Ahn-yong haseyo – Mrs. Selfish and I are once again in South Korea! It feels like we haven’t been here in a long time, but when I check the calendar we were just in Seoul 1.5 years ago.
Of course, a lot has happened since then – we visited 14 countries, drove cross country with all of our worldly positions to San Francisco, and generally tried to find a new normal that doesn’t involve packing our bags every few days.
So why are we back in Korea? Many reasons.
For one, Mrs. Selfish and I love Korean food. We’re also interested in exploring South Korea more since we’ve only been to Seoul, and only for 5 days at that. I have a decent idea of what China, Japan, and Taiwan are like, but South Korea is still somewhat of a mystery though.
Here’s the biggest reason though:
Mrs. Selfish is 5 months pregnant!
Naturally I immediately started booking trips. Since becoming pregnant, Mrs. Selfish and I have been to Taiwan and Greece (trip report pending), Northern Ireland, and Croatia. Taiwan and Greece were a little rough since she had just entered the first trimester, while Northern Ireland & Croatia were tiring due to non-stop driving.
Which brings me to Korea. We’re now at the end of the magical second trimester, which any parent will tell you is the best trimester for traveling. I decided to plan our baby moon and blow a whole bunch of points since we will be grounded for the next 7 months.
And what better place than South Korea? It’s clean, safe, advanced, cheap, and loaded with great food! Here’s what our itinerary looks like this time around:
Since comfort is the name of the game, I tried to book us the most direct routes possible. Since there are very limited options from San Francisco to Seoul, this meant booking tickets with Korean Air.
We flew business class to the tune of 62,500 Korean Air miles, which I transferred over from Chase Ultimate Rewards. I had applied for the Chase Ink Plus earlier this year when the bonus spiked to 60,000, so this was a no brainer.
We’re spending 4 nights in Seoul, seeing what we missed the first time around and generally recovering from jetlag at the Park Hyatt Seoul.
South Korea is a great place for low tier, high value Hyatts. The Park Hyatt Seoul is a category 4 Hyatt property, which means I was able to use a free night certificate. The remaining 3 nights were 15,000 Hyatt points each. Pretty good for a Park Hyatt!
From there we’re hopping on board a KTX train bound for Gyeongju. Capital of the former Silla Empire, Gyeongju is home to a lot of old sites and also hoaky tourist attractions like Millennium Park.
I had originally booked us in a hanok, a traditional Korean hotel, but Mrs. Selfish has problems sleeping on a normal bed at this point, let alone a traditional Korean bed, so we decided to switch tactics. Instead we’ll be staying at the Hilton Gyeongju.
A deluxe lake view room goes for a paltry 30,000 HHonors points, which is a decent value.
Following that, we’re heading to Busan, South Korea’s second largest city.
Busan sports a completely different feel from Seoul, so I’m looking forward to seeing just how different it is. Between Korean seafood, water temples, cliffy hikes, and another Trick Eye museum Busan should be a whirlwind of new experiences.
It also helps that they have the Park Hyatt Busan as well.
The Park Hyatt Busan is also a category 4 Hyatt hotel. Where Seoul had no cash & points availability, Busan is wide open, so we’re getting a room for 7,500 Hyatt points + $100 a night.
From there we fly home by way of Hong Kong courtesy of Dragon Air and Cathay Pacific.
The flights cost 55,000 AA miles each, which I earned from getting the Citi AAirlines Executive card earlier this year to the tune of 110,000 AA miles.
We currently have a 14 hour layover in Hong Kong, which would normally be awesome. I love Hong Kong. I love the grittiness of Kowloon. I love the parks. I love the food.
Unfortunately, Hong Kong currently looks like this:
So I’ve been awaiting for award availability to open up on an earlier flight. If it does, it means we’ll only have 3 hours in Hong Kong, which I intend to spend at my second favorite lounge, Cathay’s Pacific “The Wing.”
So that’s where we’re at! Does anyone have any South Korea food recommendations? Recommendations in general? Tips on how to avoid protests in Hong Kong?