Magpie’s Guide To Korea Away

The Fans

Following on from our ACL Travel podcast, forum member Magpie has written the definitive guide to travelling to Korea in April 2016. If you are thinking of heading over for the match, this is a must-read.

 

Magpie’s guide to Korea Away.

 

You may be dreaming of the big lights of japan with its neon lights, amazing culture, white faced geisha’s…or maybe you’re thinking of china with its..uh…..lots of people….and uh…..big wall…

 

Let me throw my hat in the ring for Korea.

 

I lived in korea for two years and have travelled there 6 or 7 times since 2002.  I immersed myself into its culture and as any red blooded, curly haired, white jew in foreign country, I learned how to save a few bucks, drank myself to near death and managed to bed a few ladies along the way.

 

I played football with a team of middle aged men. I thought it was a football club, turns out it was a drinking club that sometimes play football. I got to know the people of Korea as being friendly (after a few drinks), outgoing and love a drink, anywhere, anytime.

 

Korea is one of the most fun places to go out after a few drinks. There doesn’t appear to be any liquor licensing laws at all in the country, and there’s literally thousands of places open all hours to get food, grog (try the 7-11 to get a 2 dollar bottle of soju which goes a long way) and just have a good time.

 

It may not have the cultural attractions of China or Japan, but you will have a better time in Korea because it’s impossible not to… after a few drinks, korea becomes alive.

 

Let me sum it up for you in a few brief points.

 

  • Accommodation, food, beer, pretty much everything is cheaper than Japan.
  • Hottest chicks in Asia (this is not an opinion, this is FACT) and if you’re of the female persuasion, apparently Korean blokes are the in-thing now. They may even carry your handbag for you.
  • Less pollution than China and generally, just not shitty and horrible like China is.
  • Friendlier, more open people than Japan (but they are still shy compared to your every day Aussie). After a few drinks all bets are off though.
  • Reasonably Cheap to fly there.
  • No laws against drinking in public or on (long distance) train travel.
  • You can get by without speaking any Korean – and I know, I did it for 2 years. Point and grunt can get you a long way.
  • If you need a bit of a nip and tuck, this is the place to do it. Over 30% of all women over the age of 18 have had some form of plastic surgery.
  • If you like spicy food and / or pork bbq, you are in heaven.

Getting There

Your cheapest options are Air Asia and Scoot Airlines which fly through Malaysia and Singapore respectively.   Best bet is to jump on www.skyscanner.com and setup an alert flying to Korea on those dates, then you will get an email every day with the best prices and you can start to get an idea of the costs as well as jumping on any amazing deals as they come through. The last time I checked Air Asia had return flights from Melbourne to Seoul for about $800 – $900.   Korean Airlines fly direct from Sydney and Brisbane but they are nearly double the price.

 

Cheapest – Scoot / Air Asia (15-24 hours total)

Fastest (no stops) Korean Air. (12-15 hours)

 

Entry Visa

Assuming you’re an Australian citizen you don’t need one. On arrival you’ll get a 90 day tourist visa.   Korea is one of the better countries as far as getting through airport quickly.

90 days on arrival. no worries m8.

 

Getting from the airport.

There’s 3 options. The subway (forget it, takes too long), private mini-shuttle (expensive but if there’s more than 6 of you could be ok) and the limousine bus (recommended).

 

There’ll be english speaking staff at the airport to help you get to where you want to go and the buses are fast, clean and cheap (around $15-20). From Incheon airport to kangnam usually takes about about 60 mins.

 

Best option – Limousine Bus (~$15)

 

Accommodation types

Luckily Korea has endless options — the best bet is to go there without any accommodation booked, and when you get there find a “motel”.

 

These places cannot be booked online because they are… well, love motels. (actually after looking online you can get some on airbnb).   But this is not some St Kilda slop house, these are well serviced rooms that Korean couples use for a one-night romp. The rooms are clean, the internet is fast and they are far cheaper than any regular hotel. Its been a while since I had to use one but I would guess they would cost $50 – $80 a night and they can be found everywhere.

 

Curtained carparks protect the anonymity of cheating married Koreans.

Korean love motel

 

Just walk in…chances are the person there wont speak english but you’ll work it out. Give them cash, they will give you the key and away you go. its all very convenient.

 

Cheaper options are hostels which are same as hotels anywhere. Cheap, full of various types of travellers and generally horrible. But if you’re on a budget this a good option.

 

Get a love hotel when you arrive, no need to book. Just rock up, pay your money and enjoy.

Curtained carparks protect the anonymity of cheating married Koreans.

Curtained carparks protect the anonymity of cheating married Koreans.

 

Where to stay?

Suwon’s about 45 mins south of the southern half of Seoul. Its a pretty big city in its own right, plenty to do and see there.

 

But if you’re in Seoul for a few days Suwon will get very boring, very fast. You’re much better off staying in the southern part of Seoul with closer access to the party and nightlife areas of Kangnam (upmarket), Itaewon (red light district) and Hongdae (university) and the shopping areas like Dongdaemun, Myeong-dong (again) and the cultural hub around insa-dong.

 

My tip for the best location, is around Sadang Station (Green Subway Line). Its the cross junction of the main 1 and 4 subway lines, about 45 mins to Suwon and 20 minutes from Kangnam. And it’s not a bad place for a bit of drinking and seeing the real Korea. Plenty of motels around there too and its a fairly major hub so you can grab a limousine bus direct to Sadang Station from Incheon Airport for about $15-$20.

 

If you’re wanting to be around the best nightlife area in Seoul and don’t mind a bit of extra travel then anywhere around Hongik Univ (also known as “Hongdae”). The surrounding area is very hipster-ish, lots of small interesting shops, restaurants and bars. Kinda like the Seoul equivalent of St Kilda. Personally I stayed in a love Motel in Sinchon (one subway stop from Hongdae) for 2 weeks and it was great. It’s relatively easy to get from Hongdae to Suwon, jump on the Line 2 subway at Hongik Univ station, change at Sindorim and jump on the line 1 to Hwaseo or Suwon Station.

 

Sadang Station (Subway Green Line 2)

Anywhere around Hongik Univ Stn (Green Line 2)

 

Getting to the ground By Subway
You have 2 choices by subway, get onto Line 1 (Cheonan / Sinchang Line) and get off at either Hwaseo Station or Suwon Station.  Hwaseo (pronounced “hwah-so) station is better because it’s less busy and closer to the ground. Its probably a 15 minute taxi ride from there.
Outside Suwon Station is your typical asian city nightmare, traffic, noise, cunts driving everywhere.  But there is also a big bus stop and if you’re brave enough to try out your korean you can ask a local to help you get onto the bus that goes past the world cup stadium.  Note there will be more traffic as you’re going through the center of downtown Suwon.  Hwaseo really is the best bet.
If you grab a taxi, use this map, I wrote the name of the world cup stadium in korean so they’ll know for sure where to go.  My guess is there won’t be a huge crowd so traffic shouldn’t be too bad on the evening of the game


Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 7.55.45 pm.png


Getting there by bus
This will be a bit more effort, honestly subway to hwaseo and taxi to the ground is the safest option, given you’ve travelled 10,000kms for one 90 minute game you dont want to risk it by getting on the wrong bus and ending up in Pyongyang.
But if you really are a daredevil these buses apparently go past the ground from Suwon Station:
No.2,13-2,86,100,720,720-1,720-2,1007-1,3001,3007,7000,7001


*Ps author is not responsible if you miss the game because of this information, take the subway and taxi.   


If you need to ask the bus driver in Korean, here’s how to say it:
Su-Won wulda koppa gyeongi-jung, ka-yo?
(“Are you going to suwon world cup stadium?)

Getting around

This doesn’t need a whole lot – you have Google Maps… subway is easy, all the signs are in English. Grab a prepaid card at the first station you go to. Subway is very cheap, a few bucks per trip.

 

Cabs, uber…all available. buses are a little more tricky as often they don’t have English signs.

But it’s easy to learn the local language, its not like Chinese with 20,000 unique characters, Hangeul (the Korean written language) has 25 characters and can be memorised in a few weeks. http://www.howtostudykorean.com/unit0/ is a website for learning Hangeul and also the Duolingo app (free) is also a good recommendation.

 

Subway / Taxi / Uber – All good and easy to use

Bus if you’re feeling like testing out your korean

 

The train line of Suwon and surrounds

The train line of Suwon and surrounds

Common Phrases

Annyong Haseyo – hello

Kam-Sah Ham-ni-Da – Thankyou

Maek-Joo Joo-Sae-Yo – give me beer please

Hwah-Jung-Shil Odi-yeah-yo – where is the toilet?

Chuk-gu Jung Odi-Yeah-Yo -> Where is the soccer stadium?

Chuk-gu Jung Ka-yo? are you going to the soccer stadium?

 

Sightseeing

  • Shopping – Dongdaemun (green line 2), Kangnam Station (Line 2), Coex Mall (Samseong Station Line 2), Yongsan Electronics Mall.
  • Culture – Gunbeokgyung Palace, Insa-Dong (art street), Hongik University Artist Park, Namsan Tower (views over all of Seoul).
  • Partying – Itaewon, Hongik University

 

Must SEE / Do!

Do the DMZ tour, the border area between North and South Korea. You may need to book this in advance but this a mind blowing, once in a lifetime experience to see North Korea up close.   Go into the room where the peace treaty was signed, which is half way inside South Korea and halfway inside North Korea.

http://www.dmztours.com/

 

Food

There’s a tonne of awesome food in Korea, especially if you like spicy. If you only can choose one thing it has to be the Korean BBQ. Order “Samgyeopsal” (pronounced “Sum-gyop-sull”) which is pork belly. Then wash it down with some “Soju”, Korean Vodka. A whole meal for 2 with enough soju to get drunk wills set you back 10 or 15 bucks.

 

 

The TL:DR of this whole article

 

  • Melbourne to Incheon Airport (ICN) via Scoot / Airasia (cheapest)
  • 90 day tourist visa on arrival.
  • Limousine Bus from Incheon Airport to Sadang Station (Junction of main subway lines 1 and 4) – 45 mins to Suwon and accessible for most things in Seoul.
  • Find a “motel” or look for a sign that says – 모텔 (literally “motel” in korean). Walk in, ask to see a room, should be about $50 – $80 a night.
  • Sadang Station to Stadium
    • take subway line 4 to Gumjeong (10 stops)
    • change to Subway Line Blue 1 (towards Sinchang) and get off at:
      • Hwaseo Station (take a taxi from there): 15 – 20 mins to the stadium
      • or Suwon Station, get a bus. more cheaper but will take longer because of traffic. Try asking someone in english to help you get on the bus that goes to the “world cup stadium”.
    • Hongik Univ to Stadium
      • Green Line 2 to Sindorim
      • change to Subway Line Blue 1 (towards Sinchang) and get off at:
        • Hwaseo Station (take a taxi from there): 15 – 20 mins to the stadium
        • or Suwon Station, get a bus. more cheaper but will take longer because of traffic. Try asking someone in english to help you get on the bus that goes to the “world cup stadium”.