Recently, our very own FABSOC treasurer had the incredible opportunity to visit Korea for a study tour run by Aviation Society. She let us know what her experience was like, including the cheap alcohol (soju for only $1.50!!!), the beautiful palaces and the vibrant shopping streets of Myeongdong!
What was your favourite thing/place in Korea?
Its hard to choose a favourite place because each place was very unique but one of my favourites would be the Palaces. I’m a slightly more traditional person; so when visiting new countries I like to understand their history first. I loved wearing the hanbok and wandering around Gyeongbokgung because I felt like I was in touch with their history and also truly experiencing Korea for myself (you also get free entry to all palaces if you wear a hanbok).
My favourite thing about Korea is shopping for clothes and beauty items along with the free samples. The makeup in Korea is amazing because it really suits Asians (our skin colour and type e.g. sensitive, oily or dry) and the clothes fit us perfectly. Everything is also much cheaper and they always have specials, plus tax refund is available in nearly every large store.
I also loved the cute cafes (Raccoon café), which was definitely worth going to.
How did Korean food in Sydney compare to authentic Korean food?
Korean food was definitely much more authentic, it tasted better in a way that the ingredients were very free, there was unlimited kimchi and side dishes and there was always a balance between vegetables and meat (even at KBBQ) because Koreans really emphasis a balanced diet. The food was much cheaper and better quality than here but KBBQ was around the same price (so sometimes it can get a bit expensive)
Places you missed that you would want to go to?
It was my second time going so I don’t think I’ve missed a place but I would love to go to DMZ again, perhaps once Dorasan Station (the station closest to North Korea) actually opens. I’ll never be bored for the shopping streets in Myeongdong and Hongdae as each time you find something new.
I did miss out on getting a caricature at Seoul Tower due to lack of time on my last day so I would like to go back and get one next time.
Tourist hacks & tips
- South Korea is strict with ID checks so make sure you bring your ID!
- Convenience stores are open 24/7 and are super cheap, lots of breakfast options (including cheese ramen flavour and black shin ramen)!
- Shopping is a must-do in Korea, a few good places to shop include
(all the shops will give free samples once you hit a certain threshold)
- Olive Young (A mix between Sephora, Priceline and Chemist Warehouse), come here to buy masks, hair dye and essentials
- Daiso (each country has different and unique items, the Korean Daiso’s are really good for daily basic items)
- Innisfree/Nature Republic/Aritaum (big brand names that always have promotions and lots of samples to give)
- Saem, Mask Story, Its Skin, Tony Moly, PeriPera (smaller stores with more niche items such as cute fruit shaped lip balms or certain lip tints, also give out lots of freebies)
- Myeongdong is definitely the place to go if you want to do all your shopping all at once but it is not the cheapest option, on the other hand most people can speak English
- There is a YG store in Myeongdong where you can buy merchandise from your favourite YG artist and you might even get a free polaroid of a YG artist
- Hongdae is the Newtown of Sydney but 5 times bigger; a lot cheaper compared to everywhere else
- Jeju is a quieter city with less people but still a big shopping area (good places to visit: Volcano Crater, Alive Museum, Column Pillars, Cave Temple)