Korea, I’m Coming This Winter!

Snowy pine trees, winter sonata,  light festival, Gangnam style—can’t you tell I’m so looking forward to this Christmas? Wheee!!

It’s a short five-day break (24-28 December 2015), but in my kiasu grand tradition, I’ve managed to squeeze not one, but three(!) cities/counties into my itinerary. Here’s how you can do Seoul, Gapyeong and Busan in five days:

Day 1: Incheon – Seoul

Bukchon Hanok Village, Seoul, South Korea[Image Credit: Robert Koehler]

Wasting no time, the history and culture of Old Korea awaits us at Jongno-gu. Starting from the lantern-decorated Jogyesa Temple, we’ll head to the big attraction right away: Gyeongbokgung, the largest of Joseon Dynasty’s Five Grand Palaces.

Our afternoon will be spent wandering around the traditional houses in Bukchon Hanok Village and, if time permits, the UNESCO Heritage Site-certified Changdeokgung Palace.

Nighttime: Up, up the Namsan Tower for a charming view of Seoul city lights in a snowy night (I sure hope it’ll be snowy!), winding down at Myeong-dong before returning to the warm embrace of our traditional Korean-styled room.

Day 2: Seoul – Gapyeong – Seoul

Garden of Morning Calm, Gapyeong, South Korea[Image Credit: Nami Island Tour]

It’s Christmas! And what better way to start the Christmas spirit than visiting the iconic Nami Island where Winter Sonata was filmed? Hoping to roll around in the snow with endless rows of pine trees to bring up the holiday mood!

In the afternoon, we’ll visit Petite France, which I look forward to a lot because we were originally supposed to visit Eastern Europe this December but it sadly gets cancelled.

And here’s the perfect way to end the night: 30,000 lights twinkling in the brisk of the night air at the Garden of Morning Calm.

Day 3: Seoul – Busan

Gamcheon Culture Village, Busan, South Korea[Image Credit: Peter Stewart]

When we decided to go Korea, the first attraction that came to my mind was Gamcheon Culture Village, a.k.a. Santorini of the East, a.k.a. Lego Village. Needless to say, it’s the one place I look forward to most.

An afternoon walk at Taejongdae Park is where the weather gets warmer. Can’t wait to see the gorgeous lighthouse perched at dramatic cliffs!

We’ll spend the night relaxing at BIFF Square, gobbling down ssiat hotteok and other street food in the middle of the Busan Christmas Tree Festival.

Day 4: Busan – Seoul

Bongeunsa Temple, Gangnam, Seoul, South Korea[Image Credit: Martin Solly]

As the daybreak hits, we’ll descend down to Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, admiring the spiritual site with the calming sound of morning waves crashing into the shores.

We’ll reach Seoul quite late in the afternoon. But this time we’ll see the Modern Seoul at the now-famous district of Gangnam. We’ll also visit Seonjeongneung (I’m a UNESCO whore and I’m adding this just because I can!) as well as Bongeunsa Temple (I think the contrast of Buddha sculpture standing against the metropolis skyline is absolutely mesmerizing).

If I’m not too tired after four super cheong (rushed) days, I’ll explore the Itaewon area since that’s where my guesthouse is at.

Day 5: Seoul – Incheon

Ihwa Mural Village, Seoul, South Korea[Image Credit: Dylan Goldby]

I think Ihwa Mural Village is absolutely, charmingly aegyo, so I’m gonna spend the early morning strolling there before a stopover at another UNESCO beauty: Jongmyo Shrine.

After lunch, I will have a final taste of traditional Korea in Namsangol Hanok before taking a train back to Incheon International Airport. My plane is after 6pm, so maybe I’ll explore Incheon if I have extra time!

Also, living without Internet can be painful when you’re in a country where nobody speaks English. So make sure you book a 4G WiFi to be picked up as soon as you arrive at Korea airport!

What are your favorite places in Korea? Any attractions which you would recommend dropping or adding for a quintessential winter experience?

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