And so, we survived our first flight with a baby. It was an overnight flight, putting us in Seoul in the morning. Before we had kids, hubby and I would be up and running the moment we cleared immigration after an overnight flight. Excited about the full day of fun waiting for us ahead. But with a baby, nope. It was quite the opposite. For the first time, we realised how different travelling with and without a kid was.
Don’t be deceived by how happy MF looked in his winter jacket. He hated wearing layers and layers of clothes – which we struggled to put on for him at the airport before stepping out into the cold. And this act of putting on layers on clothes on a baby was going to torment us for the rest of the trip.
We took the bus to our hotel (Toyoko Inn Dongdaemun) and, quite exhausted by the overnight flight and putting on of clothes on MF, we requested for an early check-in. But the earliest they could give us the room was in about an hour’s time. So we went for brunch nearby. After brunch, we went back to the hotel to sleep until evening. Yup, we slept from brunch till dinner time. They’re not kidding when they say having kids will change the way you travel. In the evening, we met my Korean friend who brought us around Myeong Dong.
We had dinner at a small back-alley eatery which served fantastic food. Unfortunately the place was not baby friendly at all: Extremely cramp and no baby chair. Hubby and I took turns to carry MF while the other ate.
On our second day in Seoul, we visited Lotte World as planned. It was FANTASTIC! Mainly because most of the stuff were indoors and out of the bitter cold. If you’re headed to Lotte World, note that you get can discounted admission tickets from Klook.
Hubby and I had to take turns to take the rides while the other looked after MF, so we actually didn’t cover many rides.. That is the downside of bringing a baby to a theme park, we couldn’t enjoy the rides freely like we used to.
But Lotte World was a pretty kids-friendly theme park, and there were quite a lot of stuff that MF could do despite being less than a year old.
Although many of the attractions had height limit and MF was not allowed on them, there were just as many attractions that were catered for very young children, which made Lotte World an excellent theme park to visit with a young toddler!
My personal favourite was the Aeronauts Balloon Ride which was like a hot air balloon bringing us around for a view of the park. The queue for it was so long that MF fell asleep while waiting for our turn and missed out on the fun.
MF particularly enjoyed the parade at Lotte World. I appreciated that it was held indoors. Quite sure he wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much if it was held outdoors in the cold.
And the best place to be when visiting Lotte World with a baby or young toddler, is definitely Lotty’s Kidstoria! It is a large area with many soft-foam characters for babies and toddlers to climb around, and also a playscape for older kids to climb around (similar to what we get an the indoor playgrounds in Singapore).
I could easily have spent two whole days at Lotte World, there was so much to do there! It is the one place I really miss about Seoul, and I wish I can bring MF here again some day.. In summer that is, so that we can enjoy the Magic Island (the outdoor area of Lotte World) more!
Note that if you did not bring a stroller, you can rent one at Lotte World.
It was snowing in the morning, so we decided to stay in our hotel room in the morning as it was too cold to venture out. (MF was starting to have a flu already.) By the time we went out in the afternoon, it was too late to join the guided tours at Changdeokugung and Changyeonggung Palaces, so we decided to go to Gyeongbokgung instead to catch the change of guard parade.
MF was utterly bored (he fell asleep, and even the loud drumming from the change of guard parade could not wake him up!) and it was SUPER cold (don’t forget it was snowing in the morning).. Can’t say we enjoyed it much.
After touring the palace, we went to stroll around the nearby Samcheong-dong which is famous for the bukchon hanok village.
The place is definitely picturesque and worth a visit, but be prepared for some exercise. There were soooo many stairs to climb, and doing so with a baby was super tiring! I suggest you leave your stroller in the hotel if you are headed this way.
In the evening, my friend who brought us to a super famous Samgyetang (Korean ginseng chicken) restaurant called Tosokchon. They served the yummiest kimchi I have ever eaten! And the Samgyetang was so rich. Just thinking about it makes me hungry. But at that point in time, I didn’t have much time to enjoy the free flow of delicious kimchi, because we were dining tatami-style and MF was meddling with EVERYTHING on the table.
We went to Hello Kitty Town Restaurant and Amusement Park as planned. Again, a fantastic place to visit with kids and babies! MF had tons of fun at the playground there, despite most of the things being pink and girly.
Hello Kitty Town, located at Western Dom near Madu station, was a bit hard to find. However, someone has written a post with DETAILED instructions on how to get there after I came back, so you can refer to it now. 🙂
I tried to find out if MF could play for free, but everything on their website was in Korean! So I got my Korean friend to help me translate. Here is the information, as of December 2011:
- Hours of admission are from 11 a.m. till 9 p.m (Last orders 8 p.m)
- An entrance fee 7000won for kids (for 2hour/ extra charge for 30min-1000won)
- No charge for under 12months baby
- For adults, admission is free, but anybody who wants to entrance needs to order at least a drink.
Great! So MF didn’t have to pay to play there and we could stay all afternoon!
We were given one of the really pretty rooms surrounding the toddler’s play area. There was a TV monitor in the room for us to observe the play areas. And they even had an exersaucer in the room for babies to dine on – since high chairs didn’t quite gel with tatami dining.
When MF got bored of the toddler’s play area, he ran over to the older kids’ play area. Which totally reminded me of Singkids! MF didn’t mind the girlsh decoration. It was just another indoor playground to him.
Being a Hello Kitty fan, I tried to make MF take photos with the endless Hello Kitty decorations around, but he was totally not interested and kept running away.. SIGH. But I grabbed him and took a few anyway.
Overall, Hello Kitty Town is a great place to bring babies and kids to, definitely worth the long subway ride from Dongdaemun!
By the time we got back to Dongdaemun, it was dinner time and we decided to have Naengmyeon (which means, believe it or not, COLD NOODLES) for dinner! We were surprised that the restaurant (called Yookssam Naengmyeon) was PACKED, considering it was -4 degrees celsius outside. But after we ate, we could understand why. It was sooooo delicious! It is really unbelievable how comforting cold noodles can be on a winter night.
We decided visiting one palace was more than enough, and made a last minute decision to go to Everland instead. If you’re planning to visit Everland, note that you can purchase discounted tickets from Klook. You can even get return shuttle service from Seoul through them.
We didn’t know about Klook prior to our Korea trip. So we found our way to Everland the hardcore way. We took the subway to Jamsil station and transfered to bus 5800. (The bus stop to catch bus 5800 is in the middle of the road, near Jamsil Station exit 6.) The bus didn’t come very often, and we waited almost 20 min for it. The bus ride took about 50 min, and when we thought we had FINALLY arrived, we realized we were only at the bus terminal and still had to transfer to the resort shuttle bus to the amusement park!
When we reached the amusement park, the first thing we did was to rent a stroller.
Next, we headed for a nice warm place to have our lunch. While MF and I ate, hubby ran to get a ‘fast pass’ for the Safari World, only to realize that there was no ‘fast pass’ that day! So after lunch, we all headed straight for the Safari World, because we heard the queue is pretty long and we didn’t want to miss it. To get to the Safari World, we took the chair lift (called Human Sky) down.. It was a pretty scary experience, letting MF sit on a chair lift.. I was so worried he would fall! Thank goodness he sat pretty still throughout. One interesting thing about this chair lift was that they have a hook at the back so that you can bring the stroller down with you.
The queue for Safari World was long alright… And MF, as usual, fell asleep in the queue. As a result? He missed most of the animals, and only woke up right at the end to see the bears.
By the time we completed the Safari World tour, it was time for the parade. MF didn’t enjoy the parade here as much as the one at Lotte World, mainly because it was in the freezing outdoors.
After the parade, we were so frozen that we decided to just find a nice warm restaurant, sit around to defrost and have an early dinner. By the time we finished our dinner, it was dark outside, meaning even colder. So we decided to just go back to Seoul, especially since it was going to be a long ride back. As we were walking to the exit, we spotted a bright carousel, and couldn’t resist riding it.
As you can tell, we hardly did anything. I definitely wouldn’t recommend visiting Everland in Winter, for it was too cold and the sun sets too early. Coupled with the long journey it took to get to and fro Seoul and Everland, it really didn’t leave us much time to play. We probably would have had a lot more fun if it was a warm summer day! And next time I’m booking a shuttle service.
We had initially planned to visit Heyri Art Valley. But after spending a day at the freezing Everland, which had worsened MF’s flu, we didn’t want to be out in the open cold. We surfed the Korean Tourism Organisation website for places to go, and decided to check out 63 City (also called 63 Building) instead. It was a great decision, MF LOVED the aquarium there!
To get to 63 City, we followed the instruction on the KTO website:
- Take subway to Yeouinaru Station (subway line no. 5), Exit 4.
- Look for the bus stop with the 63 Building bus sign board to take the free shuttle. (About 80m away from exit 4.)
At 63 City, we visited 63 Sea World. The name ‘Sea World’ makes me think of Sea World at Gold Coast Australia, but nope, not even close.. This Sea World is just a small aquarium.. And when I say aquarium, don’t imagine something along the lines of Sydney Aquarium or S.E.A. Aquarium either… It was much smaller.
However, it was MF’s first visit to an aquarium and he LOVED it. We had a great time going around the various tanks and watching MF squeal in delight as the fishes, penguins and seals swam past him. The penguins were particularly memorable. We were able to get so close to them that one of them started chewing on MF’s sweater as we were taking photos!
Anyway it was totally not MF’s cup of tea as he dozed right off. The weather wasn’t great when we were there so… can’t say he missed much.
For dinner, we decided to head back to our hotel and try the famous Jangchung Jokbal nearby.
On hindsight, if I were to visit Seoul again with a baby or kid, some of the things I would do differently would be to:
- Go in summer. The winter in Seoul is extremely harsh and daylight hours are too short.
- Stay at a hotel near Jamsil Station for easy access to Lotte World and Everland.
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