if you're a meat-eater. Bulgogi and galbi. What I especially like is the great array of small dishes that comes along with whatever you order. Things like chunks of garlic, cucumber, green veg, beans and the ubiquitous kimchee. I remember having good fresh fish too, but we were on an island and I don't know about inland. Noodles.
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May 4th, 2010, 11:53 AM
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Well, I prefer meat and shellfish to fish, so after Japan I'm likely to be ready for some meat. There's something called bibimbap that sounds good - Nywoman wrote well of it - and some form of barbecue seems popular, although maybe not for a solo diner. LP also writes about a spicy stew, and I'm definitely fond of spicy food.
thursdaysd is offline  
May 5th, 2010, 01:13 AM
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I have had mixed reviews of food, shopping etc. I have the chance to stop in Bkk on my way to Korea in August so asked my friend who used to live there about staying extra time in Seoul verses the Bkk time. She said she thought we would have had enough and that shopping wasn't that great. Given I love Bkk that has decided it for me - I'll have a couple of days there even though it means a sort of odd flight path.

As for food, I've had the bbq (Bulgogi) and liked it but I'm a bit of a carnivore. Bibimbap sounds nice but I'm told its mainly rice with veges and its the hot sauce that makes it. I've heard lots goods and bads about food in general but that can happen anywhere.

I think also that being out in the country will be quite different. I have another friend (lucky me I have more than one) who was in the area I'm going to last year and said the people were wonderful and very friendly but I'm sure it all depends on the circumstances.

Bob I'm glad to hear your take on shopping - I value your opinion on such things.
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May 5th, 2010, 04:52 AM
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BTW Bob - when you say the shopping isn't good, do you mean the selection or the prices or both? I probably won't shop until near the end of this trip (when I'll be in BKK, lol!) but fabrics and jewelry don't take up much room...
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May 5th, 2010, 05:18 AM
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I spent six weeks in Gwangju, South Korea last summer and I am headed back there (to teach at the university) next month. As several previous posters have mentioned, the shopping isn't that great and the food is ok - but typically very spicy. But, I LOVED traveling (as a single traveler in her early '60s) in South Korea. Their bus and transportation system is excellent and very easy to use. If you are "into" shopping and food....you might be disappointed. But if you enjoy learning about a different culture and seeing a country with beautiful landscapes and scenery, then you won't be disappointed.

I don't know if you have "locked" in your travel plans....if not, I suggest you go with a general vision of what you want to see and then when you arrive, just putter along. You might decide that seeing the tea plantations in the south might be interesting. Or what about an overnight stay at a beautiful monastery that allows one or two night visits?

Basically I agree with a previous poster who suggests that you may have "over programmed" yourself. One of the joys of travel is taking time to sit in a temple and listen to the monks chanting or taking a hike into the mountains with a group of friendly Koreans who invite you to tag along.

By the way...October is an absolutely PERFECT time to travel in South Korea. The fall weather should give you warm sunny days and cool evenings!

So...as others have said, the shopping and food is better elsewhere, but you will be experiencing a new culture and a breathtaking landscape. Enjoy!
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May 5th, 2010, 05:24 AM
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Thanks gailmo - glad someone has a good word for SK! Fortunately, I'm totally not a shopper, and I love spicy food!

I'm interested by your suggestion to wing it - I'm tempted to do that, but I've also read that during leaf season reservations are a necessity in places like Seoraksan and for the little twice-daily train to Jeongseon, and mid-October is very likely to be leaf season, no?

Any recommendations for monasteries?
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May 5th, 2010, 06:41 AM
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i said the shopping IS good.... we are meat lovers and found the beef all to be very TOUGH...
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