Our five day trip to Seoul, South Korea was our first international family trip since the pandemic.
In the two years that had passed, Paul had turned from a crawling infant to a walking, talking pre-schooler. Hannah had learned to read, and Mati moved up from kindergarten and was entering Grade 1.
We won a contest sponsored by BonChon Chicken Philippines last year, and the prize was a 4D/3N trip for four. Since there were still travel restrictions, we chose to get the cash equivalent, with a plan to just go on our own when things get better. (And we are a family of five, after all hehe. Can’t leave Paul.)
When Korea opened up with a lot of conditions, we took the chance and didn’t regret it. Seoul is one of the most kid-friendly and tourist-friendly places for a young family.
Here is our itinerary below if you want to check out what we did (and what we planned)
Afternoon flight from Manila to Seoul
Arrived at Seoul 7pm
Took the mandatory PCR test for everyone at the testing center just outside the airport doors (cross the sidewalk and choose between the east or west testing center). Note: the test is a bit steep at about 80,000 krw per person (approx P3,300, kids not exempted) but it also made us feel safer traveling around the city. It’s a relief to know that the tests will be waived soon as they are so expensive and time consuming!
Had dinner at the airport, we booked a private van and checked in to our hotel at Hotel 28 Myeongdong. More about the hotel in future posts, cannot recommend it enough!
Seoul Grand Children’s Park
This is an amazingly huge park dedicated for children. It took us about 30 minutes to get there from our hotel via subway (Achasan Exit – Children’s Park Main Gate). Since the kids were fresh from a good night’s rest, we figured it was a great way for them to be exposed to public transportation and looking at maps and figuring out which way to go.
Our first stop was a playground which was simply amazing! They don’t make playgrounds like this here in the Philippines, unfortunately. The kids spent almost an hour before it was time to make our way to the Seoul Grand Children’s Park Zoo. The zoo is inside the park and divided into different areas.
What shocked me first of all was that they didn’t sell tickets to the zoo, it was just free! And there was a decent variety of animals to see. I felt sorry for the elephant and wild cats as the space didn’t seem to be big enough for them, but the zoo was well-maintained and very clean.
Tip: Bring a stroller if your kids aren’t used to walking. We purposely didn’t bring one because it would cause a “discussion” between our kids on who gets to ride it, and we wanted to train our kids to just go with the flow and deal with everything that comes with traveling.
Take note also, there are no restaurants inside the Seoul Grand Children’s Park. There are a lot of small stalls selling snacks, so it’s a good idea to bring a picnic lunch (which we didn’t) if you plan on going there. We assumed there were restaurants inside the park, so we had to go back through the Main Gate and go to Sejong University across the road.
Seoul Children’s Museum
I wrote a separate post about the Seoul Children’s Museum here, which was easily one of the highlights of our trip!
Part of our itinerary was to hit Common Grounds Seoul for their modern coffee and snack shops and Instagrammable blue containers, but the kids were just exhausted from the day’s fun activities that we took a cab back to the hotel. Tip: Download Kakao Taxi and get a wifi device from the airport on your first day to save yourself trouble from hailing taxis!
After a long nap (for both the kids and adults!) we had dinner at Din Tai Fung at our hotel’s 2nd floor (so convenient, and hotel guests get a 20% discount), and walked over to the Nanta Theater, Myeongdong.
Here’s a review of the Nanta show, which we absolutely loved!
Morning at Gyeongbukgang Palace
Afternoon around Myeongdong
Evening at DDP
Starfield Library and COEX Aquarium
Seoul Children’s Grand Park (South Entrance)
Seoul Children’s Grand Park Amusement Park
Double Deck Hop On Hop Off
Seoul Namsan Tower