Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Namsan Guest House, Seoul

My friends and I realised that staying in Seoul's hotel will definitely makes our wallet burn a big hole, hence we decided to stay in guest house after my good experience in Japan and I believe East Asia countries like Japan, South Korea and Taiwan's guest houses are highly recommended for those budget traveller like us. But when I surfed through net, I almost wanna cry out cause there are over 40 guest houses in Seoul itself and indecisive which to choose from. After compare the price, read review which took me more than a week and had a final discussion with my friends, finally we picked Namsan Guest House.

Basically, Namsan Guest House is divided into 3 different guest houses -1,2 and 3. Three of them are located not far away from each other and their location is absolutely fantastic for travelling and shopping. Located just 150m from the infamous MyeongDong Subway station, it is so convenient for transportation and avoid lots of hassle.
During our stay in Seoul, two of my friends and I experienced staying in 2 of their guest houses and the other two experienced staying all three guest houses. This is because Namsan Guest House is quite famous especially among foreign tourists and sometimes its fully booked. Therefore, it is advisable for advance booking at least by 3 months through e-mail reservation. One thing I like about Namsan Guest House was no deposit required for advanced booking and we only have to pay the full amount upon check-in.

Let's take a look on all the 3 Namsan Guest Houses:

Namsan Guest House 1

Initially, we plan to book Namsan 2 but it was fully booked on the first two nights we arrived. Got not choice, hence up staying at Namsan 1 for the first two nights. If you are travel with a big group like more than 3 people, you can only choose either Namsan 1 or 2. Talking about Namsan 1, one and only of the drawback was it is located further uphill and you have to dread yourself up the sloopy and steep hill after the tiring and exhausted day and most worse case if your hands are load with heavy of luggage or shopping bags. For the rest, I'm ok with that.

Namsan Guest House 1 01
Namsan 1 Main Building

Namsan Guest House 1 02

The view of outside Namsan 1

Maybe because most of them prefer Namsan 2 or 3 which are just below the hill, so it seems like we are one and only group staying in Namsan 1 because we didn't saw any sign or heard any other people staying here besides us. Not a bad situation cause my friends and I can fully occupied the whole house. 
Namsan Guest House 1 03
The common room and the kitchen. Since we are the one and only staying here, all the free foods provided almost finish by us especially on the first night we arrived where we were so exhausted and freaking hungry.

Namsan Guest House 1 04
We booked VIP room type that can accommodate 5 people and it is attached with a private bathroom. Although both room and bathroom looking old, but they are very clean. So, no worries for those who are particular about hygiene.

Namsan Guest House 2

On the third day, we managed to secure a reservation on Guest House 2. Most tourists and travellers prefer to stay here because of the comfortable and convenient location. But another drawback especially for a big group of more than 4 people and if you book the VIP room type in Namsan 2, the rooms are located on the 3rd and 4th floor and there is no lift within the Namsan 2 VIP building. Therefore, it is advisable do not take VIP room in Namsan 2 if you have many heavy bags or travel with old age group. But for me, I don't think this is a big deal cause we also have to experience walking up and down tons of staircase when taking subway. Seoul's subway is crazily insane with lots of staircase and some even don't have lift, just like London's underground.

Namsan Guest House 2 01
The overview of Namsan 2 and the brown colour building is where VIP room located.

Namsan Guest House 2 02

We stayed in Namsan 2 VIP room type which situated on 4th floor. I tends to prefer to stay in this kind of room because besides clean, it is very spacious and cosy. Regardless whether Namsan 1, 2 or 3, every room of Namsan is fully equiped with private bathroom, air-conditioner, cable TV, towel and even those necessary toiletries such as shampoo, soap, toothpaste, toilet paper and tissue. If you are visit during winter season, don't have to afraid cause they do have Korean floor heating system too.

Namsan Guest House 2 03
Every building of Namsan is equiped with facilities such as kitchen, laundry and more. My friends and I even managed save up our money because free American breakfast is provided every morning such as bread, butter, fruit jam, peanut butter, coffee and even including unlimited of Korean instant ramen cup. 

Namsan Guest House 3

Like I mentioned earlier, two of my friends managed to stay in all of the 3 guest houses because both of them decided not to join us to visit other area of South Korea on the last two days of the trip. Although it was last minute booking, my friends managed to get a room in Namsan 3 since Namsan 2 which is much more cheaper had been fully booked. Situated just beside Namsan 2, each and every room of Namsan 3 is quite new because it is opened last year.

Although the room is new, but it is quite small. However, I believe that the value of money you pay for is worth everything.

The newly communal and open kitchen at lower ground with PCs are free and available for the guests.

Nearby Namsan 2 and 3, there are two of 24 hours convenient store; GS 25 and Family Mart. Another plus point why I choose Namsan Guest House. You can't imagine these 24 hours convenient stores are so important to my friends and I because these are where we find our meals especially came back late at night.

Overall Review For Namsan Guest House 2 & 3:
  1. Location - Less than 5 minutes walk to the Myeongdong Subway station. This made traveling is so much convenient and easier as we took the subway everyday. And just opposite of the road, it is where the MyeongDong shopping area located. Therefore, no surprised almost everyday we went Myeongdong. 
  2. Service - Helpful and attentive staffs that have no problem in speaking English and they even support us with lots of travel information especially when we encountered problem in finding way to Nami Island.  
  3. Free Internet service and free wifi at each and every corner of the whole building. I heard from my friend saying that even staying in some 3 stars hotel and above, doesn't provide any free internet access.  
  4. All rooms of Namsan are private style rooms equipped with bathroom. So no worries if you dislike dormitory style and sharing with strangers especially the bathroom.  
  5. Free breakfast - Like what I mentioned above, unlimited free American breakfast and also Korean instant ramen cups.  
  6. Well-equipped facilities especially the kitchen filled with refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker, water purified, cooking utensils and more. They even have a huge weighting scale to weight our luggage to avoid from overweight.  
  7. Namsan also provide pick-up and shuttle service from and to airport regardless what time is your flight. The fare is 60,000 won from/to Incheon Airport and 30,000 won from/to Gimpo Airport and can fit up to 5 people.  
  8. From as low as 20,000 won per person (approx. to RM60), this place is definitely the most affordable with a budget-friendly price to stay in Seoul. You can check out the room rate as below:

Except for Namsan 1, I am highly recommended to choose Namsan 2 or 3 because they are absolutely offer an affordable and quality accommodation with an unparalleled services in the most prestigious and comfortable location.

Namsan Guest House awarded with Good Stay Award by Korea Tourism Organisation for providing reliable and affordable accommodation and at the same time, meeting the high standards. - Source

For more information, please check out Namsan Guest House official website:

P/S: This post is specially dedicated to one of my readers, Fiona and I hope that this post will give you a bigger picture and idea of this Namsan Guest House which I recommended to you before and also manage to help you in deciding where to stay in Seoul.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Lotte World, An Entertainment Spot For Everybody

Date of Visited: 12th September 2011

We left Insadong Street after spending almost 3 hours wandered around and heading to Lotte World, which took almost an hour to reach. Lotte World is a recreation complex in Seoul. It consists of a large indoor theme park, an outdoor amusement park which known as "Magic Land", an artificial island linked by monorail, shopping malls, a hotel, a Korean folk museum, sports facilities and movie theaters situated in one area.

Lotte World 01
The entrance of Lotte World when assessed from Jamsil Station, on Line 2 or 8.

Lotte World 02
On the basement of the complex, we noticed a huge replica of Trevi Fountain and this reminds me of my trip to Rome four years ago.

Lotte World 06
For those who are big fans of Hello Kitty, should check out this store which located inside the Lotte World. Neh..., I'm not a fan of this. 

Lotte World 03
Here am I in front of the Lotte World.

Lotte World is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's largest indoor theme park. It's biggest advantage being that it can also be enjoyed during the freezing cold of winter and stormy rainy season. But my friends decided to skip this since we ran out of time and because since we did visited the other Seoul's theme park, Everland Resort. It is advisable to spare a day so that can enjoy all to the fullest. So, this would be another top spot on my list for my second visit to Seoul in future, I hope *cross fingers*.

Lotte World 05
Handsome and pretty Korean stars as the model of garments can be seen in the department stores inside Lotte World.

Lotte World 07
Star Avenue - A cultural complex displaying the clothes and items used by some of the most popular Korean hallyu (Korean wave) stars. I didn't went inside and take a look cause it requires admission fee of 10,000 won and I didn't know anything about these Korean hallyu stars. So skipped this again.

Lotte World 11
TGIF's banner with a pretty and sexy Korean lady. How could you resist it?

Lotte World 08
Spotted pretty and colourful small little garden outside the complex.

Lotte World 10
In the centre of the complex, there is a huge indoor all year round ice skating rink that is surround by different rides and attractions on the top of it. I can even heard some of the people screaming from the theme park while watching people skating happily on the ice rink within an exciting atmosphere and delightful background.

Lotte World 04
Besides the indoor ice rink, Lotte World even has its own shooting range. Seems like besides shopping, Lotte World indeed provide all different kinds of entertainment to everyone who comes here.

Lotte World 09Buying nothing but ends up, indulgence myself with Korean ice-cream

After spending an hour and half, we bidded goodbye to Lotte World and went back to Myeongdong for a last minute night shopping at the street markets again as two of my friends and I are going to other area on the next day. We are flying to somewhere nearby Seoul, can you make a quick guess where are we going to?

Lotte World 12
My haul on fifth day - Mostly from Insadong Street and MyeongDong Night Market

How To Get To The Lotte World:
Jamsil Station on Line 2 or 8 - Exit 3

[Credit To: Wikipedia, Official Korea Tourism Guide Site]

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Traditional Korean Touch at Insadong Street

Date of Visited: 12th September 2011

Insadong Street is our second pitstop once we done with the historical tour around Gyeongbokgung Palace, which is just 1 station ahead. Frankly speaking, South Korea has countless of streets that you shouldn't miss out and 3 of them which I had shared in my previous post before like Myeongdong, Dongdaemun and Namdaemun. Now, let's take a look what's the uniqueness of Insadong Street compare to the others. 

Insadong Street 01
Once we came out from the subway, we saw this two standing tall statues and Insadong Street is located on the left-handed side.

Insadong Street, situated in the middle of Seoul city is well-known among both locals and also foreigners as a traditional street and it represents the culture of the past and the present. It contains a mixture of historical and modern atmosphere and it is a unique area of Seoul that truly represents the cultural and history of this country.

Insadong Street 03
Insadong Street claimed to be an important place where old but precious and traditional goods are on display. Roughly about 400 meters, both sides and branch off in all directions of the street are clustered with traditional tea shops, art galleries, antique shops, restaurants, cafes and ceramic dealers.  

Insadong Street 04
Spotted cute cafe located on upper floor but we didn't went to have a try. We had our lunch in one of the 24 hours convenience store, GS 25.

My friends and I decided to split up and went our ownway and will meet up upon the agreeable time. While strolling Insadong Street by myself, I enjoyed it as much as I love the Namdaemun Street. It is not because of the traditional goods displayed here which to be frank, I am seriously don't know how to enjoy these thousand years of antique goods but I am more attracted to these (photos below):

Insadong Street 11
Souvenirs Store! I really can't help myself from wandered around these kind of shops. 

Insadong Street 05
Insadong Street 06
There are like more than 10 souvenir stores in Insadong Street and selling plenty of those authentic Korean souvenirs and handicraft which is so colourful and pretty. It is perfectly and ideal gift for family and friends.

Frankly speaking, both Namdeamun and Insadong selling almost the same range of souvenirs and handicraft but I can't define which one selling the most cheapest. Well, it depends the way you bargain right? But I heard that you are allow to bargain in some of the stores if only buy in bulk, or else, they definitely won't entertain you at all.

Insadong Street 07
Insadong Street 08
 If you are wondering what are they, well, they are hair accessories.

Insadong Street 09
Vintage and antique pocket watch anyone?

Insadong Street 10

Besides souvenir stores, I spotted there are about 100 galleries in Insadong Street and can see every example of traditional Korean fine art from paintings to sculptures. These galleries are the heartbeat of Insadong and therefore, Insadong is sometimes well-known as "Insadong Art Street".

Insadong Street 12

Insadong Street 13
Chuseok, Korean Thanksgiving Day which I did mentioned in one of my previous South Korea's post.

Insadong Street 14
And again, it's another free trying of Hanbok but I gave this a pass cause I can't find my friends to help me take photos. #facepalm

Insadong Street 15
It's Starbucks - in Korean language. This is one unique thing I found in Insadong.

If you are interested looking for something with a traditional Korean touch such as antique goods and artsy stuff, Insadong is definitely a place that you should explore. As for me, I almost going crazy when seeing all those handicraft and souvenirs display along the streets and my wallet almost crying for non-stop bleeding (if you know what I means).

How to get to Insadong Street:
1. Anguk Station, Subway Line 3 - Exit 6; or
2. Jonggak Station, Subway Line 1 - Exit 3; or
3. Jongno 3 (sam)-ga Station, Subway Line 1,3 or 5 - Exit 1

[Credit To: Wikipedia, Official Site of Korea Tourism]

Friday, July 20, 2012

Foodie Friday: Huge Cafe, Damai

First and foremost, I would like to clarify this is my first time officially doing a proper food review with a team of bloggers. Most of my "Foodie Post" that I blogged before are just for sharing purpose. Thanks to Angeline Ong  from www.everydayfoodilove.co/ www.foodloh.com for the kind invitation. 

Huge Cafe Damai 01
#1: Their signboard is easily being spotted.

This cosy and great aired cafe located opposite of Glory Church has been opened for certain of period and for your information, it actually operated by my own ex-colleague cum my best buddy's brother.

Huge Cafe Damai 02
#2: Open-aired cafe

Huge Cafe Damai 03
#3: If you are working in Damai area, do check out their lunch offer as it comes with affordable and reasonable price. 

Huge Cafe Damai 04
#4: Huge Cafe is even taking part in the KK Food Fest for 2011 and 2012. 

Huge Cafe Damai 07
#5: Chicken Fish Fillet Burger (RM20.80)
We were served with one of Huge Cafe signature's burger, a crispy fried chicken leg with fish fillet sandwiched between their freshly handmade burger bun together with lettuce, tomatoes and mayonnaise. If you are small eater, you might need to share because it is incredibly huge just like its namesake. For RM20,80, this huge burger is served with fries and choices either soft drink or Huge Cafe's drink. It is so flavourful and simply delicious. 

Huge Cafe Damai 08
#6: Single Beef Burger with Fries (RM10.90)
This is perfectly for those who are small eaters. The juicy beef patty which specially handmade by the chef making the beef patty is so tender and smooth. (I can't eat beef due to my religion. This is opinion given by other bloggers in between).

Huge Cafe Damai 12
#7: Chicken with Eggplant Topping Pizza (RM15.50)
I never a big fan of eggplant but this pizza served with well-balanced of eggplant and chicken as the topping making it one of my favourite pizza and the most delicious pizza I ever have, seriously! Not forgetting to mention that the thin crust itself is so crispy too.

Huge Cafe Damai 19
#8: Black Pepper Lamb Spaghetti (RM13.50)
The combination of the black pepper sauce wasn't overpowering and it makes perfect match together with lamb meat which is so tender and chewy.

Huge Cafe Damai 14
#9: Cheesy Salad Chicken Rice served with egg and coleslaw (RM8.50)
Smiley face on the top of the egg makes us feel young at heart when having this meal. Plus, the crunchy deep fried golden brown chicken ontop poured with mixture of cheesy and mayonnaise sauce served with coleslaw and rice makes it another kind of happy meal for everyone.

Huge Cafe Damai 11
#10: Cheesy Fries (RM6.50)

Huge Cafe Damai 23
#11: Cheesy Wedges (RM6.50)
Both of these sinful but mushiness finger foods topped with juicy cheesy sauce making you hard to resist to have more once you have the first bite, especially the Cheesy Wedges which drenched with mayonnaise sauce too is one of my "must order foods" everytime I pay Huge Cafe a visit.

Besides serving western meals, Huge Cafe has recently added and introduced local meals into their menu to offer wide range of selections to the customers.

Huge Cafe Damai 17
#12: Fresh Fish Slice with Kon Lau Mee (RM8.00)

Huge Cafe Damai 24
#13: Middle: Creamy Milk Pudding (RM3.50)
Chocolate & White Chocolate Eclair and Cream Puff (RM1.80 each)

Huge Cafe Damai 27
Huge Cafe Damai 28
Huge Cafe Damai 29
#14: From left to right:
1. Mango Smoothie (RM4.00)
2. Kum Guat Honey (RM4.00)
3. Passion Green Tea (RM4.00)
4. Red Bean Smoothie (RM4.50)
Not just the huge burger itself, even their drinks are served in huge size which also marked as one of their signature. Incredibly served in 700 c.c. instead of 500 c.c., that's Huge Cafe's serving size. The chef cum the owner served us with four different type of beverages and each of them are so refreshing and rejuvenating. Browsing through their menu and I can guarantee that  you will be definitely being spoil by the variety of choices.

Huge Cafe Damai 33
#15: Foods foods foods...

Huge Cafe Damai 34
#16: Paparazzi Bloggers in action!

Angeline Ong, Monica Ong, Jack Baxter George and Melisa Lim - www.everydayfoodilove.co/ www.foodloh.com
Alfred Allen - Lifeandstyle.com.my
Jia Seng Lai - Groupon
Huai Zhi (Videographer)