Few places offer the contrast of modern and traditional like Asia, and South Korea is no exception. For this reason and more, Seoul tops my travel bucket list. Today’s guest post comes from someone with an intimate knowledge of this vibrant city and tips to help you plan your trip. James is the founder of Gotoawesomeplaces, where he shares his travel experiences and information on several popular destinations. He was born in New York City and has been traveling since he was 19.
South Korea has an interesting past and a bright future.
It is one of the few countries that has risen from the brutal ashes of war and emerged into a modern economy.
Seoul, South Korea’s capital, lies in the Northern part of the country, and is a home to over 25 million people and leading technology brands such as Samsung.
In South Korea, you will experience a fast moving world and meet hopeful and open-minded people. Here are tips to plan your first (and hopefully not your last) trip to Seoul:
KNOW WHEN TO GO
The perfect time to visit South Korea is during Spring and Fall when the weather is moderate. Cherry trees blossom to paint the country with beautiful shades of pink, white, red, orange and yellow colors. You would love the sight of the landscape.
Festivals abound for the Spring blooms and the events celebrating these blossoms will leave you in awe. Note, your timing must be perfect because the blooms don’t last long!
BUDGET WELL FOR YOUR TRIP
Here are a few things to consider for your budget:
Book an international flight and land at Incheon International Airport. It’s about 27kms from Seoul and in close proximity the major tourist sites.
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The fastest and cheapest means to get to the city is through Railroad Express. A network of electric trains is ready to pick and drop at any time of the day or night.
In the city, buses are always available. They are a little expensive and take longer than the subway, but they guarantee a comfortable drive to various Seoul highlights. Equip yourself with a T-Money credit card once you get to the Airport and conveniently swipe to pay.
Accommodation and Food
If you were to stay for more than a month, a hotel booking would be appropriate. Hotels in Seoul get cheaper with the increase in the stay, and they are very comfortable and classy.
If your tour will last only a few weeks, you should go with a hostel. They are cheap and well stocked with furniture. There are a variety of hostels on the outskirts of the city. You can easily find a private hostel for couples and house-sittings for groups.
Many hostels and hotels offer breakfast to start their guests on the right foot. At lunch, buy takeaway foods and get full eating at places along your route. You’ll find an abundance of great tasting food in food stalls anywhere on the streets.
Try restaurants in the evenings to unwind and savor the events of the day. You will enjoy the variety of taste even more.
Shopping and Entertainment
While you’ll find fun souvenirs and trinkets in stalls around the city, the malls and shopping centers hold unique items and fabulous clothes. Check out the style of Seoul locals and grab a souvenir that you can wear home.
Seoul is lively during the night. There are numerous bars serving your next favorite cocktail.
If you are a fan of Korean Pop music with dynamic and funky beats, a concerts might be a fun way to memorialize your trip. Finding them is easy: Just check electronic billboards on buildings to identify their time and location.
Bookmark These Places
The following are the places to visit in Seoul if you want to learn about the history of the Korean people and experience a vibrant mix of cultures, music, and art.
Gyeongbokgung Palace: It lies in the Northern part of Seoul. It is the biggest of all the historic Palaces in the country with over 7,700 rooms intricately decorated and furnished.
Bukchon Hanok Village: A traditional residential region in Seoul with 600 years of history. The best place to learn about the culture and way of life of the Korean people.
Insadong: A section in the city of Seoul with over 100 galleries displaying traditional Korean pottery, fine art, painting, and sculpture. Here’s another hot spot for home decor.
Dongdaemun: South Korea’s largest shopping district with over 26 malls. You can find anything here. It also houses the latest fashion trends in the world.
N Seoul Tower: You will know it instantly because it has a huge green letter ‘N’ at its base. From the top, you will have a full view of Seoul. It also houses performance venues, movie theaters, exhibitions, and upscale restaurants. No chance you will get bored in this venue.
So, when are you booking your ticket?