On my way to Ho Chi Minh and back, I had a long layover (each way) in Seoul (ICN), so for the first time, I was able to take free tours offered at the airport. Since I’ve already been to Seoul twice, I wanted to see Seoul, not to mention that whenever I had a day set aside to see Incheon during my previous visits, it always rained buckets! The third time was the charm, and I finally got to pin Incheon on my travel map. 😀
I wasn’t expecting a heck of a lot since the tours were 100% free, but I was pleasantly surprised. I’m going to give you details in this post about both tours so you’ll have a better idea of what’s included…beyond the pamphlet.
Before I give you details about each tour, I should let you know that both tours I took – the 3.5-hour Incheon City Tour and the 2-hour Incheon Temple Tour – began with about a 45-minute drive from the airport for the first destination via the massive Incheon Grand Bridge. It’s 16km long and quite a site. Since the bus doesn’t stop for photos, you’ll have to do your best trying to get decent shots out the window.
1) Incheon City Tour (3.5 hours)
Wolmi Park is full of nature, history, and culture. If you come here on your own, you can go to the park’s observatory, ride the monorail or go camping, which is also free.
The park is spotless, full of wide open spaces, and interesting things to see and do, but for me, the highlight of Wolmi Park was definitely the Wolmi Cultural Center in the photo below.
Keep in mind that since the tours are free, every attraction was free, so if you can’t go on a free transit tour, you enjoy these freebies on your own! 😀
Anyway, the Wolmi Cultural Center was the highlight of the tour because I got to dress up! :DI LOVE things like this! I love having my perspective change from a different lens this way, to experience a different culture through its traditional garb.
Since I’m plus-sized, I didn’t think I’d be able to get dressed up, but it wasn’t a problem at all. All the costumes they have are massive, and the braided wig was really heavy! Sadly, I didn’t think to check my wig before I had the picture below taken.
If you’re interested, you can also cook and taste traditional Korean dishes. That option wasn’t available when I went but even if it were, I would have chosen playing dress-up instead.
After we left the center, we walked throughout the park. We saw a traditional Korean house, which reminded me of what I saw at Namsangol Hanok Folk Village in Seoul, a major freebie!
There were also deer, but they were secluded and you can’t feed them.
What I found most interesting was the rectangular pond (gukdam) with an island (danju) in the middle.
Next on the tour was the last stop – Shimpo Market in downtown Incheon. You can get clothes, souvenirs, or if you’re hungry, all kinds of food. What a great way to end a tour!
2) Incheon Temple Tour
Since I had never been to a religious site in South Korea and considering that I’ve noticed over the years that Buddhism is different throughout Asia, I thought I’d take the temple tour.
Before I discuss the tour itself, I have to give a major hats off to the guide, Hyun!
Of all the tours I’ve taken and English-speaking Koreans at sight-seeing attractions I’ve seen, she was by far, the friendliest one! I’ve never seen a guide so happy to help tourists whether it was with answering any questions, taking pictures, you name it.
An extra hats off to her for not treating me any differently when she discovered my Japanese heritage, unlike all the others I have had. Being Japanese in South Korea can be pretty difficult regardless of your age. She’s the only tour guide I’ve wanted to photograph.
For all her tourists, she made a small hand-out with Korean phrases as well as how to read Korean…wow! I’ll always keep it!
Hyun said that the guides rotate tours, so I hope that you get her when you take any of the free transit tours! 😀
The first stop was Heungryunsa Temple. It was founded in 1376, and it’s known for its 108 stairs that represent the 108 torments of mankind. I wonder how many there would be for womankind…lol!
From there, you can see Incheon Grand Bridge, but it’s not a great view. It looks way better from the vehicle, although harder to photograph.
After the temple, we went to the nearby Incheon Landing Memorial Hall. Any General Douglas MacArthur and Korean War enthusiasts will love it! I admired the entrance, steps, and art work just as much as the memorial itself.
In addition to the memorial, you can have a great time checking out the tanks before heading inside the hall.
Don’t forget to bring your travel diary because of the great commemorative stamps! 😀 The hall provides a nice commemorative paper for your two stamps, but there’s nothing like having them inked in your own travel book. 😀
Inside the hall, there’s so much to learn about the Korean War. Inside as well as outside, there are several cut-outs and things to pose with for fun photos, like the two examples below.
I wish we had more time at the memorial, but that’s part of being on a tour – you can’t go at your own pace – but I can’t really complain about an entirely free tour!
You’ll have a great time no matter which tour you choose, and I hope you get Hyun!