Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Seoul, Korea

Another country to check off our list!  In all reality when my husband suggest Seoul as a family vacation I immediately wrote it off.  M had been there a few times for work and both times he returned home raving about it.  He assured me I would love it. So with great hesitation I booked the trip.

I ended up booking our airfare through Jin Air, got an awesome deal!  We flew directly into Seoul from Okinawa.  Cheap tickets, direct flight, baggage included...I'll take it.  For our hotel we stayed at the Dragon Hill Lodge.  We also got a great deal with them.  It is a hotel for military personnel, so the rate per night is determined by rank.  This hotel is located directly in Seoul.  Walking distance to shopping and sightseeing.  Another HUGE plus was this hotel was on a small base {Yougsan Army Base}.  So we were able to go to the exchange, there were known restaurants and they had banking facilitates.  Big plus in my book, I always get so nervous about using my credit cards overseas.

Anyways, so before we left we looked up things to do in Seoul.  And...that's when I got excited.  I'd like to think that I'm a pretty seasoned traveler with kids.  I like to have an itinerary because I like to plan and when traveling with kids planning is a must.  Since Amelia & Nolan are both under 5 {still toddlers} we planned to do things that we believed they can handle, we also gave them breaks and outlets to let out their energy.    Amelia is 4 so she doesn't sit in a stroller, but we brought one for Nolan.  Our hotel was in the heart of Seoul, but this city has lots of hills and my 4 year old can only walk for so long.  We did have to cab it to a lot of places.  There was the option for public transportation {bus} but I didn't want that hassle since we had limited time.

A few of the places we saw//

The War Memorial of Korea

Our first outing was to the Korean War Memorial.  The museum was free, big plus and walking distance from our hotel...another big plus.  I'm told that this is the largest war memorial in the world and they weren't kidding this place was huge!  Outside had a lot of stuff to see on display, things that you could touch and sit in.  Inside was nicely set up.  There were a ton of exhibits and a lot of information.  M being a military man and a lover of history had a ball.  I too am a lover of history and it was a nice museum.  The kids on the other hand, were not as interested. Amelia liked all the displays outside, Nolan ended up falling asleep so he just stayed in the stroller.  All in all, I'm glad we went.   There was a big section on the Korean War, lots of Americans fought in that war, it was nice to see them honor our military men and women.


Everland was my favorite day!  It's an amusement park, right outside of Seoul.  I asked the concierge at our hotel about how to get there, they recommended a bus, but we would need to take 2 buses to get there.  I didn't want to deal with that, so I asked about a taxi...they laughed and explained that its outside of Seoul so its going to be expensive.  We didn't care, we didn't want to deal with two toddlers on a public  bus.  So we took a  cab there, it was about $40 USD.  Not bad, it took about 30 min to get there.  Anyway, this place was a Disneyland wannabe BUT the prices were actually reasonable!!  Because we were foreigners our tickets were discounted and were only about $35 each for me and M,  Amelia was $30 , and Nolan was free.  We got into the park for less then a 1 day admission to Disney.  Now I know its not Disney, but it gave my kids the same fun!  We all had a blast.  Unfortunately Amelia couldn't ride all the rides she wanted, she even broke down after being turned away from a ride she wanted. It literally broke my heart. She is a definite thrill seeker, doesn't take after me at all!  She was wanting to go on rides made for teens and adults.  One day she will be able to , but that day wasn't it.  So we did everything under the sun that was in her height requirement.  It was great, no lines, she even rode rides more then once cause the lines were so short. The park was nice, there were trees everywhere and the decor was tasteful and fun. Did I mention how affordable things were?!  Every time I would ask a price to something I'm sure my jaw dropped each and every time!  We literally were buying every park picture {the picture that get taken on the ride}, any and every snack, my kids got a few souvenirs, I even got a couple.  It was fun.  They also had a big street parade.  We didn't recognize any of the characters but my kids still looked in amazement and danced along!  We were there when the park opened and we left around 6, we were all pooped.  They normally have fireworks nightly, but due to the missing kids in the ferry boat they were canceled.  I thought that was very respectful.  We ended up taking a cab back, this cab ride was more expensive, we left during traffic time so we spend $60 on the way back.  Still totally worth it, we all fell asleep on the way, couldn't do that on a public bus.  Plus we had to pile all the S we bought in the trunk.  All in all, my fave day of our trip.  I know we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  When I put the kids to sleep that night, Amelia thanked us for bringing her to Korea.  OMG...I die...

Gyeongbokgung Palace // The National Folk Museum of Korea// The Children's Museum of Korea ::

On our 3rd day we spent the day sightseeing.  These are all in the same area so we hit them up.  One very awesome thing was that President Obama was there visiting the palace at the same time so admission to the palace and museums were free!  Pretty cool!  The palace was enormous and the grounds were beautiful!  We saw the guards, but wasn't able to catch the changing of the guards, I guess that happens hourly but we didn't see. They really did stand there like statues.  We wondered the palace grounds for awhile, their architecture was beautiful and the details were amazing.  My favorites was the water garden, it was so peaceful and beautiful.

The kids museum was fun!  They had an exhibit for Korean Folk tales, pretty interesting.  I couldn't understand the stories but its fun learning about another culture.  The museum was colorful and had lots of activities.  The kids had fun running to each activity and playing.  There was some school kids there too and Amelia tried to tag along with them, it was the cutest.

Final Verdict::  We had a blast in Seoul.  We of course did some shopping and some eating and drinking.  I would totally suggest Seoul as a family vacation.  Our hotel was nice, and we got a great deal on airfare.  There was a lot to do and experience, we barely made a scratch on experiences there.  Maybe one day we'll go back and see the Seoul Tower or the DMZ.  But I loved our first experience.  I'm glad my hubs suggested going here, cause otherwise I would have passed on this awesome vacay.


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