Our recent trip to Bali brought unexpected and unplanned opportunities to explore yet another country we had yet to visit, Korea.
I find that sometimes, the best opportunities to cure your wanderlust are the ones that happen by chance and our day in South Korea happened because we turned what could have been an awfully long layover into a day full of exploration.
If you are ever traveling to Asia, I highly recommend that you try to stopover in Inchon, a large hub for travel in and out of Asia. We were completely impressed with the thought put into the design and amenities offered in the airport for transit travelers. We not only had free wi-fi (a given nowadays in most airports) but a place to get a free hot shower (where they provided us with free soaps and towels) and a hotel within the airport where you could rent a room by the hour.
And, perhaps the best opportunity, were the free tours of Inchon and Seoul subsidized by the government.
Being from a place where tourism is the number one industry, it was fascinating for me to see what the South Korean government is doing to try to promote tourism to the country.
As long as you have your previous boarding pass, upcoming boarding pass, and passport you can exit the airport and sign up for tours based on the amount of time that you have before your next flight. We had a 9 hour layover, which ended up being enough time for two tours.
We met with a group of five or six other travelers and hopped on a bus with our personal tour guide (free!) who took us to one of the temples in Inchon. While brief, and cold, it was a great way for us to get a taste of the design of a Korean temple.
On our second tour of the day, we got back on the bus and explored a park full of examples of traditional Korean style houses and, my favorite stop, a covered street mall. On top of already being a completely free tour, they provided us with coupons to use so that we could sample some of the street foods–a genius idea given that most people wouldnʻt exchange money just for a few hours out in the city.
The tours were led by retirees who speak English and were interested in sharing their love for their country with visitors.
They gave us some free time to wander around the street shops and interact with the shopkeepers and get a taste of Korea.
They were making Korean Fried Chicken…
Pajeon–Fried Pancakes with Chives
One of Danielʻs favorites that we tried–dukbboki–rice cakes in a spicy sauce.
A variety of fish cakes, vegetables and crab, battered and fried.
Korea has always been on our list of places that weʻd like to visit but now that we had just a taste of what a vacation in Korea could be like itʻs even higher on our list of upcoming vacation spots.
Kudos to the Korean Tourism Office who has expertly enticed us to come back and play. Until next time Korea…