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South Korea: The First Country I Visited Outside the Philippines

Not wanting to get bored while on a layover for ten hours at an airport in South Korea en route to our destination in the United States of America, we booked a transit tour for 50 USD each that will take us to several points of interest in Seoul. We booked this through the Asiana Airlines office at the Mactan Cebu International Airport. 


Transit tour in South Korea
Free Korea Transit Tour Button Pin.
Looking back, it felt like we were scammed because the Visit Korea website mentions that all tours are free of charge. No advanced reservations were made on our behalf and we had to make our own arrangements at the transit tour desk at the Incheon International Airport. Anyways, let me just consider those a form of gratuity as we enjoyed our tour anyway.

Our city tour lasted five hours starting 9:30 a.m. and ended at 2:30 p.m. It took us to two (2) spots at the Bukchon Hanok Traditional Korean Village and the Kwangjang Traditional Market.

Bukchon Hanok Traditional Korean Village in Seoul, South Korea

Our tour's first stop was at the Bukchon Hanok Traditional Korean Village at the heart of Seoul, Korea's capital and largest city.  The area where this is located is also said to be among the most expensive places to live in the whole of Korea according to our local tour guide.

Transit tour in South Korea
Hnok traditional Korean houses line up the alley at Bukchon Hanok Village in Seoul, South Korea.

Hanok Traditional Korean Houses

At the Bukchon Hanok Village, traditional Korean houses called hanok are prserved giving visitors a glimpse of Korean architecture from 600 years ago. Many of these houses are open to the public and serve as mini-museums. Many of these houses do not charge an admission fee but one can tip. Picture taking may be allowed at the yard but not inside the house. Footwear also need to be taken off when entering the house. 

Transit tour in South Korea
Hanok Korean Traditional House at Bukchon Hanok Village in Seoul, South Korea.

Deep Fried Seafood and Noodles for Brunch

After a short tour of the village, we were given free time to wander around. Since we were starving, we searched for a restaurant and found one by the roadside just outside the village. We had deep fried fish fillet, deep fried squid, and deep fried seaweed with noodles for brunch.

Transit tour in South Korea
Our brunch in Seoul, South Korea

Gwangjang Traditional Market in Seoul, South Korea

The second stop of our tour took us to Gwangjang Traditional Market, said to be one of the oldest and largest traditional markets in Seoul. We saw that a lot of shops near the entrance of the market sell mung bean pancakes (bindaettok), pig snouts, and a Korean delicacy that involves slicing a live baby octopus for eating. I wanted to try it but I couldn't get myself to eat a squirming tentacle.

Transit tour in South Korea
Gwangjang Traditional Market in Seoul, South Korea

A Great Cafe

For the free time we were given, we stayed at A Great Cafe near the market's entrance and by the roadside. 

Transit tour in South Korea
A Great Cafe in Seoul, South Korea

We ordered a mango smoothie and a banana shake as refreshments.

Transit tour in South Korea
Refreshments at A Great Cafe in Seoul, South Korea

A Loaded Dinner at Streat Cafe at Incheon, South Korea

We were back at the airport in Incheon by 2:30 p.m. after a long bus ride from Seoul. After picking up our carry-on luggage at the transit tour counter and pre-departure proceedings, we found a Japanese-inspired place to dine at the pre-departure lounge. At Streat, we ordered spicy kairamen, shoyu ramen, and gyudon. I think we ordered too much for two (2) people as the servings were good for at least three (3) to four (4) persons. That was a really filling meal before we boarded our flight for San Francisco, California, USA.

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About Thaddeau II Engaling

Brothers Janus and Thadz document their travels around the United States and occasionally around the world.

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