Posted by : Ruby Escalona Monday, March 5, 2012

My first stop in Korea after the airport was the Kimchi Hongdae Hostel, which would be home for at least four nights, on the first draft of my itinerary. Situated in Hongdae, the hostel is around a 10 minute walk from the Hongik University subway exit 2 on either the AREX commuter train or the green outer circle line, making it an ideal location.

Hongdae is the slang term for Hongik University so don't try to look for Hongdae in the subway map as you won't see it! This area is known for the all night bars and clubs where some of the younger crowd - Koreans or foreigners alike flock to.

The area is also known as a shopping heaven, full of indie stores (except for a few chain cosmetics stores that you would practically see everywhere) that offer cheap clothes, shoes, or accessories that's of a very good quality.

So, why did I choose this hostel? Aside from it's proximity to Hongdae and it's accessibility to the subway and the airport express trains, they offer cheap dorm rooms.

They're also one of the cheapest hostels around. Online, they have great deals for rooms. As of this writing, if it's a weekday, you could get a dorm room for 15,000 Korean Won (roughly 15 USD), and 18,000 Korean Won (18 USD) for weekend rates.

Another thing why I booked through Kimchi Hostel? The fact that you don't need to have a credit card to pay for your reservation. You just fill out the form on their website, include your details and they will email you back with a confirmation. You'll need to reconfirm your reservation with them though! This is what I did, and the immigration officer in the Philippines asked where I was staying and just gave them the email printout (yeah, the immigration officers in the Philippines could be quite horrible specially if you're a solo female traveller. They always think that you're going abroad to find a job or become an illegal immigrant somewhere - more on that in a separate post). 

I stayed in the female dorm when I was at the Kimchi Hostel. The floors were actually heated (ondol-style) and I found myself sleeping in a mattress on the floor! It was that comfy! Although I did wake up in the middle of the night because it became too hot ha ha! (I was actually wrapped up in a comforter and was wearing sweats to bed since I'm not used to the cold weather and I was sweating!!) The other nights, I found myself on a bottom bunk bed near the door. I loved my little spot and I found that the bottom of the bed is a great place to stash my luggages and other junk in! Well, all of us girls had a lot of fun shopping in Korea that we all tried to stash our junk underneath our beds! :P 

I loved the kitchen: tried cooking lunch there one Wednesday afternoon after a mishap of trying to find raw eggs (long story) and buying bread (another long story) and it's a great way to save money. The dining area is also a great way to talk to the other people in the hostel over lunch or dinner or just eating a few munchies. 

There's also a lounge area where you could watch telly (if you're into K-Pop there's a channel that has a lot of those acts singing or doing stuff but I didn't really bother since I can't understand them!), just hang out, or read (there's a lot of guidebooks available in the bookshelf: take your pick which country you would want to go next. If you're stuck where to go in Korea, there's a Korea guidebook and a guide to Seoul too). You could also go online using one of their two computers (free to use, of course) or if you have your own netbook/iPad/iPod/mobile phone, you could use their free WiFi (which is absolutely fast!!)

The guys running the place are absolute sweethearts. They help you out as much as you can: you need directions going from one place to another using the subway? No problem, they know the way! Need help moving your stuff from one room to another, no problem as well! If you need to stow some of your luggage when you leave Seoul to go snowboarding, they'll keep your bags in a storage bin until you arrive (which I did when I went snowboarding in YongPyong, more of that in a separate post). 

If you also need to kill a few hours before your flight back home, you could also leave your stuff at the hostel after you've checked out, while you go out and explore the city one last time or just hang around in the common room in the hostel, they don't really have a problem with that! Which was good since a lot of the other hostels I've been in don't allow you to hang around the common area after you've checked out. What they do have in common is they let you stow your luggage, which is cool.

If you're staying for long periods of time, you could also do your laundry there for a minimal fee. Good for long term travellers who only packed a few sets of clothes for their trip - unlike me who ended up buying hoards and hoards of new clothes from Uniqlo (but to my defense it was on sale!!!) - glampacking much!?

They also provide maps of the Hongdae area and Seoul in general when you check in so if you find yourself in a pickle (lost or whatever), you could just refer to the map! I had to refer to the Seoul map once or twice (I actualy tore mine accidentally) and the Hongdae map once so it was very very useful.The hostel also provides other tour services for you. Pick up one of the many brochures from the common area and you'll never run out of ideas where to go. 

Another thing that I loved; they provided a towel when I checked in!! That was a plus! As not all hostels provide towels for you (so I normally pack two in my backpack). 

Normally the hostel gets pretty booked during weekends (Friday-Sunday nights), so better boook in advance! Then again, it is understandable since Hongdae really gets busy during weekends when the party scene is at its peak! 

So there, a very, very long review about the Kimchi Hostel. I've stayed there for a total of 5 nights and will stay again when I go back to Seoul (hopefully later this year during autumn or maybe a bit earlier during summer so I could also make a side trip to Yeosu for the World Expo -that is, if I decide to fly through Incheon and not through Busan). 

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