Tag Archives: Seoul

National Folk Museum of Korea and The Children’s Museum

When traveling, immerse your family in the country’s history and pop culture for cheap or for free by visiting the local museums! I absolutely love educational trips with my kids because they experience concepts uniquely outside the walls of the classroom. Going on museum visits in fine weather is definitely a plus, too!

We took a taxi from our hotel, Ibis Myeongdong, which costed us a few thousand won. We learned that it is more convenient for us to use the taxi vs the subway because we were a family of 4 travelling with 2 kids. It actually may even be more cost-effective.

The day we decided to stroll the National Folk Museum it rained so it was cooler compared to the unusual hot weather Seoul was experiencing last month. Good thing we brought rain gear or we would’ve been stranded for at least an hour!


TRAVEL TIP: Check weather forecast for the days you are planning to be outdoors. Always bring a travel-sized umbrella and hooded jackets for you and your tots. Alternatively, you may choose to borrow an umbrella from your hotel concierge. It just might pour and proper gear will save you from getting drenched and stuck. Being prepared will save you precious travel time!

If you didn’t get to bring drinks with you, just by the entrance you will find vendo machines underneath a canopy of trees where you can also choose to rest after your museum trip.

From the main entrance, expect to walk 5-10 minutes (depending on how fast you walk!) until you get to the main structure. Since it was raining, they canceled the change of guards which is what we wanted to see. So, we decided to look around the grounds and then later on, whichever features they had inside the museum.

Just outside the main museum entrance was stone statues of the 12 Zodiac Signs.

“The Twelve Zodiac Signs have close ties with everyday life of Koreans, including the notion of time and directions in astronomy and the calendar as well as fortune telling, naming a baby, fixing a date and foretelling the fate and marital harmony.” – See more here. Apparently, the General Director of the museum had many studies on the subject matter plus books on the Zodiac Signs published!

Santi was delighted to pose with his Chinese zodiac animal, The Boar. He was born in year 2007 which makes him a golden fire pig. This special sign only comes once in every 600 years so they say that people born during that year are very lucky. I believe so! On his 8th birthday month, Santi got to travel to Hong Kong and Korea. What a lucky little boy!

Maya admiring her Chinese zodiac sign, the Horse. It’s special that she has the same zodiac signs as her Dad. They are both Piscean Horses!

And I get to have a photo with my sign too, The Dog!  

I was amazed at this magnificent calendar in the middle of the statues. It is in Korean so I couldn’t read what it says but I imagine it to be some kind of special lunar calendar?

And then we proceeded indoors to see what interesting exhibits they had. Stars were definitely aligned in my behalf!

Because we were in Samsung-land, multi-media presentations were everywhere.

Baby with Dad in traditional Korean outfit!  If they were babywearing, that would’ve been real awesome.

A message from the divine that day..  

NATIONAL FOLK MUSEUM

Cost: Free

Audio guide rental (optional) : 1,000 won

There are free available wheelchairs for elderly or disabled and infant strollers for use.

Address: 37 Samcheong-ro, Jongno-gu, 서울특별시 South Korea
Contact No. +82 2-3704-3114

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And then the next area was miraculously the Children’s Museum! My Waldorf-schooled child was drawn to the children’s theatre room playing cartoons in the entrance. LOL! (Waldorf Schools do not encourage TV and gadgets like the IPad)

After letting him sit in for 5 minutes, we proceeded to the main exhibit. Looking at the photo below, can you guess what it’s all about? A full exhibit on POOP! Yes, the Koreans seem to love toilet humor. They’ve found a way to merge education with our toilet business.

The Scoop On Poop is the exhibition title. What a catchy one!

A vintage contraption of their bedwetting solution. Santi tries it out. I wish there were long enough english translations for me to understand the descriptions!

“Ewww. pigs eat your poo?”, Santi asked

“Yup, that’s why I don’t eat pork. Their meat is dirty!”, I replied hoping to have made my point very clear.
  Santi squats and sees poop with the pigs below. Oh, technology!

Sit on your throne! And do you read that, “WHAT DOES POO TASTE LIKE?!?” Oh my….can someone translate to me what it says?!

Poop carrying Santi. “When flushing toilets weren’t invented, you had to carry your poop out to the field”, I explained to Santi. I hope he got the message on how challenging life was before!

My parents and I indulge in poop humor. Poop clouds over our heads. Thank God for such cool, grandparents!

Poopy cartoons

The olden day ways of wiping yourself clean. Interesting inforgaphic for young ones!

 After viewing the exhibit, we exited into a maze around this giant robotic structure. If it weren’t wet from the rain, Santi would’ve loved to hang out and play.

 And onto the Old Korea town. A whole alley filled with blast from the past structures and things.

No electricity required fire for cooking and heat. Firewood was essential in every household. It seems we lack this element in modern times.

Freezing this moment with Maya who was 1 year and 3 months old at the time photo was taken.  

Santi’s famous kung-fu pose. Maybe he thinks Korean’s invented Kung-fu. I should correct him LOL!


  

After all the walking, we stopped to have a picnic. It was such a lovely afternoon to be out in nature with family!

He obviously had a good day 🙂

SEOUL’S CHILDREN’S MUSEUM

Cost: Free of charge for some exhibits

MUSEUM TIP: Checking the website, there is a lot of educational programs to avail in the children’s museum. Make sure you read about offerings before planning a visit to make the most out of your trip to the museum!

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Review: Ibis Ambassador Hotel, Myeongdong

I chose to stay in this hotel purely because of its location. Right smack where the action is in busy Myeondgong where an abundance of food stalls and make up stores are located. It is also infront of Lotte Young Plaza next to Lotte Hotel where many of my friends stayed.

  
I booked 2 rooms months ahead via Agoda.com which was so very convenient. I chose the cheapest option which had no breakfast included but when my son found out we weren’t eating in the hotel, he and his grumbly tummy got very upset at me for 3 consecutive mornings hahahha. So if you’re traveling with children, make sure you wake up and feed them before hunger strikes!

 
The standard rooms are 21 sq meters in size which had a small shower (that felt like you were in a space craft) and a high tech toilet just like the ones found in Japan. 

  
My son was amazed at this invention and wanted one for home! 

What we all loved was the comfortable bed, pillows and super soft sheets which was hard to peel away from in the mornings. 
  

Plugs for charging and free wifi was available in the room, yay! 

  
Our room 1117 had a functioning AC while my parents room 1120 had a faulty one so they requested for a fan to be brought up. There was a 24-hour gym and a hot bath facility which I didn’t get to try.

They also have a free shuttle to certain areas but we didn’t get to make reservations ahead so we didn’t have space anymore that day. If you’re staying in this hotel, make necessary shuttle arrangements for your sight seeing at least a day before.

  
The only odd thing was that reception was on the 19th floor so it was out of the way. Can someone explain to me why do they do this??!

I would recommend this hotel for people who like shopping at fashion, make up and skin care outlets or trying out the endless food stalls found on the streets of Myeongdong. Next time we return to Korea, I wish to stay in a traditional style homestay close to nature to get a feel of the old Korea.

To give you a little background of how this trip came to materialize, my high school friends and I have been planning a trip out of the country since last year. Initally, I was supposed to bring just one child, my 1 year old daughter Maya (because we are still breastfeeding). My cousin-in-law who is also part of my high school circle was supposed to be my roomie with her 1 year old son as well. When my parents found out about this trip, they felt sorry for my son because I wasn’t planning on bringing him. So they told me that they would bring him because it was his birthday month, lucky little boy!

And because sometimes, life doesn’t go as planned, my cousin-in-law and son never made it to the trip. So, instead of this becoming a high school girlfriend’s trip, I decided to spend some time with my parents and both children. It’s been a family custom to use this time to bond during travels. And so, we did 🙂

Kid-Friendly Theme Park Highlights and Tips at Everland, South Korea

My little tots and I just got back from a short but sweet trip to Korea. On our itinerary was a full day at Everland for my 8 year old son since he got bitten by the theme park bug in Ocean Park, Hong Kong a few weeks back.

First things first – How do you get to Everland from Seoul?

There are many ways to get there. Here are your options:

1. Take a taxi or hire a driver with a rental. This will be your most expensive option. If you have a local Korean friend to drive you, that will probably be best choice!

2. Take the subway. I asked the Korean Tourism Organization (KTO) Facebook page for advice on how to get there from our hotel, Ibis Ambassador in Meyong-dong and this was the reply:

You can take Seoul Subway Line 2 from Euljiro 1(il)-ga Station (을지로입구역), then transfer to the Bundang Line at Wangsimni Station (왕십리역). Ride the Bundang Line all the way to Giheung Station (기흥역), where you can transfer to the Everline. Ride the Everline to Jeondae Everland Station (전대 에버랜드역), where you will find Everland. The whole trip could take two hours or more.

We didn’t do this because we were taking a stroller and the thought of lugging it around the subway was too hectic.

3. Take the public bus. These are the instructions I got from KTO:

You can catch bus 1005-1 in front of Ibis Ambassador Hotel (across from Avenuel). Ride it for 6 stops and get off at Gangnam Station. There, change to bus 5002 (from the same bus stop). Ride it for 8 stops and get off at Everland bus stop. Travel time will be about an hour and a half, depending on traffic.

The cost is about 2,000won per person per way.

4. And then there is the Everland Shuttle Bus. The cost is 12,000won roundtrip per person and kids below 36 months are free for as long as your child sits on your lap. We chose this because we wanted to save 1 hour of our precious limited time. This option requires 1-day reservation so please call them ahead of time. If you do not have Everland tickets yet, you may purchase them through the shuttle staff at a discounted rate. Lucky for us, we already had tickets from Air Asia – THANK YOU!

Below are our theme park highlights. Note that this is the biggest family theme park in South Korea so one day alone is not enough to check out all the attractions – at least not for my group because I was with both kids ages 1.2 and 8 plus my parents who are in their 60’s.

Our first ride was the Human Sky which was big enough to fit all of us plus the stroller of Maya. This is very forgiving for babies asleep on strollers, no need to get off!

Santi takes a moment to pause and study the map by the fountain. He wanted to go to all the places and ride as many (non-scary) rides as possible 😛

Holland Village is a European-style outdoor restaurant which offers draft beer and BBQ chicken. Koreans are crazy about that specific combo.

The Rose Garden is a sight to behold! This is my personal favorite in the whole of Everland because not only is it beautiful to sit and stay in , maybe have a picnic underneath the rose tunnel, but the place also smells good! My phone camera photos doesn’t give this romantic place any justice.

The garden had lots of Instagram-friendly areas, too!

I spotted these Korean kids wearing a genius invention. This cold pack covers and cools your neck from the harsh heat of the sun. Boy, it was hot that day! I really wanted a few for me and the kids. Where can I get these in Manila?

The inner child in me enjoyed some of the rides with Santi who was on Cloud 9 that day!

  

We rode a boat and saw dolls dressed in national folk costumes from around the world in Global Village, a spin off from Disneyland’s “It’s a small world”.

Many times we took breaks under the shade for my parents to rest their tired legs and  to check the map and see which was worth doing. It is advisable to bring a reusable bottle and refill it with water at one of the many stations around the park.

The Waldorf parent and child were thrilled to have found this wooden playground paradise! This is the Play Yard in Magic Land where we spent most of our time that day. It is probably the most appropriate place for small children.

A refreshing water attraction was so inviting in the heat of the day!  Yes, I took her out of the stroller and set her free to play in the water. She is after all, my water birth Piscean baby. Good thing I brought an extra change of clothes. You must remember to pack clothing for your children!

A full 30 minutes of magnificent sightings, music and dancing of the Grand Parade at the Carnival Square.

My son was bummed we didn’t make it to Zootopia but perhaps that is a good reason to come back. I would recommend that you visit Zootopia FIRST since the Safari seems to be a popular and unique adventure. And if you are with young children, spend some time at Magic Land but not in the heat of noon (which is what we did!)

And lastly, be prepared to hit traffic on your way back to the hotel. Bring snacks with you especially for your kids. It took us 2 hours to get back to Myeongdong. We left the park 6:30pm and got back at 8:30pm on a Friday night. If you can, plan your theme park day on a weekday vs weekends.

I hope you picked up some useful information for your own theme park adventure! I’ll be blogging about our Seoul Eats and hotel choice in the next few days. Stay tuned!