Snow holidays in South Korea : Alpensia + Seoul



The Wacky Duo
December is always a good time to go for holidays. With  school going kids, it would be the ONLY time you can take a long break without the worries of examinations looming. We had gone for a short holiday in Hong Kong and cap off the month with a trip to South Korea with the extended family.


Why so many holidays you say?

2016 will be the last honeymoon year before both boys hit primary school. So before the rat race begins, we would like to let us them have as much fun as possible. As per our previous holidays, we will be sharing our itinerary for the trip. If you miss our previous holidays,  no fret... links as follows

Snippets of Tokyo
Self Drive Perth
HongKong Family Fun

Hang on tight as we transport you on an 8-day tour to Seoul and back!

DAY 1: ALPENSIA SKI RESORT 알펜시아리조트 스키장
Alpensia Ski Resort
It was the red-eye flight for us from Singapore to Seoul Incheon Airport. Upon landing, we boarded the bus for a 3 hours ride to Alpensia Ski Resort. Given the little sleep we had, it was snooze time especially when the bus seats were ultra comfortable.


Our initial expectation was to see snow covered buildings and roads. After all, it was about 0 degree at Alpensia and this is a SNOW ski resort. On the contrary, the only snow we spotted were on the artificial snow slopes and bits of melting snow around the resort.

Bummer.

Playground @ Alpensia
It was an understatement to say that we were not disappointed. However after 12 hours ( 6.5 hours flight, 3.5 hours bus, 2 hours transit), we were feeling a tad tired to ponder over it. A little exploration and an attempt to build a snowman from the hardened snow was all we could mustered for the day.

Snowman
Time to head into our rooms and take our beauty sleep. Our accommodation for this trip would be Holiday Inn.

Perhaps more about that in a future post!



DAY 2 : SNOW SLED @ ALPENSIA
Snowing at Alpensia
The next day our prayers were answered... Snow hit Alpensia early in the morning leaving a blanket of snow on the driveway.

Welcome snow
It was a magical moment. The powder white surrounding was a page off Frozen. Absolutely divine.
Snow @ Alpensia
That was officially our first snow fall as a family. It was not difficult to get excited by sight of fluffy white snow all around us.

It snowed the whole day and at times form mini blizzards. The whole resort was clad in layers of white snow. This is the Alpensia that we were expecting. Just one snow fall was all we had hope for during the trip and we were more than delighted to witness it.
Snow @ Alpensia Ski Resort
Our agenda for the day was to hit the ski slopes. To ski, it is best you take a beginner course to learn the basic before skiing. You can do that at the resort. As interesting as the skiing looks, we decided to opt out of skis and opt for something more suitable for the whole family ( or rather we were to lazy to go through lessons considering we were taking holidays to get away from school lessons)

Ski  @ Alpensia Ski Resort
 Next up ... SNOWSLEDS!
Snowsled at Alpensia
You do not need a degree to snow sled. simply grab a sled, head up the slopes via the escalator, hop on your snow sled and GO!

The whole morning was spending whizzing down the slopes of Alpensia.



A little tip if you are going with grandparents. Do not tell the operators they are 65 years old and above, else they will be ban from the slopes. After about 10 rides or so, we decided to take a break and explore the snow clad resort.






It was a completely different look and feel from the plain brown hues we saw the day before. Even the playground feels like a scene from Winter Sonata.

Very Swee (beautiful).

Winter @ Alpensia
With so much snow, it is hard not to indulge in a little snow fight.

Apparently, *ahem* the kids are not the only one who are enjoying the snow fight. It is true when they say the bigger you are, the bigger your snow balls are too.

I forgot who said that..
Biggest snow fight.
Coming from the equator, snow is a rare commodity. Thus spending some time to roll around it was something special. This was not the 'harden' ice or the soapy fake snow you get at the malls. This soft powdery white fluff was the real deal. It proves that there are still experiences to explore around the world even though one is 4 decades young.

We tried our hands on a snowman again. This time round, there was sufficient snow to create a real one ala OLAF.

Snowman at Alpensia
After a whole day of snow, it was time to heat up. We headed indoors for a hot piping meal.

Dinner was at one of the restaurants at the resort. There were quite a few restaurants to choose from at the resort. From Domino Pizza to Japanese food to Korea local food, choices are aplenty. We settled on Korean BBQ for the evening. Go overseas, must eat 'local' food lah.
Korea BBQ
DAY 3: YONG PYONG RESORT  용평리조트, DRAGON PEAK 용평리조트 드래곤피

Snow stopped the next morning. We headed to the nearby Intercontinental for breakfast buffet as most restaurants do not open till 10. Today, we headed to the nearby Yong Pyong Resort to explore.  Yong Pyong is a 5 minutes ride from Alpensia. We took the local taxi to get to the resort. If you are planning a visit, we strongly advised to book a return or get the taxi company direct number. We tried to book a return from the hotel at Yong Pyong and was quoted 3 times the fare for booking fee alone!

That said we were lucky to have help from the locals in getting cabs for us, saving us a hefty booking fee in return.

YongPyong
Back to the resort. There are gondolas(cable cars) up the mountains. As this visit was unplanned, we did not know what to do at Yong Pyong. Since a trip up the snow-clad mountain sounded like an adventure, we decided to head up the mountains via the gondola and see what it has in store for us.
Yong Pyong Resort.

It was a great decision to head up. Snow greeted us from every angle when we are up in the mountains. It was pure Winter Wonderland. Needless to say, we were awestruck by the beauty.

Dragon Peak
The peak, otherwise known as Dragon Peak was one of the sites where Winter Sonata was filmed.
Winter Sonata
Coming from a place where all you see is concrete and green, a visit to Dragon Peak was a must do if you are in the vicinity.

At 1458 m high, you will feel like you are on top of the world!


The views of the mountains and beyond from the peak was simply breathtaking. Photos does not do justice to what we saw.
View from Yong Pyong
If time permits, do take a walk and explore the mini garden at the peak. We read that you might even find a helicopter pad in the woods.


It was pretty chilly when we were up there. At -9 degrees with winds blowing,  as beautiful as it seemed, we have to head down the mountains for some warmth. We are from the equator where temperature hardly goes below 20 degree. At the Dragon Peak , we may be frozen if we had stay for another 5 minutes.

View from Dragon Peak
There is another cable car line up the mountains. This one was 'open concept' and  similar to the one below. It was closed while we were there, but it will be a cool ride if it was open. That said, you can also ski down from the Peak as there is a ski slope from the top. The trip down via Rainbow Paradise is 5.6km journey suitable for intermediate and up skiers.



The ski route down Dragon Peak was closed for that day. It meant we could not be the daredevil even if we wanted to. We decided to try the next best thing on YongPyong... snow tube rides.

Snow Tuberide

There are actually 28 ski slopes in YongPyong ranging from beginners to expert. If you are there for skiing, you would not be disappointed. For kids, the snow tube rides are just as thrilling. This 200 m ride down features different elevation along the way down instead of a normal slope down.

Fun was an understatement here!

After spending the whole afternoon up and down the sled slope, it was time to head back home. The day was short due to Winter, but after 10 rounds of snow tube rides, the kids are exhausted.



DAY 4: MYEONG-DONG 명동, N SEOUL TOWER N 서울타워

It was time to leave the Ski Resort and head down to Seoul. 4 days and 3 nights in the snow was perfect for this trip. Do check the weather before you go because you have to experience snow when you are there to make it perfect.

It took us 3 hours to head down from Alpensia to Seoul. Do remember to book your bus ride down. There will be a crowd and you might not get a seat. The alternative which is a taxi ride down can cost a couple of hundred bucks. Plus from what we saw, buses get the privilege on the road with a dedicated bus lane. That probably shave off 2 hours or more for the trip.

Street Food @ Seoul
The first thing we did was head to the streets for a taste of Korea street food.

We were pretty famished and to have a bite of warm food . When you are hungry, everything taste great!


We stayed at Myeong-Dong for the second part of our vacation. The N Seoul Tower was within walking distance so off we go.

Thanks to Changi Recommends, we got our tickets in Singapore before the trip. In addition to the fantastic wifi router that we rented for $5 bucks a day, we can now pre book attractions at a discount at Changi Recommends. You book everything online and collect the tickets before the trip. We suggest you go to the airport at least 30 minutes earlier to make sure you get your tickets on time before the trip.
N Seoul Tower

There are 2 ways you can get up to N Seoul Tower... walk or take a cable car. We decided it will be too risky to walk with kids and decided to walk instead. During the walk , we came across this huge pile of locks. Initially we were not sure what it was. Nonetheless, if you would like to leave your mark at N Seoul Tower, you could leave a padlock of love there.



For the boys, they tried to see if they can spot Singapore, a mere 4653.97 km away.

We could not see Singapore as the telescope was not strong enough. Nonetheless the view was just as impressive.


There are other attractions there such as Hello Kitty Island and Ssentoy Museum & showroom. However we were to hungry to continue with our sightseeing.
N Seoul Tower

Time to head back to Myeong-Dong.


If you have not been to Myeong Dong, it is a place where you have streets after streets of similar shops. The most common shops are the beauty shops such as Nature Republic,  Etude House ,Innisfree , Skinfood, MISSHA and more. This would be the place for ladies to store up on beauty essentials.

For us, since we had empty stomach to fill, we pop in a local restaurant and requested for the simmering hot pot the local staff are eating. Stuffed with seafood, it was a delectable treat to end the evening. Finding food would be a breeze as the lanes are lined with restaurants. You can find an array of local food, Japanese food, Chinese food, pizzas and more. If you are still hungry, simply buy street food to fill the tummies.

Soon the bed beckons us for a good night sleep and we are off to la la land while Seoul whizzes past on the street.
Add caption

DAY 5: GYEONGBOKGUNG PALACE 경복궁,
HONGDAE (HONGIK UNIVERSITY STREET) 홍대


It's time to rise and shine. Today we will be visiting the attractions around Seoul. The day started with breakfast at Korea's version of Breadtalk... Paris Baguette. You can buy the bread and drinks you want and there is a corner for you to partake your food.

After a hearty meal, it was time to navigate the Seoul rapid transit system.
Seoul subway

Seoul has a very efficient subway system. You probably can head to anywhere you want using the subway. As usual, do your research before your trip. You do not want to end up in Busan.

Train to Busan

A quick snap before our next destination.
Official Photographer of TheWackyDuo

First stop... Gyeongbokgung Palace.
Gyeongbokgung Palace
We were there to catch the changing of guards ceremony.


The event was free and lasted for about 15 minutes.


You can be part-time guard too if you want. Either that or take a snapshot with the real guard after the ceremony at the gates.


We made a pit stop at National Palace Museum of Korea for a peek at Korea's past.


We loved to visit museums of the local country. It was often here that we learn a thing or two about the country we visit. Do you know that Chinese characters were once part of the Korea language called Hanja.

 Spare at least an hour if you are heading there for a visit.



Our next destination is Hongik university street. This is the hip and happening street that is filled with food and fashion. Time to leave our mark at Hongik University Street.
Graffiti @ Hongik University Street
We spotted an arcade call Catch Me Doll and just have to visit it.
Catch me Doll

Even tough we are semi-pros at UFO catching. It was an almost impossible to catch a doll at Catch me Doll. Warning : The catchers are rigged. After about 10 tries in various machines, we decided it was time to move on as we think we donated enough to the economy.


Given that Dad was a marksman in his NS days, we managed to savage the visit with a mini win at the shooting gallery.This kept our 100 % win record  for visits to the arcade.

I caught a doll at Catch Me Doll

Back to Hongik University Street to search for the others. It was really crowded!


Most of the stuff sold at Hongik university were things you probably can get in Singapore, except for free hug from a Korean Guy.
Free Hug

After Hongok, we made a stop at Lotte Shopping centre and head to the supermarket section. Lots of fresh fruits await.

The food court had lots of delicious looking snacks that we had not seen before too.

If the food from foodcourt does not entice you, perhaps another visit to the streets will fill you.
Street Food at Seoul
DAY 6: NORYANJIN FISHERIES WHOLESALE MARKET 노량진 수산시장,
COEX MALL (코엑스몰)


The next day, we hit the streets again after a hearty porridge meal near the hotel. If you are ordering food in Korea, do not be surprise to have 12 additional side dishes.

The agenda for today is a visit to Noryangjin Fishery Market.


There are 2 sections of Noryangjin Fishery Market. First is the old school section in an open air wet market.


There is a modernised market located next to the old school market. We headed to that section to choose our lunch.
Noryangjin Fishery Marke

To get a meal at the market, simply choose your catch, pay for it and someone will bring you to a restaurant to cook it. There was a guy following us all the way even though we did not ask him too. Cooking is a separate cost and will be determined by how you decided to have it cook.

The seafood itself is relatively cheap. you could get a dozen oysters at about $12!


Time to dig in!

After satisfying meal, we headed to COEX Mall for a walk.



While the rest of our group head to shopping, we decided to visit the COEX Aquarium instead to search for fresh seafood sea creatures.
Co Ex Aquarium
Do not let the size of the entrance fool you. The Aquarium was much bigger than we thought and there were quite a few interesting stations that we saw. You have your standard fishes and sharks and a whole lot more. With 16 theme zones and 40 0000 sea creatures, you will need at least 2 hours there to appreciate it's set up.

CO Ex Aquarium

DAY 7: LOTTE WORLD 롯데월드
Tickets from Changi Recommends
We are almost coming to an end for our trip. Since it was the last full day we have in Seoul, we decided to head down to LOTTE World for a day of fun.

A special thanks to Changi Recommends for arranging the attractions tickets prior to the trip. We are fans of the Pocket Wifi and always book one for our overseas trip. It worked like a charm and allowed us to update instantaneously on our social platforms such as Instagram.

Do you know that you can actually plan the rest of your holidays such as airport transfers and attractions visits at selected countries. Our trips to N Seoul Tower and Lotte World were arranged through Changi Recommends. We highly recommend you to get your tickets pre-trip as the savings can be quite substantial vs getting it while you are at the attractions. Furthermore, you get to beat the long queue with your prepaid tickets at selected attractions too.

Countries attractions currently on the list includes Australia, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Europe, New Zealand, Thailand, Taiwan and more. This would probably get you covered for 90% of your holidays!

Do note, if you booking from Changi Recommends for Lotte World, tickets are to be collected at the South Gate.
Lotte World

Back to LOTTE World

This was our first trip to LOTTE World. On first sight, the interior looks impressive as each floor entices with various rides and attractions. To start off our exploration, we headed outdoors to check out the rides first.

Most the outdoor rides require you to be at least 120cm to ride. As one of the Wackies was below the height limit, we decide to head indoor to try our luck.

The sight of the Pirate Ship swinging up in the air was not for the faint-hearted.
Pirate Ship
Thankfully we found some age appropriate rides for the boys. There are a lot more rides to choose from, but the queues there are super long. The popular rides can be as long as 2.5 hours. The only time we had experience such long queues was at DisneySea Tokyo.

Lucky for us, there are other distractions there.
Unlucky for us, we started donating to the economy AGAIN. Honestly you can skip the UFO catchers in Korea. Compared to Japan, they are mostly rigged and dependent on luck rather than skill. We did try the carnival games at Lotte World and won some small token prizes. Compared to Ocean World HK, Lotte world was not so generous with their prizes.

From US catchers to carnival shows to stage shows and parades, this indoor theme park has lots to offer.

There is also a Trick Eye museum there, a must visit since South Korea is famous for Trick Eye museum.

We decided to head to the bank to make some addition dough for the trip.
Lotte World Seoul
Feeling loaded after the heist, we end the day with a Korean BBQ and hotpot near our hotel.
BBQ Korea
Korea BBQ somehow tastes much better when you are eating it in Korea.

SERIOUSLY!
Korea Hot Pot
Before we end our day, we headed to Myeong-dong Cathedral for a visit.
Myeong Dong Cathedral

The Myeong Dong Cathedral was built in 1898 in the style of Gothic ala Gotham City.
Myeong Dong Cathedral
Set in the heart of Myeong Dong, it is a beauty in the midst of skyscrapers.


Do step in, take a deep breath and if faith allows, say a prayer.

Taking one last walk at Myeong-Dong, we decided to brave the winter cold and stood in the long line for half an hour for a taste of King of Castella (Sponge cake).

After a few bites after it cooled down (they said to eat it when cool), our verdict was that it tasted like a softer version of Sara Lee. Not sure if queuing half an hour for it will be worth the wait.
Seoul King of Castella


DAY 8: From MYEONG DONG to SINGAPORE
Good Bye Myeong Dong

Our last day was spent travelling to the airport. We were there 2.5 hours earlier but clearing the customs was a nightmare. We were cleared with less than 5 minutes to boarding. It was a close shave that we did not miss our flight but it added another point to the experience column.

The holiday was curated by my sister. After planning for holidays for almost a decade, it was great to just relax and have a worry free holiday. Thank you, sis!

Missing Korea already, especially the snow.

Goodbye Korea

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