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All about Temple Stay in Seoul

You hear nothing but the sound of crickets and birds chirping as you gaze at the sun starting to peak through far off in the distance, along with the tranquil sound of water trickling down the stream nearby. Sound like a dream? Well, this is a sight you may be able to witness when you experience a temple stay in South Korea. intro-picture

What is a Temple stay?

A temple stay is a unique cultural program that gives participants the opportunity to experience the life of Buddhist practitioners at traditional temples. You can search for your true self and become one with nature, clearing your mind through meditation, prayer, and various activities. Korean Buddhism is a way of mind that helps rejuvenate the soul and body.

Programs are currently offered at more than 50 different Buddhist temples in various parts of Korea. Each temple has its own program and activities based on its location and particular spiritual focuses. You will follow a structured schedule as you learn the prayers, eat vegan food, and attend the morning and evening ceremonies. Religious or not, everyone is welcome to stay for as little as one day to a whole week.

Main Activities

1. Yebul : Ceremonial Serviceyebul

‘Yebul’ is the most important event in the daily routine of Korean temples, with people paying their respects to the Buddha enshrined in the Dharma hall three times a day. The teachings are repeated before dawn, at 10:00 in the morning, and in the evening. It is the main ceremony that regulates the day so it is attended by everyone in the temple compound.

The Heart Sutra and Buddhist chant are read aloud, 108 prostrations to the Buddha are executed, and the Dharma drum, Buddhist bell, wooden fish drum and cloud-shaped gong are stricken in order. The prostrations symbolize a fresh start, ridding you of greed, anger, and ignorance as you learn the precise etiquette and actions for bowing.

2. Chamseon : Zen Meditationmeditation

Zen is known as ‘seon’ in Korean. Chamseon is a form of meditation that allows people to reflect on themselves. There are two forms of meditation that you can choose from, which are ‘jwaseon (seated meditation)’ and ‘haengseon (walking meditation).’ Monks will instruct you on the proper posture.

Jwaseon will have you sitting quietly as you focus your mind on finding peace at heart, usually taking place on temple grounds. On the other hand, haengseon will be held outside as you walk slowly and steadily around a beautiful nature spot.

3. Barugongyang : Monastic Mealtemple-meal

Barugongyang is a unique and special way of eating in Korean temples. Meals are eaten in complete silence and not a single grain of rice or drop of water is wasted. You only put on your place what you can finish. Be careful not to slurp or make any clinking noises with your utensils as you eat.

As it is against Buddhist beliefs to hurt animals, the food is vegetarian and made up of mostly seasonal vegetables which will cleanse both the body and soul. However, stimulating foods such as onions and garlic are avoided as they are thought to create heat, distracting the mind from meditation. Barugongyang teaches the importance of eating food with care and appreciation. You are free to go for multiple rounds as the idea is not to go hungry, but rather simply not to waste.

4. Dado : Tea Ceremonytea-ceremony

‘Dado (tea ceremony)’ is one of the oldest customs in Korea that involves the process of boiling and serving tea. Traditional tea clears the body and mind, and the ceremony focuses on spiritual awakening which symbolizes purification, absorption, and meditation. Making the tea and washing the cups is all part of Buddhist training.

To enjoy the tea, start off by focusing on the sound of water boiling, then relax as you breathe in its soothing fragrance and see the soft and subtle colors. Lastly, feel the warmth of the tea radiate through the cup as you slowly savor the taste.

Temples Offering temple stay programs in English

As temple stay programs have become increasingly popular among foreigners, more and more places are conducting their programs in English so people can understand the meaning and beliefs behind the practices.

1. Bongeunsa Templebongeunsa

This 1,200-year-old temple in Samseong-dong, Gangnam was the head temple for Seon Buddhism during the harsh oppression of Buddhism by the Confucian-favoring Joseon Dynasty. You may think that most temples are located in the secluded countryside, but Bongeunsa has mass appeal as it is set against the backdrop of the modern skyline with Gangnam‘s towering skyscrapers and flashing lights.

You can find out about the temple stay programs they have through this link.

2. Gilsangsa Templegilsangsa.jpg

Gilsangsa Temple is situated on the southern side of Samgak Mountain in northern Seoul. First registered in 1995, some of the buildings have been remodeled though most still preserve their original state. Many people frequent the temple as it is conveniently located in the heart of Seoul. It also serves as a downtown cultural space, offering many programs like classes on Buddhist teachings, temple experience, and temple stay.

You can find the temple stay program schedule here.

3. Geumsunsa Templegeumsunsa.jpg

Geumsunsa is located in the north of Seoul and belongs to the Jogye Order. Thriving with over 600 years of history, this venue is one of the largest Buddhist temple complexes in Korea and literally means ‘golden mountain temple.’ It features a three-story building called Mireukjeon that contains the world’s largest indoor statue, which stands at 11.82 meters.

To find more about the temple stay program details, click here.

4. Hwagyesa Templehwagyesa.jpg

Located at the foot of Samgak Mountain in the north of Seoul, Hwagyesa Temple is surrounded by beautiful mountains and landscapes that create a serene atmosphere to help visitors escape from urban life. A small water spring named Oktakcheon next to the temple is famous for its supernatural healing powers for the skin and stomach diseases. Legends say the spring was formed from crows pecking away at the rocks.

Check out the temple stay program schedule here.

5. Myogaksa Templemyogoksa

Myogaksa Temple is to the east of Seoul in the quiet residential district of Jongno-gu, Sungin-dong. Established by Monk Taeheo Hongseon in 1930, it is tucked away in the foothills of Naksan Mountain. The location was chosen based on Feng Shui, with the belief that by being situated on Naksan Mountain, it would bring peace and happiness to the residents of Seoul.

Find out more about the temple stay program here.

6. Jogyesa Temple jogyesa.jpg

The head temple of the Jogye order in Korean Buddhism is Jogyesa Temple, located in the heart of the city in Insadong. The temple grounds are surrounded by urban buildings, a great escape from the big city for both locals and foreign tourists and convenient to visit. It is especially packed with visitors during the Lotus Lantern Festival when the entire courtyard is embellished with paper lanterns.

Take a look at the temple stay programs offered here!

7. International Seon (Zen) Centerinternational-seon-center

The International Seon (Zen) Center is a meditation and Buddhist propagation training center as well as a learning facility for Buddhist cultural practices. Its overall aim is to promote awareness of the value of Korean Buddhism and its practices to the global community. It is located in Mokdong. Book a temple stay experience at this location here.

Book a temple stay experience at this location here.

Temple Stay Etiquette & Tips

Temples are a site of historic preservation as well as personal meditation. Therefore, it is very important to keep quiet and adhere to the rules and regulations.

Etiquette

* Refrain from speaking loudly, shouting, running, singing or playing music.

* Physical contact between men and women is strictly forbidden.

* Eating and drinking in undesignated areas or while walking is prohibited.

* No chewing gum, drinking alcohol or eating meat or fish

* No Smoking

Tips

* Use the correct side doors to walk into each building. Never enter through the middle as this is for the monks only.

* Whenever you meet someone, greet them with a half bow. You must also bow towards the Buddha when entering and leaving the temple.

* ‘Chasu’ is the posture used when walking within a temple or in front of a monk, portraying a humble mind and silence. Fold your right hand over your left hand at the center of your belly to achieve this posture.

* For Yaebul, enter the main hall through the side door and do three full bows facing the Buddha before sitting on your mind. meditation 2.jpgSo how about it? Find peace in a peaceful environment away from your clamoring and fast paced lifestyle, even if it’s just for a day or two. The temple stay program will give you the chance to experience and witness something that’s completely different to what you’re used to – and you’re going to love it.

Check out the list of temple stay experiences we offer here and don’t forget to bookmark Trazy.com, Korea’s #1 Travel Shop, to find the best deals and fun things to do in South Korea! button31

Photo Credits
“Beopjusa Temple Stay South Korea” By MeganYoungmee
“Tenryuki Kyoto two people relaxing” By Jesper Rautell Balle 
“Temple Stay” By raYmon 
“Temple Stay at Hwagyesa – Meditating” By sellyourseoul 
“Pyeongtaek Cultural Tour – Sudosa Temple Stay – U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys, South Korea – 21 April 2012″By USAG- Humphreys 
“Tea ceremony” By Jordi Sanchez Teruel
“Bongeunsa” By jcs203 
“Gil-sang Sa (길상사) Buddhist Temple, Seoul, South Korea” By Jirka Matousek
“Geumsansa” By Steve46814
“Hwa Gye Sa” By Martin Roell
“Myogaksa Temple” By Sandra K. 
“Myogak Temple3” By culturalcorpsofkoreanbuddhism
“Jogyesa Main Hall” By Steve46814
“Meditation” By Moyan Brenn

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Our Top Picks of Seoul’s Best Fall Foliage Spots For Your Instagram

Autumn in Seoul is absolutely wonderful – The leaves turn crisp and rich shades of yellow, red, orange and brown, the air is chilly, and you can start pulling out your light coats and scarves.

It boasts the perfect weather to walk around outside, bask in the cool breeze and to take in the gorgeous landscapes. Here’s our list of the best in Seoul for you to take in the beautiful fall foliage and take the best Instapics. Head to them quick before winter hits!

1. World Cup Park

#Seoul #worldcuppark #autumn 각자 저마다의 색을 뽐내는데 나는 무슨 색일까

A photo posted by Sujin Lee (@nijuslee) on

Made up of five parks, World Cup Park is lined with endless nature paths.

It also holds the Seoul Eulalia Festival at the top of the park to highlight the blooming field of reeds every autumn.

2. Garosugil (Sinsadong)

오늘의 #가로수길 #가을 #노오란은행잎 #토요일 #seoul #garosugilroad #garosugil

A photo posted by 한지연_코니페블 (@masha_conniepebble) on

Garosugil means “street with trees” and it definitely is lined with lots of them, especially Ginkgo trees. Enjoy taking in these towering trees with yellow fan-shaped leaves as you shop along the streets or sip a cup of coffee.

3. Samcheongdong-gil Road

#삼청동가을 가을색 올만에 칭구 후배랑 낮콧바람~ 날씨좋으다~ 온도는 초겨울…

A photo posted by Crystal_SU (@su__crystal) on

The scenic stone wall road that runs beside Gyeongbokgung Palace is perfect for taking a stroll during autumn.

At Samcheongdong-gil Road, you’ll be greeted by shades of striking yellow, orange, and red. Try a walking tour to really enjoy it to the fullest!

4. Gilsangsa Temple

#korea #seoul #gilsangsa #autumn #landscape #color #길상사 #가을 #단풍 #풍경

A photo posted by @ngkor_drum625 on

Gilsangsa Temple is surrounded by many old trees and beautiful autumn leaves. It’s the perfect place to take a leisurely walk since the environment is peaceful and airy.

5. Deoksugung Palace

굿모닝~ 불금 잘 보내세요! #가을 #덕수궁 #덕수궁길 #seoul_korea

A photo posted by IMAGO PICTURA (@hendryyadhisna) on

Beautiful scenery is everywhere along this stonewall road, with the trees that look particularly colorful when viewed against the Deoksugung Palace walls. Enjoy it after a tour of the palace!

6. Bongeunsa Temple

The summer hues of pink and white are replaced with shades of orange, yellow, and some green at Bongeunsa Temple – all against a serene backdrop of the Buddha statue.

7. Dosan Memorial Park

A small but peaceful park, Dosan Memorial Park is full of golden autumn leaves and is a popular destination for office workers to enjoy a walk during their lunch breaks.

All the locations mentioned in this post are organized here for your convenience. If you’d like to check out more picturesque places across Korea to enjoy the fall foliage this autumn, try this tour!

As always, don’t forget to stop by our official website, Trazy.com, Korea’s #1 Travel Shop to stay up-to-date on the best things to do and places to check out! button_main 2

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Trazy’s Survival Tips for Travelers to Thailand: Bangkok’s Public Transportation System

Welcome to Bangkok: a city full of people, traffic, vibrant nightlife, busy markets, brightly lit malls, tranquil riversides, and captivating history! An abundance of transport options such as buses, taxis, motorcycle taxis, ferries, boats, tuk-tuks, and trains exist.

There’s so much to explore and with this guide, you’ll be navigating the city like a pro. We’ve got you covered with information about the types of transport available, fares, operating hours and more!

1. BTS Skytrain

The BTS (Bangkok Mass Transit System) Skytrain is the swiftest, safest, and smoothest way to get around Bangkok and see everything the city has to offer. Along with the MRT, it connects all of the main shopping, entertainment and business districts.bts-skytrainThere are two lines- the Silom line (runs west to south from the National Stadium to Bang Wa) and the Sukhumvit line (runs north to east from Mo Chit to Bearing). The lines meet at Siam Station and interconnect with the MRT at Sala Daeng and Asok station. Trains run from 06:00 to midnight and arrive every 3 to 4 minutes. Do keep in mind that they can get quite crowded during peak hours (07:00 – 09:00 and 16:00 – 19:00).BTS tickets.pngBTS Rabbit cards can be purchased from machines in the stations with coins only (but change is given at the service desks). There are several options to choose from depending on the duration and distance you are traveling.

Type

Fare

Single Journey Ticket

15 ~ 52 THB depending on distance traveled
Unlimited Travel 1 Day Pass 120 THB. Ideal for tourists as you can travel as much as you want all day.
Standard Rabbit Card / Stored Value Card 150 THB (50 THB is a refundable deposit). Can be filled with minimum 100 THB and maximum 4000 THB. Valid for 5 years.
30 Day Pass for Adults

Starts at 375 THB for 15 trips of an unlimited distance. Available for 15, 25, 40, 50 trips at varying prices.

The BTS site includes a detailed map as well as directions showing you how to get to the major tourist attractions. You can also find maps at any station.

2. MRT 

Calm and convenient, the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) consists of the blue line (runs from Hua Lamphong in the south to Bang Sue in the north) and the recently opened purple line (runs from Taopoon Station in the Bang Sue district to Bangyai district in Nonthaburi). Here’s a map for your convenience.bangkok-mrt-bts-mapTrains run from 06:00 to midnight and arrive every 5 to 7 minutes. You can connect to the BTS Skytrain at Asok station. mrt-trainUnlike the BTS Skytrain, tickets are black plastic tokens purchasable from machines in the station. Simply touch the token against the screen next to the turnstile as you enter and drop it into the slot as you leave. Fares range from 15 to 40 THB depending on the travel zone. Note that the passes bought for the MRT are not compatible with ones for the BTS Skytrain. MRT token.jpg

3. Taxis – Meter and Motorcycle 

Taxis are your next best bet in terms of convenience as they are  easy to hail and ideal for traveling to destinations that aren’t on the BTS Skytrain or MRT map.

The taxis are spacious, new, and come in many colors like yellow-green, red-blue, bright orange, and pink. However, don’t be confused as they all share the same service rates so it doesn’t matter what color vehicle you take.taxiFares start at 35 THB and remain there for the first two kilometers, then rise steadily by 2 THB at a time per kilometer. Communication can sometimes be an issue as many drivers speak little English, so improvise and be imaginative. Also, avoid taxis during rush hour unless you want to end up paying a fortune.

*Always make sure your taxi uses a meter. Drivers may come up with many ways to try and scam you and get you to use their taxi. Meters are always cheaper and more reliable. Carry around change as well since most drivers will not give change under 10 THB.
motorcycle-taxiIf you’re up for an adventure, try a motorcycle taxi. Though it’s probably the most dangerous option, it’s also the fastest. During rush hour, they will dart effortlessly around cars and buses, driving on sidewalks or opposite traffic lanes to get you to your destination as fast as possible.  The drivers are easy to spot as they wear numbered orange vests.

Fares start from 10 THB for short journeys and vary depending on the distance. Certain routes may have fixed rates and you will sometimes see a board displaying the prices. Make sure to always negotiate the price prior to the journey, or you may find yourself being ripped off.

* Make sure you wear a safety helmet. Aside from the obvious reason, tourists are also very easy to spot and fine (up to 1000 THB depending on the traffic officer’s mood).

4. Buses

Buses are a great way to travel from one side of the city to another at an incredibly cheap price. The downside is that they can be confusing to tourists as the routes are extensive and destinations are written in only Thai a lot of the time. Make sure you have an MBTA map (available at most terminals), ask someone around you or call the “184” BMTA hotline for assistance. You can also print out a simple map herebangkok-busesBuses with blue signs take the normal route while ones with yellow signs take the expressway. The fares and routes vary according to the color of the bus. Bangkok buses run daily from 05:00 – 11:00 while night buses run 24 hours a day.

Bus Type

Fare

Regular (cream-red / white-blue) 7 THB
Expressway (yellow) 8.5 THB
Air Conditioned (cream-blue) 9~19 THB (depending on destination)
All night (cream-red) 8 THB
EURO II (yellow-orange) 12~22 THB  (depending on destination)

Tickets can be purchased from the conductor once you board the bus. Simply tell them your destination and you will receive a small receipt once you pay. Keep the receipt as sometimes it will be checked.

*Wave your hand if you intend to get on the bus! Sometimes bus drivers tend to just drive past without stopping if no one seems to be intending to get on. Also, carry a copy of your address written in Thai as it will spare you the trouble of trying to communicate with the conductor or driver.

5. Boats and Ferries 

Explore canals, historical attractions, temples, and architecture on boats and ferries. There are several types but the main ones are river crossing ferries and express boat river taxis. river-taxiRiver Crossing Ferries resemble a raft with a roof and operate at 32 separate ferry crossings. As the name suggests, they transport people from one side of the river to the other for only 3 THB. The most popular crossing is between Wat Pho Temple and Wat Arun at Tha Tien Pier. express-boatFor express boat river taxis, there are five different types: No flag, Blue flag, Orange flag, Yellow flag, and Green flag lines. The green and yellow lines are for those commuting to and from work from the northern outskirts of Bangkok.

Type of Boat

Course Fare

Operation Hours

No Flag (Local Line) Stops at every pier from Wat Rajsingkorn (Pier S1) in the south to Nonthaburi (Pier N30) in the north. 10~20 THB 06:00 – 18:30 Monday to Friday.

Blue Flag (Tourist Boat)

Stops when you want. Operates between Nonthaburi in the far north to Sathorn Central Pier. 40~50 THB per trip.

100 THB for all day pass with unlimited journeys.

07:00 – 18:25 daily
Orange Flag Stops at main piers. Operates between Wat Rajsinkorn (Pier S3) and Nonthaburi (Pier N30). 15 THB per journey 05:50 – 19:00 daily

6. Tuk-tuks

Tuk-tuks were once a major Bangkok attraction but are slowly declining as more convenient and modern modes of transport arise. However, they are still quite popular among tourists and visitors!

Originating from old fashioned rickshaws during WWII, tuk-tuks are a rickshaw with a small engine fitted in. They are ideal for short trips since they cost the same or even less than a taxi and are much faster.  tuk-tukFares vary depending on the distance traveled but haggling is a must as the price named by the driver is always inflated. Negotiate 5~25 THB off the proposed fare and take it from there.

*Be careful of drivers around touristy areas who offer sightseeing tours or say they know “secret” or “special shopping places”. A short and firm “no thank you” will save you from being scammed.

Try a Tuk Tuk Tour if you’re feeling adventurous and want to explore the night lights of Bangkok. You can also enjoy a comfortable private transfer service if you’re heading to or from Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK Airport) and Bangkok City.

If you found this guide helpful, make sure to stop by Trazy.com, your travel shop for Asia, for more posts with detailed guides and tips like this one! button6

Photo Credits

“BTS, Bangkok” By jo.sau

“BTS Skytrain Ticket” By Harsha K R

“Rabbit card” By Karl Baron

“Bangkok MRT” By billy1125

“MRT Ticket Vending Machine”, “MRT Ticket” By Shinji

“Primary colours on wheels” By Tricycle

“Streets of Bangkok 2015” By drburtoni

“New Orange Minibus in Thonburi” By Ian Fuller

“Isuzu (?) bus” By davocano

“EKAMAI BUS STATION BANGKOK THAILAND JAN 2012” By calflier001

“IMG_1210” By 7beachbum

“River Boat in Bangkok” By Michael Rehfeldt

“Chao Phraya river express boat in Bangkok, Thailand”By Uwe Schwarzbach

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Top 3 Fall Foliage Trails in South Korea You Must Add To Your 2016 Travel Itinerary

nature-527836_1920Beaches, ice creams, short pants… It’s finally time to bid the long scorching summer goodbye and welcome the chilly fall weather with open arms. Famous author Jim Bishop once said, “Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons”. In contrast to the lush green grass and fragrant flowers of Spring, Autumn presents us with stunning shades of red, orange, and yellow.

Throughout October and November, you can feast your eyes on lush mountains dyed with scarlet-tinged leaves in 3 breathtaking destinations in South Korea: Seoraksan National Park, Naejangsan National Parkand Daedunsan Provincial Park.

These sights all offer spectacular foliage scenes and worthwhile hiking experiences. So get up, grab your camera and prepare to immerse yourself in the beauty of Autumn!

1. Seoraksan National Park

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A view of Seoraksan National Park in autumn

Known for its beautiful scenery all year round, Seoraksan National Park is the starting point of fall foliage in Korea. Located in the northeast of Korea, the park spreads across Gangwon Province which is divided into two main areas, OeSeorak (east) and NaeSeorak (west).

It is an extremely popular hiking destination during the autumn season, with throngs of people gathering to watch the leaves change color. On October 18th, the foliage will reach its peak in the park, boasting magnificent views of the mountains with the hiking routes blanketed in a canvas of yellow, reddish-gold and orange.

To enjoy the autumn tints here to the fullest, Trazy highly recommends the following two trails:

A Course. Seoraksan National Park – Baekdamsa Temple5159467145_320c968e99_o

Baekdamsa Temple is one of the beloved trails you can take from Seoraksan, a very popular destination within the mountains. The trail here is narrow and winding, but it’s well worth it as it is a beautiful temple, known for its scenery that embodies an old history tracing back to the Silla kingdom (B.C.57~935).

There are streams and valleys nearby as well that add more beauty to the scenery, complete with crisp blue skies and a gentle cool breeze.

B Course. Seoraksan National Park – Ulsanbawi

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Magnificent granite peaks of Ulsanbawi

The second trail is from Seoraksan to Ulsanbawi, a massive rock standing at 876m that provides a spectacular view. Hiking up these granite peaks is no easy task, with the last section involving a steep flight of 800 steps that can be especially difficult to climb in strong winds.

But don’t give up, because once you reach the summit and gaze upon the panoramic view, you’ll realize the pain and suffering were all worth it.

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Seems difficult but give it a try!

Besides the foliage, Seoraksan boasts colossal mountain peaks that pierce through the clouds, dense rocks, gorging valleys and cascading waterfalls that are sure to be magnificent.

2. Naejangsan National Park

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Naejangsan surrounded by fall foliage

The next foliage destination that you could visit in South Korea is Naejangsan, located in Jeolla Province. This place is particularly famous for its vivid crimson foliage, 600-year-old nutmeg trees, and famous waterfalls such as Dodeok Falls. There are also two famous temples to explore called Baekyangsa Temple and Naejangsa Temple.

Temples, mountains, plants, animals, waterfalls … Naejangsan has an endless list of things to offer so you’ll never be bored. There are incredible views every season, such as cherry blossoms in the spring, greenery in the summer, and trees covered with snow in the winter.

3. Daedunsan Provincial Park

On top of Daedunsan Provincial Park
On top of Daedunsan Provincial Park

Daedunsan, at 878 meters, is known for its steep and rocky landscapes and is one of the most challenging but worthwhile mountains to climb. Characterized by large rocks and trees, the main attraction is a hair-raising suspension bridge that hangs over a deep ravine 300 meters above sea level. Cross it if you dare! We can assure you that it’ll add an element of thrill and excitement to your trekking, especially on a windy day when the bridge sways from side to side.

However, for those of you who don’t want to cross the bridge, you can ride the cable car instead! Aside from the thrills, Daedunsan is full of maple leaves that are a dazzling red spectacle from above.

Whether you’re someone who loves going up mountains or not, it’s sure to be an enriching experience, especially once you reach the summit, not to mention it helps build incredible strength and endurance. Check out this list of trekking courses in Korea for more places to explore. If hiking isn’t your thing, not to worry as there’s plenty of autumn foliage in the city too!

Finally, don’t forget to stop by Trazy.com to stay informed on the latest and best things to do in South Korea!button_main

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3 Interesting Facts about Korean Thanksgiving – Chuseok

bank-leaves-81571_1920.jpgIt’s that time of year again, “the season with clear skies and stout horses.” Nothing depicts fall in Korea more accurately than this old saying.

During the fall, the weather is at its prime with the perfect combination of sunshine and cool breeze. Additionally, the harvested crops are so plentiful that even livestock get to enrich themselves, so what’s not to like about this peaceful season?

Besides the beautiful scenery on the street and the smell of pumpkin spice and roasted chestnuts, there’s another reason why we anticipate fall…it’s the time of Korean Thanksgiving, also known as “Chuseok“!full-moon-415501_640

1. Chuseok, Happy Korean Thanksgiving Day!

Chuseok is a harvest festival that the whole nation celebrates together. Many scholars claim that it originates from the shamanistic worship ritual of giving thanks to the harvest moon and ancestors. Farmers would show their gratitude and pay homage to their ancestors by presenting them with their new harvest, believing they would spend the coming winter with warmth and plenty of food and have a rich harvest for the coming year. They would then share their food with friends, family, and neighbors.

Nowadays, it’s a time when people take a break from their busy lives to head home and spend time with their family and friends. As a result, airports, trains, and roads are packed as people return to their hometowns. There’s even an expression for such phenomenon, the “mass migration of Chuseok“. So if you plan to travel anywhere during Chuseok holiday, make sure you book your tickets way ahead of time or you’ll be headed absolutely nowhere.

About Charye

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Charye (차례)

Charye” is an ancestor memorial ritual that has been carried out for thousands of years in Korea. On the morning of Chuseok, family members gather in their homes to hold a memorial service for their ancestors, usually up to around four generations above (Chuseok would probably be over if they tried to pay their respects to every single one). During the ceremony, food, fruits, and beverages are offered to them. Each dish has a designated spot on the table and there are set processes such as lighting candles before alcohol is poured into three different cups and bowing twice afterward.

On the morning of Chuseok, family members gather in their homes to hold a memorial service for their ancestors, usually up to around four generations above (Chuseok would probably be over if they tried to pay their respects to every single one).

During the ceremony, food, fruits, and beverages are offered to them. Each dish has a designated spot on the table and there are set processes such as lighting candles before alcohol is poured into three different cups and bowing twice afterward. 64817_10200676393373275_1371045326_nAfter the ceremony, everyone sits together to enjoy the delicious food they prepared and used for the ceremony as they reunite and bond with their family members.

2. It’s Not a Festival Without Food!

No food, no party. That’s the universal rule.

Chuseok is no exception. Preparing the delicacies is a lengthy process that involves many hands due to the quantity and variety of foods to be made. The food is meant to serve the ancestors. Therefore, Koreans believe that the more effort you put into making it, the more respect you are paying for them.

Songpyeon: The Delicious Chuseok Delicacy 

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Songpyeon (송편)

When it comes to Chuseok specialties, it would be blasphemous to leave “Songpyeon” off the table.

This crescent moon shaped rice cake is made with rice from the first harvest of the year, filled with beneficial ingredients such as powdered sesame, red beans, brown sugar, and chestnuts. The finishing touch is a fragrant pine scent, achieved by layering the cake with pine needles.

Though Songpyeon used to be made solely by women, nowadays the whole family participates. And ladies, take note! There’s a belief that a person who makes Songpyeon in the prettiest shape will meet a great spouse and have a beautiful baby, so make it count! 83Besides Songpyeon, various other foods and fruits are served during the festival. Seasoned vegetables, pork, beef, and fish are common and the remaining choices vary by region.

For instance, in the northern part of Gyeongsang province, dried shark meat called Dombaegi and octopus are served because their main harvest is seafood.

It’s quite interesting to see the variety of foods in different regions, so do give them a try if you have the chance!

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Dombaegi (돔배기), dried shark meat

3. Eat, Pray and … Play!

So you’ve filled your stomach with delicious food and spent hours chatting with your family members. Now, it’s time to relax… NOT! The real fun now begins.

There are many fun traditional activities that await you, so get up and prepare to have fun!

About Ganggangsulae Dance

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Ganggangsulae dance (강강술래)

This nearly impossible-to-pronounce dance is traditionally done by women to pray for a bountiful harvest.

They come together under the brightest full moon, forming a circle as they hold each other’s hands. As the lead singer starts singing, the rest sing the refrain “Ganggangsulae” as they rotate clockwise. The dance gets faster and faster as the tempo speeds up and can last until dawn.

No one knows the exact origin, but many people claim the dance dates back to the 16th century when the Japanese attacked Korea. Naval commander Yi Sun-shin ordered the women to circle the mountains in military uniform to scare the enemy off, in an effort to deceive them into thinking the Korean military was greater in number than it actually was.

If you’ve never seen the dance, it’s quite interesting and exciting. Better yet, why not join in!

About Ssireum

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Ssireum (씨름), Korean wrestling

Ssireum” is a traditional sport in Korea, composed of two opponents who wrestle while holding each other’s belts, called ‘Satba (샅바)’.

To win, the player must bring his opponent down to the sandy ground. Unlike Japanese Sumo wrestling, pushing the player out of the circle does not signify victory.

The biggest contest is held during the festival, its popularity scale comparable to American football on Thanksgiving as many families enjoy watching the games on TV.

Traditionally, the champion of the contest receives a bull and rice as the victory prize along with earning the title of being “the world’s strongest man”. He’s definitely not someone you want to mess with.  iulleung_236666_1[332793]Can you imagine what an honor it would be for a man to be called the world’s strongest and to bring home a bull in one hand and a bag of rice in the other?

About Bull Fighting

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Bullfighting (소싸움)

There is no written record of its origin, but bullfighting has been done traditionally over many centuries. However, Korean bullfights don’t involve much blood or killing at all.

Instead of humans fighting bulls like in Spain, it’s literally just two bulls fighting each other. So if you’re an animal lover, don’t worry as you won’t be seeing anything gruesome. As a matter of fact, the bulls are treated with lots of love and affection. The trainers take care of them in a respectable way, feeding them gourmet meals after training.

The show isn’t all about competition. Rather, it’s to show how well their livestock have been raised. In a contest, these thick-necked bulls butt heads until one eventually gives in. A dual can last a few minutes or even hours.

Cheungdo is the city well known for its annual bullfight festival, with its own exclusive stadium that holds various events related to bullfighting. The event draws thousands of tourists every year. If you’re interested in this unique traditional and exciting event, you should try a visit to Cheungdo this Chuseok. dancingIf you’re stuck with nothing to do during Chuseok because your family is abroad, don’t stay at home moping. Head outside as there are still many things to do! 

Cultural sites like museums and palaces will be open, hosting a variety of holiday events. Try the National Folk Museum of Korea to participate in traditional folk games and try your hand at making Songpyeon or the National Museum of Korea to enjoy percussion performances.

Palaces like Deoksugung, Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung and Gyeongbokgung will also hold traditional music and dance performances. In addition, amusement parks such as Lotte World, Seoul Land and Everland will also be open, hosting various special performances.

Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, we hope you spend the best time during Chuseok holiday! And don’t forget to stop by Trazy.com to stay updated on the latest events and fun things to do in South Korea. button_main

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Top 5 Korean Beauty Brand Sales in September Every Bargain Hunter Should Know About

September is the month signaling the start of Autumn, and with Korean Thanksgiving Chuseok just around the corner, Korean beauty brands are starting their seasonal promotions and sales, with items selling for up to 50% off! If there are new products that you’ve been wanting to try or you want to stock up on your favorites, now’s the time!

Check out our ultimate list of offline store-only deals for September below. These top Korean beauty brand stores are easy to find in major shopping districts in Seoul, such as Myeongdong, Hongdae, Ewha Womans University or underground shopping malls, and they are located near each other, making your shopping very convenient.

1. Etude House

Get ready to snatch up these products from the new Etude House Pink Skull collection, available in stores now until the 29th of September.etude house collectionAs the name suggests, everything from the mascaras, glosses to nail polishes are imprinted with an adorable pink skull design.

The more you buy, the more discounts you receive: 10% off for purchasing 1 item, 20% for 2, and 30% for 3 (excludes Pink Skull nail polish). However, there is no discount for a purchase of 4 items or more. Grab these limited edition products while you still can!

2. Innisfree 

How can you resist these colorful and cute designs by painter, illustrator and street artist Chris Uphues! Just look at those adorable googly eyes.innisfree.jpgThese pouches and card wallets are available in blue, black and beige and each features a unique design. Purchases over 30,000 KRW get you the wallet, while purchases over 50,000 KRW get you both. This offer is available while stocks last, so head to your nearest store to get yours now!

3. Missha 

Show your friends and family some love with these exclusive Chuseok gift sets, available for 20~30% off until the 18th of September.

There’s a large range to choose from such as body spray and shower gel, perfume and skincare, all packaged in sleek looking boxes. You can also receive a full size of the Layer Blurring Primer until the 18th  of September by purchasing the new Original Tension Pact.

Choose from 4 types of primers according to your skin’s needs-pore cover, tone control, long lasting and shimmer. A mini size of the pact is also given as a freebie if you purchase anything from the 2016 F/W Venetian Look collection.

4. Tony Moly

Tony Moly has jumped on the skin and body care sale bandwagon for Chuseok with the Lentil Bean and Prestige Jeju Snail skincare lines available for 20~50% off until Sept 15.160907-misshaAnd Pokemon fans, get ready for this. The Pokemon x Tony Moly collection is the embodiment of everything cute, and you’ll definitely want to catch em’ all! They’re currently having a 2 for 1 deal on the hand creams and face washes which feature 8 characters, each with a unique scent.

The collection is out until the 30th of September, so grab your favorite characters before they sell out! Finally, you’ve heard of facial and eye masks, but your feet need love too, so grab a Shiny Foot Peeling Mask to nourish and care for them with this 2 for 1 deal until the 30th of September!

5. Skinfood

From milk to honey to lemon, Skinfood’s products always look and sound absolutely delicious. They’ve also come out with Chuseok gift sets for 30% off until the 18th of September. Don’t be fooled as the items pictured below aren’t the only ones on sale. There are 22 sets to choose from, so take your pick.skinfood.jpgCheck out our 101 guide to must-have Korean cosmetics as well as our post on Mid range beauty brands to inspire your next shopping spree in Korea. You’ll also want to bookmark this post on regular sales periods of road shop cosmetic stores so that you don’t miss out on grabbing your favorite products.

Finally, don’t forget to stop by Trazy.com, Korea’s #1 Travel Shop, for the latest tips and trendiest things to do in South Korea!button_main 2

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5 Things About Korea Foreigners Find Fascinating

Korea is a fast paced, fun city with lots of places to visit and things to experience. It’s also got a unique culture, customs, and ideologies that are the norm to us who’ve lived here for years, but not to those visiting. Here is a list of things that foreign tourists find to be fascinating, unusual and maybe even shocking in Korea. Let us know if there are any you agree with!

1. Lightning Speed Wifi

Unless you’re stranded at the top of a mountain with literally nothing and no one around you, chances are that you’ll probably be able to access wifi almost anywhere here. Not too surprising as we’re the proud owners of the world’s fastest average internet connection speed. 55% of you love how fast the wifi is and find it handy when looking up information about a tourist spot. Also, if you have absolutely no sense of direction at all, then you’ll be in good hands as you can look up where your destination is anytime.

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A 21’st century smartphone user’s favorite sign

Though wifi is almost everywhere, some places like subways require you to pay to access it, so if you want to be able to have it wherever you go, a portable wifi device aka a wifi egg is your best bet. With this bad boy, you can travel all over Korea and use the internet whenever and wherever you want!

2. The Cutting Edge Subway System

The subway system in Korea is an absolute gem as it’s reasonably priced, quick and efficient. Exploring the city will be a piece of cake! You seriously won’t be needing a car here.

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It looks like a terrifying maze, but it’s actually quite easy to master.

The subway fare is very inexpensive and transfers are also super convenient, with signs in English all over the station that make navigating a breeze. Oh, and there’s an app with a map of the subway system, complete with timetables showing times for the first and last train – all in English. How awesome is that?

3. Cutting Food Not With Knives, But Scissors?

Many of you apparently don’t use scissors to cut your food back home. But it’s a heck of a lot easier than using a knife, that’s for sure. The convenience and time effectiveness of cutting food with scissors, especially with thick and coarse meat or kimchi is incomparable to using a knife. And who wants to be waiting around for a thick piece of meat to be cut into pieces with a knife, especially when they’re starving! It’s just so much more efficient. Speaking of meat, check out all these delicious places to satisfy your taste buds. And be sure to cut them with scissors!

4. A Foot Mask? Snail Cream? Yes, They Do Exist

Korea’s the mecca of skincare and beauty- there’s no denying that. There are tourists in Myeongdong dragging heavy suitcases that they fill with skincare and makeup products on the daily. And who could blame them? They’re inexpensive and though some of them look and sound ridiculous, Korea’s definitely ahead of the curve and thrives in the creative department when it comes to coming out with new products that have endless claims promising to make us look gorgeous. And you know what? A lot of them actually do work- just look at all the people on the streets who have gorgeous, translucent skin!

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Yes, this is actually a thing here…

The shelves are lined with cute hand lotions shaped like apples and chocolates, eyebrow stains that stay on all week, creams with snail slime that claim to make you look 10 years younger, masks not only for your face but also your lips… the list is endless. It’s quirky and gimmicky, and it sells. Check out our ultimate guide to Korean cosmetics here.

5. The World’s Most Dangerous Border. Dun dun dun…..

Sounds terrifying, right? It’s actually not that bad at all, as long as you follow the (very strict) instructions from your guides. A lot of you love the DMZ Tour and are fascinated by it since it gives you a glimpse of our (not so) friendly neighbor, North Korea. Prepare to be fascinated as you take a tour of this area barricaded with barbed wire fences and guard posts.

If you want the closest view possible of the North, the exclusive JSA tour is your best bet, since you can witness North and Korean forces standing face to face, experiencing the full-fledged tension between the two firsthand.

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They’re staring into your soul. Hide while you still can.

Your head could be on the chopping block and you could be whisked off to a prison camp in a heartbeat, so make sure you abide by the dress code, photography restrictions and behavioral rules. For example, you can’t wear rip jeans because apparently, the North Koreans used it as a form of propaganda to show that Westerners can’t afford new jeans!

For more fun and informative posts like this one, be sure to check out Trazy.com!button_main 2