Thursday, October 6, 2016

Seoul, Korea - My First Airbnb Experience

I've always opted to stay in hotels on my previous travels and last month, I finally had my first airbnb experience while on a trip to Korea with bf and my mum!

The exciting part was looking through the listings. So many pretty apartments in Seoul!

If you are new to airbnb like me, there are mainly three types of airbnb you can book.

Entire home
Listings where you have the whole place to yourself.

Private room
Listings where you have your own room but share some common spaces.

Shared room
Listings where you'll share your room or your room may be a common space.

We chose the first option mainly because we didn't want to compromise on having our own space or feel obliged to interact with the host and other guests.

For privacy, we booked a two-bedroom apartment, so that me and my mum can stay in one room while bf stays in the other. There are also many other 3-bedded studio apartments at better prices, quite suitable for all-girls entourage or families!

The apartment we chose is located at Gangnam area, within walking distance to Hak-dong Station.

Before booking, remember to check the description, reviews, and ask some questions. Our host happened to have three similar listings in the same area and we almost booked the one on 5th storey before we got to know that the building had no lifts. In the end, we booked this one which was supposedly at the first level but she told us there are some stairs leading up to the apartment. So we thought, how high can it be right, since the apartment is on the first level.... We were so wrong.... The night we arrived, bf had to lug our heavy luggage up a long flight of staircase, and then down another short one to our apartment. It was definitely a longer climb than our usual HDB staircase... probably equivalent to 2.5 storeys worth of stairs? haha. And the staircase has no railings for support.... I wonder how the elderly in Korea do it.

Anyway, when we arrived at Incheon Airport, we got approached by some guys who offered to drive us and quoted us 120,000 won. That's almost SGD150!!! We were shocked but they pointed to a brochure which had "fare to Gangnam: 110,000 won" printed on it, so we thought it was market price and took it. Afterwards on the way to our apartment, I messaged my friends and they all say it's too expensive. Usual rate should be around SGD70. Aiya too late. No wonder the driver looked at the money and laughed to himself when my bf paid him. Oh well, at least we got to our destination!

It was night time when we reached and the building was pitch-black. The sensor light in the corridor would only lit up upon vigorous movement, so we fumbled with the lock using our phones as torchlight. We took quite awhile because we kept pushing the door when it's supposed to be pulled. Hahaha.

(I took these photos the next day in the morning so it's brighter.)

Upon entering, you see the living room with dining table for three, bf's room on the left and mine on the right.

Shared this room with my mum! I liked how the furnishings are simple and modern.

Opposite our beds: a dressing table and a TV, which we didn't know how to use because everything was in Korean. On our first day, it had some Korean wordings and no shows. We called the host and she came promptly to solve the issue for us. She was very nice and responsive throughout our booking with her. She also helped us to arrange a cab to bring us to the airport when we check out... She found one that is around SGD70, so much better than the SGD150 we paid on the first day!

Bf's room was smaller in size but enough for one person. Instead of TV and dressing table, it had a side table and a closet. Anyway, only our room had aircon so he slept with the fan. Haha. This is another question to clarify with the host even if the listing states "air-conditioned"!

Back to the living room, there is a mini kitchen with all the basics supplied too. Bf used it to prepare breakfast for us every morning :)

This is the balcony, which has a microwave oven and a washing machine.

This is where we have breakfast everyday before heading out.

Some of the breakfast I had:

Sandwich bought the night before from the convenience store nearby. In fact, there were two of them nearby! It was so much fun shopping in them everyday, and the cashiers are very nice too! Although there was a slight language barrier, they are very happy to help and make recommendations.

First time trying the convenience store kimbap there and I love it! Marinated meat in flavored rice, this makes for a quick and filling meal!

Bf fried sunny side up and sausage for breakfast! We heated up some convenience store kimchi fried rice to add on too.

Another day, we had a very japalang breakfast. Hahaha. Bf bought a can of luncheon meat and fried some scrambled eggs. In addition, pancake, instant noodles, additional kimchi, and a chicken drumstick.

Overall, I love how the apartment was bright, airy, comfortable, clean, neat, and homely. It was also at a very good and convenient location within walking distance to Hak-dong station and several restaurants!

If you are looking for an airbnb apartment in Gangnam area, feel free to check out this one:

Area outside our apartment... I liked how there are people passing by all the time, so it doesn't feel too eerie haha. That being said, the passerbys aren't rowdy or noisy either. Just normal residents returning home after a long day!

Walk out a little, it takes us to the train station!

There is this supermarket near the train station for us to buy our groceries for breakfast the next morning.

Sorry for the lack of consistency in photo colours throughout this entry! Haha some photos have vsco filters that's why they look better. But i'm too lazy to edit all the photos... If only we have a vsco desktop app that can apply batch filters! Much easier than doing it one by one on mobile haha. I have no idea why other bloggers can have such beautiful travel photos but mine always look so meh.

On one of the days, we shopped until we very tired already, so we decided to go back to our apartment to put down our shopping bags and head out for dinner around our area. Followed the map given by our host and shortly after, we found ourselves in a crowded and happening district with many restaurants.

One of the restaurants had disco lights. So many young people here... it's almost like our boat quay / clarke quay area.

We saw many good looking and well dressed young ladies and young men gathering around.

While walking from our apartment to this area, we passed by many salons along the way and we noticed that all of them have bustling business! We were wondering.... "8pm on Friday night, do hair and makeovers for what??" We conclude that they probably getting their hair and makeup done for the night activities - clubbing/ late-night dinners with friends. Interesting ya? Imagine in Singapore we go salon style our hair, hire makeup artist to do our faces, all specially just for clubbing, confirm our friends will say "siao ah!" Hahaha. In Singapore we only hear of ladies going for makeovers to attend formal events and wedding dinners. I'm really curious to know why it's so different in Seoul! Is it because it's very affordable there? Like $2 - $5 range so might as well is it?

We were looking for Korean BBQ and settled on this place because it looked popular and there were quite a number of locals queuing.

After 30 minutes of anticipation and wait, we finally got a seat and it was only then we realize this place serves cow's internal organs. Firstly, I'm not very fond of internal organs. Second, I don't eat beef. And that's the only thing they serve! So we left the place...

Walked over to another Korean BBQ restaurant nearby and finally settled for dinner!

None of the staff could speak English but amazingly we managed to order successfully.

Yum yum!

Just when we were about done, we got served this bowl of piping hot steamed egg. We didn't order it, but we thought maybe it's part of the combo so we ate it. Up till this point we still don't know the price of everything we ordered because we didn't see any menu and we had verbally ordered with the help of some body language. Haha. There were some Korean wordings with pricing listed on the wall but we had no idea which one was the one we ordered.

At the end when we paid for the bill, we realize that it was 12,000 won per person for the meat, which was quite reasonable for such a thick slab. Then there was 5,000 won charged for the egg too.... Total  41,000 won which is approximately $50 in Singapore dollars.

On the walk back to our apartment, we saw this little room which looked like the lottery shops we have in Singapore! See those pieces of betting slips?

Passed by a bakery and we went in.

Mum bought one egg tart to try and we got a shock when the staff mentioned the price. I forgot how much exactly but it's definitely expensive compared to egg tarts in Singapore lah. Hahaha. But the tart is quite nice!

Stopped by every convenience store and mart we see. Haha. We aren't even this keen to step into our 7-11 back in Singapore!

Bought two boxes of this back to try! Anyway I snapped this photo in the supermarket because one box only cost 1,650 won but I bought it at twice the price just awhile ago at the convenience store -_-

Ok that's all for our time at Nonhyeon-dong area in Gangnam. Hope you like this entry, will be back with more!


  1. Hi Esther, do you have any recommendations for shopping in Korea? Would be good if u can share that in the next post!

    1. Yea I'd have a shopping post for Korea coming up! :)

  2. I really enjoyed this entry!