Winter in Seoul – Day 1: Testing out the winter breeze

*extremely picture-heavy post

So, here starts the strenuous “Winter in Seoul 2012” series. As earlier mentioned, I will not be doing the typical day by day account of our trip, rather complement it with thematic and specific posts that can’t be elaborately explained within a ‘daily’ post, and that will include the breakdown of our budget for the trip (note: like all-in-all, with the tickets, accommodation and dues we paid in the Philipine airport, I have personally shelled out less than Php 25,000 for the whole trip. =D)

Our flight to Incheon International Airport wasn’t until 1:30 AM but we were already in NAIA Terminal 3 before 10:00 PM. When the check-in counters opened by 10:30 PM, we immediately rushed to present our itinerary ticket and paid for the Php 1,620 travel tax. The staff manning the counter also weighed in our baggages to check-in and even if they were already quite heavy, we were still almost 7 kilos short of our combined 30kg limit as we have already paid for 15kg each. It was actually our first time to check-in luggages because since we started travelling together, we only have two carry-ons each and has been used to travelling light. But as we were obviously travelling to a wintery place, our usual baggage won’t cut it.

Mon and I waiting for check-in at NAIA Terminal 3 for our flight to Incheon

Mon and I waiting for check-in at NAIA Terminal 3 for our flight to IncheonAt around quarter to 1:00 AM, we decided to head for the boarding gate. Going there, we had to first pay for the terminal fee, which was already lowered from Php 750 to Php 550. Then next to the immigration officer who had to take a look at our passports and ask questions on how long we will be out of the country, as well as our employment record. It took me only three minutes to finish the whole thing over, but Mon took a longer time. The immigration officer even mistook him for a Korean and immediately talked to him in English. LOL One more thing, they no longer made us remove our shoes, which wasn’t the case when we travelled last year. Good thing because I was already unknotting my laces when the security personnel stopped me.

Cebu Pacific weighing our check-in baggages and we were almost 7kg short of the combined 30kg limit

Cebu Pacific weighing our check-in baggages and we were almost 7kg short of the combined 30kg limit

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Guesthouse in Korea: A Review

*There were not a lot of online reviews about “Guesthouse in Korea” in Jongno and I decided to re-post this one I made a year ago for a forum. I think it was a good call since the link of the pictures in that post has been already broken and I don’t know why. So hopefully, the pictures would be ‘permanent’ here. (Also, I will be translating the content as it was written in mixed English and FIlipino).

We stayed in “Guesthouse Korea” (or “Guesthouse in Korea“) for 4 days. We rented a Twin Room which costs KRW 40,000/day. Their check-in time was at 1:00 PM and check-out time at 11:00 AM. We arrived around 9:00 AM in the Guesthouse but since their check-in time is at  1:00 PM and we also had a tour by 10:30 AM, we just left our things by the reception area. But on our 4th day, since the check-out was at 11:00 am, we decided that it was best to just pay for the whole day stay because our flight back to Manila was still at 9:30 PM.

Map of Guesthouse Korea or Guesthouse in Korea in Jongno, Seoul, South Korea

Reservation: We emailed the guesthouse more than a month before our arrival and they generally reply within the day. But unlike other guesthouses, they ask for 30% deposit and it should be via PayPal. They will send an invoice quoted in USD so be ready for the conversion. The rest of the balance will be paid once you check-in.

Directions: They have airport transfer but we opted not to in order to save monet and it was of course cheaper to reach the guesthouse through mass transportation. From the airport, we took the Commuter Train until Seoul Station: KRW 3,800 + KRW 500 refundable deposit = KRW 4,300. It took us around 50 minutes of travel time. Then from Seoul Station, we walked to the subway proper to take the train until Jogno(3)sam-ga (KRW 1,000 + KRW 500 refundable deposit, if you are using T-Money, it costs KRW 900). From EXIT 7, we then walked the length of Donhwamun (the blue lines in the map) until the road in front of Changdeokgung Palace. From there, you can see the Hyundai Gas Station. Enter the street/alley directly next to the and you will immediately see the “Guesthouse Korea” sign.

Donhwamun Road leading to Changdeokgung, Seoul, South Korea
Donhwamun road, lined with trees and stores
Changdeokgung from Hyundai Gas Station, Seoul, South Korea
View of the Changdeokgung Palace from Hyundai Gas Station
Guesthouse Korea sign - Jongno, Seoul, South Korea
Outside of “Guesthouse Korea”, farthest lisghtpost from the Gas Station. The red or brown (LOL) is actually a convenience store.

Breakfast: They serve free breakfast from 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM, consisting of toasts, butter and jam and they also have a coffee maker you can use 24/7. They also have tea available for non-coffee drinkers. You can use their mugs, plates and utensils as long as you wash them after. Of course, hot and cold water are free of charge fot hose who want to eat instant noodles and refill their water bottles before leaving for the day.

Free Breakfast from "Guesthouse in Korea" - Jongno, Seoul, South Korea

Computer and WiFi: They have a common area with cable TV and three computers. You can use them for free and they also have free WiFi connection. However, the WiFi signal reaching our room wasn’t that strong on the second floor, most probably because of the but it was tolerable with 2-bar signal.

Room: I can’t speak for other rooms especially the dorms. Most bad reviews we read about Guesthouse Korea concern the dorms and reservation,  but good thing we had no such problems. Again, we took a Twin Room with two single beds. I was not expecting a lot and we were not exactly picky with the places we sleep in but the room was more than okay. When we went to our room, the bed was fine, we had cement walls, the air-conditioning was in excellent shape, we had a TV (with local channels), hair dryer and mini-ref (which we never used). The hot and cold shower was functioning properly as well. The floor area was enough for out things, with extra space to walk around. Towels were also provided but you would have to ask for them first in the reception.

Twin Room Guesthouse in Korea - beds

Twin Room Guesthouse in Korea - Airconditioner

Twin Room Guesthouse in Korea - TV, mini-ref and dryer

Twin Room Guesthouse in Korea - entrance (right) and bathroom door (left)

Twin Room Guesthouse in Korea - bathroom, Jongno, Seoul, South Korea

Twin Room Guesthouse in Korea - bathroom, Jongno, Seoul, South Korea

At night, however, it was quite difficult to move around the common area because some of the guests were quite fond of bonding with each other over drinks but they were usually friendly, though. LOL We were generally satisfied with our stay, especially we only spent around Php 1,600/night, where it was difficult to find a place with an ensuite bathroom (because most Filipinos are aversed of shared bathrooms LOL). We also saw Yim Guesthouse and Mama’s Guesthouse in the same area.

Their contact details: