Sunday, December 29, 2013

[Seoul, Korea] Downtown Tax Refund

Seoul is a shopping paradise and in my earlier post, I have shared about getting tax refunds at the airport.  In the same post, I have also provided addresses of locations where you can also claim tax refunds in downtown Seoul. 

There are 2 refund stations in Myeong-dong which are:
1.  convenient located within walking distance from either Myeong-dong station and Euljiro 1-ga station;
2.  if you need to claim from both Global Blue Tax Free and Global Tax Free, these 2 stations are located within 2-minutes walk.

Global Blue Tax Free located at Woori-Bank (Location A in map below)

This is located at a walkway "cross-junction" and it is diagonally across Myeong-dong Theatre.  The "Tax Refund" is prominently shown on its signboard.

In Woori Bank, there are various types of financial services available, look out for the Tax Refund counter.  It is a small counter and it is easy to miss this.

The documents that you need to get ready on-hand to process the tax refund include:
1. Tax Refund receipts;
2.  Passport; and
3.  Credit Card (limited to transactions made using Visa, MasterCard and AMEX)

You can immediately get the tax refund in cash.  As a matter of bank policy, they will charge an equivalent amount as temporary deposit in the credit card.  The deposit amount will be cancelled once your present the tax refund details at the Custom Counter at the airport just before leaving the counter.

At the airport, show your purchases, receipts and passport at the customs, and ask them to stamp your Tax Free Form.  Customs officer will collect your Tax Free form.

1.  If the customs do not receive your form within 21 days from the date of refund, refund amount and a debiting penalty will be imposed on your credit card.

2.  Downtown refund service is applicable to purchase price of less than 2,000,000 won per Tax Free Form.

3.  Refund limit is 750,000 won per traveller per refund.

4.  Global Blue Tax Free downtown counters are located at Woori Bank Myeong-dong Branch, Lotte Department Store Main Branch (near Uljiro 1-ga station), Hyundai Department Store Shinchon Branch (Seodaemun-Gu) and Galleria Luxury Hall (Apgujung-Dong).

Global Tax Refund located at Olive Young Mainstore in Myeongdong (Location B in map below)

If you have tax refunds to be claimed from Global Tax Refund, proceed to the Olive Young mainstore in Myeong-dong.  As you exit Woori Bank (facing Myeongdong Theatre), turn right and walk about 2 minutes.  Olive Young is on your left side.  This is also the same building where Choi Si-won's Twosome Place café is located ^^

Go up to level 2 and look for the CD / DVD section.  The tax refund counter is located right there.

For some reasons, MasterCard holders will not be able to get the tax refunds from the downtown stations.  It is still possible to obtain the tax refund at the airport but well, it is a little troublesome because the queue is expected to be long....

Global Tax Refund accepts claims from VISA, JCB and AMEX.

At the airport, go to the customs desk and present your completed Tax Refund form, passport, receipts and purchases to get a stamp on your form.  After which, submit the Tax Free form in the designated mailbox.

Global Tax Free Refund counters in downtown Seoul are located at Doota and Lotte Fitin (both at Dongdaemun area), Olive Young Myeong-dong (near Myeong-dong Cathedral), Hyundai Department Store (Samseong, Gangnam), Hyundai Department Store (Apgujeong, Gangnam), Shinsegae Department Store (Chunmuro) and Shinsegae Department Store (Banpo);

Busan counters are located at Shinsegae Department Store (Haeundae), Lotte Department Store (Bujeondong), Busan Bank (BEXCO, Sinchang, International Cruise Terminal, Gwang-bok Lotte, Shinsegae Centum City Branches);

Jeju counters are located at Raon Hotel & Resort (Jeju-si) and Goods & Goods Cosmetics (Jeju-si).

Getting to the Woori Bank and Olive Young, take subway and alight at either Euljiro 1-ga station (Exit 5), walk along mainroad, turn right after you pass by 7-11.  Walk along Myeongdong 7-gil (pedestrian path) for about 5 minutes.  Woori Bank will be on your left side; or

Myeongdong station (Exit 6), walk along Myeongdong 8-gil (pedestrian path) for about 5 minutes.  Woori Bank will be on your right side.

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Airline Promotions to Korea - Singapore to Seoul / Busan / Jeju (Spring 2014)

Are you planning to catch the Spring Flower Festivals in Korea?  In Spring, the flower blossoms will start from the southern part of the peninsular, where the weather supposedly will turn warm earlier than the northern part.  
In 2013, the blossoming began some time in mid March (from Jeju) and until 3rd week of April.  Major Festivals to watch the pretty flowers included the Jinhae Festival in Changwon-si (near Busan) and Yeouido Spring Flower Festival (in Seoul).  The dates for the festivals in 2014 should be about the same time, but the actual dates will be available in early March or so.
Source: Discovering Korea
Singapore Airlines
Singapore to Seoul: from SGD628 (min. 2 to travel) [Promotion Ended]
Booking Period : 9 Jan to 3 Mar 2014
Travel Period: 1 Feb to 16 Apr 2014 (except for outbound from Singapore between 14 and 17 March)
Min / Max Stay: 3 Days / 14 Days
Round trip economy class
Singapore to Seoul: from SGD688 (min. 1 to travel; exclusive fare for MasterCard Holders only)
Booking Period : 4 Feb to 17 Mar 2014
Travel Period: 1 Apr to 31 Jul 2014 (except for outbound from Singapore between 30 May to 21 Jun)
Min / Max Stay: 3 Days / 14 Days
Round trip economy class
Note: Airfare for travel between 30 May to 21 Jun is from $768.
Korean Air

Singapore to Seoul: from SGD853 [Promotion Ended]
Booking Period: 11 to 28 Feb 2014
Travel Period: 11 Feb to 30 Apr 2014
Min / Max Stay: No minimum / Max of 6 months
Singapore to Seoul: from SGD849 
Booking Period: 18 to 31 Mar 2014
Travel Period: 18 Mar to 31 Jul 2014
Min / Max Stay: No minimum / Max of 6 months
Singapore to Seoul: from SGD953.90 
Booking Period: 18 Apr 2013 to 31 Mar 2014
Travel Period: 18 Apr 2013 to 30 Jun 2014
Min / Max Stay: No minimum / Max of 6 months

Asiana Airlines

Singapore to Seoul: from SGD843.99
Booking Period: 30 May 2013 to 30 Jun 2014
Travel Period: 30 May 2013 to 31 Dec 2014
Min / Max Stay: No minimum / Max of 6 months

Cathay Pacific

Singapore to Seoul (via HK) : from SGD 268
Booking Period: until 2 Feb 2014 [Promotion Ended]
Travel Period : Ex Singapore between 16 Jan and 30 Apr 2014
Min/Max Stay: 2 Day /  1 Month
Round Trip Economy Class

Singapore to Seoul (via HK) : from SGD 873 (2-to-Travel Year Long Fare]
Travel Period : until 31 Oct 2014
Min/Max Stay: 2 Day /  1 Month
Round Trip Economy Class
Unused ticket may be refunded at an admin charge of SGD150.

Details can be found at website.

That's all for now!  Do keep me posted if you know if any great deals!  TIA!
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Monday, December 23, 2013

[Korean Food] First BiBimBap Bistro in Singapore : Paik's BiBim

2013 is a great year for Korean food lovers in Singapore.  A few renowned Korean restaurant / bistro / café (such as Paris Baguette, Nene Chicken) have decided to get a share of the Korean food market in Singapore.  Riding on this wave, Paik's Bibim has started their first outlet at Bedok Mall with fusion-style bibimbap.

Paik's Bibim is located at the side-walk of the mall, directly facing the Bedok Hawker Centre.  It is a simple bistro with about 20+ seats and 1 service counter.  Kitchen is just next to the service counter.

The bistro serves 6 types of bibimbap and 2 types of noodles.  What's unique is that they serve Korean steamed egg (gyeran-jjim, 계란찜)!!

For those who are not familiar with how to mix your bibimbap, there is an instruction on the walk to guide diners!

This was the teriyaki chicken bibimbap (치킨마요비빔밥) and it was really delicious!  The rice was hidden beneath the generous serving of shredded lettuce and cabbage, small pieces of teriyaki chicken topped with crunchy fried crumbs, mayonnaise and laver.   The soup was also quite flavourful.

Gochujang (red pepper sauce) is added to the rice and just mix thoroughly.  The serving portion is actually quite huge for me.  For small eaters, I would recommend that 2 persons can share 1 bowl of bibimbap.

And this was the beef bulgogi bibimbap which my friend ordered!  It was delicious too!

Each bibimbap serving costs about $8.50, steamed egg costs $3 while soft drinks costs $2.  They also serve cup-size takeaway portion for teriyaki chicken bibimbap at $4.90.  Perhaps the takeaway portion will be more suitable for small-eater like me!

Paik's Bibimbap
Bedok Mall, #01-95

Getting there
Take MRT to Bedok Station and use Exit B.  Go towards the direction of Bedok Central.  The mall is connected to the MRT exit.

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Friday, December 20, 2013

[Seoul, Korea] Nostalgic Charm in Urban Seoul (Part 2) : Samcheong-dong

Samcheong-dong is a few minutes walk from Insa-dong, and is another charming area in the Gangbuk district (ie. north of Han River).  It is a contrast from the Gangnam district (ie. south of Han River).  While the northern district has a wealth of historically significant places such as palaces, royal gardens and gates, the southern district is known to be the business district and home to the wealthiest in Seoul.

The entire Samcheong-dong gil (means Samcheong-dong road) is 3.8km long and takes about 3 hours for a relax walk.  The route would start from Anguk station, all the way up to Samcheong Park and then down back to Anguk station.  The word "Samcheong" literally means 3 (Sam) clean (cheong) things and it is characterised by mountain, water and people.  In geomancy, this is known to be an auspicious place.

From Insa-dong, you can take a 10-mins leisure walk to Samcheong-dong.  The street is sheltered on both sides by the tall trees.  Walking there is a breeze...

Enjoy walk mural paints along the way...

Shops at the Insa-dong and Samcheong-dong are characterised by low buildings.  The highest are possibly 3-storey high.  If you manage to get to walk up to the Samcheong park area, you will have a nice bird's eye view of the entire beautiful place. 

The Samcheong-dong area comprises largely of small museums, galleries, modern and traditional cafes.

Modern cafes are usually coffeeshops that serve not only coffee, tea and also desserts such as cakes and pastries.  However, I noticed that some modern cafes also serve traditional desserts such as patbingsu.

Crayon Pop endorses for Caffe Bene, with their eye-catching red and white BarBarBar uniform.

The popular green tea café, Osulloc is there too!

And even a Hello Kitty-themed café with it's so pinkish and girlish deco can be found there.

Cafes with traditional architecture and feel.  Some cafes may even be converted from hanok, Korean traditional houses, giving the café a homely ambience.

Other than café, pop-up stalls can be spotted along the street in Samcheong-dong.  This stall sells DIY fabric bags, where customers can design their own wordings to be printed on the bag.

Although café, museum and gallery are the main attraction in this area, fashion shops aren't lacking too.  Each of these shops are unique in their display, the products are also unique in their own ways.  Some of the products could be exclusively designed in-house.

To truly experience Samcheong-dong, you may spend perhaps half-a-day there, to slowly appreciate the ancient yet modern quaint neighbourhood. 
[This trip is made possible by the Asian On Air programme, organised by the Korean Air and Korea Tourism Organisation].
Getting to Samcheong-dong
Take subway to Anguk Station (Line 3), use Exit 1.  Go straight 100m and turn right onto the alleyway next to Pungmun Girl's High School.  Continue straight along the road.

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Related Posts
- Asian-on-Air: Nostalgic Charm in Urban Seoul Part 1: Insadong (Click here)
- Asian-On-Air: Knowing More about Korea at KTO (click here)
- Asian-On-Air: K-Style Hair and Spa (click here)
- Asian-On-Air: Experiencing Korean Medical Services (click here)
- Asian-On-Air: Excellence in Flight - Korean Air (click here)
- Asian-On-Air: A Twosome Place by 51K (click here)
- Asian-On-Air: Chrysanthemum Flower Festival at Jogyesa (click here)
- Asian-On-Air: The Historical Drama Playground (click here)

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

[Korean Culture] Red Bean Porridge (Patjuk) during Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice (Dongji, 동지), is celebrated on the day of the year when daylight hours are the shortest.  This day usually takes place between 20 to 22 December of the solar calendar.  Starting from this day, the days become longer, marking the coming of spring, which is regarded as the real start of a new year.  Dongji is sometimes referred to as "Little New Year's Day".

Koreans celebrate Dongji by eating red bean porridge (Patjuk, 팥죽).  Dongji patjuk contains saealsim (새알심) meaning bird egg, a ball made from glutinous rice flour, named as such due to its resemblance to small bird's eggs, possibly quail eggs.

(clockwise from top left direction: red bean porridge,
seaweed porridge, abalone porridge, pumpkin porridge)

The ancient Korean traditional believes that patjuk has the power to drive away evil spirits.  This is because red is a symbolic colour of positive energy which can defeat negative energy.  A such, cooking and eating patjuk is a ritual to drive away bad luck, diseases and evil spirits.

Nowadays people don't make patjuk at home, and rarely do they perform ancestral rites or place patjuk around the house. Instead, they purchase patjuk ready-made at food stores and eat it together with family.  Winter solstice falls on 21 December in 2013 (Korea Standard Time is 22 December 2013).

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Saturday, December 14, 2013

SG Cafe Series: Paris Baguette Korean Cafe

Those who have been to Korea will know that this is a mega café chain that originated from Korea.  It started in 1986 and focuses on producing French classic bread.  It is found everywhere, every corner in and outside Seoul. 

The drinks available in Singapore are quite standard, and nothing out of the ordinary.  Besides the delicious, pretty and interesting-looking bread, they also serve relatively healthy sandwiches and salads.  Here's a chicken salad and cheese with lots of vegetables.  It is healthy because it actually has more vegetables than meat.

Besides it's bread and drinks, something you have to try is the Original Royal Milk Pudding.  It has a very fragrant milk taste with a thin layer of caramel at the bottom of it.  I am always tempted to get a second bottle whenever I get started.  It is simply too difficult to resist!

If you are a cakes and pastry lover, my personal recommendations is the tiramisu and the Haha cake.  The cute strawberry on top of the Haha cake adds on to the humorous name which the cake already has.  While the cake is really yummy, you do pay a price for it.  Each slice can costs between $6.50 to $8.50, depending on what you order.

If you prefer bread, they do have some unique and Korean-themed selections such as Bulgogi, Garlic, Sweet Potato.  My personal favourite is the custard cream bun.  A small selection of cookies is also available at the bread section.  But again, you will feel the pinch from your pocket since the cheapest bread would set you back by $2.50 at least and for cookies, at least $1.50 for a small piece...

But nonetheless, the café does serve quality food and if you do not mind the price, it is a pretty good place to hang out when some Korean pop songs playing in the café. It is also easily accessible from Orchard MRT station.  ^^

Paris Baguette
435 Orchard Road
Wisma Atria #02-48/53
Singapore 238877

Getting there: Take MRT to Orchard Station.  Head towards Wisma Atria and take the escalator to the 2nd level.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Delicious Brownies and Cookies from BakeryHearts

If you haven't heard of BakeryHearts yet, it is a humble social enterprise under Ang Mo Kio Family Service Centres, with a social mission of helping families.  The bakers may not be top patisseries but hey, their confectionery is not bad.  My personal favourite is their sugared butter cookie. 

For the coming festive season, why not give their cookies and cakes a try?

Sugared Butter Cookies

Semolina Lemon Cake


 Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you are already on a lookout for Chinese New Year festive goodies, you may wish to check out my earlier post on their pineapple tarts.

You can contact BakeryHearts via
Facebook -
Website -
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