What To Prepare Before Leaving To Seoul

For people who usually travels on their own, reading blogs might have become a habit when it comes to the part of planing the itinerary. As for risk takers, no need to look up for anything and just go with the flow, wherever it's leading you. But I am not that kind of bastard and I know I would miss a lot of things if I didn't do some research beforehand. If you are to travel in groups, do some research on your own too. Exchanging needs and interests sometimes make the trip more thrilling rather than just one head's plan. 재미없죠. 

B u d g e t

At the point we were leaving, the exchange rate would be 3.16MYR for 1,000won. And that my friend, is very expensive it's pretty much like the US Dollar -.- and 1,000won can be counted as a dollar actually. Things like mineral water would cost about 500won for a normal brand and about 800won for a Jeju mineral water. As for coffee, a normal Americano at chained coffee shops would cost about 4,100won (plus minus). Kinda expensive actually compared to back at home. But if you opted for indie coffee shops, you can actually get yourself an Americano for only 28000won to 900won each! Talk about high quality cheap coffees!! You can't get that here!! My daily morning routine involves a cup of coffee, everyday. If I were to spend 4,100won each morning, I would have used up all the money allocated for food because I have no money liddat ㅠㅠ. LOL

If you put airline tickets aside, I actually managed to survive for two weeks with just 3,000MYR on food, transports, hotel and coffee. We only opted for apartments and hostels instead of expensive lodging places. I actually liked this idea more since you get to meet strangers, make new friends, ask for local recommendations and get to enjoy the place in another perspective instead of the usual tourist spot that actually offers nothing close to what it offers. If you were to plan on exchanging your money half-half, you might want to keep the remaining emergency money in USD. It will be so hard to find exchange places that offers MYR>Won. If there is, the rate will make you cries buckets. I suggest you either change it to USD first or activate your debit/credit card in case of emergency use. 


Hotel - About 1,250MYR for two weeks (3 Hotels ; 2 in Seoul, 1 in Busan)
Transportation (T-money)- 152MYR
Food- We limited nothing more 21 MYR (7,000won) for each meal X One heavy meal per day
Coffee- No limit :p


S e a s o n

Autumn is actually my favourite season. So, this year I chose Autumn again. First, it's the only period where we have our semester break and two, I still have time to make money so I don't have to limit things during the trip. The weather is just right for you not to sweat yourself out no matter how far you need to walk. The wind that blows will give you some kind of a refreshing feel and it some kind of a stress reliever for me. Usually, the middle of October will have like some kind of Genting-Cameron kind of chill (but a bit colder at night). When November slowly approaching, you might want to wrap yourself in windbreakers and bubble jacket especially at night. Areas especially Ewha is very very very cold at night starting from early November. The wind that blow is especially stronger and not refreshing anymore, hitting the chill out to your bones. Areas like Dongdaemun and Hongdae is actually still bearable. But Ewha and Sinchon, umm I always lost to it. Shivering myself out on the way back to the hotel everytime hoho. During autumn the night gets longer too, therefore around 5pm will actually look like 8pm.

C o n n e c t i o n s

I travelled in a group of 3 and since we're off for two weeks, communicating with each other is hard. Otherwise, you need to stick with each other, all the time! But as I tried to live without connections last year, there were many times we usually splitted up (especially during toilet breaks or shopping where we don't actually wait for each because we had time limits and each of us have different needs). In the end, we had to make a deal where if we don't see each other after 15 mins waiting, we'll just see each other at the hotel haha. Time is precious during trips. You don't want to waste it like that, especially on waiting -.- 

So this year I thought I'll try something new, by buying a simcard. After reading and reading numerous blogs, there were two options that people will go for in terms of seeking connections in Seoul. No 1, Buy a simcard. No.2, rent the wifi egg. A lot of Singaporeans chose to just buy the simcard since it doesn't require you an extra device to charge before heading out (which is annoying) and it doesn't cost much since their currency is about 60 cents different only -.- But if you were to just staying connected to post up live updates about your trip in a big group, renting the wifi egg is actually better since you can save a lot. A wifi egg can connect to almost 9 devices at a time I think. But if your point is to stay connected with each other and also for the live update, I'll say go for the simcard :)

The simcard can be bought at the price of 20,000won and extra 5,500won for the simcard itself. So the total came up about 25,500w, equals to about 80MYR++. With that amount, you can choose how many data that you wanted to subcribe, I took 1GB and it's not enough actually since I updated a lot and did googles for directions and stuffs :p But you can actually top up more to purchase the data. With this amount also, you still have a few thousands won allocated for calls. For two weeks, I survived without reloading to make calls everytime we lost each other. I'll say it's so worth it since I don't like to wait for people, looking here and there like a lost sheep. 

If you had to be cheapskate and really need to save up, you can actually rely on their super fast public wifi. Be it on the train, cafes, hotels, there were all basically built with connections everwhere. But from my experience, it won't save you from a lost group, it won't save you to whatsapp your friends or checking in at Foursquare lol. The connections sometimes can be unstable and they were actually made to enhance their phones' internet connections since their trains are majority underground, not to support it. But if you don't mind the shaky connections, it should be enough to stay still at the highest connection spot and be connected. But if you are interested on getting the simcard, you can find out more here . 

L a n g u a g e

Menus all in korean, even myself had a hard time thinking lol

As for me, I had studied Korean since we were supposed to have an exchange last year and it has always been my greatest interest to study other languages since high school. I'm currently on my way to learn Japanese :) Compared to last year, their ability to communicate in English has gotten worst among the youngsters I think. Surprisingly many older people are able to understand english better than the younger ones. Idk about others, but from what I encountered this year, it has gotten worst lol. And since there were many China migrates (Students / Working) people, using your Mandarin seems not a problem anymore. All I hear was Chinese conversations everywhere, the menus are also upgraded with Chinese characters. If you can't speak either in korean or chinese, you might want to try speaking in japanese. Korea actually have many Japanese migrates and the number of Japanese tourists are almost the same as China tourists at a point they actually dominates the locals -.-  So my advice, try to learn a thing or two about their language, especially those important words. 

Don't just learn phrases like "How much" or "Discounts please". They are not that bad up to a point you need to memorise that in korean (although it is better). But try to memorise or jot down words like "T-money top-up", "Take-away", "Where to go", "Toilet" (Yes, some people haven't heard about the word "toilet" for their entire life too), "Train station" and many more. When I met with tourists there, usually they will only memorise the "How much" part and "discount part". It won't help you any better. But to make things worst, they replied you back in korean haha. In the end, still have to point out the price with a calculator. 

But since this year my korean has improved a lot, I cannot lie that I enjoyed the trip even more! I get to talk and have conversations with all the kind ajummas and ajusshis, ahh just everyone! When there is no barrier in terms of language, the whole world is like yours, haha. 


Pork- 돼지 Dwaeji
T-money top-up- 티 모니 충전 해주세요 T-money chungjeon haejuseyo
Take-away- 포장 해주세요 Pojang haejuseyo
How to go____?- ________어디로 가요? ______ odirokayo?
Toilet- 화장실 Hwajangshil
Train station- 지하철역이 어디예요? Jihacheol yeok-ee odiyeyo?
How much?- 얼마에요? Eolma- eyo?


F o o d

As we know, food might be the first thing that came in mind when travelling to country with muslims as the minority. Since we followed a tour last year, he had introduced us a few food that we can actually eat. If you do know Malaysian students who studied there, you might wanna ask them too about the eating whereabout. Koreans restaurant is different with what we had back home or in China. They usually open up specialty restaurants that offers only a range of food instead of "Everything" style. Therefore, the food here rarely mix with each other although I can't guarantee you that 100%. But I can still find seafood restaurants that doesn't serve meat menus. 

If you are unsure, you can ask them although it might be hard if you can't communicate since specialty restaurants are usually owned by old people and their menus rarely had English translation. But if you write down the magic word, I'm sure you won't have problems of checking the place out. Unlike chinese dishes that usually adds all the oils and meat bits even in seafood based menus, koreans menus usually staying with its genre and they put health first in almost every meal (minus street foods). For our two weeks trip, we survived on our pre-packed tunas and Brahims (for emergency and to save up some money), and opted for seafood restaurants, vegetable diet, kimbab, and bibimbap only. You can actually have meat menus in Itaewon, but it will cost you double or triple. Or you can find Halal kebab restaurants that sell kebab for about 4,000w (12MYR) if the craving can't be helped. I can't guarantee you all the food are good to be eaten since you can't find Halal logo over there (except for Arab foods). If you were anxious about what you are gonna eat, I'll suggest you don't eat it at all. We did tried our best to stay in the right path since we are what we eat. Always ask for the ingredients, taste them carefully (especially for hidden meat) and look around before ordering. If the food are "infected", it is best to avoid it immediately. iA all the food are free from forbidden ingredients. 


Food that can be eaten (might, depending on the serving and environment)
-Fish roe bibimbap 
-Seafood based udon
-Vegetable bibimbap
-Tuna bibimbab/kimbab
-Vegetable/kimchi pancake
-Soft tofu soup
-Seaweed soup
-Hotteok/ Seed hotteok
-Meat-free ddeokbokki
-Fish cake
-Shrimp tempura
-Squid tempura
-Spicy octopus rice
-Shrimp fried rice
-Fresh made coffee
-Seafood carbonara/pasta

*Do remember that all of these food are actually eatable, but remember to ask them to remove any meat or ham if there are any or simply just ask them to make it vegetarian friendly.

*In order to eat out, modifications might be needed to each meal ordered. If you are unsure, you might wanna google "Vegetarian friendly" eateries or how to order food, the vegetarian style. As what I have read, there are ways that vegetarians can survive in this meat-grilling country :)

I hope this helps! Cheers~