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Incheon International Airport -> Gyeongbok Palace -> Presidential Blue House -> Cheongwadae Sarangchae Exhibition&museum -> Paju Premium Outlet -> Gimpo Airport domestic airplane to Jeju) -> T.H.E Hotel


We have some delay in flight landing and we touched down at around 5.30am Singapore time. Korea is 1 hour ahead of us so its around 6.30am (Korea time). Starting from this post, all timings stated will be in Korea Time otherwise stated.

So we went to clear custom and collected our baggage. In our opinion, their custom is quite strict. They will have to scan for your fingerprints and they will scan your eyes using a biometric sensor.

We saw a group of Korean youth athletes collecting their baggage too. They were on board the same Asiana Airlines flight as us and when they exited the arrival hall, all of them had at least 3 medals hovering over their neck. Good job to them!

We collected our baggage and headed outside to meet our tour guide, Mr Colin Wang who is holding an ASA tour flag. I will be posting a photo of our tour guide in Day 8 post and from here I will refer to tour guide as Colin.

Seoul Incheon International Airport!
Arrival Hall
We met our tour guide, Mr Collin Wang and after doing a quick head count for the 19 members in my tour group, we were given free and easy in the airport till 8.15am to settle our breakfast before heading off to our first destination. He told us to have a light breakfast since we are having our lunch early.

We are supposed to gathered at Gate 12 after our breakfast to board our bus.
Exit Gate 12

Foodstore in airport selling Bibimbap
Price ranging around KRW 6500-9000. That's about SGD $7.50-$10.30. I guess Korean food in Singapore is still cheaper huh?

Since we are looking for light breakfast, we had our first 'meal' in Korea at Dunkin Donuts!

It is strategically located near the entrance of the airport. It's fluorescent lighted store name is hard to miss !
The donuts have an average pricing of around KRW 1300 ( SGD$1.50)

On a side note, it's pretty easy to navigate to other prominent tourist areas in Seoul from Incheon Airport, as they have a couple of buses and all stopovers are clearly indicated.

bus board
These bus navigation boards are situated just outside the airport entrance.

So we gathered and meet Collin at 8.15am. We boarded the bus outside and departed off to our first stop - 
Gyeongbokgung palace! 

on the highway - they have a special highway that leads directly to/from airport
Apartments in Korea
So after an hour ride, we reached Gyeongbokgung palace at 9.30am.

Despite being early in the morning, the place was crowded with groups of tourists, mostly from mainland China. Our driver had trouble finding a place to park the bus. Colin went to buy the tickets while we wandered around at the entrance first.

Entrance - ticket office
Beautiful Gyeongbokgung palace!
Main gate of the palace
Gwanghwamun is the main gate of Gyeongbokgung (Palace) and is located to the south of the palace. Gwanghwamun is comprised of three arched gates called Hongyemun with the middle gate reserved for the king and the other two for his officials. Gwanghwamun was severely damaged during the Japanese occupation and the Korean War. Even the location of the gate had been changed from where it originally stood. It was restored to its original site and reopened to the public on August 15th, 2010.

Entrance to Imperial Throne Hall
Geunjeongjeon is the throne hall of Gyeongbokgung where the king was formally briefed by his officials, issued proclamations, and greeted foreign envoys and ambassadors. It was also the central venue for various coronation ceremonies of the royal household. 

Gyeongbokgung was the first royal palace built by the Joseon Dynasty. It was built in 1395 and located at the heart of Seoul ( then Hanyang).

Gyeonghoeru (Pavilion)

site of the imperial kitchen filming scene in ' Dae Jang Geum - 大長今 ‘
It was closed 2 years for renovation.

Korea's environmental efforts!
A pity is that we only managed to catch a small glimpse of the changing of royal guard ceremony. We were not aware of that until when we were about to board the bus.

Do watch the royal guards changing ceremony and the Patrol Ritual at 10 a.m. or 3 p.m. in front of Heungnyemun (Gate) if you are there. Its performed everyday!

So Collin explained to us briefly about the palace history and the key palaces within that big palace and we were given F&E time till 10.30am. Then we board the bus and move on to the Presidential Blue House (Cheongwadae) which is just beside it. The bus ride took like 2 minutes and we alight.

As there's too many people, possibly due to the fact its Korea's summer holiday and it is a weekend - Saturday, Collin brought us to the back of the Presidential Blue House to view it. Security was tight.

We had to walk a little to reach there.

Presidential Blue House
They have a photo zone where you can capture your image with the presidential blue house as backdrop.

photo zone
Colin told us that it is an offence to take photo with guards/police officers on duty. However if we take photo with those that are resting its alright.

South Korea Police officer!
He looks so smart in that police officer uniform! 

We then walked over to Changwadae Sarangchae Exhibition & Museum ( air-conditioned ) to view Korean history. The main attractio of Cheongwadae Sarangchae is to howcase the lives and accomplishments of former Korean presidents and documents the modern splendour of Seoul, capital city of Korea. Thank goodness its air-conditioned as it was sweltering hot outside! Korea in Summer is so hot, hotter than Singapore's weather. However they have a dry climate as compared to Singapore - which is more humid.

We were given half hour to tour around the museum before we head off for our first lunch in Korea - Ginseng Chicken Abalone!

Our bus for 1st day Korea
Korea Ginseng Abalone for Day 1 lunch!
So, we reached the restaurant at around 11.45am. We waited for awhile for the waiters to serve us piping hot Ginseng Chicken Abalone in hotpot!

Each of us is give one hot pot with the ginseng chicken abalone in it. The abalone is at the bottom of the pot, while inside that whole ginseng chicken, is steamed rice. You have to ripped open the chicken to get the rice. The rice has very strong smell of the ginseng. They provided Mee Sua(bottom left of the photo above) to put in the Ginseng Chicken Soup. Overall we find the soup tasty and the chicken is good! The chicken is very tender and very 'seasoned' with ginseng. We were given each a shot of ginseng wine, we can either drink it or pour it in our soup. 

One good thing about going with tour is that, we can always ask for extra food if needed. Like extra mee sua, extra abalone, but maybe not that generous to give you extra chicken! Haha but anyway, 1 chicken per person is more than enough!

So, we reached the restaurant at around 11.45am. We waited for awhile for the waiters to serve us piping hot Ginseng Chicken Abalone in hotpot.

According to Colin, he said that Korean tend to love eating 'hot' food during summer. 'Hot' as in food like ginseng chicken soup, steamboat, bbq during summer. Eating these food tend to cause sweating easily and its a little heaty, however Koreans feel that eating these food in this hot weather is extremely satisfying as compared to eating it during winter!

We then left for our last stop - Paju Premium outlet, before heading to Jeju Airport. The ride took about 40 minutes and we reached at 1.15pm.

Paju Premium Outlet
We were supposed to go Yeoju Premium outlets as stated on the itinerary however we ended up with Paju Premium outlets. I am not too sure why perhaps its to avoid crowds? Apparently from google map, Paju Premium outlet is a little out of place and neither is it near the airport.

Paju Premium outlet is quite huge and it houses various brands from those of the higher tiers like Armani Exchange to the more friendly sports brand Nike. There is a food court at the top level and restaurants are mostly at the top level. It comprises of 3 levels. Paju Premium Outlet is a tax free shopping zone and its good for people who intend to buy branded goods at a lower price! We even saw Charles & Keith (Singapore brand) there! However I find it cheaper to buy in Singapore.

They have a resting area at a corner of level 2 that overlook grassland, quite a pretty scenary. Most of the patrons at Paju Premium Outlet are Koreans!

As we are not big fans of branded goods and we find the branded goods sold there quite costly even neighbourhood brands like Nike can cost over SGD100 for a pair of sports shoes ( GSS in Spore can give you a much better price) , we hop over to their food court.

Food court interior with the respective food counters
Main counter: Order food
Apparently in Korea, their system of ordering food is slightly different from Singapore. They will approach a common main counter to order and pay for their food, then collect their food at the respective counters. Most food range more than KRW 8000 ( SGD $9 ).

Since we had a heavy lunch, we did not purchase any food over there. After 2 hours at Paju Premium outlet we departed for our evening flight at Gimpo International Airport for Jeju.

It is around an hour ride away to Gimpo Airport from Paju Premium Outlet. As Paju is very near the border between North Korea and South Korea we saw these wired barriers along our highway.

wired barriers separating North and South Korea!
It is along the whole stretched of the highway and every 100-200m we see a guard post with Korean soldier armed with rifle. Security is extremely tight and tension is high!

Gimpo International Airport - Asiana Airlines counter

We reached the airport at 4.15pm with our baggages. Colin (the man in blue in the photo above), collected our passport and collected our air tickets for us.

Domestic boarding pass!
We can board at 5.30pm while our flight is set for departure at 5.45pm. For domestic airlines, we do not need to check in 2 hours prior to flight. 1 hour is sufficient.

While waiting, our first stop is the convenience store! Having been a fan of Korean culture, we know that banana milk is a must buy! 

Convenience Store at airport
We cannot decide which banana milk to choose so we bought both brands!

Banana milk !

We bought KRW 1300 for the Maeil banana milk and KRW 1400 (SGD $1.60) for the right one ( Green )!
We saw cheaper ones being sold elsewhere in the later part of our Korea trip but still, I guess its cheaper than in SG Korean Supermarket.

Waiting for our flight at boarding area

We need to take an internal bus before we can board the plane.
Internal transfer bus!
Onboard Asiana Domestic flight! A different kind of experience!

The aircraft is slightly smaller than the international plane that we took. Their seats are in rows of 3, 3. While that of international is 2,4,2. There's no entertainment system this time round, but beverages is provided.

The flight took around 50minutes. We touched down at Jeju international Airport at 7pm. We then transferred to a tour bus who will follow us for our whole 4 days in Jeju.

We settled for dinner at a local restaurant after a half hour ride before checking in our hotel and calling it a day.

Dinner place!
Korean Family style dinner!
A widespread of food with mostly pickles :/ Similarly, we can ask for additional egg or pickles or meat...
Quite a sumptuous meal we had!  

We reached our hotel - T.H.E Hotel & LVegas Casino at around 9pm. All of us were deadbeat since we did not sleep well the previous night ( night flight ). Colin was nice enough to come knocking at each of our door to check that all facilities provided is well functioning and we are comfortable with our accomodation.

Apparently its the peak season of the hotel, he did not managed to book a room for himself and had to stay in other small guesthouse in Jeju for the 3 nights there. Most of our room neighbours are from Hong Kong an Mainland China!

After settling down we immersed in some Korean drama and prepared to sleep! Morning call at 6am the next day!


We saw this at every store in Paju Premium outlet. Customers with beverages/food are not allowed to bring in for fear that they might damage the apparels inside. As such they have this 'counter' at the entrance of each store where they can place their beverage there first and shop then collect it while on their way out. There's great initiative seen in the store patrons!


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