The fiery red, yellow, orange and brown leaves dazzle in autumn as if it is nature’s last beauty spectacle —a grand finale before it shall fall off to slumber, a seduction that even the most perfervid beach and sun lovers from the tropical Philippines could not resist.
We booked our tickets to South Korea a year earlier to avail the promo fares offered by local airlines flying direct from Cebu to Incheon, South Korea. Our curiosity to witness the picturesque natural phenomenon of autumn foliage is never averted by the long wait. The little consolation, perhaps, was that we got our round trip tickets for P6, 000.00 only per person. A year of waiting would only mean an extra time to prepare and shop f0r perfect clothes for the crisp autumn season in Seoul.
Coincidentally, on March 17, 2015, the Republic of Korea announced the opening of its consular office in Cebu at the 12th floor of the Chinabank Building at the Cebu Business Park. The office can process tourist visa applications for Filipinos visiting to South Korea. This is a welcomed news to our scheduled trip. We don’t have to fly to Manila or hire a travel agency to process our tourist visa but the best news was that the Korean Visa is for free.
After an almost six hour flight via AirAsia we arrived in the chilly Incheon Airport at around 9:30PM. Immigration was swift and the baggage claim was fast.
Arrival at Incheon Airport. Traveling on colder seasons requires bigger luggage
From Incheon Airport there are several different ways to travel to downtown Seoul. The most popular ways include taking the Airport Railroad Express, Seoul Metropolitan Subway, airport limousine buses, and taxis. We took the cheapest and fastest way to get to Seoul by the Express Train on the AREX Line. We hurried to catch the last 43-minute train ride.
We arrived in Seoul Station at 11:00 PM. The station was already winding down for the day, calm and 10˚C. Perfect for selfies!
Seoul Station. A few minutes before it will close for the day.
Travelling today has not only been democratized because of the promo fares but also been customizable according to budget: from hotels to Airbnb condo units and homes, buffet breakfast to on-the-go food from convenient stores, rent-a-car to train rides.
This trip is a well-researched-budget-friendly-sojourn, a product of weeks of research for the best deals and price, the shortest route and the best time to go. Our main objective is to ensure that we will be able to cover at least almost everything.
We availed not only the colors of autumn but also the Korea Grand Sale which gave us 50% discount on major tourist spot destinations like the famous Everland Resort theme park.
Seoul City at Night
Our Airbnb home is just a few steps from Seoul Station. It was in the center of the City. Our host gave us specific instructions on how to pass the two-tier digital security system to be able to access our room and beds. (Too bad, we were not able to meet them in person.)
It was a long day and we can’t wait to sleep with 5˚C outside temperature. I think we intentionally did not turn on our room heater just to enjoy the temperature at least tonight. Temperature forecast for the succeeding days is 0˚C and -4˚C on midnights.
Day 1: Seoul City Tour
Seoul City is quiet and very progressive. It has maintained to keep its traditions and heritage perfectly well that it is seamlessly integrated to the whole concept of the city. To see Seoul, one may take a City Tour Package, ride a bus or taxi and do sightseeing. But then again, this is a budget trip, so we DIY by taking the subway and doing some research on the best spots and their location to ensure we have the maximum number of places to visit and sights to see.
- Sungnyemun Gate
- Gyeongbukgong Palace
- National Folk Museum
- Bukchon Village
- Tosokchun Sansam Baeanggeun Black Chicken Korean Ginseng Soup
- Myeong dong
A few steps from our Airbnb Condo Unit is the main road of Seoul. We enjoyed the 15-minute leisure walk on the highway to Sungnyemun Gate.
Our first encounter with the autumn foliage.
How about some me-time to post some photos at FB?
Day 2: Nami Island and Hongdae
Nami Island (Namiseom in Korean ) is imperative in any South Korea autumn experience. This moon shaped island is the location of the romantic Winter Sonata Korean TV series. It is here where we got the best shots of our trip.
And here are some of the best photos i have taken in Nami Island:
Day 3: Inwangsan Mountain and Namsan Tower
In every trip, although we plan it to be a budget one, we made sure that we have at least a day to indulge to the fancies. On this day, we planned to get a fancy dinner on some flashy autumn clothes. While waiting for our dinner reservation, we took a train to Ingwasan Mountain to have a little exercise while seeing the city from afar.
A perfect city view from atop the Ingwasan Mountain where most of the Shamanist rituals are performed to please the gods and spirits.
A quick stopover to try a traditional Korean lunch. It was so good!
It is revolving and we are dinning there.
Day 4: Everland
Everland is the largest and most recommended amusement park in Seoul. It is the most animal friendly theme park I have been into. The animals are healthy and well taken cared.
- Sisters of Mary Seoul Korea
- City Hall
I am a graduate of the Sisters of Mary School in Cebu. It was a privilege to visit the first Sisters of Mary School established in Asia. The Sisters of Mary School is founded by Fr. Aloysius Schwartz who is now a candidate for sainthood.
At the fair, outside the City Hall.
Day 6: Goodbye, South Korea
After a year, this trip remains to be a memorable one.
The mystifying colors of the leaves glistening brightly under the sun while blown by the cold crisp winds induce inner peace like a tight hug of a friend that mends all your broken pieces. A reminder that sometimes even if you gave your best you might need to shed some of your colorful leaves to make way for new beginnings.