Haneul Park: A garden with 4 seasons

Have you heard of Haneul Park? I have many friends who have been to Seoul (once or even more than 3 times in the last 5 years) but only a couple has actually heard of this green space in the city. Surprisingly, none of them have visited it before! It is one of my favourite hangout spots in Seoul yet its beauty remains unknown to only a few?! Come, let me introduce Haneul Park to you!

Haneul Park translates to “Sky Park”. And its no surprise why its a vast garden which offers a spectacular view of Seoul from its height. The park is located on the highest park of the World Cup Park and overlooks the city. On a clear summer day, one can enjoy breathtaking views of the World Cup Stadium, Hangang River and even across to Bukhasan.

Do note that because of its height, one would first have to conquer 291 steps up to reach Haneul Park. Alternatively, one can look out for the electric tram which offers ticketed rides up and down the hill.

However, the most attractive feature of the park is its changing foliage according to 4 seasons.

Starting with spring and summer, the garden presents a sea of lush greenery as wild flowers decorated the picture with specks of red, pink, white and yellow colours. And under the vast blue sky, every sight is a beauty. In fact, summer is quite the appropriate time for one to capture some Insta-worthy shots with the little photo corners all around the garden.

Pick a spot and let nature form the backdrop of your pictures.

And on the opposite end of the park, take a seat on the swing for a picnic and watch the clouds go by over Hangang River.

Summer is probably the time to enjoy this scenery with minimal disturbances from overcrowding of visitors. Because when fall comes…

In September and October, Haneul park is teemed with visitors, especially locals, who are here to catch a glimpse of the sea of silver grasses.

Credits: @belindaong

Isnt the view completely different than it was in summer? Now the summer foliage is taken over with the crisp silver grasses dancing in the wind~

Credits: @belindaong

A photo in Haneul Park with the silver grasses is probably THE photo to signal for autumn. Check out this comparison of summer and autumn:

Summer 2018

Autumn 2018 Credits: @belindaong

And when the snow falls on Haneul Park, it covers the field white as the grasses turns golden and dries up in the cold. It is no surprise that many Korean couples do visit Haneul Park in the winter for couple or even wedding photo-shoot!

For frequent visitors to Seoul who have yet to check out this place, do have it added to your list when you make your next visit!

Address: 487-48 Sangam-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea

How to get there: World Cup Stadium (Line 6, Exit 1). Cross the carpark and road over towards the park area and continue walking till one come across a blue overhead bridge. One should notice the zig-zag stairs leading up to Haneul Park.

Round and round the bushes in Jeju’s Mazeland and scenic Olle Trails

In the past when I travelled around Jeju by public transport, I missed out these attraction sites as one could not access them conveniently by bus. Perhaps you did too?

This time, with a friend to drive us around the island, I could instead enjoy cafe-hopping and even have a go at some of Jeju’s natural walks and trails.

Here, I shall bring you to visit Jeju’s Mazeland and one of the many Olle trails, Olle Trail 5 by the coast. The former has appeared in many Korean TV shows like Running Man while the latter was recently featured in the Netflix original Korean series Busted as the final mysterious destination in Episode 2’s Treasure Island.

Step right into one of Jeju’s most visited attraction sites, The Mazeland. The themed park presents the three elements which Jeju prides in: Rocks, Wind, and Women. This is reflected in the three mazes as each is shaped, and thus named, after the individual element. There is the Wind Maze, Stone Maze and Woman Maze.

Take a quick look at the map of Mazeland and you will realise that the mazes take on each form of the elements. Here, one can probably spend a few hours navigating through the mazes on their own. After all, what fun is there if you do not get lost in them!

For those yearning for a unique shot to make it as your photo-of-the-day, do allow yourself to explore the mazes. There are a few unique photo locations which may turn out to be a delight.

At the end of the mazes, do not hesitate to leave Mazeland just yet. There is something magical hidden right behind the mazes, especially during the summer season!

Follow your way towards the rose garden and viola, one would find oneself surrounded by beds of blossoming roses, each adding a vibrant colour to one’s summer photos.

During the hydrangea season in summer, continue the path which will bring you to a sea of blooming hydrangea. While some may prefer skipping Mazeland after a visit to Gimnyeong Maze Park, I believe that Mazeland is worth a visit for more than just the mazes.

As one tour around the flower gardens, be sure to catch these boards. Written on them are beautiful quotes which would brighten your day, including the above which says of “I still worry about myself yet hope for the best” and others like “I am the prettiest today” (below) or “Happiness is felt when you are with me”. Along the way, one can even read about the folk myths in Jeju, illustrated by the stone statues on the paths.

Further down, one can trail into the bamboo woods and the wood forest which makes a great resting place for a picnic. Fairy lights hang from the branches, transforming it to a beautiful fairytale-like location for families and couples to relax and appreciate each other’s company. There is even a mini wooden maze there to excite the kids.

At the end of the long exploration, head back into the cooling gallery which shows of exhibitions of mazes, puzzles and other brain-stimulating challenges to occupy everyone in the family.

During the summer, visitors to Jeju must visit the Olle trails. These trails bring one through the woods, past the flower fields and even to the beaches of Jeju. The Olle trails will lead one to all of Jeju’s natural scenery there is offer on the island, including the attractions sites like Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak (Information to get there by public transport can be found here).

However, I shall bring our readers to a unique place where one can view the whole of Korea. It was also featured in the Netflix original Korean series Busted. Puzzled by what I mean? Let me show you!

Introducing Jeju’s Olle Trail #5 around Namwon Keuneung Coast. This Olle trail is located in the south of Jeju, a short drive from Seogwipo City.

The trail takes one around the coast to appreciate Jeju’s rocky coasts and let one’s hair loose in the cooling ocean breeze. The trail is ideal in the late afternoons of summer to avoid the warm temperatures.

The trail begins here at the pavillion and around the corner, there is a cafe which was featured in my other travel post on cafe-hopping in Jeju. Then, begin your walking journey through the bushes around the coast.

Here, one can access many scenic points of the coastal areas. The trail is really long with few paths leading out of the trail. As such, I would suggest for visitors to prepare their own snacks and water for the journey ahead. Do ensure sufficient time to finish the trail before the sky darkens.

However, you must be wondering what i meant by “a unique place where one can view the whole of Korea”. Check it out yourself!

Located in the middle of the Olle trail #5, there is a spot called the Korean Peninsula 한반도 where the bushes of the trail form the outline of the entire Korean Peninsula. This phenomenon is so famous that even Koreans would specially make a trip down to observe it and take a photo.

For the less adventurous who wish to only visit this location, you can skip the Olle trail #5 and head straight down to Kumho Jeju Resort. Facing the ocean, take the small path down which would lead you straight onto the Olle trail. Make a right turn onto the path and you will see the Korean Peninsula outline.

Credits: Busted, Netflix production, and KShowOnline

The same location was featured in Busted when they discovered the last treasure hidden near the bushes.

These locations are best accessed by private transport. Hopefully, my introduction to these places will encourage you to discover more hidden places in Jeju! This has been my third visit to the island yet I cannot wait to explore many other sites. In fact, there are numerous Olle trails available. I only had the time to pick this meaningful location during my visit.

Are there any other trails our readers would like to recommend?

Summer time = Festival time in Korea

Indeed, frequent visitors to Korea are probably aware that summer time = festival time! All around Korea, many regions would host various types of summer festivals, such as the university festivals in Seoul, the spectacular flower festivals and the refreshing water festivals in coastal towns.

Today, allow me to present two popular summer festival events in Korea: Buyeo Lotus Festival and Boryeong Mud Festival. Both cities are less than three hours of traveling distance from Seoul hence I would highly recommend visitors to take a day trip down for a visit.

Welcome to Buyeo Lotus Festival where one can enjoy the beautiful scenery of vast lotus ponds. Speaking about all the Instagrammable moments of one in a flower field?

That is probably behind time. After all, flower fields can be found in most places of the world. Instead, hop onto the new trend with photo moments around numerous lotus flowers blossoming from the depth of the ponds. Admission is free.

The festival is held annually in mid July in the city of Buyeo and attracts thousands of visitors annually. Although the actual festival often lasts within two weeks, visitors can stroll through the public park anytime during the lotus season. This also implies that one can enjoy the lotus flowers anytime from late spring to summer.

During the festival, one can learn about the history about the Buyeo lotus ponds. It all began with King Mu, the 30th King of the Baekje dynasty, who appreciated lotus flower and dug these ponds during his reign in AD634. One can also visit booths which host cultural activities and sell local products.

In the past, King Mu used to enjoy a boat trip around his lotus ponds with the Queen. To replicate this moment, the festival also provides a short kayaking experience around a shallow lotus pond for ₩5000 per pax.

Take a relaxing stroll around the park and one will arrive at Gungnamji 궁남지 which is transformed to a floating pavilion enveloped by a huge lotus flower.

Head towards another area of the park and one would be surprised by a hidden sunflower field too!

After the festival, one can then enjoy a city tour around Buyeo on the city tour bus. Less known to foreign visitors, Buyeo used to be the capital of the Baekje Dynasty. The city contains four UNESCO-listed heritage sites of the Baekje Historis Areas, including the above Jeongnimsa Temple Site. Hop onto the city tour bus and one can visit all the four historic areas conveniently.

How to get here from Seoul:

Take a intercity bus from Seoul Nambu Terminal and arrive at Buyeo Bus Terminal. The bus journey would take between one and a half hour to two hours. From there, take a 20 minutes walk to SeoDong Park or grab a taxi over in less than ten minutes.

Visitors with private transport are advised to check for free public parking areas around the park. Free shuttle buses are also available to fetch passengers to and fro these parking areas.

Special note:

For visitors who wish to take the intercity bus from Nambu Terminal, be ready to head early to purchase your ticket on the spot. The return ticket can be purchased directly at Buyeo Bus Terminal instead. I would advise one to secure one’s return seat immediately upon arrival in Buyeo.

Next up, the famous Boryeong Mud Festival which attracts not just locals, but also foreign visitors for a stay to experience the refreshing mud baths, games and even wrestling matches in mud pools!

Recall those wrestling games played in Running Man? Yes, have a go yourself to experience a muddy splash in Boryeong!

Indeed, hot summer is all about refreshing dips, water fights, and suntanning by the beach. However, in Boryeong, it is all about their nutrient-rich mud. For an all-day admission of ₩12,000 (Mon-Thurs)/₩14,000 (Fri-Sun), one can splash around in all the mud games organised in the venue.

Located by the beach, the Mud Festival also welcomes beach lovers to Daecheon Beach. Take some time away from one’s hectic schedules and laze by the beach for the entire day. What is a summer vacation without getting a good suntan?

And for those who do not want to miss out on other activities, plan well for your visit to conincide with the music performances in the evening. This year, the Mud Music Performances invited guests like BewhY and Jessi.

Boryeong is famous for its mud that in fact, it produces its own mud-related skincare products, from mud masks to mud scrubs and even hair-related products. During the festival, booths are set-up around the venue to offer tax-free shopping at discounted prices too. Isn’t summer fabulous?

How to get here from Seoul:

Take an express bus from Seoul Express Bus Terminal to Boryeong 보령. The journey takes approximately two hours to two and a half hours. From Boryeong Bus Terminal, take bus 100 bound for Daecheon Beach. This bus journey is approximately 30 minutes to 45 minutes. The bus stop is located right inside the bus terminal parking lot.

Take the KTX, Mugonghwa or SRT trains headed towards Daecheon Station. Duration of train journey varies. From there, take bus 100 bound for Daecheon Beach.

Planning a visit to Korea the next summer?

Why not consider taking a day trip out of Seoul to experience the summer joy Buyeo and Boryeong have to offer. Seize the sunny moments to enjoy summer time at Korea’s festivals too!

Returning to Jeju: Cafe-hopping around the picturesque island

Remember the last time I introduced to you about how to travel around Jeju via public transport? The article focused mainly on the natural scenery one can enjoy during a short stay on the island, including visits to the Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak, Manjanggul Cave, Cheonjiyeon Falls and more.

This time, allow me to present another side of Jeju: Cafe-hopping around Jeju. Indeed, following the cafe-hopping trend in Seoul, there are also many cafes around in Jeju for cafe-hoppers to enjoy. One can choose to appreciate a cup of Jeju green tea by its own green tea garden, pop into one of the most-visited cafe in hope of chancing upon G-Dragon himself, or just laze by the beach with an Iced Americano.

Here are some of my recommendations:

1. Innisfree Jeju House 이니스프리 제주하우스

Innisfree skincare and cosmetics brand prides itself with the use of natural ingredients from Jeju in their products. As such, it is no surprise that one can find its stores all around Jeju. However, Innisfree Jeju House is more than just a store. It also houses Innisfree Café which serves drinks made from Jeju ingredients like the Hallabong orange and Jeju green tea leaves.

View from Innisfree Jeju House on a rainy day

Not to mention, the view from the café overlooks one of the green tea gardens in the vicinity.

One of their signature menu items has got to be the Hallasan cake. Shaped like a mountain, it depicts the highest mountain on Jeju, Hallasan mountain.

Wondering what’s the flavor?

The cake is a green tea cake on the inside, topped with green tea cream hidden in the peak. It also comes with “volcanic cookies” and “white melting cream” which one can add according to one’s preference.

This presents as an engaging way for café-goers to play around their own Hallasan cake while planning for one’s Instagrammable moments.

You can also their Hallabong Orange Tea and the Honey Yuchae Tea (above).

There will always be time for shopping. Head over to the Innisfree store to browse its products, but be attentive to some of its Jeju special edition products. These products can only be found in the Jeju House. Some include Jeju-themed hankies, pouches, hand cream and also a DIY hand soap set. You can also make your own hand soaps too!

How to get here:

Address: 425, Sinhwayeoksa-ro, Andeok-myeon, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do (제주특별자치도 서귀포시 안덕면 신화역사로 425)

Public transport: O’sulloc Bus Stop. Bus No. 150-1, 250-3, 771-1, 771-2, 784-1, 820-2

Parking facilities are available for free.

2. O’sulloc Tea Museum 오설록 티뮤지엄

From Innisfree Jeju House, one can easily stroll to the next door to visit the O’sulloc Tea Museum. So do remember to plan these two locations together on the same day.

O’sulloc Tea Museum on a rainy day

O’sulloc is THE tea museum one have to visit to appreciate the Korean tea culture on the island. Gifted by its geographical locations, and thus climates, Jeju island is able to cultivate the best types of Korean tea leaves. O’sulloc Tea Museum presents a holistic tea experience to visitors. One can begin the visit through the tea exhibitions which showcases the types of tea cultivation in Jeju and Korean tea culture.

At the end of the short exhibition, one enters straight into the gift shop with tea products made from harvest tea leaves in Jeju. There are various gifts one can choose to purchase back. In fact, do take note that some of the gifts sold there are exclusive to Jeju stores only. Alternatively, visitors can also visit their branchs in MyeongDong to complete one’s shopping list. At times, when the cafe gets too crowded, one can opt for takeaways instead or just get back to Seoul to visit the O’sulloc cafe in MyeongDong too.

O’sulloc green tea garden on a rainy day

During one’s visit, do leave some time to explore the green tea gardens around the museum. One can easily reach them on the opposite side of the road.

How to get here:

Address: 15, Sinhwayeoksa-ro, Andeok-myeon, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do (제주특별자치도 서귀포시 안덕면 신화역사로 15)

Public transport: O’sulloc Bus Stop. Bus No. 150-1, 250-3, 771-1, 771-2, 784-1, 820-2

Parking facilities are available for free.

3. G-Dragon’s cafe: Untitled, 2017

Yes, it is THE cafe opened by G-Dragon in Jeju. Kpop-lovers, or VIPs, would not want to miss this opportunity to drop by his cafe.

Named as Untitled, 2017, the cafe has moved to a new address, just by Jeju ShinHwa world where YG Republique can also be found.

Other YG-owned restaurants, like 3 Birds, 3 Butcher and 3 Fisherman’s Wharf, and a bowling club named AC.III.T are also located around Untitled, 2017. Together with the ShinHwa Theme Park, one can probably enjoy a day of fun in the YG way.

Enter the café and viola, fans are definitely reassured that they are in the right place inside the Untitled, 2017 – themed café.

Every corner just writes of GD’s presence, from his music works to his interior planning such as the iconic flowers hanging from the ceiling above. Fans can also purchase some of his merchandises from the store too, like coasters, bags, tumbler and mugs.

However, be forewarned that some of the menu items may be slightly more expensive than one would expect.

How to get here:

Address: 38, Shinhwayeoksa-ro 304bun-gil, Andeok-myeon Seogwipo-si, Jeju Phone: +82 64 908 8888

Public Transport: Sinhwayeoksa Bus Stop. Bus 255 serves from Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal

Parking facilities are available for free. Airport shuttle buses are available from Jeju airport to Jeju ShinHwa World.

4. Cafe Morebi (@moraebi_jeju)

Summer is all about the Sun and of course, BEACH! While some desires to dive straight into the cool waters, others, like me, prefer to relax by the beach with a refreshing drink in hand. Here, do check out the variety of cafes located by the beaches of Jeju.

For instance, I visited Cafe Morebi in north Jeju, near Jeju City. The cafe receives numerous positive reviews from Korean netizens and were mentioned multiple times in Korean travel blogs.

Fresh pastries are baked at regular intervals to ensure that customers enjoy the best of their baked goods like croissants, cookies and in-house specials like cheese pretzels.

Customers who prefer the beach can take their drinks out by the waters for a spectacular view. Some who prefer sun-tanning can lay back on their beach chairs located right outside of the cafes. Others who prefer the indoor cool can remain under the shelter instead. Isn’t that amazing how considerate the cafe owners are to their customers?

Wait, did i not mention that for those who prefer a quiet time, one can even proceed upstairs where there are “No kids zone” to prevent the chaos and screams from reaching one’s ears.

How to get here:

Address: 472 Haemajihaean-ro, Gujwa-eup, Cheju, Jeju-do (제주 제주시 구좌읍 해맞이해안로 462 월정리 536-4)

Parking facilities are available for free

5. Cafe Eong (@jeju_eong)

Last but not least, I included this cafe/pub which is situated at the start of the Jeju Olle Course Route #5.

It has an interesting name Eong because Olle Course 5 is known as KeunEong. This Olle route brings one from Namwon Port to Soesokkak through a total distance of 14.7 km.

Right before the start of the course, one can enjoy a short break in the cafe with some drinks and dessert to replenish one’s energy.

And when the night comes, perhaps one can also head over for a drink too!

How to get here:

Address: 1398-7 Namwon-ri, Namwon-eup, Seogwipo, Jeju-do (제주 서귀포시 남원읍 남원리 1398-7)

Parking facilities are available for free

So, be it by the beach to enjoy the waves, or serenity within the lush green tea garden, or to experience heart tingling feeling in G-Dragon’s cafe, these are my recommendations for cafe-hopping in Jeju. After all, what’s a holiday without a cup of drink to lay back, relax and enjoy!

Lotte Duty Free Family Concert 2018– Part I

One of the best K-pop concerts in Seoul one should attend is the Lotte Duty Free Family Concert. This year, the concert continues to be held over two nights. Indisputably, it has one of the best artist lineups in town. … Continue reading

Recommended itineraries to plan your holiday in London– Part III: Shopping

Previously, I have introduced that there are three routes one can consider when planning a holiday in London. These routes which I highly recommend enables one to maximise one’s travel time in London and cover most of the icons in … Continue reading

Recommended itineraries to plan your holiday in London– Part II: City of London

Previously, I have introduced that there are three routes one can consider when planning a holiday in London. These routes which I highly recommend enables one to maximise one’s travel time in London and cover most of the icons in the city.

1. Southbank route

2. City of London route

3. Shopping route

For instances, the Southbank route for along River Thames to cover London icons like Tower Bridge, City Hall, Borough market, London Eye and Houses of Parliament.

Here is the second walking route I recommend for a glimpse into the English history and other historical buildings in the City of London.

2. City of London route– Estimated 4km

(Tower of London >> Monument >> Sky Garden >> Leadenhall Market >> Bank >> St Paul’s Cathedral >> Fleet street >> Royal Court of Justice >> Somerset House)

This route takes one through one of the most bustling areas of London: Bank area, where the financial and economic hub of London is located in. Beginning with Tower of London (exiting at Tower Hill Tube Station), this fortress stood against time and has been playing an important part in the English history. For instance, one of the more well-known figures in English History, Anne Boelyn, second wife of King Henry VIII, was beheaded in the Tower of London. Since then, Tower of London became a prison to house significant criminals.

The Tower of London is open to public for visit and the ticketing office is located right around the corner. It is now home to the Crown Jewels of England and houses exhibits and artefacts like calvary armour, catapults and torture tools.

Enter Great Tower Street and head towards Monument. Just around the corner of the Monument Tube Station is The Monument to the Great Fire of London, erected to commemorate the Great Fire of London of 1666. The monument itself is open to ticket holders to scale its great height via stairs. The view of River Thames from above is spectacular too.

A street behind Great Tower Street, along Fenchurch street is where one should head to for a free viewing platform at the top-floor garden of 20 Fenchurch Street. At Sky Garden, one can really sit back, relax, and enjoy the view of London along River Thames with a cup of beverage.

Go around the garden and one will be rewarded with a free, 360 degrees viewing of the surrounding area of the building. This is one of my top recommendations to anyone visiting London. Booking is free and time slots are open from 3 weeks beforehand.

As compared to View from The Shard which requires at least £16 advance booking, Sky Garden is F.R.E.E.! Such a splendid view from such great height AT NO COST!

Located near the Sky Garden is Leadenhall Market, a famous and well-preserved Victorian marketplace. Cheeses and seafood are served with class in the building while one appreciate the continuing existence of the historical site amidst the modernity in the neighbourhood. Previously, I have tried a cheese tasting experience at Leadenhall Market and it was one of my finest dining experience in London (Im a great cheese-lover here!).

Fun Fact: Leadenhall is also a film location for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone where Hagrid led young Harry into Diagon Alley for his very first time. The site was also featured in Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.

Exit from Leadenhall Market and turn into Cornhill Street. Around this area, one can spot the Lloyds Building and Leadenhall Building located opposite of each other. These two architectures juxtapose each other and the viewing experience is pretty memorable– Lloyds Building, a stainless steel building designed with Bowellism architecture which leaves pipes, elevators, ducts and others on the outside of the building to clear interior space, while Leadenhall building is a distinctive wedge-shaped glass skyscraper.

Londoners are fond of nicknaming buildings according to appearances and these buildings are no exceptions. The Lloyds building is known to be the “Inside-Out building” while Leadenhall building is known as the “Cheese-grater”.

Proceed towards the Bank Tube Underground and the majestic Bank of England appears to sight. Other major international banks are also located in the vicinity. Down Cheapside (which I beg to differ about the name), St Paul’s towering high dome structure would come into view. Upon reaching St Paul’s cathedral, turn around to enter from the front, through the side doors.

St Paul’s cathedral is one of London’s most prominent icon. Its dome structure is one of the highest in the world, ranked together with Florence Duomo and Vatican’s St Peter’s Basilica. Doors open at 0830 every day and photography is not allowed in the cathedral. Entry fees include rental of audio guide, and access into temporary exhibitions, crypt, and up into the galleries for viewing.

Upon entry through the side door on the right, one can peep around the corner to observe a very unique staircase, Dean’s staircase, also known as the Geometric stairs. Designed by the famous architect Christopher Wren (who also designed St Paul’s Cathedral, Royal Naval College in Greenwich, parts of Hampton Court Palace etc.), construction of this staircase relies on pure mathematical calculations to place each step upon each step against the wall, without any other extra support. Watch the stairs spiral up towards the ceiling of the structure and be mesmerised.

Fun Fact: Needless to say, this staircase attracted the attention of film producers to feature it in movies. One example is in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, as the stairs featured in the film leading to Professor Trelawney’s Divination classroom.

Head straight up into the three galleries and at the very top, in the Golden Galleries, one can be rewarded for the climb with one of the best panoramic views in London too!

After a few visits to St Paul’s, I strongly recommend joining the guided tour in St Paul’s. The guided tours provide a more intimate feel as the guide introduces corners around St Paul’s which are included in the audio guide tour. In addition, the guided tour grants special access down to the bottom of Dean’s staircase for viewing.

To head back towards Central London, continue your walk along Fleet street where many buildings were listed Grade I, protected and preserved for historical value.

Along Fleet street, one can observe the unique medieval castle-like building of the Royal Court of Justice.

For those who love British tea or were thinking of what to get back as gifts, Twinings shop is located right opposite of the Court. There, one can select special London edition tea packaging as gifts. Moreover, the shop sells varied flavours which may not be easily found in supermarkets or in Singapore. So do seize the opportunity to get them during one’s visit.

The flagship shop also presents part of Twinings’ history through the exhibitions of their collections. One can also arrange for a timeslot for afternoon tea, a quintessential pastime enjoyment to do in London.

Proceed further and one would reach upon Somerset House. During Christmas season, ice-skating at Somerset House is THE thing to do in London, circling around the christmas tree in the middle of the tink. In the summer, Somerset Houses organises varied summer events, inviting renown artists and singers to organise an open-air music festival. Do catch these events if you happen to visit London then~

To conclude this tour, here are some of the important things summarised:

  1. Remember to pre-book one timeslot for Sky Garden. Tickets can be shown on one’s smartphones
  2. Climbing up the Monument and St Paul’s Cathedral might be quite a tedious scale for some. Hence do remember to wear comfortable shoes
  3. For some who find it tiring to walk the entire distance, one can consider boarding bus #15 which ventures through from Tower Hill/Tower of London, past St Paul’s Cathedral and onto Fleet Street towards Royal Court of Justice, Somerset House and then ending the route at Charing Cross Station.

 

Adjusting to personal schedules

With these itineraries, one can easily navigate and maximise time to enjoy London to the fullest. This route is about 4km but duration would vary according to one’s preference. For instance, one can enjoy Southbank route and opt to begin City of London route from Somerset House to Tower of London within one day. Alternatively, these two routes can be completed on two separate days too.

Voila~ I welcome all to London with the following three itineraries, which would be updated regularly here on our website.

1. Southbank route

2. City of London route

3. Shopping route

These itineraries are bound to excite any first-time tourists in London, hoping to get the most out of the trip. Alternatively, tourists who are stopping over in the city for just a few days can greatly maximise thier time along these walking routes. Yet I have to say, these are definitely not all that London has to offer. Stay tuned as I continue to update travel itineraries for London.

This vibrant city is my second home and I cannot wait to revisit the city again! Have fun during your holiday in London!

Plan your holiday in London with these recommended itineraries– Part I: Southbank

It’s nearing the winter holidays and the most frequent question I get from friends is, “What would you recommend for sight-seeing in London?” London is indeed a top holiday destination for many Singaporeans who wish to spend winter in the UK. It is also a popular stop-over city for those who intend to tour Europe as well. I consider London to be my second home as I had spent close to 2 years studying, living and most importantly, touring the city centre. Well, you are in for a treat as I recommend some of the itineraries (i.e. walking routes) one can consider when visiting London.

A trip down to London wouldn’t be complete without visiting the iconic tourist attractions sites like Houses of Parliament, London Eye, Tower Bridge, Tower of London, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace and many, many more! But how do you plan your trip to maximise your time and fit them all in at the same time? Check out the following itineraries I recommend!

1. Southbank route

2. City of London route

3. Shopping route

1. Southbank route– Estimated 5km

(London Bridge Tube Station >> Tower Bridge >> City Hall >> Borough Market >> Shakespeare’s Globe >> Millenium Bridge >> Tate Modern >> Southbank >> Waterloo >> London Eye >> Houses of Parliament)

Beginning your journey from London Bridge Tube Station, take the exit towards HMS Belfast and head straight for the Tower Bridge. The walk along the river allows one to take in the beauty of London’s skyline and this walk will take approximately 10 minutes. Along the way, one would pass by the HMS Belfast which is part of the Imperial War Museum. It is open to the public for viewing with the purchase of an entry ticket. The riverwalk is also one of the best spots to take a photo with the Tower Bridge.

Instead of crossing the Tower Bridge, I would personally recommend a separate visit to it as the Tower Bridge itself is definitely worth a visit up. Head back towards the London Bridge Tube Station along the same route but consider stopping to admire the unique design of the City Hall. The City Hall is the office of the Mayor of London, currently Mr Sadiq Khan, who has been in position since 2016. One can pay a visit to the City Hall at designated timings listed here.

The City Hall is unique in that its facade is that of a geometrically modified sphere, which was designed to minimise carbon dioxide emissions, save energy and control heat efficiently. The main attraction is the middle circle ramp which circles around the building from the top to the bottom, through the viewing gallery.

View from above down into the Chamber

Fun Fact: The City Hall was featured in Emma Watson’s individual movie poster for Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

Take a walk back to the London Bridge Tube Station, head for the Borough Market and be prepared for a feast! Borough Market is the one of the most frequently visited food markets in London, known to house international cuisines and food stalls catering to diverse tastes.

Borough Market is also one of my favourite places to hang out at and where I visit monthly. Some must-tries I would recommend include La Tua PastaThe Exotic Meat Company, Scotchtails, Monmouth Coffee Company, Richard Haward’s Oysters and Bread Ahead. Another restaurant, Padella, situated just outside the Borough Market offers one of the best pastas I have tried in London. The pries can be unexpectedly affordable as well.

One thing to note is that while the Borough Market is fully open from Wednesday through Saturday, it is closed on Sundays. On Mondays and Tuesdays, the market is partially open, as only the permanent food stalls are open for business.

Besides ready-to-serve food stalls, the Borough Market is also famous for their fresh products. For instance, you can be treated to a wide selection of olive oils, truffle oils, pâté, spices and powders, and fruits. Here, fresh fruits in season are cheaper than those you would find in grocery stores.

When you are ready to continue the tour, head out of Borough Market and towards the river bank. The next destination along the River Thames is Shakespeare’s Globe theatre. Catching a Shakespearean play in the Globe threatre is definitely one of the things you have to do whilst in London. You can head directly to the box office to inquire about available tickets on that day, or alternatively, choose to challenge the standing ticket at £5 each.

Continue along the river and the next bridge in sight would be the renowned Millenium Bridge, located right in front of Tate Modern Museum. Just across the bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral comes to sight. Tate Modern is a modern art gallery, known for its gallery of international modern and contemporary art exhibitions. With its recent expansion, Tate Modern now offers a panoramic view of the River Thames from its 10th floor. Entrance is free, and the compound is accessible via stairs and elevators. This offers a great opportunity to catch a view of the River Thames and its surrounding.

Fun Fact: Millenium Bridge is named as such as it opened in 2000, welcoming the new millenium. Known to many Harry Potter fans, it is featured in beginning scenes of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince as the Death Eaters tore the bridge down. The bridge has also made an appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy.

Take another 1km walk along the river bank and you will arrive upon Southbank, a bustling little area in Waterloo. Southbank may not be one of the top tourist attraction sites to visit in London but it is home to international art venues such as the National Theatre, BFI IMAX theatre and The Southbank Centre. BFI IMAX theatre offers the most extraordinary IMAX movie experience and is also the main hosting venue for the annual London Film Festival, organised by BFI. Occasionally, BFI offers movie tickets to students at prices around £5.

Fun Fact: Along Southbank there is a skatepark, Undercroft Skatepark, open for avid skaters. Tourists with a keen eye may recognise this place as a set location in Season 1 Episode 2 of Sherlock, “The Blind Banker”, where Sherlock — played by Benedict Cumberbatch — frequented in search for clues to the mysterious symbols.

Less than a 500m walk away, you would approach London’s famous icon The London Eye. During the Christmas season, Southbank would be really crowded as people love to frequent Christmas markets along the river. There, you can enjoy mulled wine in the chilly weather, take rides and enjoy performances in a temporary tent set up during the festive period. Beside the London Eye, there are other attraction sites like the SEA Life London Aquarium and The London Dungeon.

For those who are well-informed of London’s geography, the London Eye is just opposite from the Houses of Parliament, which can be reached across the Westminster Bridge.

Here one gets a clear, unobstructed view of the Houses of Parliament, together with Big Ben and Westminster Bridge across the River Thames. As seen above, Westminster Abbey can even be in sight, all captured in a single photo.

To conclude this tour, here are some of the important things to note for this route when planning for your own trip:

  1. Check for the opening hours of the City Hall and Borough Market if you are interested to stop by.
  2. The walk is mostly along the riverbank hence during cold seasons, remember to bring extra clothing for warmth. London’s weather can be pretty unpredictable, do equip yourself with waterproof clothing, umbrellas or raincoats.
  3. Choose light and comfortable shoes for walking.

 

Adjusting to personal schedules

With these itineraries, one can easily navigate and maximise time to enjoy London to the fullest. Each route is about 5km but duration would vary according to one’s preference. For instance, one can enjoy Southbank route and opt to begin City of London route from Somerset House to Tower of London within one day. Alternatively, these two routes can be completed on two separate days too.

Voila~ I welcome all to London with the following three itineraries, which would be updated regularly here on our website.

1. Southbank route

2. City of London route

3. Shopping route

These itineraries are bound to excite any first-time tourists in London, hoping to get the most out of the trip. Alternatively, tourists who are stopping over in the city for just a few days can greatly maximise thier time along these walking routes. Yet I have to say, these are definitely not all that London has to offer. Stay tuned as I continue to update travel itineraries for London.

This vibrant city is my second home and I cannot wait to revisit the city again! Have fun during your holiday in London!