My Half Day Habok Experience in Seoul

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I’ve read so many blogs and posts about wearing Habok (traditional Korean clothing) and people taking amazing photos in them, I just never had the chance. Most of the time I’m in Seoul for business on my own, and would be a bit weird if I’m doing the experience by myself, plus no one will be able to take photos for me… Finally, this time round I managed to squeeze in half a day of free time during my business trip, and got my pretty Korean friend to do the experience together with me!

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There are lots of places where you can rent Habok in Seoul, and Insadong is quite a popular destination for such activity. Not only because there are more than 10 Habok rental stores just along the main street, but also it is so close to all the attractions, such as the Gyeongbokgung Palace. My friend and I randomly chose one when we arrived in the afternoon. A popular store is the Oneday Habok store which you can make advance booking online. Oneday Habok is slightly more expensive than those along the main street, but they provide multilingual service, which is great if no one in your group can speak Korean to avoid any un-necessary confusion.

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Main Street
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The Habok Shop is next door to the Starbucks

The Habok store we chose is not big, but it’s very clean and organized, with hundreds of styles to choose from. You will be asked to put all your personal belonging into the locker provided before you choose your Habok. The Habok consist of 3 pieces of garments – the white underdress (you can choose the pomp om style with the metal frame for an extra 1000won, or just a normal one), the one piece sleeveless dress, and the outer top. The cost of rental also includes a handbag, hair piece, and simple hair styling.

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Colourful Haboks

Once you are dressed, you are ready to go out and explore the area wearing Habok! My friend and I chose the lighter color ones, which later I regret, as when the photo came out, the colors and the patterns didn’t really show, and it looked more like a wedding gown…

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Looks more like a wedding gown…

As we were on a tight schedule with only about 2 hours to spare, we have decided just to walk around the Insadong area. Below are the places we end up visiting, some are great, some are just okay.

A. Cheonggyecheon Stream

This is a beautiful walk, a very popular spot amongst Koreans. You can see lots of couples or friends just chilling along the path. Be sure to take photos with the amazing graffiti wall!

B. Tapgol Park

This park is quite interesting with all the olden day’s Korean architecture, and will make a great background for your Hanbok photos! A great spot for those with a tight time schedule, as it is literally just a 5 mins walk from the Habok rental shop.

C. O’Sulloc Tea House

Organic tea from Jeju island since 1979 – a great place to shop for tea leaves, and it’s an absolute MUST to try their tea desserts. My friend and I had the shaved ice, they are not too sweet, and is rich in flavour. It is a great way to cool down the heat. They also serve tea and other drinks/desserts. The feature wall on the ground floor is another great backdrop for your Habok photo.

D. Ssamziegil Mall

A one-stop solution for all your shopping needs. During the weekend, they will also have a flea market in the centre of the mall. Be sure to check out the Sky Garden on the top level too!

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E. Anguk Area

This is a very interesting area, you will see street artist, souvenir stalls, little boutiques, olden days’ architecture etc. This is also the area to the famous Bukchon Hanok Village (which I didn’t have time to go). During the Spring/Summer months, you will see many pretty flowers along the street here, and in Winter time, the scene is changed with the rows of yellow Ginkgo trees.

Make sure you have enough memory and battery left on your phone and camera, because you will be taking all kinds of photos! Sometimes if you are lucky, you will even bump into interesting people like we did! (Or unlucky… haha)

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If you ever visit Seoul, even if you only have half a day to spare, I would highly recommend you to do this Habok experience, which I’m sure you will enjoy very much!

MAP (Insadong Main Street):

 

Luxury Boutique Hotel x Filmography Museum in The Heart of Seoul

Travel_Korea_Seoul_Myeongdong_Hotel_Stay_Hotel28_韓國首爾_酒店If you have ever read my previous posts about hotels/accommodations recommendations, it’s not hard to recognize that I usually like to stay in either boutique hotels, or places that have unique design elements to it. Location is also an important factor, as it will greatly affect the overall routes and trip planning.

This hotel review is a bit longer than my usual, as there’s just so much to write about this hotel! I hope you will find the information useful, and enjoy this hotel as much as I did!

I was so excited when I find Hotel28 Myeongdong in Seoul. Not only it is centrally located in the heart of Seoul, it is also a boutique hotel with a very special theme! So this little gem is in one of the busiest district of Seoul – Myeongdong, and is easily accessible by a direct limousine bus from Incheon Airport 6015, Being a part of the “Small Luxury Hotels of the World”, the design, facilities and services provided will not disappoint you!

Now, let me take you on a mini tour!

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My Check-in Ticket

Continue reading “Luxury Boutique Hotel x Filmography Museum in The Heart of Seoul”

A place to read, rest, relax – OPEN Library in Seoul!

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It’s been a while since I wrote my last blog entry, I have been busy travelling and working the past month or so. Stepping into July, I have decided to pick up blogging again, and also to start writing a new destination – Korea!

So I was in Seoul (capital of Korea) about a month ago for work. Our office is located in COEX mall in the Gangnam area. I have been to this mall many times so nothing really excites me here, but, my jaws dropped when I walked past the atrium on the 31st May 2017! It was the opening day of the Starfiled Library (often referred as Open Library).


This library is 2800 square meter, and with over 50,000 titles, you could easily spend hours, if not days here! An interesting concept of the library is that there are no doors, no gate, no librarians, no nothing. Passer-by can freely pick up a book and read it at their own leisure, and return it back to position when finished – all free of charge. I do however wonder if some of the books are for “display” only, as I have no idea how you can reach some of them…

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The concept of the library is to combine shopping, culture, and relaxation all in one. Not only will you find books from different genre, there are also study space, independent community space for reading related meetings, all with gentle indirect lighting (and some natural lighting), creating a very comfortable environment for the readers.

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A little bit different to the traditional “library”, here you can also find more than 400 kinds of the latest magazines (both Korean and overseas), preparing you for the latest trends in the world. E-books are also available.

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So, next time when you are in the Gangnam area, and your feet are tired from all the shopping, why not come here to rest a bit, read some books, grow some knowledge, before you walk onto your next destination?

Useful Information:

Operating hours: 10:00-22:00 (Open all year round)
Location: Located at the center of Central Plaza within Starfield COEX Mall, B1-1F, 513, Yeongdong-daero, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
Closest Subway Station: Samsung Station (Seoul Subway Line 2), Exit 6
Official Website: www.coexmall.com

MAP:

TRAVEL KOREA-05“>

No Jokes, the BEST Pineapple Cakes I’ve ever tried! Hidden Bakery in Taipei

Travel Taiwan Pan's Cake Taipei 比吃台北小潘蛋糕坊

Eat what the locals eat!

Today I want to introduce you to this super small bakery in the alley way of New Taipei City called Xiaopan Bakery (小潘蛋糕坊). It is not close to any train station, and it doesn’t have any fancy decoration, the pastry they sell looks very ordinary, BUT, the taste is unforgettable! Not to mention, they  have won so many awards over the years!

Travel Taiwan Pan's Cake Taipei 比吃台北小潘蛋糕坊

I was introduced to this store by a local friend in Taipei, he told me that he’s going to take me to a very famous local bakery to buy the traditional Pineapple Cake. He also said that, once I took a bite into this little piece of cake, I would not want to try any other brands’. I was a bit skeptical at first, because to me, all the pineapple cakes which I have tried previously all tasted pretty much the same.

Continue reading “No Jokes, the BEST Pineapple Cakes I’ve ever tried! Hidden Bakery in Taipei”

A One Stop Shopping Destination for MIT Products – Maji Food & Deli

Travel Taiwan Taipei Maji Food Deli Supermarket 神農市場

Buying souvenirs is never an easy task!

When you travel overseas, it’s always a difficult task to think of what to bring back for your friends and families You would want to bring back something that is within your budget, and can symbolize that place.

Upon my last visit in Taipei, I discovered this gourmet supermarket inside the Maji Square Market (Link), and not only do they sell everyday grocery, but they also sell lots of MIT (Made In Taiwan) products, which are great for gifts and souvenirs!

Entrance of the Supermarket

The Maji Food & Deli is located on the right hand side when you walk into the Maji Market. It’s one that you would not miss! I would suggest you to take a walk in the supermarket first before heading to the restaurants further inside the market, as the supermarket closes earlier.

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Interior of the Supermarket

The supermarket is quite spacious, and there are ample spaces between the shelves, which made it very easy to walk around even with the shopping cart. It is separated into different sections, such as dry products, the deli, frozen goods, wines etc.

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Maji Supermarket has their own branded ice-cream made from fresh Taiwan fruits and dairy

Continue reading “A One Stop Shopping Destination for MIT Products – Maji Food & Deli”

A Playground in The Heart of Taipei for KIDULTS – Your Perfect Weekend Place

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Travel Taiwan Taipei Maji Weekend Market 台北集食行樂 創意市集>
Travel Taiwan Taipei Maji Weekend Market 台北集食行樂 創意市集>
Travel Taiwan Taipei Maji Weekend Market 台北集食行樂 創意市集>
Travel Taiwan Taipei Maji Weekend Market 台北集食行樂 創意市集>

Travel Taiwan Taipei Maji Weekend Market 台北集食行樂 創意市集

During my weekend escape to Taipei, my local Taiwanese friend took me to a market in the Yuanshan area called the “Maji Maji Square”. I have to say, as a Hong Konger, I know Taipei pretty well, but to my surprise, this market that my friend took me to, I haven’t even heard of it before, and it’s been there since the end of 2013. Better yet, this place is like a playground for adults!

Travel Taiwan Taipei Maji Weekend Market 台北集食行樂 創意市集

A little bit of the background information about the area, Yuanshan is home to a popular children’s theme park, and has been very popular with parents bringing their kids for a family day. With the opening of “Maji Maji Square” (By the way, “Maji” means buddies/good friends in Taiwanese), adults now have a place to spend a few happy hours too. Located in the Taipei Expo Park’s Yuanshan Park Area (this was one of the exhibition ground for the World Flower Expo a couple of years ago), the square is designed as a fun and causal gathering spot for friends – an adult version of a children’s playground! The square is like a mix of a flea market and shopping complex, a place filled with culture, music, food, and agricultural products!

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Entrance to the Maji Market

“Maji Maji Square” is about a close 5 minutes walk from the Yuanshan MRT station, and upon entering the market, visitors immediately notice the slow pace and laid back, casual foreign-style atmosphere.  The market uses a variety of recycled materials, using wooden pallets for the walls of restaurants, old cargo containers to house small eateries, and discarded military tents and iron frames to create sunshades and display racks. The design is eco-friendly yet still chic and stylish. Adjacent to the market is a carousel, adding to the atmosphere of youthful play.

Continue reading “A Playground in The Heart of Taipei for KIDULTS – Your Perfect Weekend Place”

A Budget Stay in the Heart of Taipei – A Minimalist Boutique Hotel

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Travel Taiwan Taipei Ximending Hotel Stay Art'otel 台北西門町 飯店酒店 艾特文旅 推介>
Travel Taiwan Taipei Ximending Hotel Stay Art'otel 台北西門町 飯店酒店 艾特文旅 推介
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Travel Taiwan Taipei Ximending Hotel Stay Art'otel 台北西門町 飯店酒店 艾特文旅 推介

The last post I have wrote about hotel stay in Taipei was a review of a 5 stare hotel (Palais de Chine Hotel). That hotel was a great stay, everything was perfect! Except… the price was still towards the higher end, and may not be my first choice when I want to go on a budget trip to Taipei…

I was staying over in Taipei for 2 nights before heading back to Hong Kong from a business trip in Japan. As this Taipei trip was only intended to be a lay over, so I want keep everything at a budget. I also want to stay in a location where a lot of actions take place, whether it’s food, drinks, or other form of entertainment… after doing some research, I have narrow down to hotel stays in the Ximending area (西門町).

Travel Taiwan Taipei Ximending Hotel Stay Art'otel 台北西門町 飯店酒店 艾特文旅 推介

A little background of Ximending – it is often being referred as the Harajuku/Shibuya of Taipei! It is the source of Taiwan’s fashion , subculture and Japanese culture; an area full of little boutiques, clubs and pubs, tattoo salons, local food stores and hawkers. Ximending was also the first pedestrian zone in the whole of Taiwan! This is an area highly recommended to those who wants to experience a bit of the local life here in Taipei.This area gets extremely lively at night time with all the food hawkers, just look at the video below and you will see!

So, this boutique hotel is at the edge of Ximending, and is only a short 10 minutes walk from the closest Metro Station. The name of the hotel is Art’otel, and is on the 5th floor of a semi-commercial building. Even though it is inside a building, they have big signage with the name of the hotel, so you won’t miss it.

Travel Taiwan Taipei Ximending Hotel Stay Art'otel 台北西門町 飯店酒店 艾特文旅 推介Travel Taiwan Taipei Ximending Hotel Stay Art'otel 台北西門町 飯店酒店 艾特文旅 推介

The hotel was opened in February 2015, and has a total of 30 rooms. There are a few different types of rooms available, with the most basic room being the superior room with no window, and the price is around USD$60/night for 2 people. A good thing about this hotel is although there are only 30 rooms, but they also offer family room for a maximum of 4 people (around USD$85/room), which is a great choice whether you are travelling with your family, or with a group of friends.

The decoration of the hotel and the rooms are very minimal yet with great details. The corridor tends to be a bit dark with very dim lighting. However, once you enter into the room, it’s completely the opposite – white is the main colour for all the rooms, with wooden furniture and black steel frames.

Continue reading “A Budget Stay in the Heart of Taipei – A Minimalist Boutique Hotel”