(SPOT.ph) Cultural sites and natural wonders abound in South Korea. Thanks to its relatively close distance (only 2,462 kilometers away from Manila) and short travel time (four hours by plane), you can take a trip to this dynamic destination anytime you feel like it. Whether you’re a hardcore beauty junkie or a loyal K-Pop fan, achieve the lifestyle of a Korean
WHERE TO GO
Bukchon Road, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Contact: (822) 747-7008
Fee: 60,000 Won/person
A portmanteau of the words aroma and mind, perfumer Hyunmi Choi coined the term
Sulwhasoo Flagship Store
Contact: (822) 541-9270
Fee: Starts at 150,000 Won for facial treatments and 170,000 Won for body treatments
The Gangnam district gained worldwide popularity due to PSY’s catchy song “Gangnam Style,” but among locals, it is known for its expensive homes. Some of the biggest celebrities and most affluent people reside in the area, so it’s no surprise high-end Korean skincare line Sulwhasoo opened its flagship store here. Inspired by a lantern which lights the way, the
Through a meticulous scientific process, Sulwhasoo uses ginseng and other traditional Asian medicinal herbs to help the skin achieve balance inside and out. Before a facial or body treatment begins, each client is asked to fill out a form that pinpoints health problems, skin issues, and lifestyle stressors. From there, he or she is given a personalized spa treatment using the Sulwhasoo products—targeting problem areas and guaranteeing maximum relaxation in 70 minutes or more.
32 Dosan-daero 49-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
Contact: (822) 546-6564
Fee: Starts at 20,000 Won for a Basic Diva Manicure and 50,000 Won for Color Gel
Achieve Korean-inspired nail art by having it applied by expert technicians from Dashing Diva. Whether you’re curious to don glass nails, intrigued about half-and-half tips, or want something long-lasting (in this case,
Grévin Seoul Museum
Contact: (822) 777-4700
Fee: 18,000 Won/person (ages 19 to 64)
Let’s face it. The odds of you running into a Hallyu star are slim to none, so instead, why not “meet” them up close by visiting the Grévin Museum? Indulge your fangirl fantasies by taking snapshots of Korean personalities as well as renowned celebrities from all over the world. Sing your heart out next to musicians Madonna or G-Dragon of
117/F to 123/F Lotte World Tower, 300 Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu, Seoul
Contact: (822) 3213-5000
Fee: 27,000 Won/person
Launched in April 2017, Seoul Sky gives spectacular views of the city from Lotte World Tower’s 117th to 123rd floors. Ride the double-deck Sky Shuttle elevator from the basement of the 1,640-feet-tall skyscraper, and traverse at 10 meters per second while watching a short video presentation on the birth and development of the country. Conquer your fear of heights by stepping on the transparent floors of the Sky Deck (it holds the Guinness World Record for being the world’s highest glass-floored observation deck at 500 meters!), looking for neighboring districts and popular landmarks from where you stand, or simply staring at the twinkling night lights of the cityscape.
Contact: (822) 729-9496 to 99
Immerse yourself in Korean culture the fastest way possible—by dropping by the Korean Tourism Organization’s information center and halls! Each level represents different aspects of the Korean way of life. The second floor allows you to take a virtual tour of the regions, virtually interact with Korean stars, and get a free medical diagnosis. See and taste the flavors of Korea through an extensive food exhibition (3/F) and experience (4/F) hall. Learn firsthand about the dishes served during special occasions, the fermentation process, the delicate balance of Korean meals, and then try your hand at making them. At the Cultural Product Hall, you get a chance to don a hanbok (traditional Korean outfit), create a mother-of-pearl keychain through kkeuneumjil (Korean cutting method), or virtually go down the slopes of a snow-capped mountain in preparation for the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics.
WHERE TO EAT
New Andong Jjimdak
5 Myeongdong 3-
Contact: (822) 3789-6841
Originating from the capital city of Andong in Gyeongsangbukdo, Andong Jjimdak is a simple but filling steamed chicken dish cooked in Korean soy sauce. Sweet, salty, and with a hint of spice, the belly-warming meal is similar to our chicken adobo but piled with simmered potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, onions, leeks, scallions, and thin glass noodles. Served in a large plate for sharing, you can eat it as is or pair it with plain rice and
18 Jahamun-ro 15-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Contact: (822) 722-0911
For a unique dining experience, visit this local market found in Jongno-gu which dates back to 1941. Exchange 5,000
2F Mijin Building, 30 Eulji-ro 43-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
Contact: (822) 264-8388
Palsaik Samgyeopsal is known for serving 600 grams of premium pork belly meat marinated in eight flavors: ginseng, wine, pine leaves, garlic, herb, curry, miso paste, and hot pepper sauce. Often consumed by Koreans for dinner, the grilled
Jonggak Station, Seoul
Contact: (822) 722-5292
Have your fill of all-you-can-eat rice cakes from this popular buffet (starts at 7,900 Won), with branches found all over Seoul and even Singapore. Choose from eight
Innisfree Green Café
64-2 Myeongdong Il-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul
Contact: (822) 776-0117
Within the busy streets of Myeongdong, you’ll find Innisfree’s relaxing and eco-friendly café above its newly opened flagship store. The minimalist space and lush green interiors instantly transport you to Jeju Island—a fertile volcanic land where the brand’s all-natural, chemical-free materials are grown and sourced. Aside from getting your fill of refreshing teas, pure juices, fresh salads, light desserts, and filling brunch options, you can take a Virtual Reality tour of Jeju Island with actor Lee Min Ho as your personal guide. Drop by the first floor to customize your own makeup palette or snag one of their global best sellers such as the Green Tea Seed Serum, Volcanic Pore Cleansing Pore, and Orchid Enriched Cream. Tip: Lugging around too much stuff? Innisfree Green Café customers can store their bags and luggage for
WHERE TO SHOP
Your Seoul experience won’t be complete if you don’t devote at least a few hours around the crowded streets of this well-known shopping district. Open from 10 a.m. to about 10 p.m., locals and tourists alike flock to this area to spend their hard-earned Won on beauty products (go for shops such as ALAND, Aritaum, and Olive Young that carry homegrown cosmetic and skincare brands), accessories such as cute socks and dainty earrings sold at outdoor stalls, clothes from international fashion brands, and tasty street food ranging from sweet to spicy. Tip: If you spend over 30,000 Won in one go, ask for a tax-free rate or get the tax refund receipt which you can claim at the airport. Also, don’t be lured by the free beauty samples handed out by salespeople unless you’re dead set on entering their store.
Dongdaemun Design Plaza
Contact: (822) 2153-0000
It’s easy to mistake this vast complex for a UFO because of its sleek, silver finish and neo-futuristic design. Found at the Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station, this Instagram-worthy space houses lecture halls and seminar rooms used for fashion shows, product launches, and art exhibitions. Stroll outside to marvel at the magnificent structures and see the gorgeous LED rose garden (witness the full effect at night!) before stopping by the indoor shops. Score some cool finds by up and coming sellers at the Design Shop, go loco for the adorable characters of Kakao Friends
WHERE TO STAY
Contact: (822) 6310-1000
Rates start at P7,220
A short walking distance from the Myeongdong district and other major shopping malls, this 245-room boutique hotel is ideal for travelers who want to stay in the heart of Seoul. The hip yet cozy accommodation makes use of punchy colors, streamlined fixtures, and unique art installations to enhance its interiors. Combined with plush beds and modern furniture, each spacious guest room is sheathed in a bright yellow, soft brown, muted gray, and heavy black palette that energizes its occupants. If you’re lucky, you might be greeted by gorgeous views of N Seoul Tower and Mt. Namsan right outside your window! Start the morning right with a European style buffet breakfast at Villa de Charlotte, or cap off the day’s activities with cocktails at the Bubble Lounge and Bar.
Ibis Ambassador Seoul Insadong
31 Samil-daero 30-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Contact: (822) 6730-1101
Rates start at P2,820
Insadong is a quaint neighborhood filled with tea shops and art galleries. If you’re raring to bring home antique finds, buy affordable pasalubong, or immerse yourself in local art, your best bet is to book a room in this
Toyoko Inn Seoul Dongdaemun
Contact: (822) 2267-1045
Rates start at P2,633
Providing clean guest rooms for solo travelers to groups of four, Toyoko Inn is perfect for vacationers who want to explore both traditional and contemporary sites within the city. With the hotel strategically positioned near the metro station, guests can easily go to Dongdaemun Market, Dongdaemun Design Plaza, and Doota Mall.
WHEN TO GO
The ideal months to visit South Korea are from September to November (autumn) and March to May (spring). Throughout fall, expect the country to be filled with vibrant yellow, orange, and red foliage. In April, cherry blossom flower viewings are held in different parts of the country such as Yeouido and Jinhae-gu. Whichever season you decide to visit, you can craft a one-of-a-kind Ladies Special trip focused on beauty and fashion or K-drama sites with the help of Korea Tourism Organization.
HOW TO GET THERE
Cebu Pacific flies from Manila, Cebu, and Kalibo to Incheon daily aboard the 436-seater A330 vessel. From the Incheon International Airport, you can take a train, taxi, or bus to Seoul for about an hour or more depending on your destination. Be sure to apply for a tourist visa at least 30 days before your scheduled trip.
Photos by Mimi Tiu