Seoul Day 1 – Jongno Area and Doulos hotel.

Posted on September 6, 2010


It’s been a week since I fought off the jet-lag and stepped back to the reality of London- my holiday to Seoul was officially over! But, oh what a trip it was!

Starting our final girly holiday- my sister and I flew over to Seoul, Korean style, with “Korea Air;” Onboard, we got our first taste of the “Land of the morning calm,” with our Bibimbap meal and with proper bowls and metal utensils to boot (no plastic knives or forks here people!).

2.40p.m, local time, we touched down, and the immediate 28 degrees Celsius heat hit us and made a welcome change to the colder London air we had left behind. Walking out of arrivals, our 1st thought was to find our mode of transport to our hotel of choice “Doulos Hotel,” in the Jongno 3 (sam) area, but before we could even step on the 6002 Limousine bus which would take us there, we had to get us some T-Money cards (the Korean version of our Oyster cards)! Luckily the in-airport mini mart stocked them, I chose us both a cute Hello Kitty version, topped it up with 20,000 won (the bus journey would cost 10,000) and made our way to exit 12 of the bus station area. Oh, and why do they call it a Limousine bus? Well not because it resembles a Limousine, but maybe because it is more of a comfortable coach to ride in compared to your average non-air conditioned and none seat belted bus?

Doulos Hotel

If you plan to stay at this hotel or are even considering a mid-range hotel for your trip to Seoul, then definitely read on!

Once you’ve jumped on the 6002 Limousine Bus from Incheon Airport, your trip to the hotel should be a doddle- about an hour and a half later, you’ll have to jump off at the “Jongno 3” stop, then walk to the hotel. It’s best if you look at the map below or visit the hotel’s website HERE for directions:

Doulos Hotel Direction Map

1. When you get off the bus, turn right and walk straight down to the junction

2. On this corner junction, to your left should be the “Missha” beauty store, turn left and walk down this street.

3. Down this street, on the 1st left (not the left entrance to the car park vacinity), turn left into the alley road.

4. Past the ‘love’ motel (with the strange half black curtains around it’s carpark for privacy) on your right, you should then see and arrive at the Doulos Hotel.

Coming in 6th best of all hotels reviewed in Seoul on Tripadvisor and 100% recommended by all reviewers, the Doulos Hotel was a great choice, mid-range 3 star hotel to make our base in Seoul. Whilst the double room was smaller then what I had experienced in the past, it had all the basic amenities you could want-air-con (that never broke down), a mini fridge, sizeable LCD tv, free wired internet connection, a fab shower (with bathtub), and great housekeeping, which meant we came back to a spotless room every night! Also, the staff were extremely polite, saying “Hi” and bowing  (that takes some getting used to) every time they saw us. Also the guy who check us in at reception probably had the best English speaking ability we had experienced throughout our stay!

If you do book this hotel then make sure you try and book it with breakfast included because, whilst the buffet style breakfast might be unchangeable throughout your stay, its better then having to worry about where you get your 1st meal for the day!

Jongno Area

After a 10 hour flight and an inability to sleep (at all) during the flight, my sister and I conked out once we arrived at the hotel and slept for 3 hours! Waking up at 8p.m, we felt like neanderthals wanting to hunt for food because of our hunger- we took it as a hint to get up off our arses and out of the hotel to explore the surrounding area! Unfortunately (as throughout our holiday) it had begun to rain, so our journey didn’t take us that far but it was enough so that we could pinpoint our nearest convenience store (there is a 7/11 and G25 mart just around the corner from the hotel) for future use!

This area of Jongno, 3 or Sam (In Korean) ga, proved to be a great base for sightseeing. Once you got out of the quieter streets of the hotel, onto the main parade of Jongno main street, to the left a 10 minutes walk away are take aways (Burger King, Subway, Coffee Bean etc), clothes stores (the fab stores at Jonggak Underground Arcade), Tapgol Park (with an ancient Pagoda from the 1400’s) and the wonderful old streets of Insadong, where you can find all the souvenirs you could want, beauty stores (Missha, Etude House, Nature Republic) and great traditional restaurants!

Also, nearby there is the “Seoul theatre” who have a show called “JUMP,” which I didn’t get to see myself, but I recommend you check out because it looks so interesting! It’s a non-verbal, martial arts and comedic show- they even performed for the Queen in the UK, on the Royal Variety Show!

To the right of Jongno’s main street, 10 minutes walk away, you’ll hit the famous “Jewelery district” of the area, where shop after shop display all their golds and silvers for you to buy or peruse. Nestled between these stores will be Jongmyo Shrine Palace- a palace built for ‘diseased’ or dying Kings; I recommend you take their English tour to learn more about the Confucius/ Ying Yang design of the palace grounds and the final ceremonies that would take place for the dying King!

Within a 20 minute radius of the hotel are 3 palaces, of those, Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung (with it’s Secret Garden) are highly recommended for you to visit! I’ll review all these palaces in later posts, so keep an eye out for them!

Finally, after all the sightseeing and shopping within the local area, you can safely walk back to the hotel  and pick up some street food from the carts that line the street before the hotel; of those, I recommend you try the Kimbap (seaweed wrapped rice rolls) from the (only) Kimbap lady on the street- using the metal tongs you can select 3 Kimbaps for 1,000 won or 6 for 2,000 won, definitely a bargain! Oh, and because she liked us so much, on our 2nd visit to her cart she even gave us a free Kimbap hehe! One final note though, if you don’t know Korean, selecting your Kimbap may become a roulette of choices, but luckily for us (because we can’t eat Spicy food, which is not great if you go to Spicy Seoul) with the help of some friendly locals, we managed to avoid the KimChi and Wasabi filled rolls!

Kimbap and BBQ Sticks from near our hotel!

Posted in: Seoul