Disclaimer: I wrote this a few years ago and plan to visit again soon, so you can expect any updated guide soon.
Where to begin, Seoul was such an experience for me, I flew out there to see my two best friends who were studying in Asia at the time as part of their year abroad. I had never been to Asia, nor had I ever been on a long hall flight alone before, so I had no idea what to expect.
Seoul was mind blowing, my arrival at Seoul airport was a bit of a shock as their passport control is extensive; and you have to fill in and sign three different forms (this could have changed by now); unknown to me, so I tried to exit having missed one out and was shouted at. But from then on my trip was epic, minus the weather of course as monsoon season was slightly delayed, so my holiday fell right in the middle of it – just my luck!
I was in Seoul for ten days and had so many things on my to-do list, but with the terrible weather a lot of them couldn’t be done and some museums and places were actually shut, but I suppose this just means I will have to return. Seeing as I visited Seoul a while ago I’m going to list some facts, things to do and hint & tips for those of you that may be visiting the City.
Buy a Metro card – the underground in Seoul is very clean and modern and spreads all over the City, plus it’s pretty easy to use as the lines are all colour coded and the stops are sounded out so you can hopefully recognize where you need to get off. A HINT for the subway and any public transport is to be quiet, its deemed rude to be loud on public transport and you must always respect your elders, so give up your seats. Your metro card is also valid on buses and you just need to tap in & out.
Beware of Taxi’s – I was lucky enough to be visiting my friends who could navigate the city and speak basic Korean, if I was visiting alone I would have had no hope. It’s actually sad but all the taxi drivers are old men as the Korean government only recently introduced the state pension, and so the oldest generations are not benefiting from it and have essentially been left behind, hence having to work such jobs. So you will have no luck trying to speak English, I tried showing some drivers maps of where I wanted to go but had no such luck. This said Good Luck and may the odds be ever in your favour.
Try the food – I admittedly am a picky eater and I did struggle with getting over the idea of my friends just ordering my food and hoping for the best. I mainly stuck to chicken (well I can only hope it was), pork and beef. A meal I would most defiantly recommend is Beef Korean BBQ, or any type of BBQ for that matter. In Korea going out for a meal is a very social experience and it’s about indulging and sharing food and endless Soju. It’s a really enjoyable experience which everyone should try.
Try Soju, it’s a Korean liquor which comes in a variety of flavours. Having tried a lot of them I would advise you to opt for Grapefruit; it’s one of the most palatable ones and is one of the less sweet options. Beware, it goes down extremely easy, so watch your pre drinks. Soju can be bought from shops for the equivalent of £1.50, so it can very easily be overdone.
Visit DDR – Seoul’s Design Plaza, it’s the bean shaped building. I actually found this on Instagram as it features an LED flower light show, which after sunset sets the place alight. It’s a real sight to be seen. Inside if your lucky enough you will stumble across loads of independent stalls owed by entrepreneurs which host the latest trends and gadgets, I bought a few things here and only wish I had more room in my suitcase to be able to buy more.
Shop till you drop – Shopping in Seoul is so fulfilling, their shops are never ending and one thing in particular I enjoyed was K-Beauty shopping. Seoul has the most outstanding beauty/makeup stores, they have so many different ranges of makeup and skin care products. Nature Republic and Etude House are two I would definitely recommend. I bought numerous sheet face masks and lip plumping masks there, which I swear by. Their makeup is also really reasonably priced and it’s common to see people topping up their makeup whilst out and about, so don’t feel embarrassed to try stuff on. It takes a while to get used to but you will notice how common it is.
Visit Seoul’s War Memorial Museum – entry is free and it hosts amazing artefacts and exhibitions on Korean history and shines a light on the North-South divide. This museum was honestly breathe taking, and it also offers a few fun 4-D simulators to experience events from Korean history.
Visit Common Ground – again I found this gem on Instagram and it was honestly delightful. It’s a pop-up shopping mall with very eye catching architecture, it’s made up of blue cargo ship containers. Inside the complex there are so many cute independent stalls selling things from clothes to perfume, to suitcases and stationary. On the roof top there are food outlets; a must visit is to the ice cream store.
Visit Gangnam – yes it’s the area PSY sings about in Gangnam Style. This area of Seoul is known for its cosmetic surgery and an area for the rich and famous, its streets are lined with endless fashion houses. What you waiting for ?! Go strut your stuff around the streets of Gangnam.
Visit Gyeongbokgung – it’s the presidential palace in Seoul and its honestly crazy how a traditional and historic building such as the palace is located on the edge of Seoul’s concrete jungle. It’s not expensive and is located amongst the most beautiful gardens.
There is obviously so much more I wanted to do and see but as I mentioned, the weather really affected my plans. However, if this has inspired you to visit or given you a few ideas on what to do in Seoul, be sure to tag us in your photos.