Seoul is a huge city and definitely needs more days than I had available to explore the capital of South Korea.
We explored mostly the areas around Myeongdong, Insadong and Dongdaemun.Also winter is not really the best time of the year to get the feeling of Seoul, so I need to come back someday and give the city another shot.
Now onwards to the real post ;)
How to get there: Korean air – I am not a big fan of flying but I enjoyed the service of Korean air and definitely would fly again with them.
The stewardess were super nice, we were offered a lot of drinks (hydration is very important!) and the food did not taste that bad.
If they offer Bibimbap you should definitely order this, a lot of people recommend it and I also think it is one of their best meals!
What to see: The top three tourist attractions for me, if you don’t have a lot of time to discover Seoul are:
1) Gyeongbokgung Palace
(technically this was shot at some other palace but I forgot the name of it and I really like the picture and did not know where else to put it ;))
2) Insadong (the traditional neighbourhood)
I just loved all those tiny shops selling handicrafts and traditional Korean items. Too bad I don’t need a massive paintbrush!
I thought this was cute, Starbucks written in Hangul. They probably had to do it because of the area being traditional? I know that in the traditional shopping street of Salzburg all the shops are required to have “old metal signs” and even Mcdonalds has a different metal logo that looks pretty oldschool.
3) N Seoul Tower
In all the tourist guides they said that we should go to N Seoul Tower but we did not go into the building itself and just stayed on the observation deck. It would cost 9.000W to go inside but it did not seem that necessary to us.
You can technically walk up the hill but in Winter it is advised to just take the cable car. We actually planned on going up but the streets were already slippery enough due to the snow and ice so we did not want to risk it and the ticket for both ways is just 8.500W per Person.
It is a tradition for couples to leave a locket here. It is really impressive how many lockets there are!
I wonder if people ever take any off for safety reasons, because those lockets may be too heavy?
What to eat and drink:
It is all about the grilled meat and bibimbap for me!
People recommended to try the banana milk which I loved. Surprisingly the banana flavour is quite subtle and not very artificial.
Don’t forget their wide variety of street foods they offer.
Where to shop: Our hotel was located at Myeongdong, one of the busiest shopping streets of Seoul.
I loved the more traditional shops in Insadong which you have seen above, selling handicrafts and creative goods.
- Get a transportation card which will make travelling with public transport a lot easier.
- You are not obliged to give tip (sometimes there is already a service charge).
- Drivers can be a bit crazy so be careful while crossing the street, especially look out for crazy taxi drivers!
- There is a serious lack in bins and you are stuck with your garbage for most of the time.
- Most of the people we asked don’t speak English or just very little.
- Shops mostly have free wi-fi, you just need to ask for the code
What I loved:
-the Korean breakfast buffet at our hotel
– hot toilet seats are a real treat in winter!
– the mix of old temples and skyscrapers, it just looked fantastic! I loved the stark contrast between old and new. What do you think of it?
-the free pickles you get with a meal
– the very modern airport which is huge, lots to do if you have a long stop-over like me
-super nice coffee and teashops with the best lattes to warm you up
-artbox (if you love cute stuff, stationary and anything fun you don’t really need, this is THE place for you!) I bought myself a polaroid album for my fuji instax mini pictures, a cute card and a comb. I restrained myself but it was really hard!
What I didn’t like:
– the cold
– they don’t seem to know the concept of just wanting to browse products in peace so there is always a salesperson right next to you, even if they hardly speak any English they will try and offer you their products. I know that this also happens in the Philippines and in other Asian countries but I still just want to look in peace since I am a bit overwhelmed with all those new products I have never seen before.
-if you change tube line it can be a looot of walking and be sure to know which exist you need to take, there can be 10 (or more) different exits!
– we kinda got ripped off at a restaurant and at a food stall on our first day, so always compare prices!
My hotel: We stayed at Wons Ville Myeongdong Hotel and I can totally recommend it.
It is very affordable, clean, the staff is very friendly and best of all they have an amazing breakfast buffet with many Korean dishes.
For breakfast they had cereals, salad, japchae, seaweed riceballs, kimchi, pak choi and mushrooms, egg, sausages, bread, ddeokbokki, daily soup and vegetable rice. I especially loved their japchae, I wish I could have that every breakfast :)
What to pack (for winter): Every single warm clothing you possible have and dress like an onion with many layers to survive the cold.
When we stayed in Korea it was -10° and with the cold wind it felt like -15°, especially great when you are on the N Seoul Tower, have forgotten your gloves and try to snap pictures in that freezing weather.
We did not need an adapter for Korea since they also have 220 Volts.
If I forgot to mention anything interesting to you or you have any questions, feel free to ask :)
I am by no means an expert of Seoul but maybe I can help you anyways.