South Korea Travel

Korea Day 1: Insadong + Dongdaemun Design Plaza

Dongdaemun Design Plaza - Richel Goes Places

One of my favorite things about traveling is I get to experience temperatures that is so different from ours. Seoul was around 14 degrees Celsius on my first day there – a far cry from the usual 30 degrees of Manila.

My hostel room is tiny but cozy. It barely has enough space to fit in my luggage from the bed to the bedroom wall. However, it’s very clean and tidy. The sheets were all white and I have a small tv all to myself. The floors were heated!! The bathroom is the best I’ve been to so far. It’s super clean and was the same size (or even bigger!) than my bedroom space. My neighborhood is between big buildings and mom and pop shops. I like it here.

Dongdaemun Design Plaza - Richel Goes Places Dongdaemun Design Plaza - Richel Goes Places

I’m usually the type to drop my bags off, rest my feet for a couple of minutes, and then go, go, go. Not this time. I took a few minutes to unpack my coats. A few minutes to call my family to let them know I arrived safety. A few minutes to gush to Yuna about how the temperature is for when they arrive tomorrow. A few minutes to rest. A few minutes to remind myself that if I’ll be too shy to ask for directions, then I’ll get lost. And a few minutes to remind myself that I can do all of this alone.

My walk back to the train station is about five-ten minutes and it’s a little upright. It’s a little tiring but the cold made sure that I didn’t sweat. What I’d give to experience this in Manila. The train system is easy to navigate. It’s the same as Hong Kong’s and Singapore’s so I wasn’t worried about getting lost.

Dongdaemun Design Plaza - Richel Goes Places

My first stop is Insa-dong. Insa-dong is basically just a lot of alleyways filled with modern galleries, shops, restaurants, and tea shops. There’s just a lot of tea shops and galleries here. There’s also a lot of stores that sells cute clothes and bags that goes for 10000KRW (roughly PHP400 which is not bad at all).  I guess it can be described as a mix of traditional and hipster. The place is filled with both locals and tourists alike. You can also see a mix of them wearing hanbok and taking a lot of photos. Korean streetfood is also very present in this area and just thinking about it makes me want to back my bags and head back to Seoul.

Dongdaemun Design Plaza - Richel Goes Places Dongdaemun Design Plaza - Richel Goes Places Dongdaemun Design Plaza - Richel Goes Places Dongdaemun Design Plaza - Richel Goes Places Dongdaemun Design Plaza - Richel Goes Places Dongdaemun Design Plaza - Richel Goes Places Dongdaemun Design Plaza - Richel Goes Places

Sadly, I didn’t take much photos in Insa-dong. I was video-chatting with my mom and brothers as I walk down streets. I also spent my time just really looking at the menu from different restaurants though I didn’t dine at any of them (lol). I also really loved people watching here. I sat down at one of the benches, eating some skewers, as I watch people walking past me.

How to get to Insa-dong: You can get down at either Anguk Station or Jonggak Station and it’s about five to ten minutes walk to Insa-dong. You don’t have to worry getting lost as there’s a lot of tourist information booth you can pass by after alighting the train!

When it was getting dark, I went off to my next destination: Dongdaemun Design Plaza. It has a different, unique shape! Also called as DDP, it is the world’s largest atypical architecture. It has five different halls: Art Hall, Museum, Design Lab, Design Market, and Dongdaemun History and Culture Park. It holds fashion shows, various exhibitions, international events, etc.

Dongdaemun Design Plaza - Richel Goes Places Dongdaemun Design Plaza - Richel Goes Places Dongdaemun Design Plaza - Richel Goes Places Dongdaemun Design Plaza - Richel Goes Places Dongdaemun Design Plaza - Richel Goes Places Dongdaemun Design Plaza - Richel Goes Places Dongdaemun Design Plaza - Richel Goes Places Dongdaemun Design Plaza - Richel Goes Places

I’ve read that the Design Market is open 24 hours. It’s one of the top reasons why I want to visit DDP. They’re supposed to have a lot of exhibits and I was looking forward to buying maps and other memorabilia from it. But it was closing when I arrived. 🙁

Dongdaemun Design Plaza - Richel Goes Places Dongdaemun Design Plaza - Richel Goes Places Dongdaemun Design Plaza - Richel Goes Places Dongdaemun Design Plaza - Richel Goes Places Dongdaemun Design Plaza - Richel Goes Places Dongdaemun Design Plaza - Richel Goes Places Dongdaemun Design Plaza - Richel Goes Places Dongdaemun Design Plaza - Richel Goes Places Dongdaemun Design Plaza - Richel Goes Places

Side note: While I was talking photos, a Korean approached me. I realized that she was asking whether I want to have my photo taken after she already passed by. #Lutang

I just decided to grab some quick dinner from the first random restaurant I saw that was affordable and have an English menu. I’m sucking at this travel solo thing. After that, I went off to find the DDP LED Rose Garden but I also didn’t find it after walking around the place three times. My shy ass didn’t think of asking anyone lol. Who’s the best solo traveler again? It’s something I’ll definitely work on for my next solo trip.

Dongdaemun Design Plaza - Richel Goes Places

(I also found out there’s a Shake Shack branch near DDP after my trip!! I’m definitely bummed I didn’t get to try it out but I’ll do it next time!!)

I didn’t have anything planned after this so I just sat down at one of the benches outside DDP. It was so cold and I was just wrapped up in my coat, almost taking a nap right there! Man, if I only knew this would be the only chill day I’d have in Korea, I would have stayed in that bench even longer.

Dongdaemun Design Plaza - Richel Goes PlacesDongdaemun Design Plaza - Richel Goes PlacesDongdaemun Design Plaza - Richel Goes Places

How to get to DDP: Get down at Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station and go through Exit 1.

Afterwards, I made my way back to the hostel. I felt completely safe walking home at 10PM alone. (Manila, do this for us, too!) I passed by one of the numerous 24 hours convenience store along the way. I finally got myself some banana milk to try for tomorrow morning! The receptionist greeted me a good evening as I went back in the hostel and reminded me of the free breakfast they serve. Koreans, man, so nice.


This is it for Day 1. For Day 2, I’m seeing myself in the largest mall in Seoul, meeting up with Yuna and her family, seeing a palace, and trying some traditional Korean street food. I’d say see you next Thursday for the next installation of this series but I’m thinking of doing a blogmas! So, just… see you!

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22 Comments

  • Reply
    Hazel
    January 7, 2018 at 1:11 PM

    wow! you made it to 1 day of solo traveling! i want to experience it too (and soon i will!) when im shy to ask for directions, i always remind myself that they will not remember me anyway and there’s no harm in trying.. and it works 🙂

    • Reply
      Richel V.
      January 14, 2018 at 6:54 PM

      That thinking definitely helps me out lots of times – especially when taking photos! Hahaha! It’s not like these people will see me again!

  • Reply
    Jessica
    January 6, 2018 at 12:05 AM

    Korea looks like such an interesting place to visit! I’ve never been but I’d love to go one day, I feel like I don’t know very much about it, but I’m glad to hear you felt safe there and it looks really clean and the architecture looks awesome!

    littlehenrylee.net

    • Reply
      Richel V.
      January 14, 2018 at 6:54 PM

      It definitely is a world on its own. I’d love to come back to it. I still missed a lot of places!

  • Reply
    Sandra
    December 30, 2017 at 9:57 AM

    Fine architecture from your trip!! Never tried doing a trip solo, so I admire you for that! To more good memories for your next trips ahead!

  • Reply
    Lisa Offrs
    December 30, 2017 at 1:35 AM

    Amazing photography. I love all of the lights in the city!

    • Reply
      Richel V.
      January 2, 2018 at 9:18 PM

      The lights in Seoul during nighttime is nice to look at! 🙂

  • Reply
    Leta
    December 28, 2017 at 8:33 PM

    Kudos for you for travelling solo! I need to do it in 2018 but I’m too shy sometimes, so I don’t know how that would work out, haha. Anyways, it’s a bit of bummer that market was closing when you came, it looks like a very cool place to visit. Also, I can’t wait to read more about your adventures in Seoul. 🙂 x

    -Leta | http://www.thenerdyme.com

    • Reply
      Richel V.
      January 2, 2018 at 9:17 PM

      Believe me, I was still not ready for a solo trip but I was forced into it! Haha. It’s really fun though and I’m aiming to do a complete trip solo soon. 🙂

  • Reply
    113thingstosay
    December 23, 2017 at 6:50 PM

    Seoul has been on my travel bucket list for ages! Insa-dong looks like such a cool place, I love that they got so many tea shops, that would be right up my street. And your hotel room looks really cosy as well. Solo travelling can be hard at times but it’s also very rewarding, good job for pushing through, it always gets easier with time. I’m really bad at asking people for directions too though haha. xx

    113thingstosay.com

    • Reply
      Richel V.
      January 2, 2018 at 9:20 PM

      I felt bad that I wasn’t able to explore so much of Insadong. It was a really cool place. But with travelling, not everything goes smoothly. I was having a bad hour because my network provider didn’t give me any internet access lol. (Behind the scenes adventures!)

  • Reply
    sheenalovessunsets491306156
    December 22, 2017 at 2:35 PM

    Cool photos! Hope you enjoyed your trip 🙂

    Sheena | http://sheenalovessunsets.com

    • Reply
      Richel V.
      January 2, 2018 at 9:16 PM

      It was one of the most memorable ones, for sure!

  • Reply
    Nancy
    December 18, 2017 at 12:05 PM

    One of the things I like about traveling is the fact that you get to experience the different temperatures your hometown may not have. It’s great that you took some time to unwind a bit after arriving at your place. I am a total sucker for plazas! Looks like you had a lot to see out there. The Dongdaemun Design Plaza looks gorgeous! Pretty cool that it is open around the clock.

    It’s great that you felt safe walking late at night!

    exquisitely.me

    • Reply
      Richel V.
      December 18, 2017 at 9:45 PM

      Next on my list is to experience snow! Slowly trying to see if I can survive the negative temperatures! DDP is definitely gorgeous! I made the right decision to visit it during night time. Next time, I want to visit by day and visit the stores inside.

  • Reply
    Mile High Dreamers
    December 18, 2017 at 7:05 AM

    I love all of the lights in the city! And that food looks SO yummy. Also, heated floors?? That’s fancy haha. Looks like this chill day/night was a blast for you!

    Susie | http://milehighdreamers.com

    • Reply
      Richel V.
      December 18, 2017 at 9:19 PM

      It was my first time stepping foot on heated floors! Hahaha. It felt so fancy and homey.

  • Reply
    oneswainkycouple
    December 15, 2017 at 8:04 PM

    This is so cool!! What a trip! Hope you had a blast!

    Katherine | http://www.oneswainkycouple.com

    • Reply
      Richel V.
      December 16, 2017 at 10:46 PM

      It was a fun trip! I can’t wait to do it all over again.

  • Reply
    busyandfab
    December 15, 2017 at 7:53 AM

    So brave of you for staying late in the garden/park. These are cool places and are not commonly featured in blogs. Would like to see your next Korean adventure post.

    http://www.busyandfab.com

    • Reply
      Richel V.
      December 16, 2017 at 11:07 PM

      There were still so many people hanging around in the park even when I was leaving!

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