Seoul was my first ever destination in Asia and as soon as I left I was hooked. Asia is beautiful for so many different reasons and something you just have to experience for yourself. Don’t forget to eat the food and lots of it!
1. Insadong Neighborhood
Shopping street with aisles and hidden aisles of goodies and restaurants. The subway stops right at the beginning of it, so you can’t get too lost!
2. Pandora Night Club
Bar and nightlife (all you can drink pricing) and dancing in Gangnam Neighborhood.
3. Namdaemun Markets
Street markets that go on for as far as the eye can see with anything and everything you can think of for sale. Okay except for puppies, but you CAN find those in Korea!
4. The N. Seoul Tower and the Namsan Cable Car
I have seen a few skylines in my day (New York, Sydney, LA, Tokyo to be exact) but this by far takes the cake. Take this photo and spin around and there you have Seoul. You can also send a post card from the top of this tower! The highest post office in the world! How wild is that? I sent one to my 98 year old grandmother in Long Island, New York.
5. Gyeongbokgung Palace
Wow. Just wow. A ginormous beautiful, palace in the middle of the city. When you look one way theres a huge metropolis of cars, buildings and business. When you look the other way there’s MOUNTAINS! The subway also takes you directly into the palace. Look for “Gyeongbokgung” on the subway map.
Tips and Tricks:
I have to admit I would have never gone blindly to Asia alone having never paying attention to one lick of the language or culture before, but I had a friend who has been living there for two years and was incredibly fortunate he decided to take me in for a few days, feed me and show me around. While he was at work I had the opportunity to explore by myself and I am amazed at how organized and easy it was and without wifi most of the time!
If you do decide to go to Asia, don’t let having no one to go with stop you. I would definitely try to familiarize yourself with a subway map before you leave and try staying at a hostel, it’s a great way to meet people and cheap!
I recommend using Hostelbookers.com, you can read reviews and check the map.
Ask people what to do, google places and things, most things are labeled on the map with the subway line so you just have to figure out which stop to get off. Which again google comes in handy and if you’re staying at a hostel chances are they know where to go, and you just have to write it down. Try to do this while you’re in wifi! I had a difficult time connecting to wifi with my American phone, but my friend had a Korean phone chip and he was able to connect even on the subway! However the subway map app is usable offline-but again you have to know which stop you want to get off.
Cabs in Korea can also be pretty cheap but most of them do not speak english. You can show them things on your phone and I didn’t have a problem getting to my destination usually, if you can find the name of the place in Korean and ask them that is usually best. My cab driver who took us to the Cable Cars could only say thank you and taught us to say thank you and thank you very much in Korean and made a wooshing noise and motion of the cable car and I couldn’t stop laughing.
Bring your phone charger! (and converter) it’s incredibly common to charge your phone in a restaurant or bar. Also ask for the wifi password if they have it! (Portable battery packs work great to, but its one extra thing to charge.)
The Asian culture is incredibly trusting and honest- most of the time you don’t have to worry about your things be stolen (not all of the time-theres bad seeds everywhere) but that goes both ways. Respect where you are and be honest. A lot of the times on the street you can barter prices for things, but everything is really cheap already.
Bring your appetite! and try everything! I had a hard time getting used to the food because it was a bit more spicy than I am used to, but I was like hey- when in Korea. If you can ahead of time, get a list of things (in the language of the place you’re visiting) if you have any food allergies. Although a lot of people understand and speak english, there are a lot that don’t. Thankfully the menus have photos but you can’t always tell whats in a dish. (I also understand now why people take photos of their food and am proud to have became one of them for sole purposes of this blog. also most of the food was rainbow colored and pretty.)
|Korean BBQ!||A Korean Dish|
|Chinatown lunch||Turkish||Fish Waffle with bean paste|
|more BBQ||Roasted Chestnuts||Bulgogi|
|Kimchi Rice||Waffle (from the subway!)||Bulgogi|
|Shabu, Shabu||Bread Pork and cheese with sweet potato||Bibimbap|
Travel Insurance: I have never had a major health problem that couldn’t be fixed while I was overseas, However you always want to be protected on the off chance something does happen and the first place you want to go is home.
My aunt recommended Geo Blue Travel insurance (here!) It was $25 for me for two weeks because of my age and gave me a hefty dollar amount in coverage as well as emergency evacuation insurance- which is awesome if you’re going to be doing some dare devilish activities. There was also an option to buy flight/luggage insurance too which I usually opt out of but its nice to have that option.
Travel: I flew Korean Air from JFK directly to Seoul and it took 14 hours. I honestly love flying a countries airline, even though it can be expensive, because the flight attendants always look amazing in their uniforms and it feels like a small preview of my destination.
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