South Korea

Korea: A Utopia for Lovers of Korean Drama, Skincare, and Health

Korea: A paradise for fans of Korean dramas, skincare buffs, and health enthusiasts alike. From captivating TV shows to renowned skincare routines, Korea offers a haven where modernity meets ancient traditions. Explore the vibrant cities and discover a culture that celebrates holistic well-being at every turn.

Exploring the mesmerizing depths of Gwangmyeong Cave.

Korea: A paradise for fans of Korean dramas, skincare buffs, and health enthusiasts alike. From captivating TV shows to renowned skincare routines, Korea offers a haven where modernity meets ancient traditions. Explore the vibrant cities and discover a culture that celebrates holistic well-being at every turn.

As a result of its many successful Korean dramas (K-dramas) and Korean popular songs (K-pop) as well as artistes, South Korea garnered global appeal, thus attract many travellers to the country, yours truly included. I had the opportunity to spend a short time in Seoul and the surrounding area the past summer, and it was an enthralling experience.

Besides visiting touristy spots in Seoul and its surroundings, I managed to learn about the South Korean health and beauty products, which are internationally renowned, especially those that have made it to the Malaysian market.

When you go to South Korea in the summer, particularly Seoul, the following are some things you can expect when visiting the destination, for example, selected interesting places you should see, and tips on how to use the subway system. In Malaysia, you can even purchase Korean health and beauty products at Watsons, Guardian, and 7Eleven.

Since this is my first time travelling internationally and my first time visiting South Korea, I have some first-timer tips for you: 

  • To enter South Korea, you need a passport and apply a special visa called Korean Electronic Travel Authorization (K-ETA) visa before purchasing airline tickets. K-ETA’s online application process is straightforward and cost around 10, 000KRW (MYR35.89). K-ETA visa processing is quick and easy, taking approximately an hour from start to finish. 
  • The next step is to secure insurance and internet access before you arrive in South Korea. I have three ways to connect to the internet while in Korea: my phone’s roaming data plan, Roaming Man, and the hotel Wi-Fi. 
  • Knowing the current season in South Korea is the final step before taking off for the country. Since I, too, travel to South Korea in the summer, I make sure to bring warm clothing. Keep in mind that at the height of summer, temperatures there might exceed those in Malaysia. Remember, the journey begins once you’ve finished packing. 
  • Don’t forget to exchange enough cash before you go; most places in South Korea, including the night markets and those serving street food, only accept cash.
  • After getting off the plane, you need to take the Airport Railroad to pick up your luggage. Because the airport in Incheon is huge, you need to refer to the LCD screen to know where to go for immigration and to pick up your luggage. At the immigration, the immigration officer processing your K-ETA is quite strict when asking questions, but don’t be afraid to answer questions because, from what I know, the immigration personnel try to weed out tourists who go to South Korea to work illegally.
  • There are several ways to travel from Incheon Airport to Seoul. The Airport Railroad (AREX) offers two train options: the All Stop Train and the Express Train. Taking the bus, either the Deluxe Limousine Bus or the Standard Limousine Bus, is another option. To go to Seoul, you can also take a taxi. 
  • While there are plenty of hotels in Seoul to choose, I would suggest finding one around Myeongdong where you can easily stroll to the various attractions in the area. In my opinion, Myeongdong is a great place to start for first-time travellers to Korea because it is both tourist-centric, hence you might have an easier time communicating with the locals because so many of them (particularly merchants) in the area speak English.

There are several reasons for you to consider making South Korea a must-visit country. If you are a fan of K-drama and also K-pop music, you have to come here and see for yourself the places and their shooting locations. Besides, being able to learn a new culture is a rewarding experience. What I like the most is that while I was there, it was very easy to go everywhere by foot. Public transportation system like the subway is also easy to use. I think Malaysia should emulate South Korea in making our country more pedestrian-friendly. South Korea, especially Seoul, also has 24-hour convenience stores at almost every street corner, so if you were hungry in the middle of the night, you can simply pop in them. I definitely will return to South Korea again to explore some places besides Seoul.

Places to visit in Seoul:

Hanbok Rent and Gyeongbokgung Palace

If you were a fan, you might have probably watched the ‘Under the Queen Umbrella’ series and found yourself curious about the costumes and film location. To immerse yourself in Korean heritage, history, and culture, renting a hanbok, or Korean national dress, is a must. I rented a hanbok from a store in Hanbok Town, not far from Gyeongbokgung Palace. You can pick from the colour and style of hanbok you prefer, and the staff will assist you in putting it on if you were not sure on how to wear it. Once you’ve donned your Hanbok, head to Gyeongbukgung Palace in search of a stunning backdrop for your #ootd selfies. In that traditional outfit, you can spend the day imagining being part of nobility or the royal court.

Bakery & Coffee by Kundal

Kundal Cafe.
At Bakery & Coffee by Kundal, you can enjoy the perfect combination of freshly baked delights and aromatic brews.

What can I say, cafés in Korea are one level above the rest. After touching down in Korea, the first thing you must do is to seek out the beautiful cafes. Bakery and Coffee by Kundal, on Apgujeong Rodeo Street, was one of the cafés I visited. As you approach the café, you’ll be delighted to see the pink décor, likened to stepping into a secret flower garden. Every inch of this cafe is perfect, not only because it serves delicious pastries and a wide variety of beverages, but also due to its pleasing aesthetics. 

Address: Apgujeongrodeo, 39 Dosan-daero 53-gil, Seoul, South Korea

Too Cool For School Makeup Store

too cool for school
Too Cool For School beauty store in Myeongdong is one of the most outstanding brand.

Myeongdong is considered as the cosmetics and beauty products capital of South Korea, evidenced by the many such stores that line the area’s streets, allowing you to get a wide selection of cosmetics and skincare items at one go. Too Cool For School beauty store in Myeongdong is one of the most outstanding brands in my opinion. This store’s proximity to Myeongdong Night Market makes it a convenient destination. If you were a fan of the K-pop girl group (G)-I-DLE, you’ll be happy to know that one of the group’s members, Jeon Sooyeon, will be appearing in screen commercials for Too Cool For School.

Gwangmyeong Cave

Gwangmyeong Cave
Gwangmyeong Cave dazzles with its plethora of breathtaking natural wonders, making it an essential destination for anyone passionate about the great outdoors.

Gwangmyeong Cave boasts numerous stunning features and is a must-see for nature enthusiasts. No matter in which season of the year you visit Korea, remember to bring a jacket along because the cave temperature hovers between 12 and 13 degrees Celsius year-round. You should be able to sense the cave’s inherent cool temperature the moment you enter. Treasure Exploration Space, Wormhole Square, Light Space, Cave Underground World, Cave Arts Centre, Cave Underground Lake, Golden Road, Cave Based Aqua World, and Wine Cave are just several of the many attractions you’ll discover at this cave.

Address: 142, Gahak-ro, 85beon-gil, Gwangmyeong, Gyeonggi-do 14341 South Korea.

Myeongdong Night Street

If you weren’t sure where to stay in Seoul, Myeongdong is a good option. Myeongdong is well-known as a great place to hang out and do some shopping. Myeongdong Night Street is a great place to stroll, eat, and shop for anything from skincare and cosmetics to clothing and accessories. Myeongdong Underground Shopping Center, located next to the station, is where you should go since it has everything you could possibly want, including clothes, bags, your favourite K-pop CDs, and the best of all: adorable socks.

Address: Myeongdong-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul

Hongdae Shopping Street

If this was your first trip to Seoul, you should visit Hongdae, one of the city’s most popular retail districts. Hongdae Shopping Street is similar to Myeongdong Night Market in that it offers a wide selection of clothing and cuisine. However, there seems to be a lot more going on in Hongdae, from discovering the local street food scene to watching street acts.

Tip in using the subway to travel from Myeongdong to Hongdae:

Get your subway fare card and reload it at the convenient CU Mart; Malaysians might find the card similar to the Touch ’n Go card. From Euljiro 1-ga Station in Myeongdong, take the train to Hongik University Station in Hongdae, which is seven stations away.

Items originally made in South Korea but are now available in Malaysia:

While in South Korea, I had the chance to check out the South Korean products (mostly cosmetics and dietary supplements) that have made their way to Watsons, Guardian, and 7-Eleven stores around Malaysia. Below are a few brands that might be of interest.

Dryope

This Korean bath brand must be new to you. If you were curious, you can find this brand in Malaysia at a Watsons store near you. Hair shampoo and other products are also available, all of which have a delightful floral scent.

Go-Go Protein Shake

Those of you who routinely run out of time before mealtime may pick up a Go-Go Protein Shake at any 7Eleven store. Simply add milk or water according to instruction, shake well, and drink immediately. Black sesame and corn are two of my favourite tastes, but there are others to choose from.

Lingtea

Lingtea products are a must-try for anyone who struggles with dehydration or who lacks penchant for plain water. Lingtea’s convenient sachets come in a variety of flavours to meet different types of preferences.

Farmstay

A drugstore near you probably stocks one of the many Korean skincare products that are worth a try. Farmstay sells many well-liked skincare products, including Cica Farm, Citrus Yuja, and Tea Tree Biome.

Round Lab

Round Lab’s 1025 DOKDO is a highly recommended skincare brand. One of the brand’s must-try skincare products is DOKDO, which uses Deep Sea Water taken from 5,000 feet below sea level in Ulleungdo in the East Sea, which is rich in natural minerals that aid in balancing the skin condition.

Gaya Travel Magazine expresses gratitude towards K-Healthy & Beauty Zone 7 Introducing MY for turning the writer’s trip to South Korea into reality.

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