How To Enjoy A Layover in South Korea

En route to Bali, we decided to make the best of our 12 hour layover in South Korea, so we signed up for a 2 hour transit tour for $14 per person, with an itinerary of sightseeing through Incheon, a stop at Yeongjong Fish Market, and a walk through the grounds of the Yonggungsa Temple.

How To Enjoy A Layover in South Korea

The fish market was like a ghost town when we visited because it was early in the morning, and the tourist off-season. However, many shops were still open and we were able to see interesting restaurants with tables that have fire pits in the middle, live octopus on display for future consumption, and a deserted beach with a few fishing boats.

The tour bus then drove us 20 minutes through picturesque villages with a view of the ocean at very low tide. We saw a man in a wet suit fishing for octopus in knee deep water.

Next stop,

The Yonggungsa Temple.

Again, we were the only tourists, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. They played Buddhist chanting over a loud speaker as we walked the grounds mesmerized by the beauty and intricacy of the temples. A 36-foot buddha statue towers over the grounds along with a 1,300 old Zelkova tree.

The Yonggungsa Temple Incheon, South Korea

I would highly recommend taking a tour if you have the opportunity of having a long layover at this airport. If I hadn’t been so tired from the flight, I would have loved to take the 6 hour tour to the city of Seoul. South Korea is full of amazing culture and beauty! For more information about the transit tours available, visit the Incheon Airport’s website.

Once we got back to the airport all we wanted to do was eat and sleep. We wandered the airport in search of some authentic Korean food. We somehow ended up on the basement floor of the airport and walked into a little hole in the wall, called “snack”.

The Yonggungsa Temple Incheon South Korea

The menu on the wall was in Korean and nobody in the joint spoke a lick of English. And we certainly don’t speak Korean. It looked as if this is where all the locals eat.

So after careful observation, we figured out how to order and where to pick up our food. We pointed to what we wanted. There were no pictures, so I wasn’t really sure what I was getting.

I ended up with Ramen, and thankfully it was the BEST ramen I have EVER had! The soup was brimming with egg, mushrooms, green onion, ramen noodles and spice that takes your breath away. Our huge meal was a great deal at $3. Believe it or not, finding this restaurant was one of the highlights of our trip. It was that delicious!

While researching for our trip to Bali, we had read about a place in the Incheon airport that had a transit hotel where you can pay by the hour for a room to sleep. Our intention was to find this place, or at least the lounge rooms that everyone spoke so highly of on the Internet forums.

We asked a few airport staff members where this place was and they all told us it was off limits to us because it was in another terminal. We didn’t give up so easily.

After wandering for a couple hours, we came across lounge rooms, free internet, free showers and a transit hotel on the third floor of our terminal and it was heavenly. With only an hour before our flight was to board, we snatched up two lounge chairs, and used what time we had left to get some shut-eye while laying flat for a change.

We boarded our flight and prepared ourselves for another long 8 hours before we reached our destination in Bali, Indonesia. Korean Air is now my favorite international airline. The attendants are all more than courteous and very helpful. I can’t say the same for domestic flights in the US.

Order the Korean dish if they give you a choice. We got the Bibimbap. It even came with directions. It’s a concoction of rice, sesame oil, and a bunch of vegetables. The best part was the Mochi for dessert!

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  1. Was there any COVID restrictions you had to follow? I’m worried about getting stuck in quarantine if I leave the airport.

    1. Christy Woodrow says:

      Hi. I traveled there before Covid so unfortunately I don’t have this information. Safe travels!

  2. How did you find the tour? I have a layover there soon and I’d love to do the tour!