Whenever I travel abroad, I try to squeeze in unique places to visit. Like a shoot location, a special museum, or an activity you can only do in that place. I look for things that are not too popular but are so underrated that I feel the need tell its story and encourage people to experience it as well. For my Thailand trip last September, this place was Ancient Siam.
I only heard about it from a friend who hasn’t been there too. We talked about it in passing a few months ago. Then, I researched to decide if it was worth putting in my itinerary. When I was there, I didn’t expect to enjoy it that much. It was my day 1 activity. In my next days of exploring Bangkok, I felt that no experience tops it. Seriously (except food maybe hahaha). Anyway, what’s Ancient Siam anyway?
Ancient Siam or Ancient City (Thai: Mueang Boran) is a museum park occupying over 200 acres (0.81 km2) in the shape of Thailand. It is dubbed as the world’s largest outdoor museum. The 320-hectare “city” features 116 structures of Thailand’s famous monuments and architectural attractions. The grounds of Ancient Siam correspond roughly to the shape of the kingdom, with the monuments lying at their correct places geographically. Some of the buildings are life-size replicas of existing or former sites, while others are scaled down. The replicas were constructed with the assistance of experts from the National Museum to ensure historical accuracy.
After reading about this place, I decided that I JUST HAVE TO GO THERE. I let go of a lot of modern attractions I originally planned to visit in Bangkok just to manage my time and it was the right decision. My only regret was not following the recommendation I read to allot 1 full day for this. I spent 4 hours in Ancient Siam but was only able to finish touring half of it. I’ll definitely be back to tour the other half.
How to go there
The Recommended Option
The location of this attraction is at Samut Prakarn, at the south east of Bangkok, so it’s a bit far from the usual city landmarks you’ll visit. The cheapest way to get there is to take the BTS train and alight at the nearest station. After that, take a taxi to Ancient Siam. It’s not walking distance from any train station so you really have to take a taxi.
STEP 1: Take the BTS to Samrong Station. Fare depends on where you come from. Check Google Maps for reference on the train fare.
STEP 2: Take a taxi from Samrong Station to Ancient City. Fare is around 120 – 180 Baht (Php 205-305).
This is the option we went with going back to the city in the evening.
What we did (Hahaha)
We were kind of late since I was stuck at the airport for an hour because of the line the Klook booth. Anyway, because we were saving time, we decided to take Grab.
The good thing about grab is that you can easily pin the location. It saves you the effort of explaining where you’ll go. It’s a bit hard to communicate because of the language barrier so Grab made this trip easier for us.
I think the fare was just okay. Not too cheap or expensive considering it was a 45-minute ride from our place. We spent 260 Baht for the fare and 100 Baht for the toll (Php 605 all in). If you’re a group of 3-4 people, I’d recommend this option for convenience.
There is a total of 121 stations that you can visit. Honestly, I didn’t really look at the map that much when I was there. Since we were cramming everything in 4 hours, we weren’t able to take pictures in all of the stations. Here are some of the sites we were able to see.
My suggestion really is to map it out. I didn’t plan my visit so well so I missed important sites. You can check the map of the place and research about it before you visit so you know which sites you’d like to see. Refer to the Wikipedia link below for reference.
Entrance fee is 700 Baht (Php 1,176) which includes a choice to tour on bicycle or on tram. You can also avail of the audio recorder guide where you could listen about the history of each attraction. We didn’t really use it when we were there. We preferred reading signage and history per station.
I got the tickets cheaper at Php 804 since I booked this on Klook. That’s a 31% discount.
350 Baht if you have a Thai work permit.
9:00am – 7:00pm Everyday
Be there early. It will take a day to explore without rushing.
I read that you can actually enjoy lunch at the floating market (#45), but I didn’t get to see it since it was closed in the afternoon.
Bring water. You’ll be thirsty from all the biking. You can also buy cold water from the concessionaires. It costs 20 Baht.
I didn’t get to do this but I read that it’s good to make station 72 as your last stop for a great sunset view. The audio guide needs to be returned at 6:00pm so if you want to catch the sunset and stay a little longer, don’t take the audio guide.
During my trip back to South Korea last February, I was fortunate enough to have my friend Rann with me. She’s one of my k-wave buddies. Since it’s a first time for both of us to travel with a k-wave fan, we decided to go to the ultimate k-drama destination, Dae Jang Geum Park (MBC Dramia). Having this in the itinerary is unusual since it’s not so popular with first-time tourists to Korea. However, if you are a historical k-drama fan, this is a must-go destination.
While I was researching about it, I found out that there were very few resources/blogs written about the place. It’s a bit far from Seoul. We almost cut it off our itinerary because of bad weather, but I’m glad we didn’t. So I’m writing this post to try to excite and encourage people to visit Dae Jang Geum Park. I promise that it won’t disappoint.
Dae Jang Geum Park, previously known as MBC Dramia was an outdoor film set owned by MBC. It’s located at Yongin, Gyeonggi-do province. I believe sets of Jewel in the Palace were built here for the 2003 drama. However, the park was only opened to tourists in 2011.
MBC continued to expand this to be a big set for it’s other historical dramas. Popular dramas shot here are Jumong, Moon Embracing the Sun, Dong Yi, Queen Sheondeok, and Empress Ki. The complex features permanent sets imitating buildings from the Korean Three Kingdoms, Goryeo, and Joseon.
HOW TO GO THERE
Take the Seoul Subway (Orange Line / Line 3) and alight at Nambu Bus Terminal Station.
Ride a bus to Baekam (백암) and alight at Baekam Bus Terminal. The ticket costs about 4,500 KRW but prepare extra in case the fare increased.
Don’t go down once the bus stops. Baekam is not the first stop. Baekam is the third stop after Yang Ji (양지) and Jwa Jeon (좌전). The trip from Seoul to Baekam is 50 minutes. You have to listen well in the recording to know if it’s the right stop. If you’re not sure, sit near the driver and ask if it’s Baekam. I remember I asked the driver, “Ajusshi, Baekam yogi-yo?” (Is this Baekam?), when we traveled. If they say, “Ne”, it means yes. If they say, “Aniyo”, it’s not.
Take Bus 105 (photo below). The last stop of this bus is Dae Jang Geum Park. The bus interval is around 50 minutes to 120 minutes. You can look at the monitors in the bus stop to check if a bus is near and how many minutes left until it arrives. If you miss it, you can take a taxi going to Yongin Dae Jang Geum Park. The taxi trip is about 10 to 15 minutes and costs 8,500 KRW. If you’re a big group, just take a taxi.
NOTE: For the #105 Bus, get on at the Hanaro Drugstore (across Baekam Bus Terminal) when you are heading to Dae Jang Geum Park. If you’re going back to Seoul, buy a ticket and get on at the Baekam Bus Terminal.
IMPORTANT! The last bus to Baekam leaves the park at 5:00pm (Winter Season). Ask the staff in the counter if the time is different for Summer Season.
Here are some more photos of the sites we’ve visited. Rann and I only had two hours to tour so we handpicked the sites we wanted to see. I’ve included the attraction number on the photos so you can check the location on the map above. My tip is to leave Seoul early, like 7-8am, so you can have a longer time to explore the park.
Also, you can rent hanboks here for 20,000 KRW. We didn’t have time to do this but I will surely be back to remedy this. I realized that pictures will really look better if you have traditional hanboks on.
Upon entering the park, the first attraction you will see is the Jewel in the Palace Set. Kitchen scenes were done here. Below is my photo with some of the character standees. In front of the building, you will see Jang Geum and the captain.
There were also standees of Lee Seung Gi, Suzy, and other artists who did MBC historical dramas but I was only able to take a picture with the Kim Soo Hyun one.
Maybe because it was winter when I went there that the marketplace set was not setup. I’ve seen photos of other tourists where tables and props were displayed. Anyway, this area was also used in Dong Yi, Moon Embracing the Sun, Warrior K, Tale of Arang and the Lord, The King’s Doctor, and Hur Jun, the Original Story. I still have to check but I think this was also in Ruler Master of the Mask.
I had two reasons why I wanted to visit this place. The first one was this bridge. I wanted to see this bridge. This scene was really iconic for me when I watched Empress Ki, because I love Ji Chang Wook. Hahahaha
I kind of developed a habit because of this place. Whenever I see prison scenes in historical dramas, I check if this was the set used. Hahahaha
I discovered this scene after I visited Dae Jang Geum Park. I watched Hwayugi (Korean Odyssey) after I went there. Since the sets were still fresh on my mind, I was able to spot that this was the shoot location for episode 2. I also discovered that other networks rent this place to film as well, since TVN produced Hwayugi, not MBC.
The 2nd reason I wanted to go here is to see the Military Drill Hall, a set in Splash Splash Love. Please watch that movie. Kim Seul Gi is such a great actress. I first discovered her in Oh My Ghost. Hahaha. Yes, I’m promoting Splash Splash Love here! 🙂
So there you go! I hope I was able to convince you to visit Dae Jang Geum Park. If you recognize the sets from other dramas, please do tell me. Also, let me know your experience after you visit, okay?
I’ve included other details below for your reference. There’s no restaurant in the area so I suggest you eat a heavy meal. There is a cafe and vendos in the park where you can purchase food and drinks. It’s not in the rules but please refrain from eating while touring the sets.
Adults (age over 19): 7,000 KRW
Middle and High School Students (age 13 – 18): 6,000 KRW
Children (age 4-12): 5,000 KRW
Pre-schooler under 4): Free
Special discount rate is applied to locals (living in Yongin), group tour (minimum 20 persons), the disabled, senior citizens, and veterans, when supporting documents are presented.
Summer Season (Mar – Oct): 9:00 – 18:00
Winter Season (Nov – Feb): 9:00 – 17:00
The park is open throughout the year.
Admission is allowed until 1 hour before the closing time.
PLEASE BE AWARE OF THE FOLLOWING DURING YOUR VISIT!
Visitors may be restricted from accessing some of the places in the park, including filming sites, for synchronous recording of sound and picture is often required during filming. Please note that this restriction cannot be a reason to get a refund on the ticket cost.
Due to the characteristics of the filming sets, wheelchairs and strollers may not be allowed. Please pay particular attention to the safety of children and senior citizens.
Visitors are restricted from accessing indoor filming sets.
Just recently, I returned to South Korea with my friends to experience the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics. The reason for this is because Winter Olympic events are usually far from my country, like Vancouver and Sochi, so we’re taking advantage of it being near. Anyway, as part of our side-trips, we decided to try the 8-layer seafood tower near Bongcheon station (green line).
We found out about this when Ron suggested to come here after he saw this blog post from Happiebb (http://happiebb.com/blog/2015/05/28/nine-layers-of-steamed-shells/). I’d like to thank her for sharing this online, otherwise we wouldn’t have experienced this. The post was dated May 2015, so there were already changes when we went there. Thus, I decided to write my own post as a reference for those interested.
The restaurant’s name is 무한조개구이까까 (muhanjogaegu-ikkakka). It means “Infinite Shellfish Grilled” in English. It gained it’s popularity after it was featured in a KBS show called 생생정보통 (Live Info Show), where their 9-layer steamed shells dish(9단조개찜 pronounced as ku-dan-jo-gaej-jim) was shown.
According to the blog post, the 9-layer seafood tower can feed five to eight people. We were a party of 4 and only ordered the 8-layer one. We were only supposed to buy the 5-layer tower, but we wanted the cheese scallops so we opted for 8 layers instead. It’s important to note that you can’t choose which layers you want to have. The layers are pre-selected. So, if you want to eat a specific layer that’s in the later part of the line-up, you have to buy the package. You can go as low as 3 layers to as high as 9 layers.
So, what’s in the 8-layer tower? Here’s a run-down of what we ate plus pictures!
A tip from us: If you’re a party of 4-6 people, you don’t need to order rice. The seafood tower is enough to make your tummies full.
Some of the prices of the dishes have changed since 2015. Here’s a shot of the 2018 menu:
모듬조개찜스페셜8단 (modeumjogaejjim seupesyeol pal(8) dan) – 8 Stages of Mussel Special – KRW 100,000/ USD 94/ PHP 4,880
모듬조개찜스페셜9단 (modeumjogaejjim seupesyeol gu(9) dan) – 9 Stages of Mussel Special – KRW 110,000/ USD 103/ PHP 5,370
*For the special, I think they change one of the layers to prawns. I’m not sure which layer gets replaced.
How to go there:
The restaurant was quite easy to find but some of the landmarks we were looking for in Happiebb’s post were not there anymore. I’ve updated the map and instructions for easier reference.
924-40, Bongcheon-dong, Gwanak-gu, Seoul, Korea
주소: 서울시 관악구 봉천동 924-40
** Only walk-ins. No reservation.
(Mon – Sat) 4pm till late (We left about 11pm when we went there.)
(Sun) 3pm till late
When you hear someone going on a trip to Europe, the top-of-mind cities are always Paris, Rome, and London. I guess it’s media’s influence that made these cities so desirable – in movies, series, books, among other things. So when I was planning for my Europe trip, I was choosing between two things, visit these popular tourist destinations OR go for a cultural route (and visit family).
Though it was a tough decision, I chose the later. Here are the reasons why:
Rome and Paris also had cultural/historical sites. Admittedly, the expenses and lodging were more expensive than Central Europe when I was doing the costing. London, BTW, needs a different visa. For me, it’s more ideal to have a separate trip for London/England if the vacation time is short.
Another reason why I chose this route is because of my background in music. During college, I was part of a chorale group and I wanted to see the places where esteemed musicians came from.
Lastly, It’s easy to travel around Central Europe. Countries are an hour or two apart and you can visit a lot of places even if you have a limited stay.
You can start your journey from a city in the north, then move towards the south. My entry point was Copenhagen, as the Denmark part of my trip was sponsored by Arla, a dairy cooperative there (more on this later).
Afterwards, I moved to Vienna (Austria), the center of my trip. Since Vienna’s position is strategic, I left my things there during the day, traveled to different place, and came back at night. It was easier for me to do it this way since I didn’t want to carry luggage in every destination. It slows you down. I was able to see Salzburg (Austria), Bratislava (Slovakia), and Budapest (Hungary) on day trips instead of staying overnight.
It depends on you if you want to follow what I did or have your lodging at a every city you visit. When I was budgeting, I computed for both options. I remember that staying at destination was a little cheaper than what I did, but the gap was not significant. In the end I chose the convenient option.
The last places I visited were Prague (Czech Republic) and Berlin (Germany). I headed back to the north as my return flight was from Copenhagen as well.
I started my European Tour in Denmark. After arriving at Copenhagen Airport, our team went straight to Aarhus, where the Arla HQ was located. We learned that Arla was a full-blown cooperative, where the farmers own the shares and has a say on how things are run. It’s very different from the setup in our country where farmers are suppliers to big corporations.
We also visited a farm called Faregard in Holstebro, about 1-2 hours drive from Aarhus. There we met a Birtit and Rasmus, a mother and son tandem who run a dairy farm. We had a chance to milk cows (Yey!), and learned how they keep producing high quality dairy in their farm. Did you know that when a cow moos, it’s a sign of stress? The farm was very quiet, and the cows seldom moos because they’re living comfortably.
We were also able to visit the Arla factory, where we saw how cream cheese and Lurpak (the best butter in the world) are made. At the end of the educational tour, we had a chance to taste all the flavors of cream cheese that they have. My favorites were tomato and lactose free. Curry was good too!
On our last day at Aarhus, we were able to tour Den Gamle By, Aarhus’ old town. It’s an open-air museum showcasing town life in Denmark. There are 75 historical buildings there collected from different parts of the country. These buildings were from different periods, as early as 1550 to the late 19th century. When I was there, I kept thinking this looked like a set from Beauty and the Beast (animated movie). Hahaha
I had a blast during our short stay in Copenhagen. After checkin-in at our hotel, we headed to Tivoli Garden, an amusement park in the middle of the city. It’s known as the one of the oldest theme parks ever built in the world. We also took the Copenhagen Canal tour where you get to see the city via boat. You’ll pass by historical landmarks and the famous Little Mermaid.
Vienna is probably the city I enjoyed the most. Not only because my family is there, but everything is just so picturesque and beautiful. Must visits are Belvedere, Schonbrunn Palace, Rathaus, and Wiener Riesenrad (ferris wheel). Transportation is also very efficient. In my opinion, they have one of the best transpot systems in the world (Seoul is still my best bet).
I also got to see the Wiener Alpen (Schneebergbahn), it’s a 1-hour drive from the city. You can get to the top of the mountain by riding the Salamander train. It has an awesome view and a great attraction to visit. I noticed that families visit this place for a weekend picnic. You can bring your own food or buy food and beer at the restaurant on the mountain. This part of my trip is not included in my costings since my uncle covered the expenses.
Salzburg is a must visit if you are into classical music. It’s known as the shooting location for the movie, The Sound of Music, and it’s also the birthplace of Mozart. Tip: buy a ticket for the hop-on hop-off bus, it really makes the experience convenient. Attractions are far from each other and commuting will be expensive. Also, if you really want to enjoy this place, stay for 2 days. A day here is not enough. Best time to visit is Spring.
Old town Bratislava is great because it’s compact and fun. You will see a lot of statues doing funny poses as you roam the area. Food here is really great. We were able to find a good restaurant in old town and enjoyed Slovakian cuisine.
I think the best and most tiring experience in Bratislava is visiting the castle. It rests on top of a hill which you need to climb for a good 20-minutes. I sweat this castle is worth every sweat. It’s so majestic that it’s my favorite castle. Yes, I liked it better than the ones I saw in Denmark and Austria.
Budapest also a good place to visit. The best view is of course, at the Budapest castle, where you’ll be able to see “Buda” and “Pest” which is separated by the river. I was a bit confused by the transport system, since the city runs on mostly trams. I prefer trains, since it’s easier to map your way through a city through subway. But important places were visited, so it’s okay.
If you go to Budapest, you have to visit the cathedral. When I entered, I was awestrucked (Yes, this is not a real word) when I saw the interior. It’s the most beautiful church I’ve seen. Also, I went up the cathedral observatory where you ride an elevator to the top of the church’s roof terrace and you can see a view of the city. There’s a fee for this, about 5 Euros or less.
I cannot stress how beautiful Prague is. A visit here should be at least 2 days. Transportation was easy, since my hostel was at the old town, near Charles Bridge. There are a lot of events and museums around that can be enjoyed.
This is where I first experienced a free walking tour. I got a flyer from my hostel front desk and just decided to join the tour in the morning. You’ll learn about the city’s history, culture, and roam around the old town during the 2-hour tour. I wasn’t tiring at all because we stopped every time we were somewhere important. I didn’t take a lot of pictures during the tour as it has sensitive parts where things stories about the world war was covered. Out of respect, I decided not to take photos.
Also a must visit is the Petrin Tower, their replica of the Eiffel Tower. It was small, but since I like going to Eiffel Tower replicas, I just had to go there.
I didn’t have much time to explore Berlin, as I only had half a day to spend there. I had an early bus ride back to Copenhagen. Never the less, I still enjoyed the this short stop. Of course, a visit in Berlin is not complete without seeing the Brandenburg gate. Aside from that, I just wandered around its vicinity.
Spent most of my time in Madame Tussauds wax museum. The highlight of this stop for me is seeing the One Direction wax figures and Star Wars exhibit. The geek in me was so happy.
I’m a bit iffy to share the planning costings I used because it’s been a long time since the trip and I had to recreate this from memory. I have my hotel bookings and bus ticket prices in tact, but i lost my day-pass tickets and food receipts. What I have here are just estimates.
For food, I generally go to groceries. Sometimes I try restaurant food but only when I really, really want to. A friend of mine spent Php 8,000 for 8 days in Italy and toured 12 cities. He was able to do so by planning carefully and saving-up on food by eating fruits and veggies. He was able to find a vegetarian pizza there too!
For city transportation, the ticket price and duration vary per city. Some cities offer 3-day and 24h passes. Some only offer a day pass which expires at a certain time, not 24h usage (this is Berlin, BTW). Budapest offers a group ticket, which is cheaper than buying individual ones. The most pricey ticket I bought is in Berlin (7 Euros), so I guess it’s safe to allocate that amount per day.
I actually spent about 25% less than than my estimated budget. During my trip, there were impromptu decisions/changes I did. I also didn’t spend much of my miscellaneous and food budget since I go to groceries for food and didn’t buy a lot of souvenirs.
Here are other things I learned while planning and during my trip to Europe. Hope these little details will be of help to you as well. 🙂
Water – During my trip from Copenhagen to Vienna, there was a stopover in Berlin. After I bought food at McDonald’s (because some things never change), I decided to stop by water for the rest of my trip as well. I just grabbed the cheapest 1 liter bottle I could find. This was a big mistake, because it turns out a lot of people there actually preferred carbonated water – which was what I bought. I didn’t know this because the label was all in German (huhuhu). My relatives explained this an told me that I should look for “Ohne” on the label. It means that it’s still water.
Condiments – I’m a big fan of condiments, especially ketchup. In the Philippines, you can easily ask for these for free, so it was a big shock for me to find out that you need to pay for these in Europe. Yes, you have to pay even if you ordered fries! So, to spare your change, just bring your own packets of condiments/ketchup, if you cant live without these.
Rice – By the end of my trip, I was pretty much craving for rice. Do you know where you should go? Your trusted fast food chain, KFC. Hahaha. They offer combo meals where you can have rice as a side dish! (Hoorah!)
Restrooms – It’s hard to find free-to-use restrooms in Europe, so you should always have coins ready to pay the maintenance fee.
Luggage – Limit your luggage to 10-15 kg. I’m serious with this one. It’s hard to drag your luggage on cobblestone streets, which is pretty much most of the old towns you’ll visit in Central Europe. If you really want to buy souvenirs, keep it at a minimum while your touring and splurge at the last stop, before checking-in at the airport. Bring a portable scale to measure your luggage and know if you can or can’t bring home anymore souvenirs.
Train, plane, or bus? – It depends on your priority. If you want a cheaper route, I suggest taking buses. If you want an efficient route, you can take a plane. Trains are usually the mid range, a bit more pricey than a bus, but it’s more comfortable. I used the GoEuro website to search and compare travel routes. They have prices too, and you can already book online. I mostly used Flixbus when I was traveling. I found out about it in GoEuro. To make things easier, I saved the Flixbus app and booked my tickets online. Tickets online are cheaper than the ones in the terminal. Also, the prices increase as the departure date nears, so I suggest to book them early.
Hotels / hostels – When applying for a visa, you need to submit hotel bookings. At first, this ruling makes no sense for me because booking costs money. Why spend money if you’re not yet sure you’re going to be granted a visa? The way around it is Booking.com. There are hotels/hostels here that allow free cancellations in a given time frame. You can search for hostels, budget hotels, and high-end ones here. Since my visa was approved, I didn’t need to cancel my bookings and used them during my trip.
Chocolates – Chocolates are generally cheap in Europe. Don’t forget to to stock-up.
That’s it! Let me know how your trip goes, okay? 🙂
For our last touring day in South Korea, we decided to keep it light since we had to pack the same day and leave early the next day.
Our first stop was Deoksung Palace. It’s one of the 5 palaces you can find in Seoul built in the Joseon times. This palace is very accessible to public transport. You just need to ride the metro and alight at City Hall station, then voila! You can see the palace across the city hall.
I liked this place since it’s compact. the grounds are not too big to explore and you can finish touring it in about 1 hour.
What’s unique about Deoksugung is that it has a western-style building (Seokjojeon) and garden with a fountain that looks like a European mansion. It’s a nice place to take photos. We also attended the changing of the royal guard ceremony at the palace gate. It’s similar to the one in Gyeongbukgung (which is a palace I visited in my previous Korea trips) but it’s more intimate because of its smaller scale.
Deoksugung has become quite popular with tourists recently due to it being one of the shooting locations for the drama, Goblin. Outside the palace walls, was where they shot the first time Kim Shin (Gong Yoo) saw his goblin bride, Ji Eun Tak (Kim Go Eun).
Our last stop for this trip is in Myeondong. We went back for last minute shopping and to visit the Seoul Global Center at M Plaza. Seoul Global Center is a tourist center where you can get info, books, flyers coupons, and attend Korean arts and crafts, and language classes. They also have a hanbok experience booth, which is what we wanted to do. M Plaza is beside the main entrance of Forever 21. Don’t miss it!
There are a lot of hanbok experience areas in Seoul which you can try. I think best ones are at the palaces, since you get to take pictures in the palace grounds wearing the Korean traditional costumes.
For Seoul Global Center, the hanboks are free and you can only take the pictures at their booth for 10 minutes, but the good thing about this place is that it’s not crowded. We didn’t have to wait to take our turn in the booth. You can borrow tripods there, too! It’s a good place to take pictures for an intimate number of people, say 2-4 persons. If you have a big group, I suggest to try K-Style Hub since they have a bigger platform and backdrops you can enjoy.
Started the day early again for our 6th day in South Korea because we headed for the neighboring city, Suwon. Suwon is the capital and largest metro of the Gyeonggi-do province, which surrounds Seoul. From general knowledge, this city is not usually part of the top destinations for first-time visitors of South Korea, since you can already do a lot in Seoul.
So, what did I came here for? I first found out about Suwon in Running Man Episode two, where they visited the Hwaseong Fortress, Suwon World Cup Stadium, and World Cup Memorial. Suwon being a Running Man location was already enough reason for me to go, but I was even more convinced when I found out the location set for Jewel in the Palace and Love in the Moonlight (Moonlight Drawn by Clouds) was also found here.
Suwon’s cultural sites are pretty easy to visit as they are within the vicinity of the Hwaseong Fortress. Since we only had a day to spend here, I had to prioritize certain sites visit and took out museum stops. Before your trip to Suwon, I suggest to pin the sites you’d like to see. Then, get a map from the Tourist Information center near Exit 4 of Suwon Station that would help you get around the area.
Our first stop was the Padalmun Gate, the southern gate of Hwaseong Fortress. This is the entrance used to get inside the Fortress. You have to pass-by this area since this is also the bus stop to Hwasong Palace.
Next is the Hwaseong Haenggung (Hwaseong Palace). I wasn’t used to the word “haenggung” as all the palaces in Seoul were called “gung”, so I looked it up. Apparently, a “haenggung” is a temporary palace where the king and royal family retreated to during a war. Hwaseong Haenggung Palace is the largest one of these that was used during the Joseon times.
We were lucky because we visited Hwasong Haenggung during their spring break season. We just found out that during this time, a lot of cultural places have promos or discounts for entrances to encourage people to visit. So we got in for free. Yehey!
NOTE: Our trip was from May 6-13. I guess if you want to have free entrances as well, you should go at this time. The downside of this schedule is that most likely there won’t be any cherry blossoms anymore as spring is already transitioning to summer.
Hwaseong Haenggung might be familiar for K-drama fans, as it is the filming location for the popular Korean period drama, “Jewel in the Palace”. Recently, it was also used by KBS to film the promotional video of “Love in the Moonlight” (also known as “Moonlight Drawn by Clouds”). It’s the one where Park Bo Gum was dancing to tune of “Boombastic”.
Next, we visited the Yeonmudae Post at the edge of Hwaseong Fortress. It’s another Running Man location (hahaha), but aside from that, I wanted to go here because they had the Korean archery experience (Gakgung).
I recently watched the Korean drama, Hwarang, so this attraction is something I really wanted to try. I was really excited because the you only need to pay 2,000 KRW (Php 90-100) for a 30 minute lesson. You’ll have to set a schedule on-site. They only have a few slots per session. The lesson was short and after which, you get to shoot 10 arrows. I hit the target 3 times! (Yeah!)
Before going home, we stopped by Suwon Stadium. This is also a Running Man location, a very famous one. Got to go inside as the entrance was open. There were staff cleaning the stadium and setting up goal posts. Preparations were being done for the FIFA U-20 World Cup that’s being hosted by South Korea this year from May 20 – June 11, 2017. Suwon Stadium is their largest stadium with a capacity of 42 thousand.