Ladies Special Korea Tour, Day 1-2: Arrival, Incheon Hotel, Everland, Hwaseong Fortress & Dongdaemun Design Plaza

Annyeonghaseyo!!! Last month, I finally got to live one of my travel dreams-- visit Korea and experience autumn for the first time!!! There was a lot of praying and decision making that came with it, but I'm so glad everything worked out the way it should in the end. I ended up staying for half a month or 15 days in Seoul, South Korea! It was super unexpected and a spur of the moment decision, but it was one of those things that I felt was really meant to happen. One of the best decisions I have ever made. Read on to know the whole story...

You see, 4-5 months ago, my family and I already booked our flights to Seoul, South Korea during one of Cebu Pacific's online seat sale. We chose November 12-17 as our travel dates because my mom wanted to see those "pulang dahon" as she calls it (haha). Fast forward to October, one afternoon, I got an email from Cebu Pacific, JG Summit & Korea Tourism Organization inviting me to join their November 2-6 media familiarization tour! Grabe, when I got the email and was told that we were personally handpicked by KTO for the tour, I was over the moon. Lalo pako naexcite when I found out my blog bff Anagon was also going! I've always dreamed of being invited to one of these trips and it was finally happening! And then it hit me, how do I apply for 2 tourist visas? One for the media tour and one for our family vacation? I was told (and based from people I interviewed) that the Korean embassy usually issue single entry visa to first-timers (especially freelancers) so I panicked a little. At first, I considered declining the media tour. Bailing out of our family trip would cause me my life and future mana (joke lang haha!), plus my family usually rely on me for bookings, directions, tours, etc whenever we travel. I also couldn't apply for a new visa after I get home on the 6th because it would take forever. My brain was literally on the verge of exploding and I was losing hope when my girlfriend Anagon suggested "Why not just stay in Seoul after the media trip and just wait for your family?". Oo nga naman!!! Okay, okay I finally felt relieved because at least I had a sure option. If I was granted MULTIPLE, I would go home after the media tour and fly out with my family on the 12th. If not, I would just extend my stay and just wait for them in Korea. True enough I was only granted a SINGLE entry visa. Solo travel it is!!! I was a little scared but I was also excited. It was also a first for me. Will blog about my Korean Visa Application and pre-trip planning when I start my solo travel posts. :)

Me and my American Tourister Handy Spinner 78cm TSA

Packing for a 15-day autumn trip was quite a challenge because I had to fit all my bulky sweaters and coats inside this one bag. To save time and luggage space, I made a list of my outfit per day and did a dress rehearsal. I also brought a few extra pieces just in case. All of my things conveniently and effortlessly fit inside my super sleek silver American Tourister Handy Spinner Hardcase Luggage! What I love most about this bag is how it's extremely lightweight (so more weight could be allotted for your things), it's 360 spinner wheels and the TSA combi lock. During my time alone in Seoul, I had to haul (drag) this bag through flights of stairs and it did not give up on me. HUHU. It bore battle scars (why did I not use a luggage cover) but otherwise, it's still perfect. American Tourister nalang ata ang faithful and reliable sa mundo because it really proved countless times how and why it's the best travel companion. Okay, tama na hugot. Basta it's the best! :)

 Can't believe I'm going to Korea!

This media trip is actually a Ladies' Special tour!!! In short, for kikays like us. Hihi. This is to promote different destinations in South Korea that you and your girlfriends would definitely enjoy. Naisip ko lang when the trip ended, perfect our itinerary for bridal shower trips! Or basically if you just want to try and experience something new naman in Seoul. The Ladies Special tour is all about fun, beauty, fashion, discovery, food and history. More photos below!

Seoul Sisters (from L-R): Ana, Ila, Ailene, Ms. Len, Me, Nikki, Raiza, Anna, Marielle, Mimi, Sarah, Ruth! Such a fun bunch! So happy we all got to share this amazing experience.:)

 My seatmates! Small hearts! Hehe

Book your Manila to Incheon flights via Cebu Pacific! Booked ours (family vacay) for just P4,800 roundtrip! So cheap db?! They have daily flights to South Korea from three of its hubs: Manila, Kalibo and Cebu and they recently upgraded their planes to A330. Bigger and better!  

Book tickets here:  http://cebupacificair.com

 D ko naman namiss jowa ko coz Nico din name ng steward. Hehe.

 Pre-ordered our in-flight meals online! It's a 5-hour flight so you should consider buying meals na so you won't starve. :)

 My Cream Dory meal! So good! We also noticed how their in-flight magazines match the plane's destination. 

 After 5 hours, hello Incheon!!! Can't believe I'm here :)

 Warm welcome by Doo Min Joon / Kim Soo Hyun! Asa Korea na nga ako.

 We've arrived! Excited kami nila Nikki and Ana:)

The 2018 Olympics will he held in Pyeongchang County! Getting ready na sila! 

First order of business? Claim the pocket wifi I booked via Klook! I only paid P2,000 for a 15-day rental! Mura db??? Deposit was 200,000 won via my credit card, but it's only for security and they did not deduct it sa card. :)

In all 15 days, it never failed me! It's also thin and lightweight. Love it!

Book your own portable wifi here:

 Our tour service! Hi Ila, Nikki and Mimi!

 We were welcomed by our super nice tour guide, Alice! 


It was already 11pm when we arrived in Korea, so the group decided to just spend the night in Incheon hotel, a few minutes away from the airport. It was freezing nga pala! Well, it was still bearable but eventually after a few days temperature dropped to negative. My first time to experience weather that cold! It was a nice respite from the Manila heat. Loved it. :)

Incheon Hotel lobby! You could borrow adaptors from the front desk.

We gathered round for our room assignments. 

 Room key! Sharing a room with Anagon!

Super nice our room! Twin beds and as you can see, twin luggage!

 Glass shower with hot & cold water

  Bathroom selfie!

After settling in, we went out again to buy late night snacks from the convenience store downstairs. I ate kimchi rice and spicy noodles. So good! Was so hungry that I forgot to take a photo. Hihi. Finally, at around 3am, we dozed off. 

Goodmorning, Incheon!

Our meetup time is around 9am, so we had to wake up early because we also wanted to eat breakfast. We also had to check-out that morning because we are transferring to another hotel in Seoul. We were a little behind schedule but we were able to accomplish everything that day! Our first stop on Day 2? EVERLAND!

2nd Stop: EVERLAND 

Everland was an almost 2-hour drive from Incheon so we were able to take a quick nap on our way there. It is located in Yongin, Gyeonggi-do and is known to be South Korea's largest amusement/theme park. It has this Universal Studios/Disneyland resort kinda vibe. 

 We got so kilig when we saw this! Beautiful trees. Huhu.

Mandatory shoe shot hehe

 OMG terno ung buhok ko and the leaves. Haha.

 Short intro about Everland by Alice!

 Alice handed us our tickets and our 20,000 won meal coupon!

Admission Fees:
One-day Ticket54,000 WON43,000 WON
  • Free admission to Hoam Gallery for the day and extra charges for coin-operated rides, rental, animal rides, and special exhibitions
  • No online purchase is available for Night tickets or Two-day tickets
  • No double discount option including the use of discount cards is available for Two-day Tickets
Night Ticket
45,000 WON36,000 WON
Two-day Ticket84,000 WON67,000 WON

If you're on a budget like me, book discounted Everland One Day Pass ticket via Trazy!!! If you want to both transportation and ticket, you have the option to book the discounted Full Day Everland Tour Package. :) If you hate waiting and falling in line, then book this discounted Everland Express Pass and be the first to avail any ride inside the park! 

Admission Hours:
10:00am to 8:00pm (week days)
 10:00am to 9:00pm (weekends)

Group photo before exploring!

 Now, where to start?

 It was Everland's first Halloween celebration! And they did not disappoint! :) 

 Love the decors!!!

The park conducts different themed festivals including Tulip Festival, Rose Festival, Summer Splash, Halloween Festival, Romantic Illumination and other festivals all year long. They go all out din sa decors! Super cool!

 It was foggy and gloomy that day so mejo Halloween feels. Perfection hehe.

 Tried this ride called "HURRICANE" with Team Extreme-- me, Ana, Raiza, Nikki and Min from KTO. :) It was so much fun! 

 Happy kid

 Rock Spin

Everland houses diverse attractions which people of all ages could enjoy. One of the park’s most famous rides is the T-Express, Korea’s first wooden roller coaster, which is popular among young visitors and thrill-seekers. Zootopia is a must-see as it spans over an area of 15,000㎡ and exhibits 2,000 animals of 201 species. Lost Valley opened in 2013 and features the largest ecological safari world and offers a tour by amphibious car to see 150 animals of 20 species. A pair of giant pandas given from Chinese president Xi Jinping as a symbol of friendship between Korea and China can also be seen at Panda World.

 We were only able to get on one ride because of time constraint, but more reasons to go back next time right?:)

 We rode the Sky Way to get to the other side. You can walk but it might be tiring. 

Can you see the wooden rollercoaster T-Express?

 Raiza and Min

 Cute souvenir shop! 

Kyeopta! Hehe

Shempre avail sa Halloween decors!

 Overlooking the Flower Garden!

 Lunch break at Garden Terrace!

 Ana ordered the Skeleton Zombie Tomb Fried Rice set for 19,800 won.

 I ordered the Fire Flame Squid & Potatoes for 13,800 won! I still had a few wons left from my coupon so I just ordered water and drinks with it.

 Tada! The serving is actually big. I was not able to finish mine! It's a little pricey but 2 people could share na.

 Raiza ordered the Garden Sausages & Potatoes meal for 15,800 won and Min ordered the Halloween Finger Pizza for 16,000 won. Anlaki ng servings!

 Visited this beautiful garden after!

 After our quick lunch, we left agad to take more photos before we leave for our next desti. We only had less than an hour, so amazing race kami. Haha.

 My photo ka-tandem that day who was super patient and supportive, my favorite vlogger (naks), Raiza Contawi! 

Love this spot! 

Thrifted jacket, H&M knit sweater, Fila leggings, Primadonna sneakers

More walking shots. Avail lang the beautiful backdrop!

 Beautiful Christmas tree!

Walkway going inside the Rose Garden!

Victorian garden! So nice! 

Pose with the roses. Can't emote to save my life. haha

Also saw this beautiful spot! OMGGG. So magical. I cry. Autumn ba kamo?

 My first autumn. :)

Time to leave!!!

 We were in a hurry to get back to the bus but got held up by the parade! So we watched na din. Hihi.

 Lara Flower the female lion!

 Jack Spanner the tiger! 

 Donna Show the Fennec fox!

 I love Pandas so I got a little sad that I was not able to visit this part of the park. Next time!

How to get there:
3rd Stop: Suwon Hwaseong Fortress

Just an hour away from Seoul, this UNESCO World Heritage site is perfect for history lovers, like me!!! The fortress ground is HUGE so I recommend spending 2-3 hours here if you want to fully explore the site. 

Told ya it's big!

Hwaseong (Brilliant Castle/ Fortress) is the wall surrounding the centre of Suwon, the provincial capital of Gyeonggi-do, South Korea. This Korean fortress was built from 1794 to 1796 by King Jeongjo of the Joseon Dynasty to house and honour the remains of his father Prince Sado, who had been executed by being locked alive inside a rice chest by his own father King Yeongjo after failing to obey the command to commit suicide. Located 30 kilometres (19 mi) south of Seoul and enclosing much of central Suwon, the Fortress includes King Jeongjo's palace Haenggung. The site was designated as a World Heritage site by the UNESCO in 1997. The Suwoncheon, the main stream in Suwon, flows through the centre of the fortress. (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hwaseong_Fortress)

"The fortress wall stretches for a total of 5.52km and has a great variety of military facilities that are hard to find anywhere else. Four gates face each of the cardinal directions—Janganmun (north), Paldalmun (south), Changnyongmun (east), and Hwaseomun (west)—and the seven-arch style Sumun gates straddle the point where the nearby stream reaches the palace. Above the Sumun gates is a pavilion called Hwahongmun."

You could try archery here! It's 2,000 won for a 30-minute lesson. :)

Did you know that some scenes from popular K-dramas Jewel in the Palace & Love in the Moonlight were filmed inside this fortress? We only had 30 minutes to explore so we were not able to roam around but inside you would find the spot where Park Bo Gum danced to the song Boombastic for their promo vid.  

So cute Bogummy

I heard that the Crown Prince's palace in the drama is also located here! Just look for the Hwaseong Haenggung Palace, one of the largest secondary palaces of its time, inside the Fortress. It was called an extension of Gyeongbokgung Palace, the main palace of the Joseon Dynasty, because of its beauty and long history. 

The central building of the palace, Bongsudang Hall, appears in scenes of “Love in the Moonlight” as the living quarters of the Crown Prince. Early into the second episode, Eunuch Jang (played by Lee Jun-hyeok) introduces the building to Ra-on as “the palace of the Crown Prince.” Hwaseong Haenggung Palace is also the location of the scene in episode three, when Ra-on is slapped by Queen Kim (played by Han Soo-yeon). 

Class pic!

Suwon could be quite far so if you want to save time and to utilize your time more, book this Hwaseong Fortress with Korean Folk Village private van tour! Have a taste of Korean history and culture. :)

4th Stop: Cebu Pacific Regional Office in Seoul

Tea time with Cebu Pacific's Country Manager, Mr. Kang! So nice to meet you! 

Thanks for having us!

5th Stop: Palsaek Samgyeopsal 

Located in Junggu, Seoul (near Dongdaemun), this popular restaurant's main dish is their fresh local pork belly meat seasoned with eight kinds of special sauces (ginger, wine, ginseng, pine leaves, herbs, curry, soybean paste, and pepper paste) and all-you-can-eat fresh veggies. I noticed how the place fills up easily (it's quite popular) yet it has this cozy vibe that makes you feel at home. As soon as we arrived, our food was immediately served (we had a reservation) and I love how their staff was always there to assist. 

Our table. Look at all those food! OMG. 5 of us shared and we were not able to finish everything. And look at the variety of leaves for the bbq pork wrap. My first time to try them! Usually kasi lettuce and cabbage lang.

stir fried rice with seaweed! Yum!

My favorite would be their pork belly seasoned with herbs! Seafood soup was TDF. So good. 

How to get there?

Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station (Seoul Subway Line 2, 4, or 5), Exit 14.
Dongdaemun Station (Seoul Subway Line 1 & 4), Exit 8.

Location: 30, Eulji-ro 43-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul

6th Stop: Dongdaemun Design Plaza: SM TOWN Stardium & Kakao Friends Store

The Dongdaemun Design Plaza, also called the DDP, is a major urban development landmark in Seoul, South Korea designed by Zaha Hadid and Samoo, with a distinctively neo-futuristic design characterized by the "powerful, curving forms of elongated structures". The landmark is the centerpiece of South Korea's fashion hub and popular tourist destination, Dongdaemun, featuring a walkable park on its roofs, large global exhibition spaces, futuristic retail stores and restored parts of the Seoul fortress. (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dongdaemun_Design_Plaza)

The Underground Cultural Plaza allows access to the east and west sides of the Dongdaemun Fashion District which is bisected at ground level by a major road. It connects to the Euljiro Underground Arcade, as well as to Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station. The underground plaza is incorporated into the structure of the design park and design plaza. It houses venues for performances and exhibitions. The plaza is not just for art lovers, but also for shoppingeras like me!

Kakao is a South Korean internet company established in 2014. Kakao Friends characters were developed in about two months after the idea meeting in July 2012 began. The Kakao Friends manager stated that he created these characters to make the KakaoTalk IM service easy and fun for the public. Kakao friends are the characters based on KakaoTalk emoticons released in November 2012 by Kakao. Also it is the company that carries out character related businesses. The character illustrator is HOZO (aka Kwon Soon-ho).They have become beloved characters in South Korea.

Hello from us!

Me and my new friend. Hihi.

So many cute merchandise being sold inside!

SUM SM Town Store at Dongdaemun Underground!

This is where you could purchase different goods of your favorite SM Town idols. From clothes, pins, patches, stationary, mugs, cds, etc! I saw lots of familiar faces and even saw autographed good being sold! I saw some nice clothing but they were a bit expensive hihi. Next time!:)

My favorite Seohyun from popular group Girls' Generation! She left the group na though huhu.

Love this sweater! 

And this chic jacket!

Rested at this coffee shop across the store

This ends the first part of my KTO Ladies' Special tour!!! Special thanks to Cebu Pacific Air (had so much fun with you Ila!), JG Summit (thanks Ms. Len you're the best!), Korea Tourism Organization  (thank you Min! Enjoyed bonding with you! #PaMin haha) and Stratworks (love you Ailene!) for taking care of us and for this wonderful opportunity. Thanks for reading and watch out for Part 2! Daedanhi gamsahabnida! (small hearts)

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