Looking back at my posts, I realised that somehow Seoul got hardly any mention at all! Ahh not a biggie, one might say. It might not be my favourite city in the whole world, but certainly has a special place in my heart. After all, I did live on the outskirts of Seoul for a year, and discovered many interesting places by the end of my stay.
So here is a wee guide, a mention of the places that in my humble opinion are worth visiting. Although it is worth mentioning that Seoul is a huuuuuuge city, with a population of over 10.5 million people (metropolitan Seoul (including adjacent satellite cities, such as Incheon and many others) is home for over 25 mil people, making it the third biggest in the world).
Best way to get to the city from the airport… Incheon airport is awesome. Cultural performances, free craft classes, shops, you name it. However, you don’t want to stay there for too long. Depending where you are staying, the two most viable options are limousine buses and trains. Buses cost more (around 10 dollars) and there is a great chance of getting stuck in traffic. On a positive side, sometimes they can get you very close to the hotel where you are staying, if it close to the bus stop thatis. Trains run on time, are fast and efficient. So for me I was a train all the way. Express airport train takes 30 mins to Seoul Station, and a normal one around 45 (at a cost of around 5 dollars). From there, you will need to transfer to the relevant line. I had no problems doing so. To make things easier, there is a good subway app(in Korean and English), which will tell you where to transfer and which carriage is best.
Good places to stay… I stayed at a number of hotels and backpackers, and in all honesty don’t have anything bad to stay about any of them. My favourite were Yellow Brick 2 (2 is an important part, as there are a few branches) and Moon Hostel. Yellow Brick is awesome, with great facilities and free breakfast. Moon Hostel is also awesome because it has the facilities, plus a cute puppy, plus great hosts. They saw how tired I was after getting back from a ski trip and upgraded me to a private room. Definitely in my good books!
Best time of the year to visit… definitely spring (April/May) and beautiful autumn (September/October). Clear skies, pleasant warm weather. Come in summer at your own risk and a chance of melting.
The best view of the city..can be seen from the top of Seoul Tower. It is surprisingly modern, great shops around it and you can get a bucket of popcorn on the ground floor. Yum. Not too pricey or busy either. You can either hike up the hill (to the bottom of the tower) from a number of places in the city (since technically it is right in the center) though a lovely park or get a ride from a special bus, or taxi or take a funicular.
The most underrated museum… Teddy Bear museum! It will tell you about the history of Korea and Seoul, in a beary cute way. Located on the ground floor of Seoul Tower.
Other notable museums include Folk Museum, Seoul Museum of Art, Modern History museum, Seoul city museum and of course the cutest of all – OWL museum.
The most photogenic areas… traditional houses in Bukchon or Changdeokgung Palace make an amazing backdrop, especially in autumn.
Best place to buy drinking water or any other snackies… convenience store. They are everywhere, and water always cost 1,000w (a dollar). It’s also the cheapest place to get ice cream and other cheap snacks.
When it comes to local food, must-eats are.. a meal at beer and chicken (yes, that’s all they serve there, delicious fried chicken and beer/soft drinks), bibimbap, mandu (local dumplings), spicy soups and kim bap (local version of sushi). Oh and of course street food, I don’t know where to start, but tteobokki (spicy rice cakes) and hotteok (bread-thing with sugar and cinnamon inside) were my two favourite.
Best romantic place for a romantic stroll… Yeouido park and green patches around Cheonggyecheon stream, which runs along the central part of the city.
Underrated tourist attraction… local markets. Like this one.
Somehow I forgot to mention the best way to get around the city… Trains, subway, walking and cycling along the river. One of my favourite memories is cycling along the river with my buddy Bear.
Best cup of coffee… Good coffee isn’t easy to find, but in most cases, cuteness of cafes overshadows weird taste of coffee. Cat café, puppy café, hello kitty café, the list goes on!
The biggest disappointment ..Seoul aquarium! Neglected and overpriced.
Souvenirs to bring home.. snail make up, face masks and make up in cute packages for the ladies. Snacks for the boys.
Most memorable local cartoon.. (they play it even on the buses and at train stations) Larva. Two friends, Red and Yellow, dreaming of becoming butterflies and eating enough berries. 🙂