Thursday, 17 April 2014

Busan, Gyeongju & Jeju trip – Prologue

I chance upon in Facebook that Air Asia X is launching flight from KL to Busan and one way starts from RM199. Even if I add in S$100 for return flight from Singapore to KL, it works out to S$270 without including baggage. It's still cheaper than Scoot which launch flight from Singapore to Seoul with 1hr layover in Taipei. Scoot inaugural promo flight cost S$188 one way which works out to $376. At this price, I can fly Air Asia X with check in baggages. My rule of thumb is that budget airline should cost less than half of a full fledged airline, otherwise it's not worth purchasing as all the add on for a budget airline ticket can be substantial.

The promotion starts at 12 midnight and surprisingly the website traffic is not heavy. As usual, I make full use of the public holiday by travelling during the Good Friday weekend. The best date combination which I can find is depart on 18 Apr and return on 28 Apr. I booked the ticket first without those add on since these can be booked at a later date. The return ticket including taxes cost S$263.

Finding a travel partner for a long trip is not an easy task. Hubby could not join me and the next person who came to my mind is Serene. Although we are from the same secondary school but we have not seen each other since graduation, it's kinda weird that I asked her right? Well, it just that we found in Facebook that both of us are avid travellers and we did thought of travelling together.

Few months after I have booked the air ticket, Air Asia X sent an email to me offering the option to upgrade the seats to premium flatbeds via optiontown. The premium flatbeds comes with 25kg check in luggage, one free meal, preferred seat assignment, priority baggage reclaim etc. I have read reviews about the upgrading and I decided to try it out. The upgrade works in such a way that the upgrade decision will be emailed only 1 - 3 days before the departure but no more than 4 hours before departure. There is a non-refundable fee of RM10 and the upgrade fee of RM126 each way is refundable. I paid a total of RM262  ~ S$111. I have checked that if I were to book the premium seats directly, it would cost S$1,200. By upgrading through optiontown, I only pay 30% of the premium seat fare.
Map of South Korea (Source: Lonely planet)

I mentioned in my previous Seoul trip that I would like to return to Korea. This time round, I will be flying to Busan directly and I will use Busan as the base to get to Gyeongju and Jeju.

Busan is located on the Southeastern tip of the Korean Peninsula. Busan is Korea 2nd largest city after Seoul and the largest seaport in Korea. It has Korea's largest beach and Korea's longest river. Busan is also home to the world's largest department store, the Shinsegae Centum City.

Gyeongju was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Silla which ruled about two-thirds of the Korean Peninsula between the 7th and 9th centuries. It boasts the 1,000 years of Silla heritage with vast number of ancient ruins and archaeological sites found throughout the city and is marketed as "Korea's answer to Kyoto". It is also commonly know as the museum without walls. I became interested in Gyeongju after watching Korean drama "Queen Seondeok" who is the first reigning Queen of Silla.

We will be taking train from Busan to Gyeongju although there are other options such as KTX and express bus. The best option in taking the mode of public transport between 2 cities can be search from I choose the train as the journey time and the fare is about the same as taking the bus. Booking can be made at Korail 1 month before the train departure date.

Jeju is a volcanic island known as the Hawaii of Korea. It is the top honeymoon destination for Korean newlyweds. Jeju is a magical place known for 3 things: roaring winds, magnificent rocks, and women, since there is a bigger population of women versus men. 

Jeju can only be reached by air or sea. There are only 4 airlines flying from Busan to Jeju i.e. Air Busan, Asiana, Korean Airline & Jeju Airline. I have booked Air Busan (a subsidiary of Asiana) as the discounted fare is as low as 75% and return ticket cost ₩76,800 ~ S$94. The discounted fare timing is not favourable but we just make the best use of the time there. Although it's a budget airline, it includes 15kg check in and 10kg hand carry.

The accommodation was researched by Serene. In Busan, we will be staying at Hotel Angel which is conveniently located near Seomyeon station, the interchange station for line 1 and 2. A night for deluxe twin room cost ₩65,000 - ₩75,000 and include breakfast. In Gyeongju, we will be staying at Sillabang Guesthouse to experience staying in a hanok. Sillabang Guesthouse is within walking distance from Gyeongju station and a night cost ₩45,000. In Jeju, we will be spending 3 nights at Hotel Feliz telcon located in Seogwipo and 2 nights at Goodstay December hotel located in Jeju city. The reason for staying in 2 Jeju hotels is because Jeju is huge so it will save us some time in travelling. Both Jeju accommodation are booked through agoda.

It is recommended to rent a car to get around in Jeju as public transport is not very convenient and frequency is long. We decided to hire a driver instead of self drive as both of us are not very familiar with driving on the left side. I have researched a list of driver and end up, I engaged Mr Won (email: who charge me ₩130,000 ~ S$150 for 9 hours a day. Well, it's not cheap since the cost is shared by the 2 of us but safety is more important.

Itinerary for the trip:
Day 1: Reach Busan @ 8.45am (GMT+7), Nurimaru APEC House 누리마루 APEC하우스, Haeundae beach 해운대해수욕장, Haedong Yonggungsa Temple 해동 용궁사, Dalmaji Hill 해운대 달맞이길, Gwangalli beach 광안리해수욕장

Day 2: Train from Busan to Gyeongju, Gyeongju National Museum 국립경주박물관, Seokbinggo (Ice Store House) 석빙고, Cheomseongdae Observatory 첨성대, Daereungwon Tumuli & Cheonmachong 天马冢, Anapji 안압지

Day 3: Seokguram Grotto 석굴암, Bulguksa 불국사, Gyeongju shilla millennium park 신라밀레니엄파크, Train from Gyeongju to Busan

Day 4: Taejongdae Park 태종대, 40 Steps/ 40 Gyedan 40계단 문화관광테마거리, Flight from Busan to Jeju

Day 5: Jusangjeolli Cliff 주상절리, Chocolate Museum 초콜릿 박물관, Jeju Glass Castle 제주유리의성, O'Sulloc Green Tea Museum 설록차 뮤지엄 오설록, Jeju Teddy Bear Museum 테디베어박물관

Day 6: Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak 성산일출봉, Seopjikoji 섭지코지

Day 7: Jeongbang Waterfall 정방폭포, Oedolgae Rock 외돌개, Yakcheonsa 약천사, Dokkaebi Road/ Bugaboo Road 신비의 도로, Jeju Loveland 제주러브랜드, Yongduam dragon rock 용두암

Day 8: Seongeup Folklore Village성읍민속마을, Trick Art Museum트릭아트뮤지엄, Jeju Haenyeo Museum 해녀박물관, Gimnyeong Maze 김녕미로공원, Manjanggul lava-tube cave 만장굴

Day 9: Flight from Jeju to Busan,Gamcheon Culture Village 감천문화마을, Jagalchi Fish Market 자갈치시장, BIFF Square & Gwangbok-dong

Day 10: Beomeo-sa Temple 범어사, Shopping @ Pusan University & Seomyeon

Day 11: Depart Busan @ 10.20am (GMT+7)

Budget for the trip is S$1,700:
- S$400 for accommodation
- S$400 for transport
- S$100 for admission fees
- S$300 for meals
- S$500 for shopping

>>Day 1: 19 Apr 14


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Nicole @ Shinyvisa Travel said...

Nice post. I am planning a trip to Korea end of year. :)