Both Nara and Kobe are places convenient from either Kyoto…
Quick tips about Seoul:
- It is a shopping paradise
- It’s also a food paradise (especially if you like spicy and KBBQ)
- We didn’t do any sight seeing, but based on reading from blogs, books and other guides, there isn’t an astounding amount of cultural / historical / scenic things to do (as compared to places in Europe). A bit similar to Bangkok. They EXIST but it’s not abundant and should be able to cover in a few days for the major attractions
- The people there know very little English. In fact, the salespeople in the retail shops actually speak Mandarin much better than English so prepare to bring some sort of translation book if you can only speak English
- Transportation is very convenient
- Although the transition between different train lines is a fair bit of distance… so plan your time accordingly
- Many 24 hour restaurants
- Felt safe the entire trip
- very affordable (compared to HK)
- actually Seoul is pretty much like Hong Kong except they speak Korean there instead of Cantonese
It’s definitely a trip well worth going, especially if you are into Korean Pop culture. I’ll show you the places we went (for shopping and eating) so you can have a rough itinerary for your next trip.
Map for reference with most stations we’ve visited:
Place we stayed at:
We booked through AirBnB. Our host was very nice… in case you want to stay near Gongdeok-dong (which was very central to everywhere we wanted to go) you can go to AirBnB and search for this address or just click on the link below…
461 Gongdeok-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul 121-020, South Korea
It is super convenient as it was only 1 minute away from the train station (Gongdeok).
*UPDATE (Oct. 5, 2015)
I went back to Seoul recently with some friends. Another location I’d recommend is Ocloud Hotel. We stayed at the one in Gangham; Ocloud Hotel Gangham. Address: 1303-14 Seocho 4-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul, Korea. Near Sinnonhyeon Station although it is also walkable from Gangnam station. Website: www.ocloudhotel.com.
Because we arrived quite late, we went to our AirBnB place to drop off our stuff first. Luckily, Seoul is famous for their late night shopping in Dongdaemun, so we went there afterwards to indulge ourselves in some shopping.
Some of these shopping malls even open until 4am, although most of them closed at around 2am. We visited shopping malls like Doota and Migliore. Also, they had yellow market stalls that were selling cheap (but fake) clothing right across the street, which we also went to take a look at.
On the second day of the trip, we decided to go to Ewha University in the morning…
We walked to Sinchon to do more shopping, which was the station next to Ewha Womans Univ.
OK, time for us to visit Insadong, known for their cultural items. Very touristy. Not my favorite place cause it was super crowded and I’m not a big fan of touristy cultural stuff. Much rather go shopping for K-pop fashion. Anyway, some pics:
Insadong was boring for us, and so it’s time for more shopping. This time, we went to Sinsa-dong. Very very good for the most trendy and fashionable items. Unfortunately, we were too busy shopping to take pictures.
Apgujeong-dong was right next to Sinsa, so we decided to walk there. IF I lived here, I would be taking the subway. But because we were tourists, I usually don’t mind walking and looking at the surroundings.
We knew we were in Apgujeong when we arrived at the Galleria Department Store. But because the mall only had luxurious goods (ie. Chanel) which you can get anywhere in the world, and everywhere in Hong Kong, for the same price, we left early.
In our guide book it suggested another area in Apgujeong for many small shops and restaurants as well. Also very cool, but unfortunately half the stores were closed by the time we went (getting late).
Exhausted from all the shopping and walking, we ventured to the Dragonhill Spa & Resort.
Dragonhill Spa & Resort. Quite a fun place actually, many different spas to try, you can sleep on the floor, you can get massages. Everyone gets naked here (I mean men and women separated of course, sorry to keep your hopes up guys), well in the changing room at least and certain sections. You can even play games here. Lots of people come. My favorite? Eating Dippin Dots!
Next day, we were told to visit Hangangjin. But first, we wanted to check out Itaewon. Itaewon is basically the place where all the expats are located. Like you wouldn’t see many foreigners elsewhere, but in Itaewon, they are everywhere. There’s also a street in Seoul with all the restaurants, bars, and a few clubs.
We ate at this restaurant called My Chelsea, as recommended by the Tripadvisor app I downloaded.
After, we checked out Hangangjin (who was recommended by a nice fellow at the bus stop who happened to live in Seoul and also spoke Cantonese! He recommended this ‘less touristy’ place). Hangangjin had more boutique shops.
The next place we were told to go from the nice guy mentioned before was Hapjeong, next to Hongik Univ.
At night, we decided to go to Dongdaemun again to do more night shopping 🙂
My favorite place to shop was Hongik Univ. so we decided to go there one last time to do some last minute shopping before our flight back to Hong Kong.
Aanddd.. fly back to Hong Kong. So like I said before, Seoul is perfect for eating (esp. spicy food and BBQ, two of my favs) and shopping. I don’t know much about the cultural and historical landmarks but I think they would be worth a visit for a day or two as well. Would I come here again? Absolutely yes, especially the next time I need to upgrade my wardrobe.
What did you like most about Seoul?
*Last Update: Oct. 6, 2015