Have you heard the news? Singapore and South Korea are about to enjoy a Vaccinated Travel Lane! This means fully vaccinated travellers coming from Singapore will be one of the first foreigners to be welcomed back into the Land of the Morning Calm. Now that South Korea’s border has begun to reopen to other countries, the question is: How do fully vaccinated tourists enjoy a week in South Korea? There are surely attractions that we can take time to enjoy while the usual tourist crowd isn’t in full swing yet, plus special promos to take advantage of. Here’s a look at the different ways we can maximise our South Korea itinerary using the Vaccinated Travel Lane.
Day 1 to 3: Rediscover Seoul
1. First things first: Pick a comfortable and aesthetically pleasing hotel
Don’t underestimate the power of a good accommodation. Having a warm and inviting hotel may set the tone of your Korea itinerary. Imagine going back to an uninspiring hotel after a long day of exploring. Wouldn’t that just take away from the whole experience of rediscovering Seoul?
Howard Johnson by Wyndham Incheon Airport
Look for a hotel that has soothing interiors, amenities for relaxation, and leisure or wellness offerings to entertain you. If we could suggest a promising accommodation, it would be the Howard Johnson by Wyndham Incheon Airport hotel. This hotel has pristine interiors that are a blend of natural and modern, with colourful abstract paintings in each hotel room to match. Its nearby Seoul attractions include the Sky 72 Golf Club and the islands of Muuido and Silmido. Plus, it’s only 15-20 minutes away from the Incheon Airport via cab!
After a jam-packed day, you can unwind to hotel amenities like the indoor swimming pool, sauna, and music zone. But one thing’s for sure, Howard Johnson by Wyndham Incheon Airport has a promo you’d be hard pressed to say no to.
Get this — for every four nights you stay in any Hotels by Wyndham property, you earn one free night in the future.
Your four qualified stays don’t even have to be consecutive. Begin your qualified stays and accumulate points as early as now.
Book direct by 14 Jan 2022 and complete your stay(s) by 18 Jan 2022.
How about a 3-day stay instead?
Tip: Curious about the Wyndham Hotels & Resorts health protocols? We’ve got you covered here!
This hotel is a sweet and elegant accommodation made for budget travellers who want to stay at the heart of Seoul. Hotel Nafore is, in fact, located in the centre of Seoul at Jongno District. Inside, it boasts of charming interiors made out of marble and wood, with a highly rated service and staff to attend to all your needs.
The hotel is designed to give you a stress-free vacation with helpful amenities like free ultra-high speed Internet, a breakfast buffet, a business centre, and even a roof garden where you can bask in the evening breeze as you look out at the city lights. Hotel Nafore is located near staple attractions too, such as Cheonggyecheon Stream, Insa-dong, Dongdaemun Gate, and Myeongdong. Want to enjoy Hotel Nafore at a bargain price?
Hotel Aventree Jongno
Much like the previous hotel, Hotel Aventree Jongno lies in the heart of Seoul and depicts a blend of culture and dynamic modern beauty in its designs. Located in Jongno-gu, this hotel easily feels like home with its minimalistic interiors, a rustic restaurant, and accommodations well appointed with wooden furniture while some even feature wide windows and peculiar paintings. But perhaps the best aspect of this hotel is its own convenience store at the hotel lobby; it not only sells essentials but souvenirs too. Like the sound of that? Then book a stay at a discounted price!
2. Breathe the fresh air in the Seoul Forest
Like everyone else, you’ve probably been pining to finally surround yourself with refreshing flower fields. Seoul Forest will quell all that yearning with its verdant greenery that changes colours in every season. The forest is reportedly as big as 160 soccer fields, dubbing it the Central Park of Seoul. But unlike Central Park, the Seoul Forest is home to charming elk and Formosan Sika deer!
Ecological tours are available for families on weekends, and it’s in the inner Ecology Forest where visitors will be able to interact with about 50 gentle Sika and Chinese Water Deer. Yes, you may feed them and you need only to make your way to the vending machines which sell cups of feed for ₩1,000.
Aside from petting and feeding the deer, you can also rent a bike and cycle away towards the Hangang River Path, or set up a picnic at the many free spaces found in the Seoul Forest. It’s an ideal place for romantic dates and to bond with the whole family. Put this in your Korea itinerary and don’t miss the chance to explore the forest while the usual tourist crowd hasn’t returned yet.
3. Take in the enormity of COEX Mall
Did you know that COEX Mall is the largest underground shopping mall in Asia? This is where you should go when you want a one-stop shop for everything, from luxury fashion stores to charming cafes and restaurants; not to mention, bookstores, a Kimchi Museum, and movie centres. Speaking of cinema, COEX Mall holds one of Korea’s largest movie theatre chains called the Megabox Cineplex, with a total of 17 screens. Who knows? Your trip to Korea might coincide with another hit cinematic release that you can watch right here in this iconic cinema house.
But assuming you’d want to experience something totally different in the mall, we suggest you visit the COEX Aquarium. This large-scale aquarium features 183 display tanks and 90 breeding tanks; these are home to 40,000 sea creatures and 650 different species. Can you imagine just how fun and enriching that is not only for you, but for families with young children? All these you can find in the 16 themed zones of the aquarium. And if you’re not afraid to encounter sharks, you’re going to love the fact that this aquarium holds South Korea’s highest number of sharks in large varieties!
4. Explore Gyeongbokgung Palace in a hanbok
Here’s a not-so-secret tip for a free tour of Gyeongbokgung Palace: Wear a hanbok. You read that right, you don’t need to pay an entrance fee as long as you wear or rent the traditional Korean attire. In other words, you really have no reason to exclude the Gyeongbokgung Palace in your Korea itinerary.
This palace dates back to 1395 and is considered to be not just the largest, but also the most beautiful palace in Seoul. It is a prominent representation of the Joseon Dynasty, and you’ll see the reflection of this era on the edifice of Gyeonghoeru Pavilion. The pavilion floats upon a peaceful pond where you can get the best views of the palace and the lush vegetation decorating the premises. Due to its ideal setting, it was often used to entertain important foreign visitors when they would pop in for courtesy calls. You’ll surely walk in awe as you cross the bridge and reach the ancient columns.
Another perfect spot to commune with nature is the Hyangwonjeong Pavilion. This was a special place for King Sejong, who used the pavilion as a place for astronomical and agricultural research. You can’t blame him, the surrounding nature looks completely conducive for some fruitful studying. The variety of trees make for a colourful background in each season; but no matter what time of the year it is, Hyangwonjeong Pavilion will surely take your breath away.
Want to explore more educational places? There are thankfully nearby attractions like the National Palace Museum of Korea, located south of Heungnyemun Gate, and the National Folk Museum located on the eastern side of Hyangwonjeong Pavilion. Be sure to include them all in your Korea itinerary!
5. Go cafe-hopping
Seoul is more than just its impressive historical sights and perfectly manicured landscapes. Along its safe and quiet streets are cafes that were made for coffee lovers and couples looking for picturesque places to dine. In this, Seoul cafes do not disappoint.
The city has hundreds of cafes where you can have some good ol’ r&r moments while munching on snacks and sipping your beverage. For instance, The Piano Cafe in Jongno-gu overlooks tall trees and offers rejuvenating mountain views. It specialises in fruit drinks, as well as healthy sandwiches to devour while you’re reading a book or taking in the natural beauty. If you want to indulge in some sweets, cafes like Billy Angel Cake Company and Frank’s Cafe offer rainbow-coloured cakes and macarons that your sweet tooth won’t be able to resist.
Looking for unique interiors for your Insta-worthy photos? Check out cafes like the cartoon-inspired Greem Cafe and the utterly rosy Stylenanda Pink Cool Cafe. The former will transport you into an old storybook while the latter will convert you into a pink lover. And if you’d rather see where your aimless wandering in Seoul will take you, not to worry — Seoul has charming hole-in-the-wall cafes for chill travellers like you. Read more about the city’s cafes here!
Day 4 & 5: Take the train to Busan
6. Hang your hat near the beach
Next up on your Korea itinerary should be none other than the beautiful city of Busan. To get there, it’ll take you three hours on a train or only one hour on a plane. More than being famous for the box office hit Train to Busan, this city is actually the second-biggest city in South Korea with over three million locals enjoying the blend of port and urban culture. Busan lies at the southern tip of the Korean peninsula and it boasts of facets that can rival Seoul.
However, before we dig into that, where should you stay in Busan via the Singapore and South Korea Vaccinated Travel Lane?
Ramada Encore by Wyndham Busan Haeundae
Consider Ramada Encore by Wyndham Busan Haeundae — a centrally located hotel that’s only a five-minute walk from Haeundae Beach! This hotel by Wyndham has all the perks like a convenient 24-hour reception desk, breakfast buffet, dry cleaning service, and free parking. All the rooms imbue a modern and sleek aesthetic, with floor-to-ceiling windows that allow rays of sunshine to immediately brighten up your morning. What’s more, the rooms are equipped with flat screen TVs and multifunctional desks so guests can easily mix work and play.
But the best part about booking with Ramada Encore by Wyndham Busan Haeundae is the reward points you get to accumulate for free overnight stays!
Here’s a deal you can’t resist: For every four nights you stay in any Hotels by Wyndham property, you earn one free night in the future.
Your four qualified stays don’t even have to be consecutive. Begin your qualified stays now or during a Christmas getaway in South Korea!
Book direct by 14 Jan 2022 and complete your stay(s) by 18 Jan 2022.
How about a 3-day stay instead?
Crown Harbor Hotel Busan
A convenient hotel that can give you both a generous view of the harbor and city is Crown Harbor Hotel Busan, located at Jungang-daero, Jung-gu. Sitting right next to the harbor, the hotel also offers a stunning vista of the Busan bridge and the nightlights juxtaposed against the glittering ocean in the dark.
Aside from the breathtaking views, this hotel proudly offers 500 guest rooms adorned in creamy and muted colours to exude a relaxing and calm ambience. Matched with convenient aspects like high-speed Internet, mini kitchens in every type of suite, and laundry services to name a few, Crown Hotel Busan is just the place to enjoy a memorable short stay in Busan.
7. Feast your eyes on Gamcheon Culture Village
We bet you’ve already seen dozens of Gamcheon Village photos. It is, after all, one of the most Insta-worthy views in South Korea. Everything about it is refreshing, like the fact that it’s embraced by verdant hills where you can enjoy the fresh air, and its inspiring story of being a rehabilitated slum area.
In 2009, the Gamcheon Culture Village was redesigned with a staircase fashion on the foot of a coastal mountain; its houses were painted in a combination of cool and warm shades to rebrand the whole area into a must-see destination. After the village’s creative remodelling, South Korea dubbed it the “Machu Picchu of Busan,” which ultimately became its selling point to both locals and foreigners.
We suggest you allot a whole day in Gamcheon as your Korea itinerary is sure to be jam packed with everything the village has to offer. For one, the village is dotted with art shops, cafes, restaurants, and workshops that offer ample opportunity for your family to bond. What might tickle your fancy even more is the street art all around; you can admire everything while buying street food and having a photo opp in the village too. That said, tourists are advised to maintain proper decorum since this attraction is still a residential village.
8. Go up the Busan Tower
There’s no better way to appreciate Busan’s cityscape than going to the top of Busan Tower. As the symbol of Busan, the Busan Tower proudly stands at almost 400 feet. The exterior of its crest-like viewing deck is modelled after the baldaquin of Dabotap Pagoda in Bulguksa Temple. From the top, tourists get a generous view of the whole port city, including attractions like the Bell of the Citizens, the Statue of the Great Admiral Yi Sun-sin, a flower clock, and cute art houses. There’s even a cafe in the tower where you can while away your time as you take everything in.
Additionally, the Busan Tower is actually found in the Yongdusan Park which had a history of burning down. Due to this, Korean authorities exerted a lot of effort into rebuilding the area by planting an abundance of trees and notable landmarks in it, such as the Cheokhwabi Monument, Chung Hon Tap Pagoda, and the 4.19 Revolution Monument. Take your time to snap photos and explore these other monuments until the sun goes down. We hear going to the top of the Busan Tower at night is actually the best time to view the city!
9. Unwind at Haeundae Beach
Before you leave this port city, be sure to pay a visit to the most famous beach in Busan, Haeundae Beach. After all, it’s only about five minutes away from the Ramada Encore by Wyndham Haeundae hotel. Busan considers this a white sand beach and it measures approximately 1.5 kilometres long, allowing it to accommodate locals and foreigners alike who want to enjoy the stunning coastline near the urban culture.
Haeundae Beach also hosts a number of cultural events throughout the year, most especially the Busan International Film Festival. From the beach, you can even access facilities like the Busan Aquarium, a yachting dock, and driving courses. Don’t worry about changing clothes because there are shower booths and changing rooms for everyone’s convenience. Best of all, admission is free!
Day 6 & 7: Make memories in Jeju Island
10. Stay close to the ocean
To take advantage of the Singapore and South Korea Vaccinated Travel Lane is to place Jeju on your Korea itinerary with no second thoughts. It’s only a one-hour flight from Busan and it’s not everyday that foreign tourists can experience Jeju with minimised foot traffic from visitors. Jeju is not only the largest island in South Korea but also its most celebrated tropical getaway. We suggest milking your stay in a hotel that can keep you close to Jeju’s pristine ocean.
Ramada Plaza by Wyndham Jeju Ocean Front
Ramada Plaza by Wyndham Jeju Ocean Front boasts a clear view of the ocean while being just minutes away from a lively downtown area. That means, if you book this hotel, you get the best of both worlds: access to the coast where you can have romantic strolls along the shore, while shopping centres and restaurants are also at your doorstep.
Not a beach bum? You can take a dip in the hotel’s indoor and outdoor pool. Yes, there are two pools and they even come with a hot tub and steam room, plus a kiddie pool in case you’re travelling with little ones. This hotel by Jeju's ocean front will answer all your basic needs too, as provided by their 24-hour reception desk, laundry facilities, eateries, among other amenities. We just can’t get enough of the conveniences Wyndham Hotels & Resorts' have to offer, so thankfully they’re offering a promo for free stays!
Each Wyndham stay can bring you to more places! For every four nights you sleep in any Hotels by Wyndham property, you earn one free night in the future.
Book direct by 14 Jan 2022 and complete your stay(s) by 18 Jan 2022.
11. Hike Mount Hallasan
Mount Hallasan is a shield volcano and Korea’s highest mountain. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is actually found in the Hallasan National Park, so you’re sure to be surrounded by a verdant landscape and picture-perfect backgrounds as you make your way to the volcano. No need for camping either because the hike is doable in one day!
Once you get to the top, you’ll be rewarded with a view of the crater lake and the stunning blooming fields of Jeju. What’s more, Mount Hallasan doesn’t smoke or belch fire, which makes the maintenance of the surrounding area easier, and puts both Jeju locals and foreign tourists at ease.
In case you’re not keen on hiking, you can always take things slow and follow the park’s easy walking trails. The park has seven beautiful trails that are less than 10km each. Note that Gwaneumsa Trail and Seongpanak Trail are the ones that will take you to the volcano’s crater while the rest offer their own nature-filled views and only take about two hours to finish. Mount Hallasan is Jeju’s most memorable landmark, therefore we strongly suggest you prioritise this on your Korea itinerary.
12. View the sunset at Seongsan Ilchulbong
Yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site that Jeju Island can be proud of is Seongsan Ilchulbong. Like Mount Hallasan, this mountain is a volcano with a cool crater at the top. But rather than being famous for floral landscapes, the mountain is popular for being an ideal spot to watch the sunrise and sunset — hence its English name, Sunrise Peak.
Here’s a little history lesson too: Over 5,000 years ago, Seongsan Ilchulbong Tuff Cone rose 180 metres above sea level because of a magma flow under the sea. The build-up of sand and soil eventually connected it to the main island. Meanwhile, the volcanic crater is often featured in Korean films, and the summit itself is the best view point to spot and admire Udo Island at different times of the day. If you’re looking for a postcard-worthy snapshot, this would be the most failsafe place in Jeju to get it. Even filmmakers agree!
13. Learn more about the island’s history in Jeju Folk Village
Finally, we’ve come to Jeju Island’s main tourist attraction, the iconic Jeju Folk Village. This village features over 100 traditional houses and facilities that were once real Korean residences. These homes are remnants of how Koreans used to live in the 1890s, so walking amidst these revived establishments will somehow give you a feel of how Korean life was back then. Not to mention, there are 8,000 folk artefacts you can examine to enrich your tour. You could even say that this is the best historical immersion you’ll get in South Korea!
Don’t forget that there are four sub-villages to explore: Mountain Village, Hill-country Village, Fishing Village, and Shamanism Village. Workshops are also available to tourists who have time for some hands-on activities. You can learn how to make patjuk (red bean porridge) during the Winter Solstice or dubu (tofu) in the winter. Indeed, the Jeju Folk Village is a fun-filled destination that should be on every traveller’s Korea itinerary.
Tip: There are definitely a lot of cool Jeju hotels that can treat you to the island’s mountain views like Hotel Nanta Jeju and Amber Resort Jeju. For more affordable and simple stays close to the beach, check out Apple Hotel and Hotel Sweet Castle.
South Korea’s calling to vaccinated travellers from S’pore!
Can you believe that these experiences are finally at your fingertips again through the Singapore and South Korea Vaccinated Travel Lane? The mere fact that you can earn free stays at hotels by Wyndham while enjoying the natural beauty of the Land of the Morning Calm will make your inner budget traveller happy and excited for even more adventures as border restrictions everywhere else ease.
Now, imagine milking this deal for your winter holidays. That would be the best Christmas gift to give your family after two long years of the pandemic. What are you waiting for?
Featured image credited to aomam via Canva Pro.