My Seoul Korea Diary Part 1: Seoul Festa 2023, Apgujeong-dong, Coex Atrium, Seoul Forest, NCT Comaz, Cafe Hopping

Hello everyone!
I am back from Seoul again!
Yes! You heard it right! I visited Seoul once again last month, and I couldn't be happier that I was able to return to Seoul so soon after my previous visit in Dec 2022.
This time around, I'm traveling with my two nieces, making the journey all the more special.
Believe it or not, the three of us have been discussing the idea of visiting Korea together for years.
It all started when we fell in love with the K-pop group Bigbang.
We were so passionate about our shared dream that we even created a WhatsApp group titled "Korea" just for the three of us. #lol
The fact that we finally turned our dream into reality this year feels surreal.
During the trip, we not only explore the beautiful city of Seoul, we also had the incredible opportunity to attend a concert while we were there.
The entire experience is beyond anything we could have imagined!
Although we didn't have a detailed itinerary planned for this trip, we decided to go with the flow, let the city to surprise us at every turn.
In doing so, we discovered hidden gems, had unexpected and unforgettable encounters, and created memories that will remain cherished in our hears forever.
Sometimes, it's the unplanned moments that become the most treasured and leave a lasting impact on our travel experiences. :)
There are so much memories to share and keep in this blog, so I decided to make it into 2 parts which allow me to include more photos and more information for you guys. 
Without further ado, let's get ready now to be transported back to the places we visited, the delicious food we savored and the laughter that we shared through the air! :)


To kickstart our journey, we opted for a direct AirAsia flight from Kuala Lumpur to Seoul.
One of the reasons I enjoy flying with AirAsia is their midnight flights, which allows us to save on accommodation costs for a night and arrive in Seoul bright and early the next morning.

Upon landing at Incheon Airport, I have a habit of treating myself to a delightful and authentic breakfast at one of the local restaurants, Ple Eating Lounge.
It's a fantastic way to begin the day and immerse myself in the local cuisine right from the start.
As we couldn't check into our accommodation until 3pm, so we made the most of our wait to freshen up and rejuvenate ourselves after the long flight.

Since we booked our tickets about a month in advance, I found out that many hotels were already fully booked.
So we turned our attention to Airbnb options.
We searched through various listings, weighing the pros and cons of each, and we finally settled on a place called KM House.
KM House received many positive reviews from the previous guests, which gave us confidence in our choice, and also the price was quite reasonable, goes well with our budget constraints.
With all factors taken into account, we made the decision to stay there for the duration of our one-week trip!

KM House is located at Dongdaemun area, directly across from DDP.
There are 2 ways to travel from the airport to KM House; one is taking the subway, which takes about 1 hour and 20 mins, and another one is by the Airport Limousine, which is approximately 1 hour and 45 mins.
Personally, I always prefer the Airport Limousine option when traveling from the airport.
This is because I usually have big luggage, and it would be quite inconvenient to navigate the subway system and change stations with our bags; on the side note, Airport Limousine allows for more hassle-free and comfortable journey compare to the subway.

KM House is a cozy and compact accommodation.
Although it said that the unit could accommodate up to 4 people, but in my opinion, I think it is best suited for a maximum of 3 guests.
Despite its size, the unit is well-equipped with all the essential amenities, with a microwave, kettle, toaster, vacuum cleaner, television, a small kitchen and laundry area.
Additionally, there is also a designed space with a small sofa where guests can relax and hangout.

The bathroom in KM House is relatively small, but good that it offers a semi-separation between the toilet and the bath area, which provides convenience for guests.
Anyway, in terms of the overall stay, well I couldn't say it is exceptional, but considering the price we paid, about RM3300 for 3 people for 8D7N, it can be considered as a decent and satisfactory option. :)

Since our Airbnb happened to be conveniently located right across from the iconic Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP), so on our first day, we decided to explore the area.
Although I had visited DDP briefly during my previous trip in Dec, this time was a completely different experience as I thoroughly explored almost every corners of the building.

Once we had checked into our accommodation, freshened up, and changed into comfortable clothes, we headed to our next destination, Hongdae, a vibrant neighborhood that known for its youthful energy, bustling nightlife, and thriving arts scene.

Our choice for the first dinner in Seoul was the BHC Chicken!
I've blogged about BHC Chicken during my trip in Dec, where you can check out at HERE.

This time I tried their chicken with cheese powder, it seriously so good! 真的很好吃!

Chimac is my best friend!
After enjoying an early dinner and doing some shopping at Hongdae area, we decided to call it a night and rest early as we knew that tomorrow would be a long day ahead. :)


3 of us were very excited for the day 2 as it was the day we had been looking forward - the day of the Seoul Festa concert!
We had pre-booked a day trip at Klook, with an incredible deal, costing just RM106 per person, which included a comprehensive itinerary taking us to various locations, such as Eunpyeong Hanok Village, Jinkwansa Temple, Gwanghawmun Square and also Seoul Olympic Stadium.
So, before we started the day, we walked to the Egg Drop to fuel up with a hearty breakfast.

Having heard about Egg Drop in Korea for quite some time, finally have the opportunity to try it out.
Luckily for us, there happened to be an Egg Drop outlet conveniently located just across the stress from our Airbnb.
As we opened our sandwiches, we were surprised by how perfectly the eggs were cooked, the soft and fluffy bread and the delicious fillings inside.
Every bite was bursting with delightful flavours, and no wonder why Egg Drop had become so popular in Korea. 真的好吃!

Our first stop on the itinerary was the enchanting Eunpyeong Hanok Village, a traditional Korean village where we could immerse ourselves in the beauty of traditional hanok houses. 
I have previously written a blog post about Eunpyeong Hanok Village, where you can find HERE.
I recommend you guys checking out the post for more details and insights into this remarkable place.
Although it was my second visit to Eunpyeong Hanok Village, the experience was no less enchanting. 
The village's scene atmosphere and picturesque scenery provides a glimpse into the rich culture heritage of Korea, and I found myself appreciating its beauty all over again.

Next, we made our way to Jinkwansa Temple, a hidden gem surrounded by beautiful greenery.
Located uphill from the Eunpyeong Hanok Village, this place wasn't included in my previous trip in Dec due to the harsh winter weather.
However, this time, the weather were perfectly for more exploration.
The peaceful atmosphere and the detailed designs of the temple buildings made me feel calm.

Moving on, we went to Gwanghawmun Square, a public square adorned with statues, fountains and vibrant street performances.
This time round, Gwanghwamun Square served as the central hub for Seoul Festa 2023, offering visitors an incredible opportunity to embark on a Seoul adventure and immerse themselves in the city's charms.  

Say HI to Bellygom ^^

There are a lot of things offering for both locals and tourists at Gwanghawmun Square during the Seoul Festa 2023.
From K-Drama to K-Beauty, and K-Fashion, there are booths that allow visitors to immerse themselves in the fascinating world of Korean drama, beauty and fashion.
Not only that, the square also doubles as a tourist information center, providing valuable information to the travelers exploring Seoul.
As we walked past the magnificent statue of King Sejong, there are various small booths to indulge in Korean delicacies, appreciate traditional crafts, and witness captivating culture arts.

Finally! The highlight of our day trip awaited us, the Seoul Festa at Seoul Olympic Stadium.
First time being at this iconic venue, really couldn't remain my excitement. #haha

I received many messages regarding the ticket for the Seoul Festa.
I actually purchased it from Klook in advance before our trip.
It was an incredible deal, costing only RM106 per person for the entire trip.
What made it even more worthwhile was that the ticket included not only entry to the concert, but also return bus transportation and a full day itinerary in Seoul.
Plus, the lineup for the Seoul Festa was absolutely amazing too, featuring artists such as Enhypen, The Boyz, iKON, Ateez, Kep1er, Lee Young-ji, Oh My Girl, Be-O, IVE, P1Harmoney, and Nature.
It was truly an unforgettable experience to witness our fav bands live on stage, and I couldn't have asked for a better deal on the tickets.

Attending the Seoul Festa was my first time at a concert in Seoul, and it was amazing.
The stage was huge, and there were so many people in the crowd.
Unfortunately, it started raining heavily once the concert began.
Despite the rain, everyone kept their spirits high, I guess the rain didn't stop our enjoyment of the music! #lol
We ended up getting quite wet during the 3 hours concert, but I think it was quite an incredible experience that I will never forget.

Can't believe I am meeting iKON after 5 years, and it's happening in Seoul!
It's like a dream come true!

They sang my favourite iKON song, "Love Scenario"!
It was amazing to hear them perform it live and feel the excitement of the crowd.
I couldn't help but sing along and enjoy every moment of their performance, shouted so much and so loud till I lot my voice. #haha

My DK <3 <3 <3

I'm so lucky to have the chance to listen to some incredible performances at the concert, including "Polaroid love" by enhypen, "Wa Da Da" by Kep1er, "After Like" by IVEv etc.
If you'd like to see more, you can check out my Instagram page @mizhippo, where I've saved all the live videos under my "Seoul May23" Highlight. 

The concert made me feel young once again! #haha
It was like going back in time and feeling full of energy and excitement, I felt so refreshed and vibrant after the concert!
43岁的我, 希望可以一直保持这份少女心.

Can't believe that we actually making our dream come true in 2023!
Hoping to see more concert in Korea together again!
Finger crossed~~~

We ended our night with a satisfying meal of Samgyeopsal, at one of the restaurant nearby our Airbnb.
The Samgyeopsal experience in Korea is quite different from the Malaysian version, particularly in the thickness and juiciness of the meat.
When the meat is grilled to perfection, each bites gives a burst of savory juices that tantalize the taste buds, leaving a lasting impression.
This restaurant indeed has a very good Samgyeopsal, so if you stayed at KM House, don't forget to try it out! :)


On the 3rd day of our trip, we decided to explore the vibrant Gangnam area in Seoul.
To start the day off right, we found ourselves at a charming coffee shop, Ikovox Coffee nestled in the heart of Apgujeong-dong.

We enjoyed the vibes here; the cozy setting and inviting ambiance made it a perfect place to relax and enjoy our morning coffee.
What's more, the barista behind the counter added an extra bonus; he is handsome! #hehe

After finished our morning coffee, we took a leisurely stroll through the charming streets of Apgujeong-dong, while awaiting the opening of shops at 11am.
I like the vibes at Apgujeong-dong; with a trendy atmosphere, stylish boutiques, and a lively energy that made it a must-visit destination. 
If you are looking for MLB, I personally found that Apgujeong-dong has a better shopping experience compare to the bustling Myeongdong.

While exploring Seoul, one cannot miss is the wide range of self-photo studios where you can capture stunning pictures in the small studio.
These studios provide a variety of backdrops, props and professional lighting equipment to help you achieve the perfect shot.
And most of them cost 5,000 won for 2 prints. :)

Couldn't be happier with my first Tamburins at Apgujeong!
Guess which scents I got for my first Tamburins. :)

For lunch, we headed to Starfield Coex Mall, fulfilling the wishes of my nieces to visit the Starfield Library.
Inside the mall, we stumbled upon an authentic Korean restaurant that caught our attention.
The delicious pork bibimbap at the restaurant fulfilled my cravings that had been lingering for months! :)

People mountain people see at the Starfield Library!
Anyway, taking good pictures at the Starfield Library is not easy, especially during peak hours, when the crowd is overwhelming
Compared to my previous visit here, I would recommend visiting early in the morning to avoid the larger crowds.

If you're a K-pop fans, and find yourself in the Coex area, you can considering a visit to the Coex Artium.
Coex Artium used to be SM Town, a popular destination for fans of Kpop groups, and unfortunately, it temporarily closed down during Covid time. 
I count myself lucky to have had the opportunity to visit before its closure, but my nieces, who are big fans of NCT and EXO, were disappointed as they never got the chance to experience it.
If you are interested to see how SM Town looks like, you can check out my previous post at HERE.

Inside Coex Artium, there are various offerings for fans, including artist albums, merchandise, and even a photo studio.
Besides, you can also have the opportunity to get free posters as well; we were lucky that my niece got the NCT poster and I got the Jisoo and Blackpink posters for my friend. :)

Met my fav Suga's debut solo album over there. :)

Though SM Town is not available anymore, there is a small square in front of  Coex Artium, where you can find most of the handprints of SM artists here.
Put my hands on my fav EXO Chen :)

On the way to the subway, there is a simple status of Gangnam Style, representing the iconic dance move from the popular song by Psy.
The gold statue serves as a fun and recognizable landmark in the Gangnam area of Seoul.
There is a Gangnam STyle music played where you actually can dance together. :)

At night, we went to Myeongdong, a lively and busy place with many stalls selling delicious snacks to try some street food.
We had some popular Korean street foods like spicy rice cakes, hotteok, fish cake skewers etc.
I didn't take many photos because we were too busy eating. #lol

I really like the Korean fish cake and couldn't resist having 4 sticks that night.
It was so delicious that I jokingly to my nieces that I could marry the fish cakes. #haha

Day 4

Good morning on day 4 of our trip!
Wearing one of my fav outfit, get ready to explore and make the most of the day ahead!

I was excited to visit Seoul Forest for the first time and was pleasantly surprised by this little neighborhood.
There were so many things to do and see at the Seoul Forest Cafe Street, including plenty of nice cafes, restaurants, and fashion shops. 
The cafes in the area were charming and unique, offering a variety of atmospheres to enjoy a cup of coffee or tasty treats. 

We choose to have our morning coffee at All That Coffee.
The cafe has a cozy atmosphere with an English touch, and they offer a wide selection of tasty coffee choices, from classic espresso drinks to special, unique blends.
One of their specialties is their baguette, which I think is a great way to start the day with a light and delicious breakfast.

The baguette at All That Coffee is freshly baked and served in slices.
During our visit, we ordered 3 cups of coffee and one set of baguette (total 3 pieces in a set).
The total cost was around RM130-140, which felt a bit expensive for us.
But we understood that this is the typical range for cafe hopping in Seoul, as the living cost in Seoul isn't cheap after all.

We were lucky to stumbled upon a pop-up store for the latest "Dream" movie by IU and Park Seo-Joon.
"Dream" is a comedy which is based on the true story of a group of football players who are homeless and compete for the Homeless World Cup, which is championship that brings together homeless people from all across the globe.

Inside the pop-up store, there were various items and displays that were related to the movie.
We could see the props and displays that resembled important moments from the film, had the opportunity to view clothing worn by the artists, such as t-shirts and shoes.
Additionally, there were also signatures from the cast members and even a replica of Park Seo-Joon's  changing locker.
It was really an exciting experience for fans to see these special items up close and have a deeper connection to the movie. :)

Selfie with Park Seo-Joon's mirror inside his changing locker. :)

At the end of the tour, we also have the chance to receive some gifts from the pop-up store.
I received a free poster with the signatures, my eldest niece received a set of photo card, and the youngest niece received the pop socket.
What a good memory to bring back to Malaysia! :)

Picture with Park Seo-Joon and IU. #lol

One self-photo at Seoul Forest street. :)

Mirrors can be found in various places in Seoul. :)

Then, we went to Seoul Forest, a place I had been wanting to visit for a long time.
I was actually hoping to see it covered in white snow during winter, but it was too cold for my friends to join me during my last trip.
So this time, I have to made the chance to come here.
The park was peaceful and had beautiful green spaces and walking paths.
Though the trees had turned green, I still enjoyed the beauty of the forest.
I could have imagined that it would be more stunning in colder seasons with the sakura or snow.
If I can come back in December, I'll definitely visit again and experience the forest with snow!

My elder niece is a huge fan of NCT, so we visited NCT Comaz, the pop-up store located near Seoul Forest.
This exclusively pop-up store was only held in Seoul for a limited time, from 8th April to 7th May, and my niece couldn't be happier to have the opportunity to visit the store during our trip. :)

Koreans are always very creative when it comes to pop-up stores, and NCT Comaz is no exception.
The store adopts a unique grocery store theme, featuring virtual food brand artwork that represents the distinct characteristics of each NCT member.
The use of vibrant and colourful props throughout the store creates an immersive experience, makes me feel like I actually being in a real grocery store.

The NCT Comaz pop-up store has total 2-floor.
The second floor is designed to resemble a laundry shop, where you can find various t-shirt merchandise related to NCT.

Strike a pose and snap photos in the themed photo booths at NCT Comaz.
Both photo booths offer unique backdrops and props that allow fans to capture memorable moments in a fun and creative way.

We grabbed a late and quick lunch at a hotdog cafe, the cheapest meal we had throughout our whole trip. #hehe
Cost us only 4,500 won, about RM16 for one hotdog bun.
Sometimes, simple and inexpensive meals can be just as enjoyable and satisfying as fancy dining experiences. 

After wandering around Seoul Forest, we made our way to Hannam-dong, another neighbourhood known for its abundance of charming cafes and restaurants.
I had previously visited this area in December and was amazed by the sheer number of unique cafes scattered throughout the alleys.
We walked at least 30-40 minutes from Hongdae station to Hannam-dong.
If walking is challenging for you, I would recommend considering taking a taxi instead, which would be more convenient and comfortable option, especially if you prefer to save your energy for exploring the cafes and attractions in Hannam-dong.

Soutenu Cafe has a clean and fresh environment, with a modern and minimalistic, focusing on creating a comfortable and inviting space.
Felt so relaxing while laying on the spacious brown sofa, with the refreshing glass of iced coffee.

Another street mirror selfie at Hannam-dong. :)

In the evening, I had a delightful dinner date with Hyuk oppa at Hongdae area.
It had been 4 months since we last met, may not seem like a long time, but during those months, I always tell him how much I missed Korean food.
I always feel grateful to have him by my side, bringing me to different Korean restaurants and introducing me to new and exciting dishes. 
Hyuk oppa ordered spicy braised short ribs and rice balls with fish roe for our dinner.
The short ribs were a bit spicy for me, but the meat was really tender.
On the other hand, the rice ball with fish roe was delicious; the rice was cooked well and seasoned nicely, while the small fish eggs added a salty and briny flavour, great tasty combination!

After dinner, we decided to continue the evening with some soju and finger foods. #ofcourse
We went to the Korean "mamak style" restaurant to enjoy the delicious bites of the fried squid while sipping on soju, and then the pineapple sorbet to refresh us after few bottles of soju.
The night was filled with laughter and joy as we shared stories, made jokes, and create memorable moments together. 
It was an evening of pure delight, where good food, cheerful company, and the warmth of friendship combined to create a truly wonderful experience. 
Thanks to Hyuk Opp for always making our date so enjoyable and happy! :)

That wraps up today's update.
I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did!
Stay tuned for Part 2, as I'll be back with more exciting stories and experiences.
Your continued support means the world to me, so keep an eye out, and I look forward to sharing more adventures with you soon!

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