6 Days Seoul Itinerary #3: Where to Shop

Whoever said money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping. — Bo Derek

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Shoes galore, Seoul.

Where to Shop/Sightsee in Seoul?

  • Goto Mall (Express Bus Terminal Station) 

Goto Mall (Gangnam Terminal Underground Shopping Centre) is an 800m long underground shopping alley of clothes, accessories and cosmetics. Many subway stations are connected to such underground malls, and Goto Mall is one of the biggest in Seoul.

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Goto Mall is patronized mainly by local Koreans.

It is more popular among locals, as compared to Dongdaemun which is more touristy. For the same products sold, the prices at Goto Mall are slightly cheaper (trust me, I compared several items). You should make Goto Mall as your first shopping stop before checking out the others!

  • Garosu-gil (Sinsa Station, Exit 8)

Garosu-gil in Gangnam is easily my favouritest area in Seoul.

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Lovin’ the quirky decor of this Pizza Express!

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Dr. Jart+’s little exhibit.

Catering to high-end fashionistas, you can witness ‘Gangnam Style’ at its best — chic art galleries, lifestyle boutiques, elegant ateliers, quaint cafes, ETC.

There are plenty of gems waiting to be discovered at Garosu-gil.

Be it cafe-hopping or window shopping or simply people watching, the entire place radiates charm like no other.

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I’ll be back again, Garosu-gil!

  • Dongdaemun (Dongdaemun Stadium Station, Exit 8/9)

You can literally shop till you drop at Dongdaemun. Well, the sky’s the limit when you’re at a shopping district that closes only at 5am. Both wholesale and retail goods can be found at the 26 malls and 30,000 shops in Dongdaemun.

The must-visit malls are HELLO APM, Migliore, Doota Tower and Good Morning City. Countless street stalls surround these malls, hawking accessories, clothes, shoes, and yummy food.

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Sun setting over Dongdaemun as shoppers move from one mall to another.

  • Myeongdong (Myeongdong Station, Exit 5/6/7/8 or Euljiro 1 (ij-ga) Station, Exit 5/6)

Myeongdong is by far the largest and most touristy shopping spot in Korea. It is the TO-GO place for skincare and cosmetic brands, as well as a great place to shop for clothes and fashion items in general.

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Myeongdong (a.m.)

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Myeongdong (p.m.)

Every skincare and cosmetic brand in Korea (e.g., Nature Republic, Innisfree, Too Cool For School, etc) has at least one store in Myeongdong. There could be as many as twenty makeup stores in a single block. And the best thing yet — most of these stores offer an immediate tax refund (PS: remember to bring along your passport when shopping!).

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Huge Nature Republic store in Myeongdong.

There’s also the oh-so-famous Lotte Department store, which has several floors of duty free shopping where you can shop hands free (buy and pick up at the airport). And don’t forget to check out Lotte Mart — Korea’s top discount store which sells everyday essentials, clothes, and lots of SNACKS!

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Honey Butter Chips, Market O’s Real Brownies, Market O’s Cheese Chips, crispy seaweed and MORE.

  • Ewha Woman’s University Shopping Street (Ewha Woman’s University Station, Exit 2/3)

Ewha Woman’s University Shopping Street caters mainly to the young and trendy students in the university area. It is a shopping heaven that sells everything under the sun — clothes, shoes, cosmetics and cute accessories like necklaces, socks and rings.

There are many discounts going on and you can find all the popular brands that local Koreans love. This also means that prices at Ewha are cheaper compared to other touristy areas (similar to Goto Mall’s prices).

  • Hongik University Street, Hongdae (Hongik University Station, Exit 8/9)

Being a college town like Ewha Woman’s University Shopping Street, you can also get good bargains at Hongdae. There are some international retail brands at Hongdae, but most of the shops are run by local retailers/designers.

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Hongik University Street – overwhelmingly crowded on a Saturday afternoon.

Many of the shops were initially from Myeongdong but have now moved to Hongdae because of the underground culture and vibrant atmosphere. Do check out the Hongdae playground when you take a break from shopping – Hongik university students gather here for crazy street performances and festivals! Super happening!!

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A pretty 2-storey local boutique.

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Coffee and tea houses in the Hongik area.

  • Insadong (Anguk Station, Exit 6)
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Ssamziegil shopping mall, Insadong (photo from Pinterest).

If you’re looking for items unique to Korea, I’d totally recommend Insadong. It is a great place to pick up a souvenir as well as shop at local specialty boutiques and gift stores.

Through the streets of Insadong, you can find local antiques, traditional artwork (including paintings), tons of galleries, and so on. Have loads of fun shopping!!

Shopping Tips

  • Before your trip to Seoul, check out the Korea Tourism Organisation’s website for the various sale seasons. You can find the participating outlets and sale periods there.
  • If you spend above a certain amount, you’re qualified for a tax refund. (Fun fact: Korean taxes can be as high as 10% of the total price.)
  • You can deposit your shopping loot in the many coin lockers found around Seoul’s train stations. They are really easy to use and super convenient! With them, you can explore a place freely without having to lug all your shopping goods from a previous stop.

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Coin lockers found around Seoul’s train stations. Singapore/Jakarta should totally adopt this!!

Do check out my list on best places to eat in Seoul here.

As well as day trips out of Seoul and Hanbok rental here!

 

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6 Days Seoul Itinerary #2: Day Tours from Seoul and Hanbok Rental

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

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Hello from Nami Island!

In this post, I am going to share more on day trips out of Seoul,  as well as Hanbok rental.

Nami Island + Petite France + Garden of Morning Calm Day Tour

Out of our six days in Korea, two days were spent out of Seoul. For one of the day trips, we visited Nami Island, Petite France, and the Garden of Morning Calm all within one day!

Only accessible by ferry, Nami Island (63 km away from Seoul) is famous for its beautiful tree lined roads.

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Gorgeous greenery at Nami Island.

Many people started visiting Nami Island after it was used as a filming spot for the 2002 K-drama hit “Winter Sonata”. It is also a cultural center for creative ideas of local artists and employees.

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One of the filming sites of “Winter Sonata”.

‘Twas a really good (green) getaway from the bustling city of Seoul!

Located not far from Nami Island, Petite France is a small French village hidden in the suburbs of Gapyeong.

It is apparently owned by a rich Korean businessman who had a big love for the things of France (he needed a place to house all the French furniture, paintings, porcelain, etc he had  amassed over the years).

Made up of museums, workshops, restaurants, cafes and guesthouses, Petite France was featured on many K-dramas/variety shows, such as “Beethoven Virus”, “Secret Garden”, “Running Man” and “You Who Came From The Stars”.

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View from the watch tower.

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Against the backdrop of French influenced buildings.

Inspiration for The Garden of Morning Calm (a 30,000㎡ garden) came from a poem written by Sir Tagore, who described Korea during the Joseon Dynasty as “The Land of the Morning Calm”.

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The Garden of Morning Calm spans a total of 30,000㎡.

The garden houses about 5,000 different kinds of plants, including 300 varieties native to Baekdusan Mountain, known as a spiritual mountain to the Korean people.

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Really enjoyed exploring the gardens and soaking in the fresh cool air.

The Garden of Morning Calm is open all year-round and is a great spot to visit for families, couples, and photographers alike.

Flowers are in bloom from March to November, so the garden is especially busy during this period. We were so lucky to chance upon these blossoms!

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God’s handiwork is amazing!!

Do you recognize this scene from the k-drama “Love in the Moonlight”? I’m not a huge Korean drama fan but I did catch that one…such fond memories!

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Ended off our day trip with hot ginger tea, in a traditional tea house at The Garden of Morning Calm.

If you’re in interested, we booked the above tour via this website:

https://www.trazy.com/experience/detail/nami-island-petite-france-the-garden-of-morning-calm-tour


Mungyeong Park Hiking + Omija Winery Day Tour

Mungyeongsaejae Provincial Park (2-3 hours drive from Seoul) is one of the best places in Korea for adventurous travellers. You get to walk on old trails with a long history amidst stunning mountain scenery. 🙂

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Mungyeongsaejae Provincial Park.

Our local guide took us on a light hike through the park; we walked between two high mountains and got to take in some grand views.

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Everyone was dressed in hiking gear except for us. -_-

According to our guide, Joseon scholars from the far off provinces would go through this route (by foot) to take the state examination in Seoul.

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Joseon scholars used to spend the night here after a long and arduous journey.

KBS drama studio is located in Mungyeongsaejae Provincial Park, a filming set for famous historical K-dramas like “The Legend of the Blue Sea” and “Hwarang”.

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One of those filmed at Mungyeongsaejae Open Set.

It is the largest scale studio in the world. There are three palaces and many houses from the Goryeo Period, spread over 60,000㎡.

Before leaving, we were provided snacks and tea in the palace grounds. The lady serving us tea told us that she recently visited Singapore and loved it.

Next up, our guide brought us for an Omija Winery Tour. Instead of producing wine from grapes, Koreans make their wine from omija (five different flavours) berries.

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Our first time seeing omija berries.

Fun fact: Mungyeong covers about half of the total production of Omija wine in Korea. And so it made perfect sense to visit a winery in Mungyeong.

The omija wine was a lovely pink colour, had a subtle taste with sweet and sour notes. It was refreshing sipping it and it left a pleasant aftertaste!

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CHEERS to the many good things to come! x

If you’re in interested, we booked the above tour via this website:

https://www.trazy.com/experience/detail/mungyeong-hiking-zipline-tour


Visit Royal Palaces with a Hanbok

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Korean Hanbok experience. Checked.

I’ve always had this secret fantasy of wearing a Korean Hanbok and striding along the royal palace grounds. And I managed to fulfill this in my recent Seoul trip.

Oneday Hanbok Rental (Address: 2nd Floor, 4 Bukchonro5-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul) offers an outdoor Hanbok experience, which is by far more unique than an indoor/studio experience. With a minimum rental time of 4 hours, you can visit various landmarks in Seoul with your hanbok.

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Wall mural featuring a Korean lady in her Hanbok.

DID YOU KNOW THAT…With a Hanbok, you are entitled to special benefits such as free entries at selected places (e.g., royal palaces in Seoul, Korean Folk Village in Gyeonggido, etc). Not to mention those places have pretty backdrops for you to take pictures against!

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Gyeongbokgung Palace.

Gyeongbokgung Palace was our first stop. And YAY we did not have to queue/pay for the entrance ticket. 😉

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Blending into the palace surroundings.

Built in 1395, Gyeongbokgung Palace is also commonly referred to as the Northern Palace because its location is furthest north compared to the neighboring palaces of Changdeokgung (Eastern Palace) and Gyeonghuigung (Western Palace).

Gyeongbokgung Palace is arguably the most beautiful, and remains the largest of all five palaces.

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Such grand grounds!

Our second stop was the Bukchon Hanok Village, home to hundreds of traditional houses (hanok) that date back to the Joseon Dynasty.

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Bukchon Hanok Village.

The name Bukchon, which is translated literally as “northern village,” came about because the neighborhood lies to the north of two significant Seoul landmarks, Cheonggyecheon Stream and Jongno.

Today, many of these hanoks operate as cultural centers, guesthouses, restaurants and tea houses, providing visitors with an opportunity to experience, learn and immerse themselves in traditional Korean culture.

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I would love to live in a hanok donning a hanbok. HEH.

The Hanbok rental fare is not costly (15,000 Korean Won for 4 hours, 4,500 Korean won for each additional hour). Plus it includes basic accessories like bags and hair accessories. Have loads of fun with your Hanbok!!!

Do check out my list on best places to eat in Seoul here.

Also, if you’d like the full 8 page itinerary, do drop me a message and I’d happily send it to you!

6 Days Seoul Itinerary #1: Where to Eat

“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” — Bill Bryson

As my days in Jakarta are coming to an end and full time work beckons, I decided to make an impromptu trip to Seoul with Ivana. Plane tickets and the hotel were booked within a day just two weeks prior to the trip and YEEHA we found ourselves on a plane to Seoul! It’s been a month since I got back and I am thinking of sharing my itinerary with you over a series of posts. ❤

Where to Stay in Seoul?

We stayed at G2 HOTEL Myeongdong (Address: 24, Supyo-ro, Myeongdong, Seoul, South Korea, 04555) and have absolutely no regrets. A newly built boutique hotel in a quiet and safe neighborhood, it is located 10 minutes away by foot from the Myeongdong area and Lines 2, 3, & 4 of the Subway.

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G2 HOTEL Myeongdong.

The rooms are clean and modern, the beds and bedding super comfy, and each room comes equipped with the necessary amenities (all from Innisfree). Plus it is not expensive at all!

Where to Eat in Seoul?

The very fact that there are over 100 different kinds of kimchi should tell you something about the pride Koreans have in their food. Korean cuisine has evolved over time because of social and political change, but it remains a major aspect of the national identity. And I happen to LOVE Korean food a lot.

Here’s a list of some places you may want to check out; most of the restaurants are from research done prior to the trip, some came recommended by Korean friends, and some of them are gems we chanced upon.

  • Sinseon Seolleongtang (Address: 2-2, Myeongdong 2(i)-ga ,Jung–gu, Seoul)
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Sinseon Seolleongtang, Myeongdong branch. Be prepared to queue!

Sinseon Seolleongtang specializes in seolleongtang (duh). Is made by simmering ox bones, intestines and shank for several hours until the broth becomes rich and creamy white. When eaten together with rice and other side dishes, it is SO GOOD (especially on a cold morning).

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Classic seolleongtang with rice — broth was rich and sweet.

  • Migabon Porridge (Address: 2-2 Myeongdong 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul)

Migabon specializes in Korean traditional porridge (juk)a local delicacy. I am not much of a porridge fan because I often associate eating porridge with being sick. That said, I’ll make an exception for Migabon because their porridge is heavenly.

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Can’t get enough of my pumpkin porridge!

In case you didn’t realize, Migabon Porridge is located just right above Sinseon Seolleongtang Myeongdong. 🙂

  • Mr. Holmes Bakehouse Seoul (Address: 34, Apgujeong-ro 10-gil Gangnam-gu, Seoul)
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Signature instagrammable wall at Mr. Holmes Bakehouse.

Mr. Holmes Bakehouse Seoul is the first overseas outlet outside of San Francisco. If you ever make it there, a must-have is the CRUFFIN. A Cruffin is a cross between a croissant and a muffin — it has the flaky texture of a croissant and the flavour of a muffin.

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Cruffin + scone.

I ordered the Earl Grey Cruffin which was really good! It wasn’t overly sweet, the flakiness was just right, inner texture was fluffy and the earl grey filling was smooth and creamy. YUM.

  • Hanwoori (Address: 77 Toegye-ro, Chungmuro 1(il)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul)

Hanwoori (located on the 5th floor of Shinsegae Department Store) was introduced to us by Min and Nam Young. I met the two of them in Seattle during my 6 months exchange and we have kept in contact since then.

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Dinner at Hanwoori with Min and Nam Young.

Hanwoori has been specializing in shabu shabu since 1981. The restaurant uses only pure Korean beef fillet, which is delivered daily from a farm in Gwangju. Shabu shabu is a delightful form of comfort food — rich broth with fresh Korean beef, organic seasonal vegetables, hand-made soy bean curd, and springy noodles.

  • O’sulloc Tea House (Address: 12, Myeongdong 7-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul)
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O’sulloc Tea House.

O’sulloc Tea House is a green tea cafe in Seoul and can be considered a destination tea house to experience a touch of Korean tea culture. The cafe serves a variety of smoothies, hot drinks, cakes, and ice cream — most of which have green tea as the main ingredient.

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The cafe has a tea merchandise section.

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EVERYTHING green tea — matcha latte, matcha ice-cream, matcha roll, and matcha macaroon.

  • Mr. Bossam (Address: 68 Ewhayeodae-gil, Seoul)

Bossam is a pork dish in Korean cuisine whereby the pork belly is boiled in flavourful brine until it turns soft and scrumptious. Mr. Bossam (located in the Ewha area) serves one of the better Bossams in Seoul.

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You can choose one of three flavours for your Bossam platter — plain, garlic (sweet), or spring onion (spicy).

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Pork belly slices melted in my mouth.

  • Myeongdong Sundubu (Address: 199-50 2-ga Euljiro, Jung-gu, Seoul)

Hidden away from the busy streets of Myeongdong and run by a husband-wife team, Myeongdong Sundubu serves spicy soup with soft silky tofu. The stew comes in a clay pot together with rice cooked from a stone rice pot. According to the owner, he makes the tofu from scratch twice a day. No wonder the tofu is so soft and fluffy!

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Homemade pure tofu Sundubu jjigae with seafood.

  • Jeonju Jungang Hoegwan (Address: 19, Myeongdong 8na-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul)
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Jeonju Jungang Hoegwan, Myeongdong.

Jeonju Jungang Hoegwan (est. 1956) is a specialty restaurant featuring Jeonju Gopdol Bibimbap in a hot stone pot. The restaurant is popular not only in Korea but also in Japan; it has participated in World Food Expo held in Japan and has been introduced on various Japanese TV programs including NHK and Fuji TV.

Jeonju Jungang Hoegwan’s bibimbap was by far one of the best I’ve had!! Another one, please!

  • Gobong Samgyetang (Address: 3F, 199-13, Euljiro 2-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul)

This yellow broth samgyetang (ginseng chicken soup) is made by boiling sanghwang mushroom (a medicinal variety which gives it its unique color and scent), along with a traditional herbal mix (including hemp and jujubes).

After the broth is made, no more than 25 chickens (of a special breed) are boiled at the same time. A smaller batch allows the collagen of the chicken to thicken the broth.

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Featured on the Michelin Korea guide – original ginseng chicken soup.

I cannot think of a better remedy for a cold wintery night. 🙂 🙂 🙂

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Tender chicken in thick creamy soup, topped with ginseng liquor.

  • Wangbijib Korean Barbecue (Address: 26 Myeongdong 8ga-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul)

If you haven’t had Korean BBQ, you haven’t been to Seoul. Korean BBQ restaurants in Seoul are at a whole new level — think high-quality meat on charcoal grills with awesome ventilation systems (you won’t leave the restaurant smelling like grilled meat).

The servers at Wangbijib are trained to grill the meat for you so all you have to do is sit back, relax, and look forward to your meat. We ordered a few servings of pork belly, which came bright red in colour with a good layer of fats.

Although the pork cuts at Wangbijib were fresh, nothing could beat the meat we had at Mungyeong (some 2+ hours drive from Seoul). Our local guide for the Mungyeong day trip brought us to a family run Korean BBQ inn along the mountainside…and boyyy was the meat tender. IT LITERALLY MELTED IN MY MOUTH. To be honest, it was the best Korean BBQ I ever had. I was so overwhelmed by the meat that I forgot to take note of the restaurant’s name. 😦

  • Sulbing Korean Dessert Cafe (Address: 39, Insa-dong, Jongno-guSeoul)

Composed of shaved ice and colourful ingredients, Bingsu is a very popular and elaborate dessert in Korea. At Sulbing, the ice is not only light and fluffy, but super fine too. It has a creamy texture and comes with loads of pretty toppings! Regardless of the flavour you order, it is to-die-for (especially in the heat of the afternoon!).

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Chocolate flavoured bingsu.

And this marks the end of my Seoul food list.

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Stay tuned for the next post on what to do in Seoul and best shopping places in Seoul! xxx

If you’d like the full 8 page itinerary including what to do in Seoul, do drop me a message and I’d happily send it to you! x

From Bali to Jakarta: Nebula Kuningan

An established household name in Bali (with three restaurants in Kuta, Petitenget and Ubud), Nebula has decided to set up home in Jakarta. And no better place to open a restaurant than the vibrant neighbourhood of Kuningan…simply because it is my hood hehe. 😉

With her sleek industrial interior, Nebula radiates a modern and urban feel without coming across as pretentious. Minimalist yet cozy at the same time!

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Bar area.

While ambiance plays a key role in every restaurant, Nebula’s main mission is to deliver a personalized culinary experience to guests by transforming good ol’ comfort food into tasteful delights.

There are two different kinds of menu — Lunch Menu and Dinner Menu. Both menus offer a selection of hearty Indonesian fusion dishes and innovative cocktails.

Nebula Kuningan, Kuningan Menu

Nebula Kuningan, Kuningan Menu

The former focuses on quick one dish options for office workers to eat during lunchtime (individual servings) whereas the latter focuses on dishes that are best enjoyed communally over long conversations (dishes for sharing).

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Can’t wait to tuck in!

This means you need to visit Nebula at least TWICE to try out all their food. 😉 I’ve been to Nebula a few times for lunch and only once for dinner and all their dishes are amazing. Some of my favourites include their Soft-Shell Crab Bao, Thai Fried Rice Pork Belly, Nasi Campur Bali, Salted Egg Squid (a very Singaporean dish!), Chicken Betutu (super tender and tasty), and Glazed Shirt Ribs.

Most times I was too busy eating to snap pictures of the food. Here’s what I got:

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Thai Fried Rice Pork Belly (IDR 60k).

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Spaghetti Tuna Hang Jebat (IDR 55k).

For the healthy/weight conscious, fret not. Nebula has brought over their infamous smoothies bowls from Bali!!! I absolutely love their Healthy Bowl with greek yoghurt as the base (IDR 55k).

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Healthy Bowl (IDR 55k).

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Served in round wooden bowls with wooden spoons. Such pretty colours!

Expect to spend about IDR 150k-200k/pax for food and drinks at Nebula (lunch would be cheaper). The calories gained are worth every penny!


Nebula Kuningan 
Kantor Taman A9
Jalan Dr. Ide Anak Agung Gde Agung Lot 8.9
Mega Kuningan, Jakarta 12950

One of Jakarta’s Finest Coffee House: Tanamera Coffee Roastery

Tanamera Coffee is an independent coffee house with several branches in Jakarta (and even one in Bali!).
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CHEERS!


TANAMERA Kebayoran

Jalan Ahmad Dahlan no.16
Jakarta Selatan 12130

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