From The Straits Times    |

2018 has been a long, long year. Yes, the #hustle is important, but so is taking some time for yourself to prevent yourself from burning out. We think the best way is a getaway: a vacation with our BFFs.

In fact, studies have actually proven that traveling improves your health as it helps cut down stress and lowers your chance of developing heart disease. 

Now, imagine traveling to a country where services like facials and spa are not just plentiful, but world renown, or where you can shop to your heart’s content for the latest in fashion and beauty.

Yep, we’re talking about South Korea, aka every girl’s dream holiday destination that is (conveniently) just 6 short hours away by plane.

If you can spare just 4 short days (think long weekend trip), here are 5 ways to treat yourselves in the beauty mecca of the world.


Enjoy a ladies only spa day

It’s not a beauty pampering trip if you don’t treat yourself at beauty havens like Spa Lei, a jjimjilbang (Korean-styled saunas exclusive for women). Here, east meets west as the spa offers a refined, traditional European atmosphere set amidst Korean standards high-class facilities. Expect to spend your entire day here as you try out the various steam rooms, cool or hot tubs, sea water pool, massage pool and various skin treatments. They even have a snack bar if you get peckish. 

It’s not a trip to Korea if ginseng doesn’t get involved, which is why this tour also includes a trip to Cheongkwangjang Spa G, a spa facility that specializes in ginseng treatments using 6-year old high quality hongsam (red ginseng) roots specially selected only after going through rigorous testing and quality management. Fun fact: this spa has been selected by the Korea Tourism Organization as one of the top wellness attractions in Korea for 2 consecutive years, so you know you’ll be in the best of hands.  


Centralize all your beauty shopping needs in Myeongdong

If you’ve never been, we should probably warn you that beauty shopping in Seoul can be a frenetic, whirlwind experience that’ll put even the best shopper to the test. From your big brand names to smaller, local independent businesses, there is a reason why the Koreans have the been frontrunners in global beauty trends for the last few years. If you’re pressed for time, just head to Myeongdong, one of Seoul’s primary shopping distracts that sees a whopping one million visitors a day.

This is where you’ll find the best of Korean beauty, and is a must-visit if you’re looking to stock up on cheap face masks and the latest in beauty products. Pro tip: in every shop you go to, you can save a ton of money by asking for samples, which they’ll happily give you!


Café and restaurant hop in Buam Dong

Honestly, sometimes nothing is more relaxing than treating yourself to a good meal, followed up a delicious cup of coffee and may even some sweet treats! You probably won’t have time to hit every café you’ve seen on IG, so make the most of it and head to Buam-Dong where you can spend the entire day café and restaurant hopping to a backdrop of spectacular mountain views – nature and city sights? Yes please.

This charming residential neighbourhood located in central Seoul is also home to many art galleries and museum, so you can check off the ‘cultural’ aspect of your trip whilst in the area too. Tip: head to Sanmotoonge early to get a good seat – this popular coffee shop offers amazing views of the mountain and tends to fill up early.


Shop till you drop in Dongdaemun

You know that thrill of walking out of a store with a fabulous purchase in hand? Mutiply that by about 1,000 and you’ll have a rough idea of the shopping situation in Dongdaemun. The neighbourhood consists of over 20 malls and 30,000 traditional shops and markets, so whatever dress, shoes or accessories you are looking for, you’re bound to find it here. The best part is, some of the malls stay open until 5am in the morning, so you can make the most of each day by touring the city by day and leaving the serious shopping for nightfall.

We recommend making like a local and leaving your shopping for past midnight to beat the crowds, and when you get peckish, simply visit any of the surrounding street food stalls offering everything from spicy tteokbokki to dumplings to the highly photographed 32cm tall soft serve cones.  


Embrace your K-star dreams

So you might never actually get to become a K-Star, but here in Korea, there’s nothing stopping you from looking like one! From glass skin to just-bitten lips and perfectly curled hair, you could kickstart your trip with a visit to a local beauty salon for your K-Star makeover – just think how amazing your selfies will look. Surrender yourself to the expert hands of top Korean stylists who will transform your hair, make up and nails to K-star status.


Chill out in a traditional teahouse

Coffee culture is where it’s at in South Korea, but locals still appreciate their long tea culture by keeping traditional teahouses alive while newer and more modern ventures pop up frequently. When you need a breather, visit a traditional teahouse and spend several hours savouring flavourful cups of tea and breathing in those beautifully complex aromas, while not forgetting to sample some delicious local snacks! The older, traditional teahouses maintain their blast-from-the-past interiors that are often lined with well-manicured gardens, and you’ll feel as though you are stepping back into a time where life moved slower. It’s not just super relaxing – it’ll make for a fantastic IG photo op too.


Go on a beauty tour

Finally, if you want to do all the above but don’t want to deal with the logistics of planning out your vacation (no one got time for that), why not opt for a beauty tour package instead? In a country like South Korea where the language barrier can get in the way, a tour is the most hassle-free way to go. Aside from spa visits and makeovers, these beauty tours will also give you the chance to don the traditional Korean hanbok, and experience traditional Korean medicines and treatments (hanbang) that will heal both your mind and body.

You’ll even have the option to upgrade your stay in hotels to women-only floors, which naturally, include special features like hair dryers and straighteners. The best part is, these tours are actually semi tours, meaning while there will always be a guide to assist you, you’ll also have free days to explore the city with your BFFs.

Find out more about these beauty tours that can be fully customized to your taste and experience requests by contacting Apple Vacations: +65 6533 5161 or / Dynasty Travel: +65 6532 3833 or