South Korea? Here are 8 surprising Seoul tips..
seoul tips

For Real!? These Seoul tips might just blow your mind.

Seoul, Korea is one of the largest, most densely populated cities in the world, with an average of 40,000 people living in every square mile! Although most recently making international waves for their own brand of pop culture, Seoul is also a city rich in tradition and history. We really love the contrast and bet you will too. And your Seoul tips..

1. From ancient to space age in one block..

Seoul tips

For a real feel of old and new, head to the Seoul city center, easily accessed from the City Hall metro station. The City Hall itself looks like an alien spacecraft settled upon a Renaissance-style municipal building. Directly across the street is the beautiful architecture of 15th century Deoksugung, just one of the “Five Grand Palaces” built in the area during the Joseon Dynasty(1392-1897). You can walk to all five palaces from here, and escorted by skyscrapers all the way, one truly gets a sense of Seoul’s timeless beauty.

2. But there’s nothing like seeing it all from above!

seoul tips

Every large city seems to offer at least one magnificent panoramic viewpoint, and in Seoul, it’s hard to beat the 360-degree views from N Seoul Tower. The 777-foot tower is perched on top of the 797-foot Namsan mountains, right smack dab in the middle of Seoul. The tower is actually open until midnight, so excited to see the city lights from above, we headed up after dark.. Unfortunately everyone else in Seoul must have had the same plans, because after an hour and a half waiting in line, we crammed onto the cable car and made it to the tower’s base. Turns out, there’s an additional line for the tower’s lift. Only another hour and a half to the top! Pro Seoul Tips #1: If there are do-overs, we would have taken the bus to the top.. In our book, no reason to pay, just to wait in one long line for the cable car, then still have to pay for another long line to the tower’s observation decks! This said, the views were pretty jaw-dropping, and definitely a must-see when visiting Seoul.

3. And now, time to eat!

seoul tips

Honestly, we came to South Korea for the food! Kimchi, bulgogi, and Korean BBQ all ranked high on the list, and after an exhausting evening waiting in lines, we were ready to dig in.. All Google searches pointed to Namdaemun Market, which thankfully was walking distance from the cable car station. Things like “largest market,” “best market in Seoul!,” and “open 24 hours/day” were popping up in our search, so bellies grumbling, we headed over at a hunger-fueled pace. We arrived to find… Nothing!!! 🙁 At 10pm on a weekday, Namdaemun was an eerie, darkened ghost town. Upon further research, the market is open 7am-6pm for retailers and midnight to 6am for wholesalers. Namdaemun Market would have to wait for another day…

4. In the meantime, Korean junk food!

When all else fails, just like in America, there’s a 7-11 near you. At this point, we’d eat anything, and loaded up on small bags of nondescript Korean snacks, and (of course) some bottles of soju to wash it all down. An interesting discovery, unlike the savory and salty snacks we’re used to, everything we bought was surprisingly super-sweet! The soju was like alcoholic sugar water, the pretzel-like snacks were reminiscent of crunchy funnel cake, and even the Doritos were mango-flavored.

5. Let’s try this again..

The next day, we headed back mid-day, to Namdaemun Market. We exited Hoehyeon Station, and there it was! Stands of yummy smelling street-food, smoke, and steam ushering our way into the market. Excited to see all the exotic foods we might choose from, we walked further into the now bustling market, getting lost in row after row, block after block of. Cheap clothing? Socks, underwear, knock-off shoes and purses galore! But food, nope not really… After 45 minutes scanning the entire complex, we found only a handful of stands sprinkled here and there.. Pro Seoul Tips #2: For food, skip Namdaemun Market altogether and head to…

6. Gwangjang!

seoul tips

Thankfully, another market was just a metro station away… Ready to give up all hope, we thought it was at least worth a shot. We arrived just about rush hour, and the place was packed! We found the mother-load! The Korean food market of all Korean food markets! Gwangjang!! Gwanjang Market was quite possibly the largest and busiest food market we’ve ever seen. Korean delicacies like pig face, blood sausage, mung bean pancakes as far as the eye could see, and we scarfed down quite our fill… We even shot the second episode of Weird Food Challenge for our Youtube Channel.. Foodie bliss!!

7. Pro Seoul Tips #3:

Seoul is an amazing and enormous city, so there are really countless things to see and do. The metro is easy to use and will get you just about anywhere quickly, but it may be worth planning your route while connected to wifi.. Google Maps has been immensely helpful during our travels, but in Seoul, public transit searches only list directions in Korean.. The problem is, when buying a ticket at a station kiosk, you must list your destination station, otherwise no ticket!

8. If all else fails..

seoul tips

Ask a Korean! The locals can be surprisingly engaging, and many speak English rather well, so go ahead and just ask!

If you’ll be visiting Seoul, you might want to check out our Seoul resource page.

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4 Responses to “South Korea? Here are 8 surprising Seoul tips..”

  1. Sonya

    I lived in Seoul for 4 years and loved every minute! Gwangjang Food Market is definitely a cool place. Weird food for real haha. Nice blog 🙂

    Reply
    • Josh Sedivy

      Thanks! Glad you’re enjoying it. Yeah, Gwangjang is one our favorite markets for sure! Gonna have to get back there some day 🙂

      Reply
  2. Emily

    Next time, use KakaoMaps (or maybe KakaoMap) … if you get it outside of Korea, it’s all in English. Or if you’re only using the subway (as opposed to buses), use KakaoMetro. You can use it in several languages and will have maps for other major cities as well.

    Reply

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