Traveling to Seoul South Korea is one of the most rewarding experiences “the Partytrail” has ever had the pleasure of indulging in.
Everything about Seoul South Korea is tantalizing, starting from the food to the people, the world-class transportation system, the ultra-amazing nightlife, the fashion, and the music scene.
Seoul will leave any visitor to the country with a feeling of never wanting to leave.
A LITTLE ABOUT SEOUL SOUTH KOREA
South Korea is located in East Asia on the southern half of the Korean peninsula. It covers a land area of about 97,000 square kilometers.
As as the time of this writing, the country has a population of about 50 million people. The city of Seoul is home to about a fifth of the country’s population (10 million people).
South Korea’s currency is known as the “Won” and one U.S. Dollar is worth about 1,100 Won. South Korea has a three-branch system of government headed by a President.
The language spoken in the country is “Korean”, which is the country’s dominant language but amongst the younger population and the educated, English is widely spoken.
GETTING TO SEOUL
The airport we flew into was the Incheon International airport (ICN) and it is a full amenity airport with direct rail (Airport Railroad Express (AREX)) to the city, “Seoul station” to be exact.
There is another airport into the city, the Gimpo international airport (GMP) which was first established by the Japanese as a military airport but is used today for commercial flights, domestic and international.
The travel time from the airport to Seoul station is about 60 minutes and the train runs every 23 minutes. Other options to get you into the city include Seoul Metropolitan Subway, airport limousine buses, and taxis.
ACCOMMODATION IN SEOUL
There are many options for accommodation in Seoul. As a visitor in the country, you will find yourself gravitating towards either the Gangnam district or “Itaewon”, a district where most of the foreigners that reside in Seoul live or hangout.
Booking.com and Expedia have several listings for hotels to stay while you are in Seoul, Airbnb has some options for apartments and if you are a budget traveler, you might want to take a look at some of the options they have for hostels in Seoul.
TRANSPORTATION IN SEOUL
Seoul has an advanced and easy to use metro system that is efficient and connects virtually every part of the city.
It was our preferred method of getting around when we visited Seoul. Other options for getting around the city include the bus and taxis.
From our experience most of the taxi drivers were not too conversant in English so giving them directions was not too easy.
There are however apps that are used by locals that can help you order taxis when you need them.
FOOD IN SEOUL SOUTH KOREA
If your city has a Korea-town, then you should be familiar with some of the culinary delicacies that are served up in Seoul.
If you are not too familiar with Korean dishes, you will be pleased to know that Seoul, South Korea has some of the best delicacies we have ever encountered.
Dishes you are likely to come across include Korean barbecue, Kimchi, Bulgogi, Bibimbap, and Galbi. There is also a wide array of street foods all over the city.
From our experience, most of the street food seemed to be concentrated in the Myeong-dong and Hong-dae areas (more on these areas below).
The Street foods we ate were just as delicious and satisfying as the food you find in Seoul’s many restaurants.
FASHION IN SEOUL SOUTH KOREA
The fashion scene in Seoul is up to par with any other major city around the world and we would posit that most of the residents of Seoul were pretty fashion conscious.
There are tons of shopping malls around the city where any visitor to Seoul can shop till they drop.
However, no mall or shopping area in Seoul had more offerings than the Lotte Duty-Free Shop by the Seoul station.
If you are a hardcore fan of fashion, it would be great if you could snag tickets to “Seoul fashion week” where you will be witness to Seoul’s up and coming local brands as well as its already established fashion labels.
If malls bore you and you would like to do some street shopping instead, the Myeong-gong district is an entire district in the city dedicated to everything from beauty products which South Korea is known for, to clothes and accessories.
THE MUSIC SCENE IN SEOUL SOUTH KOREA
If you heard the ultra-mega hit “Oppa Gangnam style” a couple of years ago then you are in good company. The hit song conquered the airwaves of a lot of countries and then fizzled out some time after.
Many people thought the song was a one-time phenomenon coming out of South Korea but they are sadly mistaken.
South Korea has one of the most developed music scenes in the world with K-Pop and K-Hip hop being some of the country’s biggest musical exports. Other genres of music you will encounter in Seoul range from electronic music to rock.
K-pop, a genre of popular music in South Korea is still very much in force and it has produced stars such as the pop-rock band CNBLUE and G-Dragon. Of late South Korean artists have moved into other Genres of Music like Hip Hop, Rap, and R&B.
NIGHTLIFE IN SEOUL SOUTH KOREA
This would be a good time to segway into Seoul’s unbelievably amazing nightlife. While a lot of cities we have been to like to use the moniker “city that never sleeps.” Seoul was the first city we visited that undoubtedly lived up to the moniker.
From the University town of Hongdae which had clubs like “M2” and “Cocoon” to the ultra ritzy and glam district of Gangnam which is home to Octagon.
A traveler to Seoul will find that there are clubs that simply stay open till the break of dawn. Surprisingly, the intensity of the nightlife did not die down, no matter what day of the week it was.
Every night of the week simply had an event at almost every club in the city. For the simple fact that nightclubs shut down and re-open under new names all the time, we won’t list any club names here.
We will, however, list districts where you can find some of Seoul’s most stand out nightclubs and bars and you can do some more research on your own.
This is the foreigner district in Seoul as we mentioned above and there are tons of bars and nightclubs here, where a mix of locals, American G.I’s, European and Asian expatriates go to wind down after a long week of work.
While there are some bars on the main strip in Itaewon. A healthy serving of bars and nightclubs can be found directly behind Hamilton Hotel in this part of town.
To get to Itaewon, simply get off at the Itaewon stop on the metro station and start exploring.
If you want to party it up with the college crowd in Seoul then Hongdae is where you want to go.
The clubs here are literally open till 10 am on the weekends and you will find a wide array of clubs playing different kinds of music.
Beware they have an age range for potential patrons, 18 years being the minimum age and 35 years being the maximum age.
Clubs like Cocoon in Hongdae will not allow patrons over the age of 35 years into their clubs.
This is where most of the super clubs in Seoul are located and when I say super clubs we mean clubs that are so huge that they could house more than a thousand people easily.
Octagon is one such club but if you do more research you will find there are many more clubs of that size in Gangnam.
Cheongdam, Sinsa-dong, and Apgujeong
These areas are wards of the Gangnam district and are upmarket areas of Seoul where wealthy Koreans live. There are many more nightlife options in this area where as mentioned earlier you can party till you drop.
TOURIST SIGHTS IN SEOUL
Seoul is such a dynamic city that there is so much to see and do in terms of culture. There are several museums, theaters, landmarks and more to see while you are in the city.
We have listed some of the more famous landmarks you can see while you are in Seoul below.
- Changdeokgung Palace
- Bukchon Hanok Village
- National Folk Museum
- Gyeongbokgung Palace
- N Seoul Tower
- National Theater Company of Korea
- Sungkok Art Museum
- Bank of Korea Money Museum
- The Myeongong Cathedral
- Apgujeong Rodeo Street
- Dosan Park
- Horim Art Center
- Seoul Central Mosque
- The Cheonggyecheon water stream
- K-Star Road
- Love locks at the North Seoul Tower.
- Namsan Cable Car
- Gwanghwamun square
- Seoul Museum of Art
- Hongdae street
- Seorae Village
Some Final Travel Tips for Seoul
Seoul and South Korea, in general, are relatively safe and the people compared to most first world cities are friendly and helpful. There are however a few cultural norms that we should gloss over so you don’t run afoul of the locals in Seoul.
Elderly respect is taken very seriously
South Korea takes respect for older people very seriously, so much so that if an elderly person offers you a drink in a bar or night club you are compelled to drink it to show respect for the person offering.
Also on the metro, they have sections where the seats are reserved for the elderly, unbeknownst to us we sat here and we got yelled at by a local who demanded we go sit where the younger people and general population sit.
Koreans will express their displeasure if you run afoul of a custom
We found that being foreign did not exempt one from the repercussions of running afoul of local customs.
While I must say that Koreans are generally friendly and easy going, they seemed to take societal norms and customs quite seriously and will be compelled to set you straight if you violated any.
Beauty is taken very seriously in South Korea
South Korea has one of the highest plastic surgery rates of anywhere we had previously visited in the world. Whitening creams to help lighten the skin of the locals were abundant and there were no shortages of surgically altered but perfectly oval faces.
Also, South Korea is one of the largest markets for beauty products with companies like Tony Moly, innisfree and “Peach & Lilly” cornering a significant share of the local beauty economy.
Make Sure To Get A Refund On Your Ticket After Every Metro Ride
After riding the metro, make sure you go to the deposit refund machine to get some of your money back from your metro card.
We must have lost close to 5000 Won because we didn’t know one could retrieve the deposits left on metro cards.
Coupled With A Disciplined Work Ethic Comes An Epic Drinking Culture
Along with the mind-boggling Korean work ethic comes an epic drinking culture, you will be pleased to find locally brewed drinks like soju, Bokbunja ju, and Makgeolli.
Use this resource to find out more about Korean alcohol.
We had an amazing time traveling to Seoul South Korea and we look forward to returning. We hope you found our write up interesting, if you did, please share with friends.
Till the next time, Safe Travels!!!!…
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