Layover in Seoul, access to checked luggage?
March 15, 2017 4:41 AM   Subscribe

I have a ten hour layover in Seoul tomorrow, and I am wondering if there is a way to get access to my checked luggage. I am also curious about day tours, especially the free tours Asiana offers. Haven't been able to find much info online.

Ideally, I'll be able to get some warmer clothes from my bag (traveling from Thailand to Hawaii, and S. Korea is chilly! 50F!) and maybe clean up a bit between flights. If there is an affordable day tour where I can fly my drone / make nice pictures, awesome. Any of you Mefites have advice you can share? Thanks guys!
posted by roygbv to Travel & Transportation around Seoul, South Korea (1 answer total)
I've been to Seoul a few times.

- If you want your checked bags in Seoul, ask for your bags to be 'short-checked' when you are at your departing airport in Thailand. This means your bag tags will say 'ICN' for Incheon airport, not 'HNL' for Honolulu.

- Go through immigration when you land. Collect your bags and go through customs. Change into your transit clothes and shower in the arrivals area - click 'sauna and spa' on this page and a map will appear showing you where it is. It's a bit of a walk from where the Asiana arrivals area is. Then think about either re-checking your bags to Hawaii - but bear in mind that you may need to ask whether it's OK to check in your drone later on if you can't carry it on - or pop them into a paid baggage storage area; the Sleeping in Airports site claims there are two storage areas in Arrivals but I can't find corroborating information on this on the airport site itself. Also think about whether you'd have to queue up for a long time to do this - Asiana check-in doesn't open until 6:15 am.

- Transit tours (from free for short ones to USD 10 for the half-day ones) fill up. Book in advance here. Be aware that you may be quite rushed and a self-guided tour may prove more relaxing.

- A simple self-guided walking tour can be found on National Geographic here - and it starts at Seoul Station, where the train from Incheon Airport would drop you. Some more guided walking tours here from Visit Korea. Sleeping in Airports also has some layover sightseeing ideas.

- Drone flying: it really depends on the level of adventure you are willing to deal with. Drone use is relatively restricted in Korea and laws change a lot - you may want to contact the people in that link for advice. You also may not want to carry all your drone equipment around all day. You'd be OK to visit the Hangang Drone Park but you may have to book in advance; they only let 30 drone users in at a time. More in this video of the park here.

- Assuming you are arriving from Thailand early in the morning and departing to Hawaii in the evening, you'll be commuting at rush hour into Seoul. A'REX, the Incheon Airport to/from Seoul Station express train, has an all-stop and express service. If you're going to the drone park first, take the all-stop train to Gongdeok, then change to line 5 and alight at Cheonho station on the other side of the Han River, then walk up to exit 1 and head down to the river. Expect relatively little English once you leave the metro as it's not a touristy area. I'm not sure how you can check the hours of the park; perhaps a Korean-speaking Mefite can help? If you decide to visit the centre of Seoul first, take the express to Seoul Station, sightsee, and then grab the metro to Cheonho.

- Getting back to the airport, consider the AREX again, as traffic in central Seoul headed out of the city may be quite bad. You wouldn't want to leave Seoul later than 4:00 pm if your flight was at 8:00 pm, given that you'd have to collect your bags from the storage area, check them in (and for US flights there may be additional questions at the check-in desk which slow down the process), go through security and immigration, and have a shower (and possibly eat?).

- There are free showers in the departures area once you are back at ICN for your flight to Hawaii. Details here.
posted by mdonley at 6:47 AM on March 15, 2017 [4 favorites]

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