Archive for the ‘DMZ’ Category

Visiting Seoul : 5 Useful Tips I wish I’d known!

My colleague is going to visit Seoul in several weeks time so I thought this might just be a good time to share a few of the things I wish I’d known before I went there. Why doesn’t anyone ever tell you these things?

Cheapest place for facial products

Now everyone knows that in Korea, facial products are aplenty and quite cheap as compared to Singapore. Innisfree, Nature Republic, FaceShop, you can find these shops along every major shopping street or mall. There are some slight variations in prices especially if you shop in a popular street vs a not so crowded one. My father has been to Seoul countless times for business trips and he told me that he once bought some facial masks (for my mother of course) for like $X. And try as I might, after visiting more than 5 different outlets of the said brand, I just could not find the facial masks being sold at the legendary $X. Instead, they cost 30% more than $X!

Well, that was until I visited the Lotte Department Store at MyeongDong. Specifically the 10th floor which houses the duty free section. When you get there, you will feel like you are no longer in Korea. The entire mall is pretty serene and orderly, but when you get to the 10th floor, it is like a mad house. It is jammed packed with people, and everyone is speaking Chinese! It is HERE, that you can find the the facial products being sold at about 30% cheaper than the shops outside! At least it was the case for those facial masks that I was buying.

How not to get ripped off at Noryangjin Fish Market

Everyone likes to visit Noryangjin Fish Market for some reason when they visit Seoul. I bet many of you readers out there have not visited your local wet market in years, yours truly included, but some how it’s different when being overseas. Visiting a wet market becomes a tourist activity.

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DMZ / JSA Tour (Panmunjeom)

If you’re planning to visit South Korea, and Seoul in particular, you have to spare some time to visit the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). It is the only way you can step on to North Korean soil, in relative safety so to speak. Of my entire 8 day trip to Seoul, this was undoubtedly the highlight of the holiday. If you’ve never been to the DMZ before, I highly recommend cutting down on the shopping and pigging out that you undoubtedly plan to do, and take some time to visit this historic and surreal place!

Freedom Bridge (1)

Freedom Bridge at Imjingak – It is a former railroad bridge which was used by repatriated POWs/soldiers returning from the north.

South Koreans are not allowed to visit the DMZ, so if you are a South Korean, you can consider being a tour guide, it’s probably the only way, apart from being a soldier! In fact, tourists have to sign up in advance with licenced tour agencies. Security is extremely tight and no one is allowed to veer away from the tour group once you are inside the Demilitarized Zone.

We signed up with KTB tours, taking note that they had English speaking guides. The tour we signed up for was for a full day tour, however there are half day tours as well. Ours included a trip to the War Memorial of Korea, Imjingak where the Freedom Bridge is, lunch, entry into the demilitarized zone (DMZ), and the highlight of it all, entry into the Joint Security Area (JSA aka Panmunjeom) which is where you can step on to North Korean soil. The entire trip took about 8 hours.

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