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South Korea Trip Part 1: 10 tips for the trip

So we managed to score tickets to South Korea during spring, it's quite cheap I can say. It costs us RM600+ for AA return ticket, which I know one can get way cheaper than this. A friend of mine managed to score AA ticket to Seoul and it only cost her RM400+ but it was during the winter time. So I guess we get a better deal because it Spring time now (I just don't like when it's cold). . FYI, we planned all the itinerary, transportation, meals and stay on our own. There was a lot of homework prior to this trip as we planned to go as backpackers. You can save a lot of money compared to hiring a tour guide plus you can go to more places and set your own time. 

10 tips for South Korea trip

1. Book your accommodation

During this trip, we stayed in Busan and Seoul city so there were two accommodations that we need to book prior to this trip. I would suggest to anyone going to South Korea to use Airbnb to find your accommodation as it so easy, hassle free and most of the hosts are friendly.  Furthermore, you can get the entire house to yourself, so you can cook using the provided utensil and save money from eating outside. 

I would suggest these areas that are best to stay in Seoul :

-Hongik University
-Namdaemun or Seoul Station
-Itaewon (muslim friendly place)

A nice fancy hotel (suitable for honeymoon couple) could cost you around 100,000 won (RM300+) per night while a guest house with private bathroom could cost you about 60,000 won (RM 180) per night. A hotel/dormitory stay is the cheapest by far you can get with 25,000won per person per night. But I wouldn't suggest this stay for girls group or family group as you may ended up getting a drunker as your roommate and there are not so much space for prayers. An apartment/ studio house is the best place to stay if you come with a group of family and plan to stay longer. The price ranged from 150,000 to 180,000 won per night.  

2. Arrival card

After you have booked your accommodation, make sure that you get their complete address as you need to fill in the arrival card once you arrived at the airport. Bring your own pen. What happen if you don't have one? You'll have to wait for a long queue just to get the damn pen and it will delayed all your plan. The Korean immigration wouldn't allow you to enter Korea should you leave the form blank without an address.  

3. Money exchange

This is the easiest way to convert our Malaysian ringgit to Korean won:

1000 won = RM 3.00 (although the currency fluctuate, this is the simplest way to remember your currency exchange)  or

1000 won = 1 USD. 

These are the example of items price you can get in South Korea that are considered affordable:

I Love Korea T-shirt : 10,000 won for 3 (RM30)
Key chain : 5,000 won (RM15)
Halal Kebab : 4,000 won (RM12)
Banana Milk : 3000 won per bottle (RM10)
Vending machine drinks : 1000 won (RM3) 

4. What to eat

Being in the foreign land that are not muslim friendly could be very difficult at times. Plan ahead and bring your own packed food. I would suggest the Muslims to bring Brahim's packets for your meal as it is easy to prepare. During the day when you are on your trip around Korea, find out in the internet (Halal Korea, Halal Food hunters Korea) on which place you can get halal food in Korea. 

These are the Halal street food that I studied before going to Korea.

Odeng (Skewer fish cake)- price :1000 won
Pungo-pang (Red bean bread) -price : 100 won for 3
Hottok (Sweet bean bread) -price : 1000 won 
Kyeran-Pang (Egg bread) -price : 1000 won
Tteokpokki (Spicy rice cake) -price : 3000 won per plate
Samgak Gimbap (consists of rice, kimchi, and other vege-like korean version of nasi lemak)- price:1000 won 

5. How and where to pray

I believe this is a higher level survival skill for some people. Please bear in mind, most of the places in Korea do not have a proper prayer room nor they have water hose for you to take your ablution.  So, since you are a traveler and you'll be constantly moving from one place to another, consider below is the best to manage when, how and where to pray:

Subuh prayers: around 4.00 a.m to 5.00 a.m (Korean time) - pray at hotel/hostel/apartment

Zuhr/Asr prayers: Jama' from 12.30 p.m. onwards or before 4.30 p.m. (Korean time)- pray at changing room/ nursing room/ open space park/ provided musolla (available at Korea Tourism Organisation, Nami Island, Itaewon Mosque & Everland) - bring your own prayer mat, clean sock for girls and empty bottle for your ablution.

Maghrib/ Isya' prayers: Jamak from 7.00 p.m. onwards (Korean time)- you may pray at the open space park if you're still visiting places in Seoul or Busan or you can niat Jama' once you back at the hotel.

You can use the Qiblat Apps using your smartphones and always check your prayers time over the internet as it will change over seasons.

6. Toilet survival skill

Most of the toilet in Korea do not provide water hose, some of it may have the electronic bidet. Ironically, some of the toilet may run out of tissue. So what do you have to do? Use WET TISSUE.

7. Emergency

I think this is quite important when you are travelling abroad. Make sure that you have your travelling insurance to avoid any unexpected circumstances, i.e. accident, theft etc. Should you lost your passport in Korea, you can contact the Malaysian embassy in Korea at +82 2-2077-8600

Malaysian embassy address in Korea:
4-1 Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, seoul, South Korea.

8. Internet

When we were in Seoul, our hosts provided us with a pocket wifi while our host in Busan provided us with a modem wifi at the apartment. Just in case your hotel did not provide you with a pocket wifi, you can get it at the airport with daily charge.

9. Basic conversation

Not so many people in Korea can speak English (well, I think they know, but they are shy). Therefore, communication can be a lot pain in the ass when you dealing with those 'Ahjumma' at the market or the 'Ahjussi' driving the bus.
But if you strolling around the city, most of the people there know how to speak English. These are the basic words or basic conversation in Hangul (Korean Language):

Mosque: Muslim sa-won
Bank: En-heng
Toilet: Hwa-jang-shil
subway station: Ji-ha-cheol-yeok

Yes: Nae
No: Anniyo
Thank you: Kam-sa-hamnida
Welcome: Cheon-man-eyo
I know: Ar-ra-yo
I don't know: Mol-la-yo
Sorry: Mian-hamnida
It's okay: Gwen-chan-na-yo

How are you: An-yeong-ha-say-yo
Hello: Yo-po-say-yo
What is your name: I-re-mi-mwo-yeh-yo
My name is: Chair-e-rer-men...imnida
Where is this place: O-dee-yeh-yo
Delicious: Maa-shes-so-yo
I love you: Sarang-he-yo
Beautiful: Yae-poyo
Handsome: Mo-shes-soyo
Good: Jo-wa-yo
Not good: An-jo-wa-yo
Great: Daebak
Oh My: Ai-goo, omo-omo
Are you serious: Chin-cha
Crazy: Mi-chi-ket-ta

10. What to wear

I guess a lot of people wanted to know this. FYI, Korean people are very fashionable. Even the 'Ahjumma' dressed fashionable at the subway station compared to what I wear in Malaysia. Haha.

These are the suitable dress and tips on what to wear during the 4 seasons in Korea:

Winter (Mid December to early March):
Winter Jacket
Long John
Bubble Jacket
Winter boot
Winter socks
Snow cap/ear cuff

Tips: wear colorful and bright color dress/jacket in contrast with the white snow so that you can get beautiful photos :)

Spring (End of March to early May):
Elegant coat
Long sleeves T-shirt

Tips: wear bright color dress in contrast with the white and pink cherry blossoms during spring time to get beautiful pictures.
Sometime, it can be raining during the day, so do bring your own umbrella. Usually every morning you can watch the weather news on tv before going out, so you'll know whether it's going to be raining or not that day. You check on the internet too.
It can be cold during the spring. You can either wear two layer shirt or thick jacket to protect you from getting cold.

Summer (Mid May to mid September):

Tips: Drink a lot of water during summer. Do apply lotion as your skin can get very dry and itchy. Wear shades to look more 'stylo' and to protect your eyes. If you're traveling using the subway, I suggest you to wear the sport shoes.

Autumn (Early October to early December):
Long Jacket for women
Long John

Tips: Dress in black or white as to contrast with the colorful leaves and do take photos during the 'golden hour' which is 1 hour before the sunset.

Credit to #Iambackpackers:Korea. We've been referring to this book the whole time in korea :)

Coming up next: We travel from Kuala Lumpur to Busan and from Busan to Seoul via KTX. During dinner we visited a Halal makan place in Itaewon.


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