In May last year, I got the chance to visit South Korea again — but in a way that was unconventional to me. I embarked on a new tour that Giamso International Tours was offering, the ‘7D6N Enjoy Korea’ package, which brought me to towns outside of Seoul, Everland Theme Park, the shooting location of ‘You Who Came From The Stars’, Jeju Island and more!
NOTE: This package is however, no longer available, and has been replaced with something more exciting – the ‘7D6N Hanguk Footprints (With ‘V’ Train)‘ – which are for those who want a more unique itinerary and for K-pop fans too. Highlights of this package include the ‘V’ train as well as new sightseeing spots in Korea – Taebaek Windy Hill, Andong Hahoe Village, and ‘Mungyeong’ Filming Site.
My other half has always wanted to bring his mom and sister on a trip since they’d never travelled out of Singapore before. It was only natural that I decided to work with Giamso to bring this dream alive. So I met Carmen and Wan Fong from Giamso one evening and over dinner, we pored over pages of itineraries and eventually decided on South Korea. With help from the girls during the process of planning, I made sure that the itinerary was suitable for his family (i.e. no trekking or too much walking, meal preferences etc). This was the one time that I could sit back and relax without worrying too much about planning for the trip!
You may ask, why a tour? Here are some common misconceptions I’d like to address before moving on to my adventures in South Korea:
Many people think that tour packages are inflexible and uninteresting, with guides bringing you to overly crowded and rip-off tourist attractions. While that may be true with some packages and agencies, Giamso does it differently. Aside from the standard packages that you and I both know about, there are also free and easy packages or flexi holiday packages for those who prefer self-exploration, and you can even choose to self-drive or travel by rail, with itineraries being provided as a guide! I didn’t know this was possible with tour agencies before working with Giamso, and I think this would be a fun fact for most of you too :)
Working with a tour agency is so fuss-free because you can get air tickets and accommodation at prices you sometimes cannot find online, and have logistics like airport transfers arranged for you. What more if you’re going to a country that speaks a language you don’t know! Giamso also offers rental of wifi devices for most countries, which if you ask me, was most helpful since I didn’t need to look for a SIM card store and could immediately connect with my friends when I arrived in Seoul.
It’s also not necessarily true that travel agencies are more expensive due to the commission they charge. Travel consultants can help you plan your perfect vacation that’s within your budget, and help you score value-for-money deals, since they’re the experts! ;) All you have to do is to communicate your travel needs and wants. Ask and you shall receive, yes?
SOUTH KOREA 2015
A (not so) quick summary: Our itinerary brought us to Everland on the first day, then to the Hajodae Light House overlooking the East Sea and Daepohang Port to try their battered seafood (which was soooo good!!!) on the second day. We also managed to visit the Teddy Bear Farm, which houses a lot of cute bears in different settings! The next day we strolled through the national park of Seoraksan and then we took a ferry to Namiseom Island, which is famous for its row of perfectly lined trees where a scene from popular K-drama Winter Sonata was shot.
On the same day we left for Seoul, and went back in time at Bukchon Hanok Village. We shopped the streets of Samcheong-dong and went up to N-Seoul Tower that gave us one of the best views of Seoul, and even boarded a cruise (where they shot a scene from K-drama You Who Came From The Stars) down the Han River, since we had free time over the next two days.
For remaining leg of the trip, we took a domestic flight to Jeju Island and got to experience the weirdness of the Mysterious Road (what in the world?!?!), and saw female divers perform at the Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak. (Psst, did you know that in the past, only women in Jeju island would work and the men did not?) We ended off with visits to the Seongeup Folk Village, tangerine farms, Oedolgae Rock and Seopjikoji before flying back to Seoul and then back home!
I know I’m not the best person who writes so I’ll just shut up and let my pictures do the rest of the talking — and hopefully you’ll be inspired to embark on a tour with Giamso, regardless of the destination! So here goes, in chronological order:
Day 1: Everland
Day 2: Hajodae Light House + Daepohang Port + Teddy Bear Farm
Day 3: Seoraksan National Park + Namiseom Island
Day 3,4,5: Seoul – Bukchon Hanok Village + Samcheong-dong + N-Seoul Tower
Day 6,7: Jeju Island – Mysterious Road + Seongsan Illchulbong Peak + Seongeup Folk Village + Oedolgae Rock + Seopjikoji
And so… that marked the end of our trip to South Korea. Our guide was so hospitable and everything you would wish for in a guide, that it was hard to leave her at the airport – we ended up tearing while saying our goodbyes. Such attachment while only being there for a week!
Oh and before I end this post, there’s one last image that I have to share.
I love taking night flights, especially when I get the window seat, because I can look out to the blanket of stars before me. And this time when I did, I saw the sun setting and the moon rising at the same time. It was so surreal, I think I almost forgot to breathe. I mentioned this scene in my Morocco (Part I) post before, and till today it remains vivid in my head.
I was a little sad upon my arrival home because I was going to miss all the good Korean food I had. I’m usually not a fan of Korean cuisine but our guide brought us to several authentic Korean restaurants which completely changed my view (and now I’m thinking about it again. I’m sorry I just haven’t had my meal!).
And if you’re a big K-drama fan then I’m sure you’d want to visit the places that I did, because can you imagine being in the same place your K-idol once was? It’s much akin to sleeping in the same hotel room Angelina Jolie did before (I think I’d freak out), but that’s beside the point.
This entire trip was a very different experience for me, since I don’t usually sign up for tour packages, but the convenience of someone else settling my tickets and accommodation (or everything else) is something I could get used to — Just pack and travel, how difficult can that be, right?!
So there you have it! South Korea in 7 days: YAY OR NAY?
It’s a YAY for me. :)
For more pictures, follow my Instagram via #BeautifulAdieuinSouthKorea! x
Their new website (www.giamso.com.sg) will provide a brand new e-commerce platform that enables you to book your flights directly and have easy access to all their packages! Follow them on their Facebook and Instagram for more! x
All images taken with Canon 5DMII + 24-70mm f/2.8L and edited with Lightroom and Photoshop – taken before I fully switched to a Nikon system