[TRAVEL] The Out of Seoul Experience via the K-Shuttle

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Traveling from city to city is no doubt a hassle if you want to squeeze as many as you can during your short, one-week trip in Korea, having to worry about inter-city transportation, directions to the various sites and the booking for accommodation. All these planning in advance can be so overwhelming that most would prefer to avoid it altogether. Here’s the solution to all your worries – K-Shuttle!

What is K-Shuttle?

K-Shuttle is a foreigner-exclusive shuttle that brings you on a single trip to explore Korea’s top tourist cities and attractions. With K-Shuttle, you can visit cities beyond Seoul in a comfortable and convenient way without having to worry about the language barrier as they have experienced guides that are fluent in English, Mandarin and Japanese. In addition, these guides will ensure that every little aspect of the tour runs smoothly, so all you need to do is to book a tour, show up on travel day, sit back and enjoy the trip. Sounds like an ideal trip already, right?

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More About the K-Shuttle

Types of Packages Available

As our 8D7N Familiarization Tour included trips to Seoul and Busan, we were unable to take up the full 5D4N package due to the lack of time. Instead, we opted for the 3D2N (Western Course) Tour.

The different packages and their pricing could be found in the table below.

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Reservations must be made 5 days prior to the desired departure date. Reservations are on a first-come, first-served basis and are only possible when seats are available and can be made at the K-Shuttle website HERE. Should you need more information, including alternate routes and route itineraries, you can find them on the website as well.

Some things to note are that the pricing listed are per person, based on double occupancy; for single travelers, an extra 70USD surcharge for single occupancy is needed per night.

A full refund is only possible when cancelling a tour seven days before the departure date. A partial refund based on K-Shuttle’s refund policy is also possible when cancelling within the seven days prior to the departure date. There will however be no refunds for cancelling on or after the departure date.

What does the K-Shuttle Includes

The K-Shuttle Tour Packages include inter-city transportation, hotel accommodation, breakfasts, admission fees to most of the tour attractions and a super friendly tour guide.

However, do note that the K-Shuttle Tour Packages do not include travel insurance, optional tours, and any other programmes that are not directly mentioned in the itinerary. The best thing about the K-Shuttle is that it does not bring you to shops and force you to buy over-priced touristy stuff, so you do not have to worry about it.

Departure Timings

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K-Shuttle departs daily at 8AM, at the parking lot next to Donghwa Duty Free Shop Building at Gwanghwamun Station (Line 5, Exit 6).

There are no K-Shuttle in operation during their two major celebrations – Seollal (Lunar New Year) and Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving Day) as well, so do take this into consideration should you decide to take the K-Shuttle.

The K-Shuttle Experience

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As mentioned, as part of the Familiarization Tour, I was given the opportunity to board the K-Shuttle for their 3D2N (Western Course) Tour earlier this month. This tour brought me to a number of cities dotted around the Western and Southern regions of Korea – cities that I’ve yet to step my foot on. Though it was a mere two and a half days, I saw a lot, learnt a lot, ate a lot and took a whole lot of pictures (far too many than I would have liked because sorting and editing them were a pain)!

There is so much I would like to share about the K-Shuttle Tour and to be very honest, I have no idea where to start, so I highlighted the main attractions throughout the 3D2N, which should give you a rough estimation of what to expect should you sign up for the same package.

Day One

Seoul –> Gongju –> Buyeo –> Jeonju –> Gwangju

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After meeting the other participants of the tour at the parking lot next to Donghwa Duty Free Shop Building at 8AM, we were given a history lesson of sorts on Seoul on the way to Gongju by our English guide, Justin. I’m not a History person so I could only catch bits and pieces while Justin explained fervently.

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The journey to Gongju took around 2h and at The Tomb of King Muryeong, we were given a glimpse of the royal lifestyle during the Baekje Dynasty. Discovered by accident in 1971, King Muryeong’s tomb is significant because it was the first of its kind to record the status and date of death of the deceased. The real tomb is actually off-limits to visitors due to preservation efforts, but the tomb replicas that were featured in the museum on-site are in actual fact done up quite well. Jewelry, artefacts, swords and even coins were found scattered in the exhibition area so that we could take in sights of how the real tomb was like when they first discovered it. I still find it a pity that we weren’t able to get to see the real tomb and am seriously hope that after restoring them, the government can consider opening the real one up in the future.

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Next up, we headed to Gongju Gongsanseong Fortress. A UNESCO world heritage site, this fortress, built during the Baekje Period, is worth a visit for its historical and cultural significance. The beautiful view of Geumgang from the top of the castle’s trail is definitely a bonus. (A/N: I actually lost the tour group half way cause I was too immersed in taking photographs of the castle. Lucky for me, the fortress was constructed in a loop, so no matter what, you’ll definitely be back at the entrance so all was good.)

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After that, we made our way to the city of Buyeo, where our next stop was Baekje Cultural Land. To the locals, Baekje Cultural Land is a cultural amusement park, but in effect is a reconstruction of the ancient city of Buyeo, where the replica folk village and palace structure were picturesque, no doubt. We initially wanted to skip this place as it wasn’t compulsory (since it was either that or lunch), but we were glad we didn’t since this is a place I could spend an entire afternoon at. Definitely one of the highlights during the K-Shuttle trip, so be sure to stop by!

Random Fact: Baekje Cultural Land was also used as a filming site for one of Running Man’s episodes. Any guesses which episode it is?

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For lunch, we settled for Lotteria since we were running out of time and that seemed like the best alternative considering how the other food choices at Lotte Outlet (Buyeo Branch) were restaurants. What fascinated me at the Lotte Outlet was how it was specifically built to closely reflect the architectural style prevalent during the Baekje period since Buyeo was the capital of Baekje.

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Tummy full and ready for the next stop, we started on a trek at Busosanseong Fortress of Buyeo (yet another UNESCO World Heritage site), a mud fortress located on top of Buso Mountain. Buso Mountain was once deemed the guardian mountain of Buyeo and home to many historical landmarks. Walking along the mountain paths is like a momentary escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, giving us a view of nature as we take in the fresh air. It was not yet fall, but I could totally imagine the pretty autumn foliage here. Climbing Busosanseong Fortress in summer is a total bad idea and it was really, really warm, but we managed to complete it before our legs gave way.

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Along the trail, Goransa Temple could be found and there was a legend whereby for every sip of water you drink, you will look three years younger. No idea how true the legend was, but as we most of us were tired from the walk, the spring water was undeniably our life-saviour. And since I drank like more than a sip, I guess I’m going to look like a kid for the next 10 years?

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At the end of the trail, we finally reached Baekhwajeong Pavilion, perched on the cliffs of the Nakhwaam Rock. According to history, the women of Baekje leap off the cliff of Nakhwaam after the kingdom collapse to keep their chastity. I was looking forward to a breath-taking view, but was left disappointed as it wasn’t anything spectacular. Nonetheless, as all of us were dead tired from the walk, the ferry ride back to the bus was enough to lift my spirits because who could resist boat rides?

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With that, we headed to Jeonju, home to Bibimbap and Choco Pies! We were given time to wander around Jeonju Hanok Village before dinner, but instead of following a map and taking a designated route, we just let ourselves get lost in the alleyways as we take in the sights and sounds of this place.

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Should there be a chance to revisit Jeonju Hanok Village, I would very much like to rent a Hanbok and spend an afternoon walking around cause this place is definitely one where you can snap endless photos to upload on your Instagram feed.

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I also randomly chanced upon some cinnamon ice cream and cried internally because it was so, so good. Ice-cream in summer is definitely the way to go.

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There is an old record saying that “Jeonju Bibimbap was a luxury for the mouth and only served upon the occasion of the Provincial Governor’s visit or during Nongak performances.” From this, we can tell that Jeonju Bibimbap was served only to the rich people of the higher class as a special treat. Now that we’re in Jeonju, we just have to try it. It was my first time having Bibimbap with raw beef, but it tasted great (or maybe I was just too hungry).

Ended the day at Gwangju, birthplace of the modern democratic movement in Korea (and hometown of TVXQ’s one and only, Jung Yunho)!

To be very frank, day one was really, really tiring as we covered quite a number of places. Even the S Health App on my phone recorded the highest number of steps of almost 30,000 when usually, I can barely hit the minimum of 6,000! So do remember to wear comfortable shoes to allow a less taxing journey up and down the trails.

Day Two

Gwangju –> Suncheon –> Yeosu

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Starting the day with yet another history lesson on Gwangju Democratization Movement (or more commonly known as the Gwangju Uprising) at the Gwangju May 18th National Cemetery, get ready to be transported back to the 1980s as you get to understand Korea’s constant struggle with democracy. The Memorial Tower symbolizes the resurrection of new life and under the tower, there is a worship platform with burning incense to show respect. The mood at the national cemetery is sombre, but it gave me a glimpse of the Gwangju Massacre, where 606 people sacrificed their life when they were fired upon, killed and beaten in an unprecedented attack by government troops, a dark chapter in Korea’s history books.

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Random Fact: May 18th is Korea’s national holiday to commemorate the country’s desire for democracy.

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On the way to Suncheon, we dropped by Boseong Green Tea Plantation. The scenery there is to die for if only it wasn’t so hot. The fields are picturesque and any traveller interested in seeing some of Korea’s most breath-taking scenery should definitely come here. Do remember to grab a cup of green tea ice-cream or smoothie during your trip there because it is really good. What more when you are in a green tea plantation?

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Next up, the Suncheon Bay Gardens. The gardens were unexpectedly quiet as I was actually anticipating large crowds. However, I definitely welcome the calm since I could enjoy the place better. Two hours was absolutely not enough and I would positively be back since I only managed to explore one side of the park. In addition, Suncheon Bay is famed for its sunset, so another trip back is definitely a must.

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Last stop before dinner was a glimpse of the famed Turtle Ship at Yeosu, designed by Korean Admiral Yi Sun-Sin. His turtle ships were equipped with at least five different types of cannons. Their most distinguishable feature was a dragon-shaped head at the bow (front) that could launch cannon fire or flames from the mouth. The intricate details put in every aspect of construction of the ship, exploiting all possible options, make it a work of art. Simply amazing!

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We ended the day with some Jjajangmyeon and Jjamppong.

Something memorable that happened after dinner was when we lost our way while trying to find our hotel and guess what we did to kill time – singing National Anthems. Justin was a genius when it comes to the National Anthems and it seems like a high school field trip more than a tour group. Guess who just bonded over National Anthems? We even managed to share Kit Chan’s Home, which we felt was pretty significant for us Singaporeans, considering the fact that we were celebrating our Golden Jubilee this year. A little late, but Happy 50th Birthday, Singapore!

If I wasn’t so exhausted from all the traveling, I would have attempted to try the spa services the hotel boasts, but decided to just head to stay in the room because the bed was calling out to me.

Day Three

Yeosu –> Busan

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We said goodbye to Yeosu and the first schedule of the day was Jinjuseong Fortress. Said fortress is well-known as a sacred place of patriotism and loyalty due to the significance of the Battle of Jinju, where Imjinwaeran (Japanese Invasion of Joseon in 1592) broke out in October 1592. General Kim Si-Min, the Magistrate of Jinju, fought against the 20,000 Japanese invaders with only 3,800 soldiers and citizens, achieving great victory. This is the battle of Jinju, which will remain immortal in history. One of the more interesting moments was learning about Nongae, a gisaeng (Korean version of geisha) who proved her loyalty to her country when she seduced a notable Japanese general to a cliff and hurled herself into the river, bringing him along with her.  This is another nice place to spend a lazy afternoon at.

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Having heard so much about rest stops in Korea, we managed to drop by Jangyu Service Area en route Busan. It’s exactly as it is shown on Korean variety, though I still have no idea why they do not allow take-out. Wanted to grab some Kimbap because it looks really tempting, but was rejected by the Ajumma. My Kimbap~~~

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Busan’s Jalgachi Market was our last stop for the K-Shuttle and Justin even dropped us at our hotel before heading with the rest of the tour.

For (x)clusive’s out of Seoul escapades in Busan, you can refer HERE, where I shared about what to visit, what to eat and what to expect in Busan.

Random After Thoughts

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To be honest, I find it fascinating at how much I actually enjoyed the 3D2N trip considering the killer weather. I was able to see parts of Korea, and places where I never dared considered stepping in, thanks to K-Shuttle. They made the tour so fun and hassle-free that all I need to worry about was reaching back to the bus on time. It is all about the ease of traveling between cities without worrying if we will get lost, whether we can finish our planned itinerary or if the accommodation is up to our expectations because K-Shuttle literally took care of everything.

K-Shuttle is like a sampler platter at the start of the banquet where you get a taste of everything. There are parts of the trip that left me wanting for more and others, less. Because of time constraints, we moved from destination to destination pretty quickly. This tour may seemed pack, but it’s the perfect itinerary for those traveling in Korea yet wanting to see a whole lot with the limited time available. Nothing better than a hassle-free trip along with K-Shuttle.

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It also feels as though I’ve been transported back in time with all the History lessons as well, making me feel more immersed in the culture and gave me an idea of why Korea is the way it is today. I was initially really confused over all the stories told by Justin, but hey, I was so interested in Yi Sun-Sin and the Turtle Ship that when I saw that The Admiral: Roaring Currents was being shown as one of the movie choices on my flight back from Korea, I did not even hesitate for a moment before tuning into it. It shed light of what Justin explained, and I fully recommend this for those who want to know more about Korean Admiral Yi Sun-Sin and a glimpse on how he led his 12 ships to a heroic victory against 330 Japanese ships.

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Last but not least, a shout out to our amazing tour guide, Justin, who was nothing short of friendly, entertaining us with his tarot reading (though I still do not believe when he claimed that he has a fan club). Nonetheless, he made the whole trip exciting, light-hearted and enjoyable. This talented guide of ours even drew a portrait of those present of this trip.

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Though it’s a mere 3D2N, the people on this tour made it a whole lot fun. Nothing more befitting than a group photo to end this post.

This article is brought to you by Korea Tourism Organization (Singapore). Stay tuned for more as (x)clusive brings you more exciting stuff with regards to our summer escapades in Korea earlier this month. Any guesses on what will be posted next?

MORE PHOTOS!

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