A trip back ‘home’- Korea trip 2012

Last year, I made my 7th trip to Korea since 2003. That makes it on an average of about once every 1.5 years. More than my trips to my neighbouring country, Malaysia which I could visit by just taking the bus.

So I could really call it ‘home’, I guess. ^^

My trips back ‘home’ are almost always mixed with business as I take the chance to visit my publishers and suppliers (in case you still don’t know, I supply books, amagazines, albums and K Pop related items to retailers, run the online site- Seouly Shopping and is also the event organiser for Annyeong Seoul). That means less time for me to do the things I really want to do- which is really to eat and shop and sightsee.

Thankfully I have some wonderful friends who are always happy to plan the itinerary and book the hotels. I just follow. Haha!

One of the most important aspect of a F&E trip is accomodation. You want them cheap and you want them convenient (preferably right next to the subway).

But hotels in Seoul aren’t cheap (at least not in the popular places like Myeongdong, Namedaemun etc). And if they are affordable, they are well, really too far from the action.

In my first few trips to Seoul back in the early 2000’s, I stayed mostly at Mr Park’s guest house- Myeong Dong Guest House. It was recommended by a friend in the early days of Hallyu, where Seoul was virgin land for many of us. She wrote of her wonderful experience with the owners, Mr and Mrs Park. Mr Park speaks English, a big, big plus in those days (and even now), when most of us don’t go beyond ‘anneyong haseyo’, ‘kamsahamneeda’ and ‘oppa’. During last trip, he still remembered me even though I hadn’t stayed at his place for many years. It is also very, very, very near Meyongdong station and just across Sejong Hotel (where the aiport bus stops).

Guest House Myeongdong, Seoul

Over the years, Mr Park has made much improvements and renovated the place. There is still no lift (unfortunately) but there is free wifi, 2 computers for free usage, heated ondol rooms, electronic lock on the main door (I remember there was once we came back about 2 in the morning and felt really, really apologetic about waking him up). It is extremely popular with many Asian guests, especially the Japanese as he speaks Japanese too. However, I always warn my friends, it is a guest house, not a hotel, so do lower your expectations. But at KRW40,000 for a single room and KRW55,000 for a twin room (with attached bathroom), it is very easy on the pocket.

Did I mention that he is very friendly? ^^

This time round, I also got to stay at Skyaprk III together with 2 of my girlfriends. During my last trip to Korea in 2010, I had noticed this new hotel, Skypark right in the middle of Myeongdong, just opposite SPO building. I had made a mental note then to check it out the next time. 2 years later, there was not 1, not 2 but 4 Skypark hotels.

Skypark III, Seoul

The hotel is right next to the subway, with Paris Baugette and 7-11 convenienec store just next door. Very obviously catered for women travellers. the hotel offers women only floors, free nail polish for tryouts in the lobby whilst you are waiting and these free gifts:

Skypark III, Seoul, gifts

Currently, they even have makeup events daily at the hotel with the brand Espoir. It will lasts till end of the year. Plus discounts with cosmetics chains like Etude House and It’s Skin. Cool!

And if your pocket is up to it, you can try out the Princess Suite. You can check out the room interior on the hotel’s website. Great for pampering yourself.

Skypark III, Seoul, Etude room

If you are planning to book directly with the hotel, do sign up as a member as it offers better rates.

I’ve only stayed in Myeongdong during all my trips to Korea (not counting those that were part of a packaged tour), so I would love to hear about other alternatives.

Myeongdong has remained the same and yet not the same since my very first trip in 2003. The vibrancy is still there. The food is still there (andong chicken, ttoekboki, street food etc, yummy!).

Myeongdong 2


Seoul street food 4

And the cosmtics shops are still there, with photos of their endorsing artistes prominently diplayed.

And therein, lies the change and problem.. at least for me.

There are way too many cosmetic shops, many of them belonging to same brands.

There would be a Tony Moly, The Face Shop, Etude House on one lane. You turn into a lane on the left, and there would be a Etude House, Tony Moly and The Face Shop there. And the next lane would be followed by The Face Shop, Etude House and Tony Moly.

You get the picture…

I have nothing against Korean cosmtics. In fact, I love them (especially the range of face masks. hehe!) and often lug a bagful home. But I really missed the shoes, clothes and other miscellaneous shops that were there before. The range of shops at Myeongdong now is not as wide. With so much competition, the sales staff are at times a little agreesive in their effort to get customers into the shops

Of course there are new shopping malls there but I like browsing in small shops and boutiques.

Still,  it remains a must visit place if you are in Seoul.

Myeongdong, Bee Cheng HiangIt was good to see a little bit of Singapore in Myongdong, Seoul.


Seoul TowerSeoul Tower as seen in Myeongdong

For more photos, visit Seoul Rhytthms’ FB

Tags: ,

About tiffany