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Stopover in Seoul en route to Bangkok?

Posted by exacto on 9/2/2009 at 09:16

I've been pricing airfares already for a flight to Bangkok from LAX in the December '09 timeframe, and so far Korean Air is looking best.

I'd like to fly with them as I've never flown with KAL before. Plus, that creates the chance for a stopover in Seoul (Incheon Int'l).

If this pans out, any suggestions on how long I should plan to stay in the area? Would one or two nights be enough for a basic tour of the city? Matt? Others?

Thanks and regards.

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Posted by mattocmd on 9/2/2009 at 22:02

Korean Airlines is a wonderful airline, cute girls too.

Only been to Seoul once but I would suggest it (However it will be COLD!!!!!!) The weather will limit what you can do outdoors, such as visiting the temples.
Since the weather will be so cold just limit it to 1-2 nights as you said. However, a trip up to the DMZ could be an option. You get to cross a little into the north, make faces at the soldiers, etc.

If the DMZ doesn't sound interesting to you, than one night would be fine. Seoul doesn't represent the real Korea very much but you could still get a good taste of the culture. Here could be a one day intinerary.

Visit a sauna (public bath and better than it sounds), for lunch visit the seafood market (they keep everything alive until you are ready to eat so it is always sooooooo fresh), for dinner eat some Korean food (The BBQ especially like Sam-Gyup-Sal or Kalbi, then have a bunch drinks and go to a Nore-bang (singing room).

Another good thing about Korea is that it's cheap! Food, booze, and accomodation is all very cheap (especially considering the won is at 10 year lows). In Korea you live at home until you are married, so there are these "love motels" you can stay at and they are EVERYWHERE.

If you decide to really go let me know, I can think of some more ideas. But yea, Korean air economy felt more like business so its a win-win either way.

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Posted by exacto on 10/2/2009 at 03:28

Excellent. Thanks Matt!

I've read about the legendary Korean winters. I won't exactly be packed for it either, on my way to Thailand and all.

We've done the public baths in Germany (gender mixed) and Turkey (gender segregated) and had a pretty good time. How are they in Korea?

Really looking forward to a few simple things like a meal at a local restaurant (thanks for the Sam-Gyup-Sal and Kalbi suggestions), a Korean beer or three (recommendations?), sending a post card to my Mom from a new country, and collecting a few coins for my nephew - that kind of stuff.

There is what looks like a pretty good backpacker hostel near Incheon International Airport, but I thought I'd splurge a bit and get a proper room for that one night or so. Like you said, not expensive for what you get and the room descriptions sound really interesting with all the high-tech toilets and showers and such. (No squatter toilets I guess :-) The airport hotels also have good day room rates for up to seven hours on a longer layover.

We did a similar stop in Tokyo on our last trip to Thailand and loved it. This should be equally good. Thanks for the info. Cheers.

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Posted by daawgon on 17/2/2009 at 02:02

I'm flying to Seoul on Wednesday - I'm flying Asiana (also Korean) on my way to Thailand and Vietnam. I've booked a hotel in downtown Seoul (very little around the airport), and I have a Goodwill Guide (free) for a day. All Korean airlines are excellent - the best service you've ever had.

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Posted by daawgon on 17/2/2009 at 02:04

Asiana give me a free day-use hotel when my connection is greater than 8 hours (at Incheon) - I fly economy.

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Posted by exacto on 17/2/2009 at 11:00

thanks for the information daawgon. i've got two possible flights lined up. one is on Asiana out of Los Angeles, and the other is Korean directly out of Las Vegas. unfortunately, it is still a bit too early to book the flights, since both airlines only book approximately 330 days in advance, and my return flight will be later than that.

i'm actually trying to find flights that will have long layovers en route to Bangkok, so i can do just a bit of sight-seeing both on the outbound and the return trips.

i'd read that Asiana provided day rooms for longer layovers. thanks for confirming that. the reviews i've read for Asiana are glowing too. reviews for Korean are a bit more mixed, but still pretty good overall. but i don't know if Korean provides day rooms or not. do you? cheers.

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Posted by exacto on 1/2/2010 at 09:33

I just finished this trip, and as it turns out, Seoul/Incheon is a fantastic gateway/hub for getting to and from Thailand from North America. I wound up taking a Korean Air flight from Las Vegas (through Los Angeles) to Seoul/Incheon and then on to Bangkok. On the way back, the flight was direct from BKK to Seoul and then to Vegas.

On both legs I had long (over 10 hours each) layovers in Seoul. Korean Air gave me a really nice and totally free day room at the Hyatt Regency right near the airport on the outbound trip (I think Korean Air owns that hotel). They even gave me a voucher for lunch at the hotel restaurant. It was easy to get through immigration for just a day trip into Korea. In fact, I was stamped in for 90 days just for showing up. Makes you wonder what Thailand is thinking making us work so hard for just 15 or 30 days.

Anyway, on the return leg I had an even longer layover so I signed up for one of the many tours offered at the tour desk on the arrivals floor between doors number 3 and 4. The tours were offered at a 50% discount, so I got the 5-hour Seoul City Tour for US$25. It was a good deal. It included transportation to/from the city, and stops at interesting places such as the Insa-dong Street area and the Gyeongbokbung Palace. The tour also included lunch at a Korean restaurant. We had Korean BBQ and loved it. The tour was a nice place to meet folks too. There were 13 of us total, including four backpacker/independent travel types either on their way to or returning from southeast Asia. Like matt mentioned above, it can be really cold in Seoul, and it was well below freezing that day, but the tour company had a few loaner coats for the folks who didn't have anything that warm with them.

The transit area at the airport is the best I've ever seen. There are two separate areas, both up off the main floor to reduce the noise and foot traffic, with one that caters more to Korean Air transit passengers and the other one for Asiana. Both transit areas have free internet access, free showers in nice big private shower rooms that also have sink and toilet, and sleeping chairs. There are business lounges too that were offering a 40% discount to transit passengers, so it would have been less that $25 to spend your transit time in the lounge relaxing and eating/drinking. Not a bad deal.

Finally, there were quite a few interesting cultural displays, hands-on demonstrations, and even live performances on both of my trips through the airport. There were even things that I wanted to do but didn't get to, like the sauna mentioned above. Maybe next time.

I don't know how much people factor stuff like this into their airline reservations, but I was really impressed with both Korean Air and with the Seoul/Incheon Airport and would definitely look to travel through that way again on my next trip. Regards.

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Posted by EricnShannon on 11/3/2012 at 15:02

My husband and I are leaving in the next week to Thialand, flying Korean air with layover in Seoul each direction. The outbound connection is not more than a couple hours however on the return we had a choice of a 10+hour delay or to take a flight the following day (just over 25 hours)- we opted for the latter in order to take advantage of some sightseeing in Korea.

Until reading these blogs I had not considered a day room and did not know that Korean air offered them. I had looked up the lounge areas in the airport as we are flying Prestige Class, but would not want to sit that long either way. Currently I have reserved a hotel room in downtown and have looked up instructions to take a bus from the airport that should drop us near the front door of the hotel (Ibis Myeong-dong). Per trip advisor this is an excellent location for shops/food and we had decided to place ourselves near activities rather than near the aiport. I am reconsidering this knowing the tours available and perhaps a free day room.. however I am not sure if an overnight will also be offered for free?

The bus from airport to the hotel is about 8.50 USD each way PP, and the hotel is 170500 KRW (about 152.00 USD). Certainly would be better to have this as spending money if there is another option- has anyone else done something similar, and if so would you consider it worth the extra?

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