Category: Got Money Got Honey

GMGH’s Top 12 LEGIT Korea Travelling Tips

I don’t know about you, but I searched the internet for travel tips for Korea and I got really stupid tips. As someone who just came back from a 14 day trip to Korea and can actually speak (some) Korean, I’d like to share with you my LEGIT tips about Korea!

1. You don’t NEED to buy any special train ticket to get from Incheon Airport to Seoul
Just like Narita-Tokyo which has the Skyliner train, Incheon-Seoul has the AREX which is a 43 minute non-stop train for 8,000 won ($10 SGD). However, this requires a special ticket. You do get your own seat,overhead space for belongs and luggage storage areas in each train car though.
Guess how long is the normal all-stop line that doesn’t need a special ticket? 53 minutes. It’s only 10 minuets longer, the fare is half the price at 3,950 won ($5 SGD) and you don’t need to bother with getting any special tickets. To compare it with the Narita-Tokya Skyliner, that service cuts travel time from 2 hours to 45 minutes. Very big difference, in my opinion.

A major advantage of NOT taking the AREX is that you also don’t need to take the line all the way to Seoul Station, which is especially useful if you are staying West of the station or along the central green circle line (line 2) because the all-stop station stops at Hongik, which is a transfer station to line 2.

Of course, if you really really want to have a seat the whole trip, have freaking a lot of baggage, don’t mind paying double the fare, need to go to Seoul Station straight and don’t mind bothering yourself a bit to buy the special tickets, you could take the AREX. I find myself hard-pressed to think of a situation where I would be doing that.
2. You need a good metro app, download THIS ONE
Seoul is freaking huge and it has TONS of metro stations and lines. It has 9 MAIN lines, the airport line and 8 auxiliary lines. It has a freaking a lot of lines. 
Pretty much everywhere you want to go or can go, you would take the metro and just walk. And because the metro is so dense, you probably don’t need to walk more than 10-15 mins from the station to get to wherever you want to go.
You do not really want to take a bus, but if you really have to, you’ll probably be only taking it once or twice (the opposite direction), so I don’t really think there’s a need for a bus app. You’ll be taking the metro several times a day. You need a good metro app.
I strongly recommend Subway Korea (android link). Why? It has English, Korean, Chinese and Japanese translations of the app and station names, and it also has the metro lines in not only Seoul, but also Busan, Daejeon, Daegu and Gwangju! And with the timings, fares, station exits and recommended routes. It’s freaking dope. This is hands down the best metro app I’ve used of all the cities I’ve been to!
3. For transportation, only get the T-MONEY card!
In Korea, there are quite a few transport cards and passes available. Sensepass, Hankkumi, POP, Upass, Mybi, cashBee, 3S, Hanaro, Mpass, Seoul Citypass… I’m telling you straight, unless you have a very special reason to get some other card or pass, ONLY GET T-MONEY. From my understanding, T-money is the only card that can be used on all the metro lines and buses in all the cities in Korea. Many of the others are region-specific (lol, Pokemon vocabulary?). Just get a T-money card and you can pretty much go anywhere and take anything in any city.*
*at least, I think so!
4. Ditch Google, use NAVER (if you know Hangeul)
Naver has 72% market share, Google has… 2%
If you have been searching for stuff on Google maps in Korea, you would have known by now that their map support is very lacking. Why? I hear it is because Korea does not want Google to have such a good map of their country because of North Korea.
Which is weird, since Naver maps is super awesome. I actually like Naver maps more than Google maps. They have aerial views, which are pretty cool! But I digress. Because Naver maps are more detailed, complete and updated, it’s a heck of a lot easier finding locations, addresses and routes.
Naver is Korea’s Google and things work slightly a bit different on it. Strangely, there are no aggregated websites for people to review food (like Yelp in the US, or even like HGW or Burpple in Singapore). Instead, they have BLOGS. Seriously, it’s weird, but that’s just how things are in Korea. If you want to find really good places to eat, you are going to have to search through blogs on Naver. The good thing is that any restaurant that is good and worth visiting 100% has a Naver blog post on it. If you’re going to somewhere that doesn’t even have one, you’re asking for trouble.
5. Outside of touristy areas, you are going to need to know *some* Korean

very important phrase when talking to Korean girls
I swear, there are some places in Korea where you can get by entirely speaking in Mandarin. There are even specific areas (Myeongdong) and shopping malls (Lotte FITIN) which have tons of Mandarin speaking staff, which of course caters to all Chinese people, mainlanders or otherwise. Even signage there is in Chinese rather than English! Of course, all the touristy hotspots are going to have multi-lingual support (what is this, an app? lol), but they are mostly tourist traps.
However, if you are travelling out of Seoul or hunting down secret special spots away from the regular tourist spots (Common Ground y’all basic bitches, half of the people there are from Singapore taking pictures with the blue containers? hokay, can), chances are that “English is not supported”. Unless you have studied or bothered to learn some Korean before your trip, you might have problems. While a phrasebook is better than nothing, a translator is going to really help you out here. You can just type or speak what is on your mind, let it translate, and you can tap the speech icon to make your phone read out the Korean that you most probably can’t read. Although you are probably not going to understand their reply, at least the conversation is now 50% comprehendable instead of 0%, haha! 
Again, Naver kicks Google’s butt in this category. They have a phone app called Papago which is MANY MANY times better than Google Translate. As a Korean learner, you have got to trust me when I say that Korean is downright the hardest language I have learnt when it comes to translations (I have studied 5 languages). There are so many omissions and subtle nuances, literal phrases that have a different intended meaning… it’s a mess! Papago does a much better job than Google Translate, but like I said, Korean is a really tough language to translate. The bright side is that English-> Korean translations work out a lot better than Korean-> English ones. So if you are using a translator to communicate your intentions, it should work out.
6. Learn Hangeul, the Korean alphabet. I swear, it takes only 2 hours

Ice Cream. Hamburger. Hot Dog. Pizza. Pasta. Baguette. Orange. Peach. Banana. Pineapple. Coffee. Americano. Latte. Mocha. Chocolate. Coke. Supermarket. Mart. Apartment. Card. News. Shopping. Bus. Taxi. 
Do you know what all these words have in common? In Korean, they are pronounced the same, or very similar! In fact, there are many words that are written in Korean that sound the same in English and has the same meaning as the English word. However, if you can’t read Hangeul, you’d have no clue about all these signs and words everywhere that are actually really easy to understand!
A bonus fun fact is that this is English-Korean hack also works for Chinese-Korean! If you are a Mandarin speaker, you are going to realize that tons of Korean words are actually from Chinese. However, the pronunciation varies a bit larger for Chinese-Korean words.
化妆室 is a makeup room, which is literally a makeup room for Korean girls lol (and toilet for men)
图书馆 is the library and sounds 90% the same in Korean
In fact, many of the historical places in Korea has direct word to word translations in Chinese. The famous seaside temple in Busan is 해동 용궁사 (hae dong yong gung sa), which is 海东龙宫寺 (hai dong long gong si) which is of course also directly translated to the East Ocean Dragon Palace Temple. 
Hangeul is made up of only 40 different sound blocks. It is a created writing system, meaning that there are some very logical and functional features to the alphabet, and they even LOOK like what they sound. Take the word “Banana” for example. 바나나. Can you guess what the “a” sound is?  ㅏ is the “a” sound! ㅂ is the “b” sound and ㄴ is the “n” sound! See, I just taught you 3/40 of the Korean alphabets is like 20 seconds.
Hangeul has been routinely nominated by many linguistics as the easiest written language in the world. The King who created it has been popularly quoted to have said “A wise man can acquaint himself before the morning is over; a stupid man can learn it over 10 days”. 
I self-taught myself how to read some Korean over the internet perhaps 6 years ago, and for my first trip to Korea, even without ever going to any classes or practicing, after just 2 days of looking at all the station names on the metro, I could remember the alphabet and recognize a lot of words and sounds!
Although this is actually my TOP TIP, I know that 90% of people are not going to bother with this, especially if it’s just a short trip, less than a week, and if they have no plans to re-visit again. However, I think knowing Hangeul really enhances the Korea experience by multitudes and pushes you from clueless tourist to a cultural explorer!
7. If you see a waste basket beside the toilet bowl, even in the men’s room, throw your used toilet paper in there
This one was really a big shocker for me. I know that this happens in China and even Taiwan, where the plumbing system is not good enough to flush down toilet paper and gets clogged by even toilet paper ever so often. 
For me, it’s hard to wrap my brain around the fact that there are MANY MANY places in Korea that do not have sufficient flush power to handle toilet paper, so they have to separate toilet paper and poop. It’s also kind of disgusting, but oh well.
Anyway, yeah, throw your used toilet paper into that waste basket. The last thing you’d want is for your crap to backflow out of the toilet. It’s not so bad if you are in an apartment (still quite bad though), but the worst would be in those small restaurants. It would be freaking embarrassing to the max. You would have brought many great shame and dishonour to your family. Shame. Shame!
8. Know where your toilets are
On a related note, you should always know where your toilets are. Unlike Singapore where it is easy to pop into any shopping centre and use the restroom, shopping centres aren’t on every street in Korea.
Surprisingly, all metro stations will have a toilet and every metro station toilet that I have used has had very acceptable toilet standards!
Of course, shopping centres will have them. Not all restaurants and F&B have their own toilets, and it is not unusual to have to walk some distance to a shared toilet by all the surrounding businesses. 
Remember, the 3 magical words of hwa jang shil, 화장실, 化妆室 will be your best friend. It’s okay, you don’t even need to make a full sentence. Just say that those words and raise the tone at the end, give your shoulders a shrug and have a confused face! Then follow their hand actions to the nearest toilet! 
9. Calling people the right way
Unless you are going for the HEY IM A TOURIST style, it would be best to call people in the right way, instead of “HEY HEY DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH?”. Even if you can only start the sentence in Korean and say the rest in English, they are going to be a lot happier, nicer and patient to help / talk to you!
Personally, I use the flattering rule of minus one. It’s not a real rule. I just made it up on the spot. But basically, whatever you think the person is, just minus one to their “title”.
An old grandmother (halmoni) -> call her ahjumma
A middle aged lady (ahjumma) -> call her yi-mo (aunt)
An old grandfather (hallaboji) -> call him ahjuhssi
A middle aged man (ahjuhssi) -> call him saam-chon (uncle)
If you are under 20, you can also go another level lower by calling people in their 20s as older brother (oppa for girls, hyung for guys) or older sister (unni for girls, noona for guys)!
For people same age or younger, just a simple “Excuse me” to get their attention is usually good. It rhymes a bit like Tokyo, but it’s chor-ki-yo 저기요 .
10. Enable M1 Data Passport if you are on M1, it is freaking awesome 
I have a local monthly data plan of 7GB. With just $10 freaking measly bucks, I can use all that data in Korea without having to deal with any SIM card nonsense. Screw those wifi eggs. You need them to be charged to use them as well! Unless you are travelling in a group (which I think the wifi eggs might also have data and speed caps), getting this kind of ultra cheap data roaming is the way to go. Let’s see the plan by other carriers. 
Singtel Ready Roam – 1GB for 30 days, $20, 11 APAC countries
Starhub DataTravel – 2GB for 30 days, $15, 9 APAC countries
Starhub DataTravel – 3GB for 30 days, $20, 9 APAC countries
Compared to M1 Data Passport, $10 for 7GB (because of my regular monthly plan), I think we can safely say that Singtel is absolute shit while Starhub is only half shit and M1 is golden.
Data Passport is the BEST thing about M1, and it is the only reason that is keeping me from switching telecomm carrier.


11. Convert money quickly – Rule of 1000 and 20% 
Having to deal with other currencies is always a pain. You could pop out your smartphone and pull up your currency app or calculator, but I find that the quickest way to give you a fairly accurate estimate is using the rule of 1000 and 20%.
You just divide the amount by 1000 and add 20% to it to get the value in SGD.
Let’s use the tickets to Lotte World (the amusement park) which costs 52,000 won as an example.
52,000 won
Divide by 1000 to get 52
Add 20% and get about 62
Using spot FX rate, you get $64.71, but you get what I mean. Not perfect, but really, good enough.
12. Bring your passport if you are going shopping
Korea has their own version of GST. Most proper shops, especially those in the tourist areas will allow you to claim immediate tax refund, but only if the total amount is more than 30,000 won (~ $37 SGD). If you bring your passport, they will give you the refund immediately and you can save the time and hassle of claiming the tax refund at the airport and then packing it into your luggage there!
I had a freaking great time in Korea. In fact, it has been one of my best holidays to-date, up there with Japan and New Zealand

Korea can be a bit daunting because of it’s very distinct culture and different language. However, it is a very modernised country, crime is low and people are friendly enough. Arm yourself with my tips and you won’t be the most noob, I promise!

Anyway, I hope that my tips are useful to you if you are planning to go to Korea soon. Let me know which tip you are going to use, and if you guys have another good tips about Korea to share! 

Travelling is Cheap if you are

What would you do if you won the $12 million TOTO jackpot?”Oh, I would have a big party, buy 2 nice condos, live in 1 and rent out the other, then I will go and travel the world!”That’s nice. But why can’t you travel now?”Travelling is EXPENSIVE. I can…

GMGH’s Holiday To Korea!

(I’m going to try to follow the format I did for my last NZ trip and Japan trip!)

Like I mentioned in January, I went for a nice vacation over the long Chinese New Year holiday this year. I’m now back in Singapore and I’m missing the lovely cool winter weather. The mystery destination this time was probably not hard to guess at all… Korea!

서면 Seomyeon, where all the hip people get drunk in Busan 부산


Just like Japan, the first thing that pushed me to select Korea was the crazy, unbelievably good priced tickets that I managed to snag.

Actually, I had already planned to go to Korea for quite some time and I knew that tickets to Korea typically cost about $700-900. I was just browsing through the dates and options about 3 months in advance in October to travel in January (yes, that’s how long ago I’ve been preparing and anticipating to go to Korea) and then I saw this CRAZY deal!

I managed to get a return flight on Thai Airways, with a stopover at BKK both ways, and an additional technical stop at HK on the way back, with 30kg check-in baggage allowance and onboard meals included for an absolutely ridiculous bargain basement price of… $354.90. Yup, that’s right. Dirt cheap? I think so, especially considering how far away Korea is!

I found my ticket using Kayak and Skyscanner, as usual, and I booked direct with Thai Airways because they had the best price.


Usually when I travel alone, I do not stay in hotels. For me, I don’t like paying a premium for a room and extra facilities which I’m barely going to be in or to enjoy at all. Therefore, I usually prefer to stay in cheaper options, like hostels. Hostels in Korea are plentiful, so I decided to stay in hostels (only if they had private rooms) and motels. Although staying in a private room is definitely way more expensive than staying in multiple beds shared dorm rooms, I value the security of my belongings and I like to have everything out in a very organized mess, so I went with private rooms.

I managed to stay in 4 different accommodations (5 if you count my overnight stay in the spa), 2 motels and 2 private hostel rooms. The weighted average rating for my accommodations was 9.16 based on Agoda and 9.21 based on All of them had fantastic locations, less than 3 minutes walk from the metro station. I only had 1 issue, which was that one of the motels didn’t have hot water for a particular night, so I only could take a shower the next morning. But meh, small issue.

So for my 14 nights, I spent a grand total of – get this – $519.19, or an average of $37 per night for private rooms.


This wasn’t my first time to Korea, but I think I wasn’t too aware and just blur the last time I went. I didn’t realize just how big the Seoul metro was, and also about the metro lines in the other cities! Of course, I took the metro and walked most of the time, though I did take buses, but not too often.

I got myself a T-money card (don’t get the other cards, I’ll explain in another post!) and throughout my entire 14 day trip, I spent 53,700 KRW ($65 SGD) on all metro travelling, which works out to about $5 a day. This is cheap! I remember that Tokyo was twice as expensive!

T-money is for inter city transportation. Since I flew into Busan and flew out from Seoul, I had to make my way across the country myself, and the natural choice is of course to take the KTX. I booked my tickets in advance online, so it was all very smooth and easy peasy. With 1 pit-stop, my journey across the country was just 60,100 KRW ($75 SGD)!

I spent A LOT of time walking when I was in Korea. I walked a total of 143km over the course of 14 days, which works out to about 10km a day. Cabs aren’t that expensive, but I still felt like everything was rather nearby, I wasn’t rushing to places, so I just had nice walks in the cool winter weather!

Sightseeing / Activities

When I told people that I would be in Korea for 14 days, they all told me that it was way too long and I was going to get bored. All these people were wrong because I was doing different things in Korea every single day and I still have things that I didn’t manage to see or do, don’t even talk about eat!

I skipped quite a bit of the usual touristy stuff. The palace in the middle? Nope. The DMZ? Nope. Hanok Village? Nope. Namsan Tower? Nope. (Well, maybe next time I’ll go with a special someone and do the lock thing, hur hur)

I do like city views and managed to get some good views from Naksan Park 낙산공원, which is free, but nice! I was actually feeling a bit under the weather, if not I would’ve wanted to walk the whole park!

The thing about Korea that is quite different from my other trips is that I have quite a number of friends living in Korea. Instead of doing all the usual touristy stuff, I opted instead to hang out with my friends and do things that are a bit less touristy and that they would also enjoy too, instead of feeling like they are chaperoning me around! In the end, I ended up eating… A LOT and also ended up at karaokes every other day! Haha!

Picture time!

감천문화마을 Gamcheon Cultural Village in Busan

해동 용궁사 East Sea Dragon Temple

오룍도 Oryukdo Skywalk

광안리 Gwanganli Beach

해운대 Haeundae Beach

달맞이 Dalmaji Road
문탠로드에서 해월사 Haewoljeong Pavilion on Moontan Road

 해운대 전통시장 Haeundae Traditional Market

 롯대월드 Lotte World Amusement Park… it was WAY more crowded than it looks here

 DDP LED 장미 Dongdaemun Design Plaza LED Roses

Ridiculous thing at Gangnam 강남

 노량진 시장 Noryangjin Fish Market

 광장시장 Gwangjang Market

 홍대 밤 Hongdae in the evening

낙산 공원 야경 Naksan Park night view

Food and Drinks

Of course, what kind of shit Singaporean would I be if I didn’t go over to other countries and raided their food supplies?

Ready for my take on Korean food? Way better and way cheaper than in Singapore! This is very very different from Japanese food in Japan. In Japan, what I personally felt was that whatever I could get in Japan, I could get something of very similar quality in Singapore, with pretty much the same price or – dare I say it – even cheaper than in Japan.

However, this is surprisingly very wildly different in Korean. Korean food across the board was cheaper than any Korean food that you can get in Singapore and the quality and taste was significantly better. Korea does lack a variety of food when it comes to the budget category (under $5, or 4000 KRW), but all my restaurant meals were very affordable, kept firmly between the $10 and $20 range. This means a proper table setting, with side dishes, real utensils, wait service and access to restrooms. I kept wondering what the monthly rental and workers wages were whenever I ate at restaurants.

Korean food suits my tastebuds well because I can eat spicy food and I enjoy the occasional drink with my meals, which Koreans do fantastically well for dinners! While most people think of Korean food as “Saba Fish Set”, “Chicken / Pork / Beef Bulgogi Set”, “Kimchi Stew with Ramen Noodles” along with side dishes of ikan bilis and like a bite of kimchi, and the better ones can say budaejjigae 부대찌개 Army Stew, the reality is that there are lots of Korean food and I had the immense pleasure of tasting lots of them!

Never failing me, one of my best meals in Korea was Shake Shack in Gangnam. Yeah, that’s right. American burgers in Korea was one of my best meals! The experience was way better than in Japan because the queue was much, much, much shorter, the seating area was quite big and the food was orgasmic as usual. Perhaps the 2 most interesting things that I ate were 번대기 silkworm pupa and 곰장어 hagfish. Tasty… is debatable, but it was for the experience!

Anyway, I’ll let my pictures do the talking for the rest of my food.

오겹살 Five-layered Fat Pork, like the zhng version of samgyeopsal

떡볶이하고 순대 Rice Cakes and Blood Sausages… this ahjumma said I’m very handsome, heh

족발 Pig Trotters – Original and Spicy

번데기 Silkworm pupae, mmm nom nomz

 섞어국밥 Pig Innards Rice Soup
 새우만두하고 찜만두 Prawn and Steam Dumplings

 해물파전하고 막어리 Seafood Pancake with Makeoli

 부산 코라사 어묵 Famous Busan Fishcakes
 전복 해물 된장찌개 Abalone Seafood Spicy Beanpaste Soup
왕갈비탕 King Beef Ribs Soup

 곰장어 Bear Eel, or Hagfish (quite gross looking, fyi)

 동래파전 Dongnae Pancakes and Makeoli

 샤브샤브 Shabu Shabu

치즈 가리비 Cheesy Seashells (Shellfish)
 게장 Fermented Salty Crabs
부대찌개 Army Stew is pretty common food, but this one was freaking delicious
 칼국수 Thick Cut Noodles, apparently North Korean style

 섹섹 Shake Shack. Jizzed my pants while eating this

 명동교자칼국수 Apparently really famous Thick Cut Noodles in Myeong Dong

 닭갈비 Chicken Ribs at… Yoogane lol. It’s more than 50% cheaper than in SG
 전 전 전 전 Lots of different types of panckes, re-fried and served piping hot!

I’m having some technical difficulities uploading some picutres, so that is all that you can get! I’m sure it should be enough to make you feel hungry though, especially if you crave nice, warm and comforting soups!

My Bill

Airfare: $354.90
Accommodation: $519.19
Transport (Inter City): 60,100 ($75 SGD)
Transport (Intra City): 53,700 ($65 SGD)
Food: 477,600 ($578 SGD)
Attractions, Entertainment, Drinks, Misc: 86,700 ($105 SGD)

Total: $1,697.09

I don’t know if it’s a fair way to do this, but I signed up for the SCB Singpost Card just so that I could eat the $138 cash credit by using it to pay for the airfare and other stuff. I think I wouldn’t be too wrong to attribute the $138 to offset my spending, since I only got the card to buy the tickets and get the cash credit, haha!

My actual spending for the trip was $1,560! (rounded up from $1,559.09)

So there you have it, a 2 week trip to a winter country where I stayed in good, well-located, private room accommodations and I ate like a freaking boss, all on a very friendly budget!

This was really one of my better trips. I think I was decently well-prepared and I managed to fill up my entire 14 day schedule with loads of food, activities and friends! I’m proud to say that I only repeated 1 meal my entire trip! That means I really ate a ton of different food!

Korea was a fantastic holiday for me. I’m quite sure that I am going to head back again within the next 2 years, to catch up with friends, to eat more delicious food and to explore other areas that I haven’t been to (like the Palace? HAHA I’m such a bad tourist)! But then again, even just a chill trip away to escape the Singapore heat and to bum around with friends and good food is always a good idea!

I have maybe 1 or a few more follow up posts about my Korea trip coming up next, so stay tuned for that! Comment or let me know if you have any questions!

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