traveling korea/japan (pt 2).

here’s part two of my seoul/tokyo series, covering places to go and eat.

since there are countless blogs that detail all the typical tourist spots, i’ll stick to the places that aren’t covered as much.


  • samcheong-dong
    • everyone talks about garosugil, but my favorite area to shop and walk around is samcheong-dong.  it’s known as the “soho” of seoul because of the countless boutiques and cafes in the area that give it a very artsy/creative vibe. the area is convenient too because it’s right next to gyungbokgung palace and insadong, so once you do the touristy things, you can come here to take a break at a cafe, and then shop.  make sure to wear comfortable shoes because there are a lot of winding streets that take you up and down.
  • hanchu chicken
    • arguably the best fried chicken (in the world).  order their fried chicken and fried peppers.  since it opens at 5pm, spend the day shopping in garosugil before it opens.
  • leeum museum
    • located in itaewon, it’s owned and operated by samsung.  it’s actually composed of three museums (traditional, contemporary, and kids). museum 1, which houses the traditional art, is the famous spiraling rotunda.  visitors start at the top and make their way to the bottom, spiraling down as they go.  there are also anish kapoor sculptures in the sculpture garden (he’s the same artist that created the chicago bean). note: the museum is closed on mondays.
  • gangnam terminal
    • lots of shopping, but just for the ladies since there are only two stores for guys.
  • flavored makgulli
    • there’s lots of places all over the city that serve flavored makgulli.  we went to moonjar in apgujeong, but i’ve been to a place in hongdae as well. they all usually serve food and have similar flavors – chestnut is my favorite.
    • one popular place worth mentioning is mowmow because they’re known to serve their flavored makgulli frozen, like slushy, which is unique. while makgulli is usually served cold, frozen makgulli is definitely worth a try, especially during hotter months.  you can visit them in itaewon, though i think they have a second location in hongdae.
(picture: moonjar)
  • glasses
    • get glasses while you’re in korea. there are optical shops everywhere you go, but one i really liked in myeongdong called kaist (after the school).  in korea, vision checks are free, so all you pay for are the frames.  a pair of glasses can come out to around $20 usd, which is way cheaper than anything in the u.s.  (they don’t check for the health of your eyes, so make sure to still go get your annual vision check-ups back home.)
  • other popular spots: gyungbokgung palace, tosokchon, garosugil, insadong, noryangjin fish market (although i hear it’s pretty much closed now), hongdae, dongdaemun (though i never end up buying anything there), myeongdong


  • meiji shrine
    • this is a famous tourist spot, i know, but i don’t think many people know that you have to wash your hands at the fountain/sink before you enter the actual shrine area.  i also didn’t realize how large the shrine was and how far you had to walk to get to the main part, so definitely wear comfortable shoes. if you’re lucky, you’ll see a traditional shinto wedding happening.
  •  kagari
    • is a ramen restaurant, known for using chicken broth instead of the usual pork broth.  the presentation is beautiful (photo below).  like most famous restaurants there is a line, but we went around 10:30 am and the line wasn’t too bad.
      • something important to note is that at a lot of popular japanese restaurants, nobody talks, they just eat, and it’s because it’s considered rude to leisurely be eating when there are people outside waiting.  so if you’re going to take a picture, do it quick, and don’t chat with your friends, unless you want to be frowned upon by the chef who is usually working right in front of you.

  • maisen
    • best tonkatsu restaurant in tokyo.  there is a wait, but not too bad if you avoid peak meal times.

  • other popular spots: tsujuki fish market, shibuya crossing, harajuku, on-sens, tokyo disneyland (cheaper if you go later in the day), senso-ji, tokyo tower

do you have any favorite places to visit in seoul or tokyo?



traveling korea/japan (pt 1).

there were so many memorable parts of my trip to seoul & tokyo, not to mention things i learned about traveling in those countries, that i’ve been meaning to write a blog post to remember everything.

since there’s so much to cover, i’m going to split this into two posts (one for traveling tips and the other for sight-seeing/food/shopping).  so here’s the first post on my travel tips!

  • checked-in luggage:
    • traveling from the u.s. to asia, you are allowed two checked in luggages BUT when you’re traveling between two asian countries, you’re only allowed one checked in luggage.  i didn’t know this and had to make one of my checked in luggages a carry-on.  it wasn’t easy scrambling to transfer everything over 3.4 fl oz into the suitcase i checked in while keeping it under 50 lbs.
  • carry-on luggage:
    • which brings me to the next thing i learned, but in korea, they’re super strict about your carry-on items (carry-on suitcase + personal item) being 40 lbs and under.  i had to take out my coat, wear it, and even then had to throw away a lot of things i bought.  even though this rule exists in other countries, it’s usually not enforced, so i hadn’t really thought about the weight of my carry-on items, but lesson definitely learned for next time.
  • subways:
    • in seoul, staying near line 2 (green line) makes traveling easier.  it loops around the city with stops in each major distrtict/neighborhood and transfers to almost all other lines.
    • in tokyo, staying near the shinjuku stop is the best. choosing a place near a good subway stop is especially important in tokyo because, while both cities calculate fares based on distance/transfers, japan’s fare price is much more expensive and can quickly add up to a lot.
  • pocket wifi
    • i don’t know how i would have traveled without this.  most countries now have pocket wifi rental stations at all major airports (some even deliver to your hotel), but there’s an alternate method that might be better.  in korea, you can purchase a KT wifi prepaid card at any convenience store which gives you wifi access anywhere in the olleh wifi zone. helpful link of how it works here.  for $3 USD/day, this is a much better option than carrying around a device and having to worry about it being charged, etc.  i’m sure japan has something similar, but i just rented a portable wifi device at the airport because it was my first time in the country, i didn’t speak the language, and i was too tired to have to figure everything out once i got to central tokyo.  this looks like a helpful link though for anyone looking for alternate options.

those are my traveling tips for anyone making a trip out to korea/japan/asia, but let me know if you have any advice since i’m going back to asia (korea/hong kong) at the end of september!



april makeup haul.

son & park beauty water | $30; eglips blur powder pact | $11; clio kill cover pro artist pot concealer | $18; innisfree auto eyebrow pencil | $4; dior ‘diorskin’ forever foundation | $50; nyx extra creamy lipstick (thalia) | $6; nyx extra creamy lipstick (strawberry milk) | $6; sephora rouge cream lipstick (R17 Mmmm…) | $12.50

quick first impressions:

  • son & park beauty water: heard so much about this & i don’t know if it warrants a $30 price tag for toner, but it definitely feels nice using it.  it leaves my face feeling clean, but hydrated.
  • eglips blur powder pact: very similar to the innisfree no sebum blur powder pact, but this has color. going to do a test to see which works longer.
  • clio kill cover pro artist pot concealer: gives really great coverage and doesn’t look cakey.
  • innisfree auto eyebrow pencil: glides on, easy to use, and lasts, but i think the anastasia dipbrow pomade helps me get the shape i like better.
  • nyx extra creamy lipstick (thalia): really into mauve lip colors lately, even though it’s traditionally more of a fall/winter color. looks really similar to the sephora ‘Mmmm…’ lipstick i just got, so we’ll see if the sephora one is worth it.


missha. the style lip & eye makeup remover.

 cost: $6 | buy here

i seriously love this eye/lip makeup remover.


  • it smells so. good.
  • a little goes a long way – one bottle lasted me about four months
  • pretty affordable


a little goes a long way, but on days i wear heavy eye make-up, i’ll soak a generous amount on a cotton pad, rest it on my eyes for about seven seconds, and then give it a wipe. any remaining make-up traces i’ll remove by soaking a qtip and gently wiping it away. always remember to be extra gentle with the skin around your eyes to keep those wrinkles at bay!





brush cleaning.

this is pretty genius.

i got a $2 strainer from daiso and it worked soo well. i was a little concerned my brushes would get damaged, but they were completely fine. i usually hate having to clean my brushes, but thanks to this trick, i’ll definitely be cleaning them more often.

now if only cleaning beauty blenders was this easy…



clinique. clarifying lotion 3.

Clinique_Clarifying Lotion 3
cost: $25-30 | size: 13.5 fl oz

i love a good toner. it’s not that i feel like it necessarily makes my skin better, but it makes me feel so clean and fresh after i wash my face that i’m never done with my morning/evening skincare routine without using it.

i usually use a korean toner (face shop, innisfree, nature republic), but saw this one at the airport on my way back from cancun and thought why not. i didn’t want to judge it too early, but now that i’m almost done with it, i think i can say i gave it a fair shot and i probablyyy won’t buy it again.

this specific toner is for combination/oily skin, so maybe that’s why, but the first thing you’ll notice is that it smells like alcohol. i’m used to my toners smelling much nicer, so that was definitely a little off-putting when i first opened it. the other thing to beware about is if you have sensitive/troubled skin or problem areas because you definitely feel a slight burn when applying it. once my skin recovered from the harsh mexican sun it was okay, but it did sting during the first week or so after i got back.

i would say the one redeeming quality about it is that it helps me feel clean on days i don’t wear make-up. i just soak a generous amount on a cotton pad and wipe it all over my face & neck. this helps me avoid washing my face 3x a day, but because it’s stronger than your typical korean toner, it helps me feel like i really got rid of all the midday dirt/oil.

on a typical day though, i’d much rather use a gentler toner. i feel like using it after washing my face (especially after double cleansing in the evening) can be harsh on my skin and dry it out.

i’m almost done with it though & will probably finish it off because it’d be a waste otherwise, but do you have any toners you’d recommend?