Seoul Travel Diary/Guide



Seoul is a place where the old and new exist in harmony. Just like Japan, past and future still goes hand in hand with each other, keeping the culture and traditions.

Originally as planned, we were going to take a ferry from Kyoto to Seoul as they're so close to each other. But after carefully researching costs, it is better to fly rather that taking a ferry. It's a lot cheaper and saves you time to add more into your itinerary. We flew from Tokyo Haneda Airport to Incheon International Airport through the local Peach Airlines, for a little over $90 each one-way.

I really have a lot to say about this city, since our original plan to also visit Busan was canceled, we focused our time solely on Seoul. Coming back from Japan, and having to experience a tremendous culture shock (in a good, delightful way), I was also expecting the same coming here. A lot of the people I've talked to who visited Seoul previously have a lot of good things to say about this place. I know it's been long overdue and it took me almost a year to finally publish this. Life has consumed me so much, but since I've been watching and listening to BTS and GOT7 a lot lately, it inspired and reminded me all of the good experiences I've had while in Korea. I think I got bit by the Hallyu (Korean fever) bug again! I'll share you my first timer's list of travel trips and guide.

Yeouido Park
N Seoul Tower 
The intersection in Dongdaemun Design Plaza
Changdeokgung Palace
N Seoul Tower
Free hanbok rental at Insadong PR Center
Ssamziegil Shopping Mall in Insadong Street


ITINERARY


  • Myeongdong
  • Gyeongbokgung Palace
  • Changedeokgung
  • Insadong PR Center
  • N Seoul Tower
  • Yeouido Hangang Park
  • Gwanghwamun Gate
  • Deoksugung Palace
  • Jogyesa Temple
  • Gyanggyeonggung
  • K-Style Hub
  • Namsangol Hanok Village
  • Insadong Street
  • National Museum of Korea
  • Cheonggyecheon Stream and Plaza
  • Dongdaemun

Royal Guard-Changing Ceremony in Gyeongbokgung Palace
Jogyesa Temple
Authentic KBBQ on one of the hidden restaurants in Itaewon
Dak Galbi, Korean spicy fried chicken with rice cakes
Gyeran-ppang, steamed fluffy pancake/bread with egg, cheese and toppings
Eomuk (fish cake) covered hotdogs, sausages, crab sticks, etc.
EXP Edition, an American K-pop band performing at Migliore in Dongdaemun



TRAVEL TIPS


  • I remember reading an article about Seoul being as the world's wired city. With fast wi-fi connections every where you go, being an essential part of their life, I could definitely see it.  You can get connected to a wi-fi anywhere for free. And although they're way ahead of the broadband game, not a lot of my iPhone apps seems to work here. I say that because none of my navigation apps worked. Download Kakao Maps or Naver ahead of time. Google Maps work here but it only gives you basic transit information.
  • Royal Guard-Changing Ceremony takes place in Gyeongbokgung Palace only twice a day, everyday except Tuesdays at 10:00am and 2:00pm. After the ceremonies, the gate guard on duty stands post at the Gwanghwamun Gate, which is the first gate you enter before the palace.
  • Prices for everything is cheaper: food, shopping, transportation. Generally, daily cost of living is less expensive as what I've observed. Most places accepts debit/credit cards too, except the street vendors. I definitely had the best time of my life shopping for 2 for a dollar face masks. My only regret was not having enough space in my luggage.
  • More English friendly menus and signs available everywhere, however, be prepared that most of the locals don't speak and understand English. I practiced some basic Korean words prior to this vacation and it helped a whole lot. Some restaurants have pictures included on their menus, some don't. So, be really patient when dealing with them. They're very helpful and will try their very best in understanding you.
  • Try the local street food. They love their savory street food. My personal favorites are the tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes), grilled octopus, Korean fried chicken, milk ice cream and the gyeran-ppang (egg bread). Best places to try them would be on open markets like, Myeongdong, Gwangjang Market or Dongdaemun.
  • Coffee everywhere! Koreans do love their coffee and themed coffee shops. It's so popular that you'll find cafes on every block, that includes coffee vending machines.
  • Korean public transportation is very impressive. I feel like their subway systems are more modern and innovative. We purchased the T-Money/M Pass card from the airport that we used on all subways and bus systems. The fare is fairly cheap that we still had plenty left on our cards even after 4 days of traveling. It's easy to get around if you can teach yourself how to read the color-coded maps. And although subway signs are marked in English, the bus systems, on the other hand, signage is written in Hangul. We used the bus half of the time because a lot of the attractions are situated away from the city and are only accessible through bus. So you guessed it, we got lost plenty of times! I'd say, just familiarize yourself with the street names, download a map app and use public transportation like a pro.
  • Speaking of public transportation, Koreans are always on-the-go, and you'll get pushed a lot on crowded areas. It may look aggressive to you, but please don't take it personally as it is a norm to them. Just try to blend in like a local.
  • Insadong PR Center is a great place to go try on free hanbok and take quick photographs. We went on a slow weekday and the ladies that were working there helped us get dressed and choose the perfect outfit. I believe you're only allowed to wear them for a short amount of time when it's busy but we just got lucky. They even took our pictures and even let us go outdoors for a bit to take some more pictures. All in all, a great experience! It's a tourism information center where you can get some English pamphlets, book hotel rooms, get directions and information about live shows. Also, if you walk around Insadong, you'll find traditional arts and crafts on every corner. This is a good place to buy souvenirs for friends and family back home. PRO TIP: You can get in to palaces and shrines for free if you're wearing a hanbok.
  • Itaewon District, where we stayed at, is known for bars and nightlife. It's known for being culturally diverse because of the nearby U.S Army base and all of its international shops catered for foreigners. I really felt like I was in New York or Downtown Los Angeles for a minute.
  • Dongdaemun shopping district is open nearly for 24 hours long.
  • Just like Japan, leaving tips are unnecessary.
  • Seoul is a safe city. Never once did we feel uncomfortable walking back to our Airbnb from the bus station at midnight everyday.
  • Lastly, enjoy yourself and drink soju like a local. I know I did.

Dongdaemun Design Plaza
Jogyesa Temple
Namsangol Hanok Village
Changdeokgung Palace


Prior to visiting, we weren't really much drawn into the country. Though, I was very interested with the Korean cuisine, skincare, and its burgeoning popularity. Fast forward to this visit, needless to say, my appreciation for Korea has grown tremendously. Much has happened since our first trip and here I am, hoarding more face masks, growing my Korean pop culture love and spending my money on unnecessary cute merchandise from my BTS stans.

I hope you find this post useful if ever you plan on traveling to Seoul. If you've already visited, what's your favorite experience? Let me know your thoughts! I know for sure that I will be back since 4-5 days was too short and I barely scratched the Seoul surface. I already have some places listed on my "next time" list.

Thanks for visiting and I'll talk to you guys again soon!




More of my Asia trip: TOKYO | KYOTO | TAIPEI


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6 comments

  1. Bookmarking this for future reference. I’d love to visit Seoul someday!

    Eva | https://girlknowswhat.com

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    1. I appreciate it! Let me know if you have any questions!

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  2. Great content! I’ve always wanted to go and you give great advice on how to make the most your time there!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much. Seoul is a fun and vibrant city. Hope you get to visit someday!

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  3. Definitely going to keep this in mind for when I visit Korea! So helpful on where to go and how to get around!

    Nikki

    www.nikkilazaro.com

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    Replies
    1. Thank you. Hope you get to visit soon! Let me know if you have any questions!

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