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  • Aston100 1,365 posts

    Hello, Mrs Aston has decided to jump on the K-Pop and K-Drama bandwagon a bit after the fact, as you do when you get to a certain age.
    So when I noticed some fares from our local airport to ICN for £1600 (before any AF £200 statement credit kicks in) during summer 2023, she insists we go.

    I believe it will be quite hot, but probably no significant issues with rain.
    Is that right?

    We may do 2 weeks in the country. Any advice on how to split this between Seoul, Busan and I think Jeju island? (sorry, just going off place names from Netflix K Dramas).
    Any location / hotel recommendations are welcome (beach not important), as well as suggestions for internal transport.

    Thanks.

    EDIT: anyone know how the KLM legacy business class hard product (777) compares to Lufthansa? Are they equally bad?

    Pangolin 104 posts

    2 weeks is plenty of time for just those 3 destinations, so I would suggest looking at day trips from Seoul also.

    I think 3 days is enough for Jeju but if you have 2 full weeks you could consider adding on a day as it’s a very pleasant place to wander round. Fly there/back from Gimpo (or Busan) to save time. Hallasan is good for hiking if that’s your thing. You’ll probably want to hire a car for the island.

    For hotels I can only talk about Seoul (in Jeju I stayed at guesthouses). The CY in Namdaemun has excellent location and was great value when I stayed there as you got lounge access (as Platinum) and it was a decent lounge with great service and happy hour from 5.30-9.30 (good food also). There’s some other good hotels nearby and I think it’s a great location (I prefer it to Myeongdong in fact) due to the all the markets and hole-in-the-wall eateries that do great bibimpap/kimbap

    Hilton by Seoul Station is excellent for doing day trips from as you’ll do all those from Seoul Station in any case. Remember to get the City Travelcard from a 7/11 place as soon as you arrive. It will make metro travel a lot easier.

    Your wife might be interested in Gangnam (style) so consider splitting your Seoul stay into two different hotels – eg one around Myeongdong and one in Gangnam. I would avoid the area by the Palace/City Hall – to me it’s a bit soulless.

    Aston100 1,365 posts

    to me it’s a bit soulless.

    oh come on, you had the perfect opportunity for a pun right there…

    Aston100 1,365 posts

    Thanks for the info @Pangolin
    We can allocate up to 14 full days for this trip.
    What would your split around the country look like? 5/4/5 for Seoul / Busan / Jeju?

    Would be trying to use our IHG & HH stash of points where possible.

    Pangolin 104 posts

    Thanks for the info @Pangolin
    We can allocate up to 14 full days for this trip.
    What would your split around the country look like? 5/4/5 for Seoul / Busan / Jeju?

    Would be trying to use our IHG & HH stash of points where possible.

    You probably want to allocate more time for Seoul (and day trips) than to Busan, so maybe 6/4/4?

    Pangolin 104 posts

    to me it’s a bit soulless.

    oh come on, you had the perfect opportunity for a pun right there…

    Unfortunately, as a Korea nut myself, I’ve heard that pun way too often to use it myself 😀

    PS Ask Mrs Aston if she’s seen Extraordinary Attorney Woo on Netflix

    DevonDiamond 71 posts

    If it’s your sort of thing I’d recommend the Korean war museum and the museum of cultural history

    Aston100 1,365 posts

    If it’s your sort of thing I’d recommend the Korean war museum and the museum of cultural history

    Sounds good, thanks.

    cska 52 posts

    Just back from South Korea and would definitely recommend spending more time in Seoul than Busan, and probably more time in Jeju than Busan. Busan is lovely but ultimately there’s less to do there than the other two areas of SK. You will have an extraordinary time, it’s an utterly incredible destination.

    bruinbrown 59 posts

    Summer in Korea goes one of two ways, it’s either incredibly hot and can easily reach over 40 in certain parts of the country or there can be typhoons which are intense and lead to rainfall for weeks at a time.

    I would definitely recommend spending quite a bit of time in Seoul, each time I go, I can easily spend 5 or 6 nights there. I’d say the best areas of Seoul over the past few years have been the areas north of the station. Dongdaemun, Namsan, Jongno are all great areas. The metro is cheap and easy but Seoul is a really big city. The shilla Seoul is definitely the best hotel I’ve encountered in Seoul, the rooms are dated but the service and food are incredible. The Signiel is great for views across Seoul but there’s not really lots in the neighbourhood. In terms of cheaper areas, I think places like Myeongdong have declined during the pandemic and aren’t as lively as they were 5 years ago but you’ll regularly find some great hotel deals around there. It’s quite easy to pick up a 4 points or courtyard for £50 per night.

    Outside of Seoul, Busan is great but I don’t think you need too long there. After 1 night I’m usually bored. It’s great seeing the hundred storey skyscrapers around haeundae and walking along the beach but there isn’t as much to do as other cities. The Hilton resort just outside Busan is great for 1 night as well.

    Jeju is great and should definitely be on your list as others have said. Make sure to get some Jeju black pig or ribbon fish, both local specialities.

    For me one of the best things about korea is the food and different cities have different specialities. Jeonju is great for banchan and makgeolli. Gyeongju is great for a really historic feel. Pohang is amazing if you’re a fan of seafood, if you can stomach wriggling octopus, there’s a few places in the seafood market which serve sanakjj.

    To travel between cities, the train is probably the easiest option. The high speed train is fast and comfortable. You can take the munghungwa train to save money but it’s much slower. Flights to jeju are very busy and Seoul to jeju before the pandemic was the worlds busiest flight route but because there’s so many seats your tickets should never be that expensive.

    Aston100 1,365 posts

    Thank you for the information.
    Very helpful.

    Pangolin 104 posts

    I forgot to mention that anything beyond 1-2 days in Busan should be used for day trips to surrounding areas but others have already mentioned this.

    I concur (seems to be a popular word on HFP!) that the food is amazing in Korea. There is a great day trip you can do from Seoul which goes to one of the towns that is famous for its cuisine (sorry I can’t remember the name but googling stuff like ‘foodie trips in Korea’ or ‘day trips from Seoul’ should show it)

    Peggerz 101 posts

    Hi @Aston100 I am off to Korea in 3 weeks for the first time, mostly to see my daughter who lives there but also to experience different culture/sights/sounds/smells.
    She lives in Seoul and in the summer it regularly gets into the 40’s with very heavy rain and high humidity. Her opinion is that UK residents would prefer the weather of March- June and September-October when the temps are around 20-25c and it is a lot drier, but each to their own and thank goodness for aircon.
    We have booked 5 nights in the Millenium Hilton by the main station in Seoul, 2 nights in a traditional Hanok house in Jeonju which is two hours by train. My info is that it is do-able as a day visit but better to have a couple of days to take in the atmosphere – and get out of the cookie-cutter hotels. Jeonju is where Bibimbap was ‘invented’ and is the foody capital of the country.
    We then return to Seoul for an IC in Gangnam for the rest of our stay. We also intend to do a day trip to the DMZ and some walking trips too.
    My daughter also said the bus company’s are tremendous with extensive routings from Cities. She said they are as good as 1st class trains, with food, WiFi & seatback screens available.
    Re Busan, we decided it is somewhere to visit maybe next time for a short time. And we had not considered Jeju but know it is Korea’s party/holiday island.
    Hope this helps.

    Aston100 1,365 posts

    Thanks Peggerz.
    We don’t really have a choice for time of visit I’m afraid.

    Aston100 1,365 posts

    Thanks again, but we’re going to Malaysia instead. This info may come in useful if we find time for Korea another year.
    Mrs Aston is distressed that I’ve ruined her dream of dancing on stage with BTS. I’m glad as nobody needs to see that.

    Michael C 637 posts

    I thought the pre-arranged daytrip to the DMZ was just mindblowing, and very emotional
    hearing the (young) guide’s story of how her family was separated.

    Skinfood products are fantastic, if you like that sort of thing!

    Optimus Prime 53 posts

    Thanks again, but we’re going to Malaysia instead. This info may come in useful if we find time for Korea another year.
    Mrs Aston is distressed that I’ve ruined her dream of dancing on stage with BTS. I’m glad as nobody needs to see that.

    Doesn’t Mrs Aston know that BTS have broken up?

    Gavin454 161 posts

    I thought the pre-arranged daytrip to the DMZ was just mindblowing, and very emotional
    hearing the (young) guide’s story of how her family was separated.

    Skinfood products are fantastic, if you like that sort of thing!

    Also strongly recommend it!

    Unfortunately, the tours to Panmunjom (the Joint Security Area tour where you can go inside the negotiation huts that straddle the border and come within a few metres of North Korean soldiers) have been suspended since March 2020 with no signs of reopening.

    Aston100 1,365 posts

    Thanks again, but we’re going to Malaysia instead. This info may come in useful if we find time for Korea another year.
    Mrs Aston is distressed that I’ve ruined her dream of dancing on stage with BTS. I’m glad as nobody needs to see that.

    As a compromise for Mrs Aston dropping her demand for new Velvet sofas in a hideous shade of teal, this trip is back on again, but for Summer 2024 instead.
    We will now have at least 20 nights in-country.

    I took a look at pricing for IHG and Hilton properties in Seoul and Busan for summer 2023 (to try and get an idea for summer 2024 prices) and found them to be a bit higher than anticipated.
    HGI and DTs for well over £200pn in Seoul; a Hilton in Busan for £300 – £500pn throughout July & August.
    Is Korea quite an expensive country or am I a bit unlucky?

    I just assumed it would be nearer to Thailand prices rather than Singapore prices.

    bruinbrown 59 posts

    You’re definitely not unlucky, Korea is a reasonably expensive country and has gone up a lot in recent years. There was a brief blip during the pandemic when hotel prices dipped a bit but they’re back up to their normal rates.

    Hotel prices in Korea are high right now for a couple of reasons. There’s been a big push towards status chasing in recent years and so you’ll typically find a lot of cheaper hotels booked for long term mattress runs. Also with travel in Korea being restricted during covid, there was a big push towards hotel breaks where people would visit a hotel to stay in the hotel. Add in the limited vacation days that people in Korea get and this tends to mean holidays within the country. For example, the Hilton you mentioned in Busan isn’t actually in Busan but it’s a resort about 10 miles away with a decent Korean style spa which makes it popular for people wanting a break in Korea.

    There’s also been closures of a few big hotels, eg the millennium Hilton seoul has closed which has increased demand on other Hilton’s in Seoul but with the small footprint that Hilton has in Seoul its meant a lot of the smaller hotels are busier.

    If you’re not willing to pay the sorts of prices that chain brands are charging now then Korea has a lot of high quality independent hotels that are also in places off the beaten track. Or if you’re set on staying in chain hotels then Marriott has by far the largest presence and is continuing to expand across the country but the chances of getting your status benefits is reasonably low owing to how busy they are.

    Aston100 1,365 posts

    Thanks Bruin.
    Some interesting comments there.

    And yes, I noticed the Seoul Hilton permanently closed down after Christmas, and I also noticed the abundance of Marriott properties.
    Unfortunately I have no worthwhile Bonvoy status (just the useless gold that comes with the Amex Platinum card).

    Peggerz 101 posts

    Hi @Aston100. I made it to Seoul in October for 2 weeks. The now closed Millenium Hilton was very central and is probably quite a loss. The Ceox IC was great and right in the mix of Gangnam. I used points all the way with these hotels and did find restaurants etc in central Seoul on a par with UK prices. However the area where my daughter stays, only 3 metro stops from Gangnam, was found to be significantly cheaper.
    We didn’t make it to Busan but we’d been advised to try Airbnb or similar rather than the expensive hotels.
    I really enjoyed Sth Korea though.

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