Seoul has started to gain immense popularity as one of the top Asian holiday destination thanks to its colourful entertainment industry, mouth-watering food and beautiful culture ?
So, if Seoul is on your bucket list, this cheat sheet will help you make the most of your trip (and possibly save some moolah!)
Heading to Seoul soon? If you need guides on prayer spaces, where to eat or the best places to shop, we've got you covered here?
Like every other four seasoned countries, the best time to go Seoul is definitely during the Spring (April-June)! Not only does the cherry blossoms makes for a beautiful sight, spring weather is favourable with it being not too hot nor too cold. You are also more likely to enjoy your time in South Korea ?
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Since spring season is very popular, flight tickets are usually more expensive and sells out very fast. You second option would be to visit during Autumn (September-November). The shade of red and burnt orange leaves would undoubtedly take your breath away ? Plus, autumn is when the new university semester starts thus tourist attractions are usually less crowded!
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2. Internet Connection
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Known to have the fastest internet connection in the world, free Wi-Fi are available all around the city in cafes, malls and sometimes even their fish markets. Hotels and guesthouse are usually equipped with fast internet connection.
#HHWT Tip: Lookout for this sign for free Wifi all around Seoul!
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So, if you're not an avid internet user, you may want to pass up on buying a Korean sim card. However, if your travel plans require you having access to internet, consider renting the ‘Wi-fi egg’ which is basically a pocket Wi-Fi. Priced around USD$8 per day, the egg provides you unlimited internet access that you can share with your friends.
#HHWT Tip: You can rent your ‘Wi-Fi Egg’ from the airport. Some guesthouse also provides this service!
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Accommodations are also an important thing to consider when you're on a holiday. Whether you choose to go for hostels or hotels, it's really up to how much you're willing to spend on. If you're with your friends, opt for hostels or dorms as they are much cheaper and just as comfortable. Plus, it gives more room to get to know travellers from other side of the world!
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If you're traveling with family or if you prefer your own private space, go for guesthouse or hotels. Some guesthouse offers room with private bathroom for a reasonable price. Hanok Stay is also another interesting option if you'd like to experience staying in a traditional Korean house!
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However, the make or break of an accommodation is really the location. No point in getting cheap hostels if commuting cost twice as much! So, try to find places that is accessible to public transportation and close to tourist attractions. Check out our list of accommodations in Seoul near halal food place for some recommendations!
#HHWT Tip: Some bathrooms are part of the room separated only by a sheer glass panel/window. You may want to look at pictures of the room before booking them ?
4. Getting around
One of the best way to move about in South Korea is via the public transportation as it is both efficient and pocket-friendly. You can choose between taking the subway, bus or taxi. While the bus is a bit more complicated as there’s no English guide, the subway is much easier to understand as the English translations are enough for tourist to get by.
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You may have heard that taking a taxi is expensive however, there are instances where taking the taxi is preferable. For example, taking the train to Myeongdong from Seoul station would cost you around USD$2, while taking the taxi a little bit over USD$3. If you’re traveling alone, the train should be the way to go but if you are traveling in groups, you might want to consider the taxi instead. If you happen to take a taxi, avoid taking the black taxis as their fares are usually much higher.
#HHWT Tip: Grab yourself a copy of the subway line map at any subway station information counter. It'll make your life much easier!
5. Discount Coupons
The South Korea government celebrates tourist as they strive on tourism. That being said, lookout for ‘tourist benefits’ when you are visiting tourist attractions ?
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Also, when you purchase your T-money, make sure to check out the coupons that comes with it as discount coupons to tourist attractions may be included.
6. Thrilling Theme Parks
This is one of the theme parks in South Korea you wouldn't want to miss! Just make sure you buy the tickets online so you don’t have to queue for tickets later. Did you know that tourists get discount when purchasing the tickets online? You can do so by referring to the list of ticket sellers on Everland official website ?
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My preferred way of going to Everland is by booking a spot via Daesungtour due to its pick-up point being close to the guesthouse I was staying in. We paid USD$41 per person for a round trip shuttle service from Seoul to Everland and an entrance to Everland!
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However, if you're not residing in Seoul, there are also other companies offering the same services which you can check out on the website.
If you’re there during the summer, do not miss the Summer Splash event and don't forget to bring a change of clothes! ? Another way to make the most of your time here is by keeping tabs of the ‘free shows’ scheduled in Everland if you're planning on catching one.
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Lotte World is another theme park that you must visit in Seoul! Located in Jamsil, the Disney-like theme park is more accessible via public transport compared to Everland. What’s so unique about Lotte World is that it's a theme park in a shopping mall ?
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As the theme park consist of both indoor and outdoor attractions, you do not need to worry about the weather spoiling your day. Some of the most popular heart-stopping rides among visitors are Gyro Drop, Gyro Swing and Atlantis Adventure. While you’re there, make sure give VR Fantasia a go! It’s a new attraction that allows visitor to experience virtual reality gaming. How cool is that?
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Like any other theme parks, queuing can be quite long and boring ? Bring something to keep you occupied and opt to go to the theme parks during the midweek instead of weekends. This will significantly reduce queuing time!
7. Souvenirs to take home
The best way to remember a place by is through its souvenirs. Here are some things you may want to bring home from Seoul!
- K-beauty products
This goes without saying! One simply does not go back from Seoulwithout bags full of skin care and makeup items ? Beauty shops are everywhere all over Seoul, however, Myeongdong is the place to be if you want to stock up on your beauty products. If you happen to stumble upon sales outside of Myeongdong, don't hesitate to get them!
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HHWT Tip: To best know what K-Beauty product to get, do a price comparison especially if the item is available in your country. Sometimes, the price is just the same that it’s not worth getting and carrying that extra weight in your bag.
- Cute and colourful socks to keep your feet warm!
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Usually priced at KRW 1000 (USD $1), the socks here in Seoul makes a great item to give to family and friends. From adorable whimsical designs to caricatures, it’s basically sold everywhere from street market to underground subway station.
- Ladies accessories
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Ladies accessories in South Korea are notoriously cheap. If you'd like to do some accessory shopping of your own, head to Namdaemun Accessory Market as they sell brooches, rings, and other accessories for as low as USD2!
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You’ve probably seen almost every restaurant in South Korea uses earthenware or ttukbaegi. Their feature that retains heat for a long time is unique to Korean’s eating culture. So, do not miss out on bringing home your own ttukbaegi so you can make your own Korean dish at home!
8. Local halal food to try
Whenever one travel to a foreign land, trying out their local cuisines is always one of the most exciting things ever be it street snacks or fancy restaurants!
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Thanks to the sudden rise in the number of Muslim travellers, halal and Muslim friendly restaurants are no longer a rarity. You definitely don't have to worry about getting hungry here as there are abundant of food to try! Check out here if you ever need a guide ?
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Here's a few of our personal favourites:
Yang Good BBQ
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This restaurant is not just popular among travellers but also the locals, and that's when you know you're in the right place ? With unlimited banchan (side dishes), an order of marinated lamb (18,000KRW) and two bowls of rice (each 1,000KRW) the total works out to be 20,000KRW for two people. That’s just over $9 each!
Choose from either unmarinated lamb to enjoy the tender lamb meat in its full glory, or opt for the marinated lamb to savour juicy lamb rack coated with Korean sweet sauce! If there’s still room in your tummy, Yang Good also has lamb soup, deonjang-jjigae 된장찌개 (fermented soybean paste soup), mulnaengmyeon물냉면 (cold noodles) and other Korean dishes.
Note: Alcohol is served here but the ingredients and the lamb meat are halal certified!
Makan Halal Korean Restaurant (Itaewon)
This homely restaurant serves your local Korean fare such as bulgogi (grilled marinated beef), dakdoritang (spicy braised chicken), mulnaengmyeon (cold noodles – a must in summer) and more - perfect to satisfy your Korean food cravings. We especially love their Dakdoritang (Braised Chicken Stew) and Dakganjeong (Sweet & Spicy Crunchy Chicken)?
9. Best places for a bird's eye view of the city
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Just nearby to Myeongdong, head over to Namsan Tower and feast your eyes on the nice scenery this tower has to offer ?
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One of the most popular parks in Seoul, Haneul Sky Park will offer you stunning views of Seoul and the Hangang river! If you don't wish to climb the hill for the view, you can always opt a buggy ride up here ?
10. Experience their culture
South Korea is not only a beautiful country, it's also rich in culture! Take this chance to immerse yourself in their colourful culture by celebrating or joining festivals available all year round ?
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Constantly check on South Korea tourism website to keep yourself updated on upcoming events or festivals! Also, head to Seoul Global Cultural Centre in Myeongdong so you don’t miss out on the FREE hanbok experience ?
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11. It's all about the right shoes
Wear comfortable shoes! A good pair of shoes is when you’re travelling because you’ll be spending most of your time walking and hiking small hills as South Korea is generally that. You wouldn’t want sore feet to spoil your day, now would you?
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Check out our previous post on awesome shoes to make you feel like you’re walking on clouds!
There you have it! Some of our tips and trick for when you travel to Seoul! Being a smart traveller is important especially if you are on a budget. So, do your research before starting your trip. If you have tips and tricks you’d like to share with us, comment below! We'd love to hear from you ?