Thursday, 19 July 2018

Got a Stopover In Korea? Go Shopping in Seoul!

I have toured friends in record-breaking time around Seoul! Knowing Seoul like the back of my hand, so to speak, I draw up a route in my mind that included the tourist spots need to be visited by any visitor and a timetable that fits within their free time before heading back to the Incheon International Airport.

On my first trip, I successfully toured my friend Maria around Seoul for five hours!  Then, another friend Jean came over for a stopover and I toured him, too, within five hours!

But this time, another friend Judy Ann is asking me for a suggestion. She'll be flying from the US to the Philippines and will have a stopover at Incheon Airport for about 12 hours. Her flight will arrive early morning at Incheon Airport and her connecting flight will leave early evening. So, she's planning to go shopping in Seoul between 6AM and 3PM. 

Just what Maria and Jean did before during their layover at the Incheon International Airport, Judy Ann will simply present her passport and her boarding pass (for her connecting flight) to the Immigration officer before she's allowed to leave the Airport. But I do emphasize that the decision to allow a passenger to leave the Incheon International Airport rests solely on the Immigration officers.

Here it is:

SUGGESTED ITINERARY/INSTRUCTIONS (I added links to my BLOGS related to the instructions):

           (The bus stop in front of the Dongdaemun 
                    Design Plaza or DDP)

1. Take Airport Bus 6702 from Incheon Airport and get off at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza bus stop. If you want to have your morning coffee in Dongdaemun, there are few cafés in the area. The ride from the airport up to Dongdaemun may take more than an hour. (Read this AIRPORT BUS BLOG.)

  • Exchange a few US$ to Korean at the airport in order to buy a bus ticket at the ticket booth, depending on how much you're going to spend. 
  • The bus ticket may cost about KRW16,000 one-way; coffee about KRW 5,000; lunch about KRW 10,000; a bag at Dongdaemun about KRW 10,000-40,000. Purses are as cheap as KRW 7,000.
  • Small shops and market stalls only accept cash; cosmetic shops accept credit cards.
  • Currency exchange stalls in Dongdaemun and Myeongdong tend to give better rates than banks at the airport.
  • At the airport's information desk, ask where you can find the bus ticket booth, the gate number where you can wait for the bus, and the bus departure time. The first Bus 6702 leaves at 4:56AM for Seoul.
  • Wait at the designated bus stand for Bus 6702; it will swing by and stop for a minute to pick up passengers.
  • Show the bus driver your bus ticket.
  • If he asks you where you will be getting off, just tell him 'dongdehmoon-dee-jja-yin-pla-jja'. That's how 'Dongdaemun Design Plaza' would sound if written and read in Korean. 
  • There's a red bell above your seat at the bus. 
  • Press the red bell if you're getting off. (Read this AIRPORT BUS BLOG to find out about the red bell.)
  • Once you see the spaceship-looking building, that's the DDP and you need to get off!

Here's the online info on the airport bus:

2. Visit NPH Bag Market behind MaxStyle Building, which is to your left if you're facing the Dongdaemun Design Plaza. The bag market is on the ground floor and basement of NPH Building, opens at 9PM and closes at noon the next day, and is closed on Sundays. 

  • Use your charm, if you want to haggle at the bag market, especially if you're buying more than one bag. (Read this NPH BAG MARKET BLOG.)
  • Always bear in mind that you will probably hand-carry these bags on the plane. So, make sure you're within your limit at the end of your shopping day.

3. Visit the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (opens 10AM and closes at 7PM). You can go around the DDP and inside the DDP. Behind the DDP is a garden full of the interesting LED white flowers. Read these blogs about the DDP and WHITE LED FLOWERS.

NOTE: There's a tourist information booth in front of GoodMorning City mall building, near Exit 14 of the Dongdaemun Culture and History Park Station in case you want to know more about the area or have questions about directions, etc.

             (Tourist information booth in front of 
                  GoodMorning City building)

4. Lunch around the Dongdaemun area. There's also a fast food restaurant on the ground floor of Doota.

5. Take the subway at the Dongdaemun Culture and History Park Station. Get on the Blue Line 4 and get off at Myeongdong Station (2 stops from where you are). You can buy a subway ticket from a ticketing machine inside the station. Be prepared with your Korean won cash.

       (Upon getting out of Exit 6, this alley leads 
           to the Myeongdong shopping center)

6. At Myeongdong Station, head out from Exit 6. At the exit, turn left and you'll see alleys upon alleys of cosmetic shops, clothes, cafés, souvenirs, and others. Make sure to ask for 'samples' when you buy cosmetic or skin products. 

NOTE: Do remember that you may have to hand-carry all the things you have shopped for, which means NO LIQUIDS!

NOTE: If you see a team of two people wearing RED jackets, they are tour guides from whom you can ask tourist information or directions.

7. Try the food stalls along the Myeongdong streets. (Read this blog on Myeongdong's STREET FOOD).

8. Visit the MYEONGDONG CATHEDRAL. It is located on the other side of Myeongdong, just a short walk from the busy center.

9. Visit the Seoul Global Cultural Center in Myeongdong for photo-op in Korean traditional costume and for other Korean experience activities. It's on the 5th floor of M-Plaza.

The Seoul Global Cultural Center was the venue of the Filipino Christmas party hosted by the Philippine Women's Club last December 2017. Also, I always hang out at this center whenever I am in Myeongdong because it's a quiet place, they have a strong wi-fi and very friendly staff! I remember giving them dried mangoes once to show them my appreciation.

For more info:

NOTE: Do ask the RED JACKETS for the location of the airport bus stop near Exit 8 of Myeongdong Station. (Read this blog about the RED JACKETS.)

10. For the airport bus going back to the airport, go the airport bus stop a few meters from Exit 8 of Myeongdong Station. Earlier, you went out of Exit 6. Had you walked straight, instead of turning left, you would have ended up at Exit 8. 
         (Airport bus stop for the bus going back 
                     to Incheon Airport)

At the bus stop, wait for any of these bus numbers: 6001 (KRW 15,000), or Bus 6015 (KRW 15,000). Any of these will take you back to Incheon Airport. Be prepared with your EXACT change of KRW 15,000 as the driver DOES NOT have a change. Drop the money inside a plastic box upon entering the bus. (This stop also includes Bus 6021. Do not ride that bus number).

This airport bus stop is in front of KB Bank, and a few meters from a pedestrian lane a Tour Les Jours bakery.

Note to Judy Ann: Tell the airport bus driver you will be getting off at TERMINAL 2. Upon arriving at Incheon Airport, the first stop is Terminal 1, then Terminal 2.

                          *   *   *   *   *

Anyone can use these instructions during a stopover at Incheon Airport, but ALWAYS make sure you have ENOUGH TIME to go to Seoul and shop. 

Because other than your shopping or sightseeing, you have to make enough time for your ride back to Incheon Airport (about 90 minutes), queuing at security and Immigration (about 30 or more depending on passenger traffic, and your walk to your plane's assigned departure gate for boarding.

Do let me know if any of you have questions.

Have fun! :-)

PS. Thanks to for the street-level views I used as screenshots!

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