Alright, here it is: the promised list of things to do in Incheon. I’m going to start off with Songdo, since it’s my love and I miss it.
How to get there: (By Subway) Take the lighter blue Incheon 1 line and get off at any of the stops between Campus Town and International Business District. Campus Town Station is right by Yonsei University (Songdo Campus) and is the closest subway station to where most of the good stuff is. Central Park Station is on the other side of Songdo, and has, you guessed it!, the beautiful Central Park. (By Bus from Seoul) You can take the M6405 from Gangnam or the M6724 from Sincheon/Hongdae/Hapjeong. You can check out a detailed route of these buses on Naver maps (which I strongly encourage anyone who lives in Korea to get!)
There are a bunch of places to shop in Songdo. If you take the bus at Campus Town Station, and get off at around Poonglim iWant Apartment Complex 2, you’ll immediately be in what Hope and I referred to as the “Civilization.” Some parts of Songdo are completely devoid of people, and the Civilization stands in stark contrast to those areas. There are shops all along the street, with familiar big-name stores as well: The Face Shop, Innisfree, Baskin Robbins, Daiso, Starbucks, etc. Within the Civilization, there are two main buildings: Dream City and Millennium, but I’ll get back to those in a second.
Songdo is also home to Canal Walk/NC Cube-the place they always make sure to put in Incheon promotion videos. Canal Walk is this long strip of two-floored mall, divided into four sections, to correspond with the four seasons. It’s mostly franchises and restaurants (topped by officetels), so you’ll find your favorite Korean cosmetics, clothing brands, coffee shops, bingsu places, etc here. There are also some low key coffee shops, and a delicious pretzel cafe. In addition, f(x)’s Hot Summer music video was filmed here. One of my classmates remembers going home one day and wondering why there was a huge pink tank in the middle of the road.
I would suggest getting here by bus from Campus Town since there are a lot of buses there, but it’s closer geographically to International Business District station. You can walk there from this station. Heck, you can walk there from Campus Town-it takes me about an hour (I walked all over Songdo man).
Right next to Central Park is another mall to fulfill all of your shopping/cafe needs. I think it’s actually called the Central Park Mall, but I can’t remember clearly. The shops here were mostly brands that I hadn’t heard of before, but there is one Morning Glory, if you are in need of cute stationery! You can get here by bus from Campus Town, or just walk through the park from Central Park Station.
THINGS TO DO/SEE:
Coming back as promised to Dream City and Millennium, these buildings hold much more than just shops and cafes. I took a jazz funk dance class in Dream City, and the studio was right across from an art hagwon. There are noraebangs, an essential past time for all Koreans, and there is a decent bowling alley in Millennium. Both buildings wear admittedly overwhelming signs for all of the businesses it holds inside, but if you look closely, you can usually find something interesting, and that’s how I found the bowling alley!
Of course, if you’re looking for a low-key, free outing, a walk around Central Park offers great views, and fun things to do along the way. While it gets pretty crowded on weekends, especially nice weather weekends, weekdays are still mostly empty. Some of the stuff on the signs are still being built (like the tea maze and the museum), but there’s still lots of other stuff to do! You can chill on the wide grassy area, play with your dogs, or play frisbee, while other people bike around the park, either with their own bikes or bikes you can rent from the park. Some people even choose to rent a paddle boat and leisurely paddle their way through Central Park. There’s also a deer enclosure, which was closed while I lived in Songdo, but it’s open again I hear. Also, fun fact: the Korean drama Who Are You filmed a few scenes in Central Park (along with the bus stop outside my apartment…and had planned on filming in my high school, but our principal declined…but let’s not think about that T.T…still bitter!) If you go to the far side of the park, where the piano and horn sculptures are, the Prugio officetels there played background to one of Hyunbin’s commercials this year.
Right next to Central Park stands G-Tower. It’s that weird, tall building with the triangular cut balcony of some sorts that you can see from the park. It turns out that you can go to that balcony, provided you’re with someone who has an ID card, and get an awesome view of Songdo. Also, there’s a great, cheap Korean restaurant on the same floor the balcony is on.
Another place worth mentioning: the Korean American Village building. There’s not much to it, but you’ll see it if you walk around Songdo, on the Campus Town side. At night, the sign lights up to this horrendous rainbow neon, but it reminds you of home, if you’re American…because go big or go home right?…
And of course, festivals/concerts. This goes with all of Incheon, not just Songdo. Since there is a lot of space in Incheon, compared to Seoul, the venues tend to be bigger, and as a result, many concerts get scheduled in Incheon. Songdo has a lot of festivals, and quite a few of them take place at either Central Park or International Business District. Also keep an eye out for college festival season (spring), when all colleges invite famous artists to perform on their campus. I went to Incheon National University’s festival, since my friend goes to that school, to see Epik High, and it was fantastic. I think Yonsei had Exo, so ask around to see who’s playing. Did I mention it’s free?
Okay so on to FOOD:
I mentioned in the previous sections that there are hundreds of cafes all over Songdo. In fact, on our last full, free day in Songdo, Hope and I planned to cafe-hop all around the city. There are the coffee chains of course (Starbucks, Tom N Toms, The Twosome Place), but there are also unique cafes serving delicious dessert as well (Audrey Hepburn Cafe? Bicycle Cafe?? Book Cafe??? Cafe Urban????). I also recommend Cafe 옳음; their grilled cheese tomato panini is to die for. It’s located near The Sharp First World (더샵퍼스트월드). Along with cafes, there is the obligatory Sulbing (actually there’s three lol), BUT Songdo also has a bunch of other bingsu chains that aren’t as big as Sulbing. Sulbing purists claim that these aren’t as good as Sulbing, but the fact is, they have menu items not found at Sulbing, and some, like Homibing (호미빙) do shaved ice better. Actually, I’m pretty sure Homibing is Taiwan ice flakes, rather than Korean, but no matter, the chocolate one is amazing. It includes chocolate bananas, pudding, and brownies that rival your grandmother’s. There are a lot of bingsu and dessert options in Millennium, Dream City, and Prugio Worldmark (the apartments right next to the Hillstate Apartments I’m about to mention).
The Hillstate Apartments across from Dream City are home to a city of Korean bbq restaurants. There are so many meat places in Songdo, especially under Hillstate, that I don’t know how they all stay in business. But anyway, meat is always good, and if you’re a fan of Samgyupsal, I’d definitely recommend this place.
Also, visit the Yonsei campus, because their cafeteria is not only cheap, but also delicious!
Nearby/Other Incheon Areas:
If you take the subway, go down about two stops to Dongchun Station, you’ll arrive at the Square One mall, which is home to a movie theater (CGV), an Emart, a Homeplus, and other fun stores, such as ArtBox or H&M. This CGV is the closest one to Songdo, so I went there often.
A few more subway stops away, and you’ll alight at Incheon Bus Terminal OR Arts Center. Both stops overlap at the good stuff, and you can easily walk from one station to the other. There is a big department store, but no big shopping mall, so this is where Korean kids go after school for street shopping, or for other street fun. There is a CGV at the Arts Center station, and there is also a disco pang pang in the neighborhood. I’d recommend going with a Korean who knows the area, unless you’re the type of person who is fine wandering streets on their own.
Even further down the line is Bupyeong Station. This is where I spent a lot of my free time hanging out with friends the first semester, since I lived at Sosa, a quick 10 minute ride. There is a huge underground shopping maze, packed with small shops that sell the latest Korean fashion at discount prices and your favorite Korean cosmetics. Aboveground is a labyrinth of streets filled with great restaurants, good dessert, and noraebangs. It’s basically a small gangnam, but it doesn’t give off that high-class feel that the main street of Gangnam does.
If you transfer from the light blue Incheon line 1 to the dark blue line 1 at Bupyeong, you can get to Seoul easily, by transferring at Sindorim. OR, you know, you could be cool and go to Bucheon. Bucheon the city spans over a course of multiple subway stations, but if you get off at Bucheon Station, you’ll find more underground shopping, not as big as the one in Bupyeong, but decent sized. You can follow this map I drew on (courtesy of Naver Maps) to get to the best part of Bucheon.Red: Leave from either exit 3 or 4, and walk straight for a little bit on the left sidewalk. You can turn at the first major road, where you’ll be greeted by a statue painting the entrance sign. There are some good restaurants on this street including a 닭갈비 place (stir-fried diced chicken) and stores like ArtBox.
Blue: Again, leave from either 3 or 4 and walk on the left sidewalk until you get to the main road with cars. I always preferred the “scenic route,” the red route, but looking at the map now, I guess it would have been more efficient to go this way.
That whole area at the end of the arrows is filled with youthful vibes, but on the street the red arrow points at is a Multibang, a multi-purpose room you can use for noraebang, surfing the internet, watching TV, or playing the hundreds of games they have for the wii. Whenever we went, we always played Just Dance lol. Most multibangs, this one included, has free ice cream, cookies, slushies, sodas, etc available in the common room. I wouldn’t suggest going alone, however, because some can be a little sketch. This one is fine though! The multibang will be on your right, and you’ll pass a church on the way. Just look out for a sign that says 멀티방 and it’ll be on the fourth floor I believe, but don’t hold that against me if I’m wrong.
There are bars and clubs around for the legal crowd, just like Bupyeong and Gangnam, but there are still plenty of small shops, cafes, noraebangs (and multibang!) for the younger people.
Other Bucheon Subway stations include Bucheon City Hall (부천 시청역), which has a big department store, lots of cafes, nice restaurants, and a huge park. Bucheon Terminal (부천 터미널역) also has a department store, a movie theater, and a waterpark (Play City). Since Bucheon has all of these great places to visit, I would suggest avoiding the tourist trap that is Aiins World. Not only is it expensive, but taking a bunch of pictures with small versions of world wonders is not as great as it sounds to be.
Going back to Incheon, if you get off at Incheon Station (line 1) and take a bus, you can get to Wolmido, a small, sketchy amusement park by the ocean, that gives off a slight Coney Island feel. The Disco Pang Pang there is great, but other than that I would not go on anything else. Johnny, our resident safe-rides inspector, having worked at Kings Dominion, was horrified by the lack of safety checks (and even without that training, we were too lol). The ride that drops you from a high height did not have anyone checking our restraints, and when we went on the Viking, the bar that keeps you from flying out was broken for Mary and Brady. Thank goodness they survived though. Other people weren’t so lucky, and one of the Vikings was closed after a death this year. But the boardwalk is decent, and looking at the ocean is always good fun. Plus, I know I mentioned this already but Disco Pang Pang is great. Wolmido is completely out of my way, but I’ve gone just for Disco Pang Pang because it’s that much fun. And it’s better than the one at Incheon Bus Terminal and the one in Dongdaemun, since those two are indoors. (The one at Dongdaemun has the cutest boys, however.)
Also at Incheon Station is Chinatown, which has some cool things to see like the murals, but most people go for the food. There’s the famous Korean “Chinese” dish jajangmyeon, but there is plenty of street food, like mandu!!!, sold as well.
As a quick addition, Woninjae and Seonhak are worth exploring, and Incheon has plenty of great hiking areas. Seoul does too, but let’s just say Incheon’s are better, because once an Incheon Girl, always an Incheon Girl.
TL;DR Incheon is cool, but you’ll still wish you lived in Seoul. LOL.
I kid. Maybe. But no for real, you can go see the cool stuff in Seoul on weekends or something. It’s not that big of a deal.
And thanks to my fellow Incheon girls, Mary and Serena for helping me think of stuff.