When people plan trips to Asia, Seoul often gets overlooked for cities like Tokyo or HongKong. But they’re missing out on one of the best cities in the world. Here’s our case to bring you to one of the most dynamic cities in the world, Seoul!
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Korea is one of the better places in Asia when it comes to English; most high school student part-timers at McDonalds will understand basic English. In addition, all major signs and subway announcements are in English as well. Not everyone’s fluent, but most Seoulites have basic English skills that’ll make Seoul a great place to visit for those challenged with secondary language acquisition. Click here if you’re wondering, “Will People Understand Me When I Visit Korea“!
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Seoul is a great place for people afraid of being murdered, raped or kidnapped as it has very low cases of these, especially for travelers. But safety is more than statistics. You might be glad to hear that it also feels very safe anywhere, anytime in Seoul. If you have a fondness of getting wasted by yourself in Korean drama fashion and walking the streets of Seoul late at night, you should still feel safe (including solo women travelers). The only person you have to worry about is you. Oh, and see why you shouldn’t be afraid of North Korea.
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Not too many cities in the world have royal palaces that are hundreds of years old sitting next to huge modern urban skyscrapers, but Seoul has an interesting balance with it’s ancient history and ultra modern development. The unique and beautiful contrast between old and new in Seoul is another reason you should find yourself in Seoul sooner than later.
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Seoul was named a UNESCO City of Design in 2010 and is part of UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network. And that’s all because Seoul is on the cutting edge when it comes to design on both the government and individual levels. Government led redevelopment projects such as Cheonggye Stream, company sponsored hanok-designed libraries as well as quirky and unique cafes dreamed up by individuals will give you plenty of reason to say “Oh! That’s pretty!”
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Design and technology go hand-in-hand, and Korea is also a world leader when it comes to technology. Seoul has giant touch screens at major transportation hubs to let you see Korea’s version of Google maps, unbelievably fast connectivity everywhere you go (see next) and the latest and greatest gadgets. Come to Seoul and you might just get a glimpse of the future. Cool blog on Korean technology and design: Advanced Technology Korea!
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Mountain peaks, moving subway trains and express busses got nothing on your connectivity (both wifi and phone signal). Cellular signals dropping and slow wifi speeds are rarities in Seoul, and you’ll most likely be connected with full bars and high speeds at pretty much all times. Even if you didn’t rent a phone at the airport, you’ll can still walk the streets of Seoul and find tons of free (unprotected) wifi spots that’ll let you Instagram every meal. Seoul is quite literally one of the most connected cities in the world! Here’s a tip on how to get Get Free Wifi Anywhere in Seoul!
Sure many cities have places open all day and night, but in Seoul, it’s not just convenience stores. Seoul is definitely a city that comes to life at night. There are plenty of restaurants, gyms, bars, cafes, entertainment options (i.e. noraebang, pc bang, jjimjilbang, movie theaters, shopping) open past midnight for you modern day vampires. If you like playing, come visit Seoul so you can play all day and night. If you missed the last train or bus, here’s what you can do!
Seoul isn’t as cheap as it South East Asian neighbors, but it’s still relatively affordable for most travelers. Whether you’re looking for cheap accommodations, Korean meals that can be had for less than 5,000 won (complete with free side dish refills!) or some cheap shopping, Seoul’s got you covered. Sure there are plenty of trendy and expensive venues that rival notoriously expensive cities like London, Tokyo or New York City. And if you’ve got the dough, you can definitely make it rain in Seoul.
But the fact that you can get a bottle of soju or a a roll of gimbap for 1,500 won (approx. $1.33 USD) means you don’t have to be rolling like Jay-Z to have a good time. Seoul is very affordable for both traveling and living.
Incheon Airport is consistently voted one of the best airports in the world, and that’s one of the reasons it’s a major transportation hub in Asia. If you’re going somewhere else in Asia, chances are you might have a stopover in Korea.
There are also direct flights to Seoul from nearly every major airport in the world (with the exception of places that are literally on the opposite side of the world — i.e. South America and Africa). Coming to Korea is easy. Do it! Landing at Incheon International Airport? Here are 25 Reasons it’s the Best Airport in the World!
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Although Seoul is a very big city, you can access pretty much every corner of Seoul using only public transportation. Subway stations are well spaced and are easily accessible from pretty much anywhere in Seoul. And even if you’re going to a place that doesn’t have a subway station, the busses got you covered, homies. They range from long distance buses that’ll take you to the outer suburbs to local-only buses that’ll just take you up a big hill. Lazies rejoice! Here’s 25 Places to Go on a Single Seoul Subway Line (#2)!
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On top of getting you everywhere, public transportation is also quite cheap. Base pay is 1050 won (approximately 93¢ USD) and there are free transfers to other subways and buses. And when the subways close late at night, taxis are also quite affordable (base fare starts at 2400 won – approximately $2.10 USD). Be happy. You’ll have more money for shopping and/or booze.
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If you’re a fan of looking good, you should definitely visit Seoul. Shopping is one of our most recommended activities! Korean fashion is unique, and it comes at cheap prices. You find unique and interesting Korean fashion items that none of your friends have for prices starting at 10,000 won (approximately $8.90 USD). Yay for looking good on the cheap! Looking for Korean fashion brands? Order Korean Fashion online!
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Although Seoul is just like any other major metropolis with sky scrapers and traffic jams, you can still connect with nature right within Seoul. If you’re getting sick of crowded streets and neon lights, head up to one of Seoul’s many mountains. The city has several mountains, which can be easily accessed by public transportation and can be easy climbs of two to three hours. For a more hardcore mountain, head over to Bukhan Mountain, a national park, for a full day of trekking.
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Maybe you got bad knees. If so, you can always just chill out at the Han River, one of the most beautiful spots in Seoul. It’s a great place for picnics, bike riding, flying kites, and romantic dates. Either side of the river will give you a picturesque skyline at any time of day, and you’ll always have a nice refreshing breeze from the river. Check out this post for 8 Han River Cafes with Spectacular Views!
Sure, most cities have cafes, but do they have unique theme cafes like Seoul? Instead of just cafe lattes and americanos, Seoul has unique cafes with themes ranging from pseudo-petting zoos (dogs, cats, sheep) to make believe princess cafes that can hardly be found elsewhere in the world.
Bang (방) means ‘room’ in Korean. And Korea has a plethora of activities that focus on hanging out in individual and private rooms. You and your friends can rent a room where you can play video games, watch a DVD in a personalized movie theater, and go crazy singing with a noraebang (karaoke) machine without embarrassment! Come to Seoul to try these uniquely Korean activities.
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Since so many places are open until the sun rises, Seoul is a fantastic place for nightlife. You can get your night started with a galbi dinner and dirt-cheap drinks (i.e. soju), get greased up at super trendy lounges in Itaewon, and head over to Cheongdam clubs at 1AM when they start getting busy. If you’re hardcore, head over to the after-clubs and party even past 8AM. You know, the time normal people take morning walks in parks with their dogs?
Traditional markets are part of the unique flavor of Seoul. There are gritty ajummas (Korean women) selling goods ranging from random keychain trinkets to custom fit hanboks (traditional Korean clothing). Even if you don’t plan on buying any goods, stop by for the most real Korean meals made by real Korean grandmas. And they’re located everywhere; even downtown commercial districts (like Gangnam), complete with global companies and skyscrapers, will have traditional markets nearby.
Spoiler alert: Korea’s got the best Korean food in the world. And there’s something for everyone, too. Meat lovers have super delicious galbi, seafood fans can eat the freshest fish at Noryangjin Market, and vegans have ultra healthy Buddhist temple food. If you’re a Korean food fan, this might be the number one reason you come to Seoul. If you’ve never eaten Korean food, you’re cray cray! Stop reading now and go cop some culinary ecstasy at the nearest Korean restaurant.
In some countries, you have to be careful of street food induced tummy aches. But street food in Korea will generally only produce smiles . The food is good and cheap, and there are tons of variety. You’ll find yummy spicy rice cakes (tteokbokii) and fried snacks (twigim) on every corner as they’re the most popular. But some of the best Korean street food are the dessert snacks like hotteok (cinnamon pancakes) that just seem to taste better when you’re eating it outside.
If you’re a Korean food pro, Seoul’s awesome because there are entire neighborhoods dedicated to certain foods. These food towns are famous because all the restaurants only sell 1 kind of food. There’s entire towns dedicated to cold buckwheat noodles (naengmyeon), Korean barbecue (galbi), spicy rice cakes (tteokbokki), blood sausages (sundae) and more! Also, competition means scoring some free stuff in Korea! Find these Food Towns for Korean Food Lovers here.
Ok, well that’s our case for visiting one of the most dynamic cities in the world!
We hope you come! If you’ve been to Seoul, write a comment and let us know about your experience!