A Day In Incheon: From Moraenae Market To GTower Sunsets
Recently, the platform Playplanet invited me to come out to Incheon with them to visit some relatively unknown spots with foreigners and to help them promote these must- see locations.
Playplanet is a platform that allows local hosts to sign up and promote authentic experiences that tourists can go partake in. A great aspect of the platform is that they’re also trying to promote sustainable travel as well as giving back to the local community so each tour has an aspect that is either all about giving back in someway or all about eco-tourism or both! The best thing is that Playplanet is NOT just in Korea either. Currently, they provide experiences in Cambodia, Hong Kong, Ethiopia, India, Japan and many more countries and they’re still growing. The platform also allows for the tours to be adapted to suit a tourist’s needs.
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We started the day by catching a bus from Hongik University Station and heading to Moraenae Market (모래내시장), which took about 45 minutes. This outdoor traditional market was opened in 1982 in Namdong-gu and like most traditional markets is the place to head in order to support local vendors and locally made products. There are the requisite fish and meat vendors alongside the vegetable and fruit vendors that the locals visit to get their weekly groceries. There are the Korean side dish vendors that are always appealing to me just for the colors and numerous food fixins they prepare as well. Did you know most side dish vendors will also let you taste test their dishes if you ask politely?
Moraenae Market is trying to up the ante when it comes to tourism so the vendors here are especially welcoming to visitors and hope that everyone has a great visit to their neck of the woods.
The reason to head to the market for visitors that are not trying to grab their groceries and go though, are the food vendors that are hawking food to eat on the spot. There are some scrumptious treats in this market including a vendor with a rather substantial variety of the common and uncommon kimbabs (rice rolls). There’s a vendor selling some uber popular sticky rice donuts. There are also fish cakes on sticks, spicy chicken skewers and some other delicious oft found market fare, too. There’s definitely something for everyone. As a tourist, I would say the best time spent in the market would be stall hopping and eating.
The Sudoguksan Museum of Housing and Living (수도국산달동네박물관) was the second stop on our tour. This museum isn’t large so it makes for an easy stop off for an hour or so. Located in Songhyun Park, the area is a great place to take a walk and enjoy some of the local Hanok houses that are still in use. The museum itself is dedicated to the days of yore and learning about the life of citizens living in a “daldongne” or a moon village, though that is a much more romantic translation for the impoverished hillside neighborhoods that they are. Having visited a living daldongne some years ago in Seoul that had been the spot for some street art beautification, I found it especially intriguing to see how they used to be. The exhibits showcase a barbershop, a corner store, restrooms and homes straight out of Korea in the 1960s and 1970s. There is even a room where visitors can try on historical school uniforms for a photo-op.
It’s an interesting spot to learn more about the trying times of Korea’s past and to see how the residents of moon villages, which still exist in some areas, live and support each other. This stop is also quite kid friendly and would be a great learning location for children tagging along as well.
Having had our eats and learned some of the historical aspects of life in Korea, we headed to GTower (G타워) to watch as the sun set over Incheon Bridge. Unfortunately, it was a bit cloudy so the sunset wasn’t as beautiful as it could have been from the top floor, but it provided some beautiful views anyway.
The iconic bridge could still be seen and the planes coming in over the clouds really could take your breath away.
Caveat: Our tour with Playplanet was a bit different than most tours with the company as we were shown around by Playplanet staff rather than a local host. Usually, tourists would have a more intimate experience with a local guide whereas we had a group of around 20 tourists and two Playplanet staff members AS WELL as a local guide though I never had the opportunity to speak with the local guide himself. This opportunity was also a bit of a practice run for the Moraenae Market Tourism group so we were asked to help give feedback on anything that should be adjusted.
Straight up, we stopped at three locations over the course of the day, but there was quite a bit of just sitting time which needs to be improved. However, I think if it were just a couple of us and a local guide, we could have easily asked to move on when we were done and it would have worked out just fine. I also think the Playplanet staff, though super helpful, didn’t really know much about the market itself. They seemed to be finding their way around as much as we were and didn’t know of the popular or well-known vendors to point out to us. We ate a rather lackluster bimbimbap lunch at a run of the mill shop and I know there are more unique places in the area that could have worked. This would be different if we were with a local host who knew the area better.
In the end, I think the tour as is needs to be improved because there was too much down time and not enough interesting or unique information provided, but I would try out Playplanet again to get a more intimate experience with a local guide to see how that goes.
If you’re headed to Incheon and want to make it weekend trip, check out Hotel the Designers Incheon for a lovely boutique stay. If you want luxury in a Korean traditional way, try to the Gyeongwonjae Ambassador Incheon.
1264 Guwol 4-dong, Namdong-gu, Incheon, Korea
인천광역시 남동구 구월4동 1264
By subway: -The Seoul subway system also services Incheon. Moraenae Market Subway Station is on the orange Incheon Line 2. Go out of exit 3 and walk to the second street and turn right. There is a sign over the street with Moraenae Market so it can’t be missed. This street will lead into the market.
By bus: Another option is to take red bus 1601 from Hongdae Subway Station Bus Stop (in the center of the street going southbound) and get off at Moraenae Market. The bus drops off across the street at Moraenae Market Subway Station exit 2, so you should cross the street to exit 3 and follow the directions above.
Sudoguksan Museum of Housing and Living (수도국산달동네박물관)
51 Solbit-ro Dong-gu, Incheon, Korea
인천광역시 동구 솔빛로 51 (송현동)
Days: Tuesdays ~ Sundays; Closed New Year’s Day, Lunar New Year Holiday (Seollal), and Korean Thanksgiving (Chuseok)
Hours: 9:00am ~ 6:00pm (final admission allowed 30 minutes prior to closing)
Admission: Adults: W500; Students: W300; Children: W200 (Seniors over 65 and infants under 4 and handicapped visitors are all free)
Amenities: parking, bathrooms
24-4 Songdo-dong Yeonsu-gu, Incheon, Korea
인천광역시 연수구 송도동 24-4
Directions: By subway: Central Park Subway Station, exit 3. Make a u-turn out of the station and then walk about a block back. Look up to see the tall building with GTower on the top.
Hours: Weekdays: 10:00am ~ 8:00pm; Weekends: 10:00am ~ 6:00pm