There was an article that stated that it is best to spend on travel for our kids rather than material possessions because it is creates memories and fosters bonding. I couldn’t agree more. I grew up in a family that values travel. We try to save to travel and those travel memories are forever kept fondly in my heart. This is something I want to carry over in my own little family and I am happy my hubby is so on board with it too.
For 2017, we planned to a Seoul, Korea Trip to coincide with my hubby’s birthday. We wanted to see snow!!! It was quite adventurous of us to be taking two little ones (a 2-year-old and a 10-months old) on a winter trip without a helper. I believe my hubby and I got a great teamwork so we know we can handle it.
We got our airline tickets from www.cheapflights.com. We were deliberating if we should got a cheaper tickets with connecting flights (longer but cheaper) or a direct flight (shorter but more pricey). But we realized we don’t want to gamble in taking the cheaper flight with two young kids in tow. So we got the Korean Air direct flight tickets to Seoul.
For our accommodations, I initially planned to book a hotel at Myeongdong but hubby saw a better deal, much cheaper at Insadong. So I went ahead and booked a 7-nights stay in Hotel Aventree Jongno via Agoda.com.
We bought our winter wears. I did extensive research and made our itinerary for our trip. I have made a little notebook with our daily trip schedules with name of the places in English and Korean as well as the exits in MRT in every places. Hubby also contacted Changi Recommends so we can have a portable wifi when we are in Seoul.
We strategically booked after midnight flight so the kids would sleep in the plane until we reached Korea. We did make them play and run in the playround in Changi Airport so they will get so tired and happy to sleep throughout the flight.
I must say, we didn’t regret taking Korean Air. The flight attendants were so attentive and nice. Even the pilot came over to say Hi before the trip. It was a relaxing trip with the two young boys sleeping while mommy & daddy enjoyed the in-flight movies in our own media screens. We are well-fed with meals and snacks. When I need to use the ladies room, one of the pretty flight attendant watched Fynn for me. Overall, I must say it was worth it choosing Korean Air.
We arrived in Incheon Airport at around 8AM. It was a breeze going through immigration line and checking out our 3 luggage. Incheon Airport is a beautiful airport, a close second to Changi Airport.
We got outside to wait for our limousine airbus that will take us to our hotel. It was freaking cold! Oh my goodness! I have experienced winter in Sydney, Australia but Korean winter is something else. Naj, my 2 year old, started crying from the cold. A nice Korean elder gentlemen who is in charge of arriving limousine airbuses gave a wool hat with ear covers to Naj to use. Even if he was having a hard time speaking in English, he singled to us that the bus will take some time to come so we can wait inside first.
When the bus arrived, we gave back the hat to him and he said no, please keep it. We noticed these genuine kind and generous manner from Korean throughout our trip particularly to our kids. We were so amazed and very appreciative of their hospitality.
Bus 6005 will stop directly in front of our hotel. It is the last stop. It cost 15,000 KRW for adults and 11,000 KRW for child. It took 70-75 minutes to get to our hotel. We enjoyed the beautiful wintery white scenery from our bus windows. I love how the city looks, the atmosphere of winter season, the sophisticated fashion of Koreans and the cute shops & intricate architectures.
We checked in at Hotel Aventree Jongno. It is a small business hotel with Insadong just a few minutes walk from the back of the hotel. Our room was quite small but clean and modern. If you have a lot of luggages you will step on them. There is a long wooden table and wooden ledge by the window. There is no closed hanging cabinet, just a rail for you to hang your clothes and drawers for some of your clothes. The toilet has no bathtub but has this cool highly advanced toilet. Too bad I dont have a picture to show. It has several functions and the toilet seat feels warm when you sit on it, hehe. The bed is comfortable and big enough for us four.
It was almost lunchtime when we reached the hotel so we decided to roam around Insadong to look for a place for lunch.
Insadong is known to be a district where you get to experience the feel of traditional Korean culture in the modern city. They call it, “the culture of the past and present”. So it is good mix of historical and modern atmosphere. You find tourist wearing hanbok rental roaming around the streets. You can find traditional Korean trinkets and lots of wonderful souvenir gifts. There are art stuff, porcelain wares and hand pressed papers. I love the vibe of Insadong. I enjoyed the colorful sidewalks, the mix of the locals & tourists and the variety of street foods. We bought some gloves for me and our two kids. My hubby was brave enough to go glove-less.
Talking about streetfoods, we haven’t decided on a place to eat lunch so opted to try the many streetfoods we saw. It was so yummy and filling. Maybe if they have rice on hand, we are good to go. We particularly like this Chicken Gangjang, which is a sweet & spicy chicken popcorn. It was getting cold and we were sleepy. So we headed back to the hotel to rest.
Sunsets quite early during winter in Korea at 5PM. We headed out to Myeongdong to roam around for a bit and have a proper dinner there. Myeongdong is very near from Insadong. It was just a few MRT stops. Again, the nice Korean people would give us seats in trains, give our kids candies, smile & play with our kids even they have a hard time communicating with us.
Myeondong is a tourist and shopping district. It has very busy streets filled with lot of people. There are a lot of shops selling all types of Korean makeup products every corner you turn. There are more streetfoods and very interesting foods everywhere. You can see lots of cafe, clothes & shoe stores and hotels surrounding the area.
Ok, on our first day, we realized that it is quite challenging for my husband and I because we have two young kids who has never experienced winter cold weather. Both were very irritable. Our toddler was crying because his hands were so cold. Our 10months old was still okay because I was carrying him, snuggled in his Tula carrier in front of me. So my hubby devised some wraps & scarf to wrap around our eldest’s chest to his legs with his arms inside while sitting on his stroller. Hubby also placed a heat pack behind his back. Naj felt warmer and his tantrums stopped.
We wanted to try several street foods but it was already too cold and we wanted a proper meal. Most of the restaurants are found in the 2nd floor with a narrow stairs. I found a chicken and beer restaurant at the 2nd floor with a tiny elevator and we decided to try it. It is the Chir Chir Fusion Chicken Factory. We got a plate of original crispy chicken and fries. I love Korean chicken! We enjoyed our meal a lot and a great place to shelter from the cold.
Here is a list of our 7 Days itinerary in Korea:
Day 1: Hotel Aventree, Insadong, Myeondong
Day 2: Lotte World
Day 3: Petite France, Nami Island, Strawberry Picking, Cat Cafe
Day 4: Tosokchon, Gyeongbokgung Palace
Day 5: Itaewon, N Seoul Tower
Day 6: Gangnam, Hongdae
Day 7: supposedly Children Grand Park but we decided instead to do grocery shopping at Lotte Mall and bought souvenirs at Insadong
For the next several days, I will be blogging about our Korean Trip. Stay tuned.