Things to Do on a Fall Trip to Korea: Lotte Mart, Edae, Hongdae, Gwanghwamun

Day 5 and Day 6, our last two days in Seoul, saw us virtually penniless. Yeah, I guess we were not ready for this. But going around a foreign place with almost no cash on you teaches you important survival things. Like finding a place where you can use your credit card. OR learning to stop yourself from spending too much. Or teaching yourself to just look, maybe touch, but to NOT buy.

  1. Lotte Mart. First stop of the day was Myeongdong’s Lotte, because we’ve been trying to catch this place open so many times now it’s not even funny. We went straight to the grocery for some pasalubong, then nipped through Duty Free to window shop some more. Then it’s off to dump the groceries at the guesthouse and roam the free cities of Seoul with our limited budget.

    Hello to the man from the stars <3 Lotte Mall, Myeongdong. Photo by Ace Tria.

    Hello to the man from the stars. Lotte Mall, Myeongdong. Photo by Ace Tria.

  2. Ehwa University or Edae. It was a shame really that our funds decide to run low now that we were headed to the cheaper shopping districts of Seoul. Ehwa University or Edae for short is a women’s university, and thus is surrounded by streets upon streets of fun finds at good prices. I’m talking clothes that go as low as KRW5k to 10k, and coats as cheap as 30k. Dongdaemun is pretty much Edae’s bitch, and I wish we knew this sooner. Oh well, on the next trip.

    Picturesque Ehwa University. Those glass walls house a library, cafe, among many other places we did not have access to. Hu. Photo by Ace Tria.

    We managed to get a couple of things, then we hiked to the oh so picturesque university to just look at the autumn colors against the backdrop of that charming campus. Then we went back down the slope (not allowed to enter the buildings, sadly) to get our street food and bingsu fix, before heading to our next stop.

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  3. Hongik University or Hongdae. This was easily my favorite stop last year. The energy in Hondae is infectious. And though we did not have the funds to scour the budget racks like we did last year, we went back just the same to take a leisurely walk around the streets, watch college kids have fun and be merry, and to catch the free shows on the pedestrian-friendly street.
    Serenades are common while walking around Hongdae on a weekend night.

    Serenades are common while walking around Hongdae on a weekend night. Hongdae. Photo is mine.

    Sadly, no one was doing a dance cover of any EXO song, but the performances we caught were pretty cool nonetheless. We also managed to find the university, which though not as pretty as Edae, was a cool sight too. Maybe next time we’ll try to find the Free Market.

  4. Gwanghwamun Square, Gyeongbokgung Palace. Last year we took the free English tour of this palace, but did not manage to see the changing of the guards ceremony. This time I had a few hours free before our 9pm flight, so I took the chance to go to Gwanghwamun, explore Kyobo Bookstore (because I need to go to a bookstore, okay, even if I won’t/can’t buy anything), walk around the square and see King Sejong and Admiral Yi Sunshin, see the memorial/petition tents set up by the Sewol ferry families too, and then head to the palace gate and outer grounds to watch the changing of the guards ceremony.

    Changing of the guards at Gyeongbokgung. Photo is mine.

    Let me tell you, that ceremony takes time and effort! I mean you’d think the new guard on shift would just poke the exiting guy and say “okay dude, you’re out, I’m up.” But they have flags, marches, and inspections… they did not do anything half-baked in the Joseon era, for sure.  

I took the train back and spent the last free hour I had back in Myeongdong, finishing an entire slice of chocolate ganache cake on my own in Twosome Place cafe. Myeongdong is where it all starts and ends with us when we’re in Seoul, seems like. And it’s not a bad habit to build. Will probably do the same things next time we’re in the country, but in different places. Walking until our backs and legs burn in pain, resting in cafes and downing large amounts of sweets and lattes, binging on street food and spicy soups, shopping for cosmetics, skin care and discounted clothes, snatching freebies and samples here and there. Maybe in Jeju next time. Maybe even Busan can tempt us. Either way we will likely still end up in Myeongdong, in some cafe or other, taking stock of another awesome trip while looking forward to the next one.


Total cost, breakdown
Air Asia round trip (includes airfare + taxes
and terminal fees + baggage + travel insurance)
Accomodation 7,525.00
Subway/bus/taxi/entrance 3,246.20
Food 7,525.80
Shopping Secret
TOTAL COST, FALL IN KOREA 2014 27,647.00


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