Today I’m gonna be sharing with you some of the best things that you can do on your trip to Seoul. This is a city like I have never seen before. It’s this hyper-advanced Asian city that loves poop, emojis and loves spicy food. These are the 30 things, facts and places that I can’t pronounce. You need to know about before arriving in this incredible travelers destination
Starting with number one the lightning-fast internet at affordable rates. From the moment I arrived at the airport, I was extremely excited. I had options to have unlimited internet on my phone for an entire month. The amazing thing was the fast internet is not just limited to your phones It’s also in the hotels. The hotels wherever you go you can get huge files uploaded very quickly and that makes me very happy.
Seoul Is Huge
The second thing you need to know is that Seoul is a massive gargantuous monolithic city with different sides separated by a river. It can actually take you quite a bit of time to get from one side to the other. I want to again reiterate that I’m gonna struggle to pronounce a lot of these names. Gangnam is this very hodgepodge kind of Hollywood style side of South Korea. It is beautiful it’s lit with neon lights and it definitely is a place that I recommend you check out. I must say that while it was beautiful it’s definitely much more the local South Korean side of things. And that can be an amazing thing it can also make things a little bit more difficult.
To best explain that I’ll give you the other side of the equation which is Hongdae. Hongdae is the university town in South Korea and things are a bit more comp It’s easier to walk from place to place you still have that beautiful vibrancy. You’ve got the night markets, you’ve got amazing shopping affordable prices in some areas. While the accommodation is probably going to be around the most expensive you’ll find in South Korea. Now without being said though is worth every penny. Hongdae is the place that I recommend you stay and because if you’re an English speaker it definitely makes it easier to get around.
Number three the language barrier is sometimes quite real in South Korea. Most people don’t really speak English that well and I don’t speak Korean that well. From time to time it could be hard to order from a restaurant, talk to a taxi driver. Another thing that makes it challenging is they have their own completely unique alphabet which mind you is actually a very cool alphabet.
I mean just look at that very cool Korea now that we’re in the 21st century one of the things we’ve become reliant on is our phones on Google Maps. Those GPS based apps that help us get from place to place finding the best restaurants, the best bars, figuring out where to go, how to get there and something that really made Korea challenging for me was the fact that GPS is kind of like disabled here. This is the only country in the entire world that does not have Google Maps. Even their friendly neighbors to the north have Google Maps. Now the reason they actually don’t have it is actually because of that very same reason. Apparently, South Korea wants to limit how much of the GPS and map systems are publicly available.
There are some Korean equivalents but the thing is they’re not currently in English. Without being said I was able to use Google Maps to some extent. It just won’t really show you how long it takes to get from place to place. You can still see your blue dot walking around the map because it won’t show you where to walk. I found that it was a little bit helpful for bus routes because when I needed to do a long-distance I could still see which way the bus station was. I could still see which direction I ran even though it didn’t really give me an accurate time estimate. I was usually able to somehow use that a little bit.
I want to talk about a place by the name of common ground. Now the common ground is these shipping containers that have been turned into a very trendy place. To get a coffee get some food and do a bit of shopping. One morning we started off our day here and these are some of the restaurants I highly recommend you.
Cute And Weird
There are so many cool places to eat here and it also brings me to my next point which is Korea’s love for everything that is cute and weird. I’m so sick of the world telling me what I can and can’t do. Time to fly so I’ve never in my life seen this before. But I just got handed a guide on how to care for a madam oh these are 40-year-old Maddie Mo’s. But they didn’t always start off so big they’re basically a giant algae ball or a plant. Those little guys right there is about one month to one year.
Where do they start talking and saying daddy and of course you could get some slime. I’m having way too much fun in here they have a phone case called the wiggle. I’m gonna take up a relationship to the next level we spent about an hour and a half to two hours shopping at around three or four of these stores in common ground.
Before I get a noise complaint I figured I’d move on to the next point which is that you must check out the nearby coffee shops. If we find it this is truly a hidden gem this is so cool hidden in the midst of all the repair shops. All the mechanics are like this converted garage that’s become this really trendy coffee shop a-sun coffee and collum coffee. These are incredibly trendy hipstery very macho is really big here in Korea by the coffee shops.
Now on to the next point I want to talk about transportation. And I know this next comment might be a little bit controversial. Because I’ve just watched three youtubers review on South Korea and they all said that the metro system was cheap affordable and easy to use. So here is the situation with transit from somebody who can’t speak Korean and can definitely not read it. The metro system here is a bit of a nightmare nothing was written in English none of the locals fully understood what we were saying and we couldn’t use Google Maps to tell us where to go. So we got into Metro anyways just to test it out and yes it was very efficient. It was actually super quiet, super clean.
We ended up going in the wrong direction and there was no English science to tell us otherwise and that would be the last time that we tried using it on our entire trip. Buses we’re actually still useable as I said before using kind of a primitive Google Maps. I was able to figure out where the pickups were and if they were the right bus based on the numbers. But because we were in a big group of four of us we actually spent most of our time taking taxis.
Now a bit of information on prices I would say self Korea is definitely a bit more expensive than your average Asian City but not as expensive as like Let’s say Tokyo. So some prices that you should know about are of course going to be transported. I’ve already shared a little bit. Now going on to accommodations hostels can be as cheap as like ten dollars a night. Whereas if you want a mid to entry-level hotel you’re looking around 50 us a night. If you want something nice like we had in the Gangnam district. We also stayed at Hongdae so for $80.
Meet With Locals
Now my next tip finds a local guide if you can. Maybe you have a friend that lives in South Korea or your friend has a friend. Take an opportunity to reach out to these people because it is a bit of a more challenging place to tackle. Being such a large city with sometimes a bit of a language barrier. But if you find those local guides that are where you’ll find your local gems.
Now later that night we actually met up with Ian and she showed us this traditional-style Korean restaurant. And this is something I highly recommend to you is to find a traditional meal to do. You know everyone thinks the Hyuga, the great thing about it is that it’ll stretch your taste palate. You’re gonna be trying things that are incredibly spicy. You’re gonna be trying plates that you would normally consider to be hot plates. But they’re gonna be given to you as cold noodles or cold soups. You’re gonna be trying foods that you probably didn’t even know existed.
Drink Like A Korean
Now another big thing that defines South Korea and Seoul is definitely their drinking culture. They know how to drink one of our nights out with. He and she taught us about soju basically what it is it’s a clear spirit typically distilled from rice and grains. Usually, around 20 percent alcohol and this is the most popular drink in South Korea. Hands down not only is it popular it’s actually the most drank in the world. Apparently on average, a Korean will drink about thirteen point seven of these shots every single week. Now I don’t hear to make any judgment.
The Art Of Somac
The best way to do that is to make it so mini what that basically takes your soju and now mix it up with your beer and you’ve got is so many that’s so good. It’s like the perfect complement there are tons of different ways you can mix it up. But the way that Hyun had taught us was either to take a chopstick, a fork, a utensil of some sort. And basically just jab it in up and down up and down and right there you have your first soul man.
Not only do you need to know the drink but also you need to know the rules of the game. You’re gonna be having like full dinner. People will basically be cheering every five minutes every ten minutes. Every soju bottle has a number between 1 and 50 underneath the lid. What you can play is the guessing game. I know the number you’re gonna guess the number and I’ll tell you the number.
In this case, we’re gonna play they get to give away an entire drink. Another way to play it is that when you pull off the lid from the soju there’s often a long aluminum little tail. if you twirl it up to make it into a harder tail if you break it the person to your right half the drink. the loser is gonna drink a whole soul man. these are some games that we played and they made our nights that much more fun for all my team gets lost, ladies.
The Land Of Beauty
South Korea is a cosmetics heaven Cathy went absolutely crazy from the different skincare facial treatments. Everything you could possibly imagine South Korea is the place where you will find it. Now not only does she have fun with it we also both went and bought some sets of eye contact. They don’t improve your vision but they do change your eye color. They change the size of your pupil all this for $20. This is one of the widely accepted Beauty cultures here in Korea is to get colored eye contact.
Korean shopping is some of my favorite I have found so many unique clothing pieces, statement pieces, and the awesome thing is that can be found actually relatively affordable. One of the many designer areas is Gatto sue Gill. This is one store I really liked they have some super cool trends that you will not find in North America. And this store right here called around the corner it’s about mid-price but they have a huge selection of awesome Korean clothing. Walking street of Hongdae holding dye has so many incredible hidden shops.
Some of them are underground some of its actual knockoff but some are just truly original pieces at a relatively low price range. The cool thing is you can negotiate with the different stores some of them that are more like pop-up shops. One thing that was a little bit weird about the shopping though usually there’s only one size. There was no small, medium, large typically quite baggy that’s the style in Korea.
Most certainly one of my favorite things about Seoul was the food experience. It is definitely a foodies destination if you know where to go. And luckily we had an incredible Korean barbecue where it was all you can eat. It was reasonably priced but a bit of salt a little bit of spice. I’m gonna wrap it up one a petite little hidden gem looking interesting like this delicious creamy dessert coffee. It’s so good perfection very spicy that was one of the best meals we spent about 14 maybe even 13 US dollars per person.
I think that’s incredible value if you’ve never had this before. If it’s done right it’ll blow your mind this is a must-have when you come to Seoul. It tastes like a real tomato do you like it no and so even though the tomato wasn’t for me.
Eat Street Food
Another great thing you need to know about extending onto the food is street food. And you can find it in a lot of the touristy areas from hung that to Insadong. So I don’t know if this is Korean but it’s called taiyaki and it’s basically like a waffle in the shape of a fish. It’s so cute that this one has the mouth open so they put ice cream. We have to try it all the best things in one day and the incredible thing is once again it’s relatively affordable for the most part.
Is Seoul Safe
Now one of the questions a lot of people have is South Korea’s safe and unfortunately it’s really just no. As much as I’d love to get behind the country and say that this is a safe destination where you can be at peace. It’s just not the case ever since the drop bear epidemic. The mortality rate has risen 3,000 and 16 percent in the past year. It’s only expected to rise from here, for the most part, South Korea exceptionally safe. It’s the kind of place where Kat see myself whoever could walk alone at night two thumbs up for me because safety is cool.
Now, how’s the weather well from what I could see it’s actually very mild. It’s kind of similar to where I used to live in Vancouver Canada. It’s got its fair share of rainy days it can occasionally get it to snow it can have those beautiful hot days in the summer.
Now this one’s a little bit of a random one but it could come in handy for you. There are lockers in the subway stations. One night when we decided to go out we actually went down to the subway lockers to try and drop all my bags there. And because it’s such a safe place to do so I had no problem with leaving my camera gear in a random paid Locker.
Eat Live Octopus
It’s a cool little side fact that could come in handy for you. Something crazy you can do in South Korea that I never got a chance to do is actually eating octopus. That has just freshly been killed. As a strong word let’s say freshly been ended. The cool thing about it is that because its nerves are still going off. They literally will latch on to you and so some people have actually died trying to eat this octopus. Because it grabs on to their throat but that just kind of raised the excitement.
Korea is full of traditional experiences mixed with somewhat touristy experiences. Luckily Cathy and I brought the best both worlds together. Look at my waist so flattering how do you say very cute in Korean. I don’t know about you guys but I absolutely hate tourist attractions. So luckily we’ve been able to keep things super local today. And we’re going off to show you the traditional side of the town. So let’s go this is not just the thing that Kathy and I decided to do. You’ll actually see tons of people wearing these very very cool traditional outfits.
Very Few Tourists
Now, this is something that kind of shocked me a little bit and that’s what we really didn’t see that many tourists in South Korea. The only place where we saw the occasional tourist was actually in Hongdae. And even at that, it felt predominantly local. When there are too many tourists around you kind of delude the real culture. And I never felt like that was the experience in South Korea.
Many Themed Cafes
On to the next point and that is themed cafes. I’m gonna be honest I don’t know how I feel about meeting somewhere where they’re associating themselves with poop and here it is this is Seoul’s only poop cafe. I just got myself a rose latte. I gotta say if you want to take a photo with a toilet bowl latte this is a really really tasty latte. I’m actually surprised to be saying that themed cafes are definitely a big thing to do here in Seoul. You’ve got cat cafes which I’ve seen now everywhere.
But I highly doubt you’ve seen the next cafe I’m about to show you. The second you check in they tell you-you to have to remove basically anything that’s shiny. I kept on a few bracelets and he comes running over and grabs onto my bracelet that is the best thing I’ve ever seen. He’s checking my pocket literally the first thing you did it slip his hand into my pocket. And he’s grabbing the receipts in there can we go on bubble butt bubble bubble bubble butt. There’s a pipe for Pride Rock here.
Seoul By Night
Of course, the nightlife is bound to be big unfortunately we never had a true big night out. It’s definitely something I would love to go back and experience. But from what we saw walking around on a weekend in Hongdae there were tons of bars that were just bumping.
Best Korean Snacks
I wish we’d gone to a kpop club or something like that. It would have been really cool but again there’s always another trip ahead of me. For all, you foodies out there look no further than the 7-eleven. To try some very unique pieces that I’ve only found in South Korea. Alejandra went online and searched for the best Korean snacks. This is chip this smells like cinnamon toast crunch. this is a must-have. The taste you can see and lastly we’ve got the classic book chip.
Coex Mall Library
TV burrito and one thing that I actually kind of liked was their banana milk. The first sips kind of threw me off a little bit. But by the second and third it really grew on me. If you want a cool Instagram photo then check out this library right here inside of the COEX mall. It’s also right next to a Ghanim style monument.
Now, whenever I travel I like to have a base understanding of some of the cultural norms. Wherever I’m going and in South Korea, there are some very unique ones. The first one is called Manor hands so everyone gets your Manor hands here. Getting touched on the arm on the hip anything of that sort can actually be very uncomfortable. Unless it’s invited a lot of the time. You’ll see self Koreans when they take a photo together and they don’t know each other very well.
They’ll actually have a hovering arm but the gap is actually not accidental it’s intentional because those are Manor hands another. The extension is that you actually don’t go in to shake with an older person’s hands unless it’s been invited. And if you do it’s best to use two hands in a shake