Why is Seoul, South Korea my must visit destination for 2016?
As we kick start 2016 and a new year is upon us I thought this would be a nice time to stop and reflect on my past travels over 2015 and share with you my most surprising destination on my travels over the year.
Last year marked my first visit to Seoul, South Korea and I wasn’t left disappointed, In fact, it went beyond my expectations and that’s why I thought I’d share with you why Seoul, South Korea grabbed the title for the Travel Dave’s destination of 2015 and why you should consider a visit in 2016.
Helpful handy travel advice for Seoul, South Korea.
How to travel to Seoul, South Korea
First things first, what’s the cheapest and easiest way to reach Seoul, South Korea?
After spending some time searching around the good old internet, I discovered that the cheapest option when travelling to South Korea was flying from Bangkok Thailand.
I found many routes on offer and it was cheaper for me to fly from the UK to Thailand, Bangkok, enjoy visiting for a few days on a stop over, then fly onwards to Seoul, South Korea.
Break up the trip to include both destinations and save a fortune in the process. This was a cost effective move for me to make and that’s what attracted me to visiting Seoul and South Korea in the first place.
I booked my flight from Bangkok to Seoul via Flight centre which had a great deal at the time of booking.
Where to stay in Seoul, South Korea?
(I stayed at KW Hongdae line Hostel located in the Hongdae area of Seoul, South Korea)
KW Hongdae line hostel, was located in a quiet neighbourhood of Seoul, South Korea, which had loads of exciting tiny cafes and restaurants to explore, all surrounding a peaceful park space you can sit around, meet up and relax.
It’s a local family run place with a hostel vibe, yet offers small bathrooms in every room, I had a comfortable, cosy stay with them and would highly recommend.
I liked how they had everything, including a fancy kitchen and washing machine you were free to use.
You can easily reach this hostel by taking a short walk from the Hongdae Metro station.
Use the Public Metro system, its affordable and easy to navigate
Seoul has a well connected Metro system that links up all the districts of Seoul, South Korea and its affordable too.
The airport is well connected to the Metro line too, so it’s all well connected.
Simply go to any 7/11 shop around Seoul, South Korea and purchase a Smart metro card, they look like this:
Mobile 3G data internet connection for visitors to Seoul, South korea
If you are looking for an easy 3G solution for your smart phone I found a KT mobile package for tourists that will give you 1GB of data for around £17.
It was easy to set up and I was connected in moments.
You can buy this SIM card package at the airport from the 7/11 next to the arrival waiting hall.
It’s good for 15 days which is perfect for a two week trip.
Travel Dave’s favourite things to do around Seoul, South Korea
Take part in Korean Kareoke
Grab some friends, find a karaoke bar and test your K-pop skills, Korean Kareoke culture should not be missed!
They take things very seriously and often the rooms are kitted out with the most high tech singing equipment that money can buy.
For a few Euros you can blast away at a couple of songs and normally they have some western songs to make it easy for you to follow along.
Of course you can always try your luck at Gangnam style, the one Korean Song I can almost sort of singing!
I liked the idea of hiring private booths and sing away to your heart’s content, Kareoke In Seoul, South Korea, is not to be missed!
Get lost down the back streets of Seoul
Walking around Myongdong street, you can’t help but stop and take it all in, so much action and night life is taking place as the Neon lights flash and glimmer across surrounding buildings.
It’s interesting to see the night culture that surrounds Seoul and it’s fun to walk around and witness this type of locations.
I had a lot of fun people watching and taking in everyday life in Seoul, a great experience and this street are a great place to start, especially the first day of your trip.
Try a Korean BBQ, you would be silly not to
This has been a dream of mine to eat Korean style BBQ, my smile never departed from my face during the whole experience.
It was even better than imagined and so awesome to have a great company with my good friend Alex Choi, who I studied with (mostly drinking with) during my time in Holland, it was fantastic to have a local walk me through the whole process and why they do it.
Korean BBQ is unique in the sense that it’s a ceremony of tradition, but yet the ingredients are simple but yet effectively tasty, the fact that you can BBQ to your heart’s desire to the exact moment you like your meat cooked, then simply enjoy the aromas, the exotic tastes and be sure to keep ordering as much kimchi as your heart desires.
Was great having a host teaching me the Korean ropes and traditions. Can I eat this every day!!
One extra additional tip relating to Korean BBQ, try to order some lettuce leaves to wrap your BBQ meat in along with Kimchi and sauces and it turns into some sort of Korean Taco you can attempt to fit in your whole mouth all in one, great fun and super tasty!
Explore mid night Korean dumpling culture
If you find yourself wandering the streets of Seoul, South Korean in the early hours of the morning after a delightful drinking session and get yourself in a peckish situation, you simply have to stumble across a street vendor steaming up some Korea Kimchi Dumplings.
A popular snack amongst many Koreans this snack comes along with some soup broth and a generous helping of many Korea pickles and tasty dipping sauces.
I loved this experience as many Koreans started to join me as I tucked into my 6 pack of Kimchi style dumplings and we ended up talking about Koreans favourite pass time, American baseball.
As you will normally find me wearing a blue jays hat the locals sparked up quite a discussion and it was a fun way to immerse into the culture.
Friendly Korean culture
Koreans are extremely friendly people to meet and hang out with and they have a very interesting deep historical culture that’s worth experiencing.
I was surprised to hear many people on my Periscope ask if South Korea was a safe country to visit, it was extremely safe and reminded me of travelling around Scandinavia as I didn’t feel at any point unsafe through out my trip.
South Koreans can be a lot of fun, especially if you make some local friends and they are up for having a drink with you (More on this later).
South Koreans also have a crazy love for their local food, always invite your new Korean friends out for Korean BBQ they will find it hard to say no and a fun experience in itself.
Get lost down back alleys in Seoul and see what you can find
I truly believe that the best way to travel is to go with the flow, take each day as it comes and try new experiences.
That’s when I decided to go down a back alley for no reason, purely for fun and I stumbled across a dumpling store that’s been around since I was born.
You had to take your shoes off and sit on the floor and my local friend said this dish was worth a try if I had some time (cheers Alex!).
It was like magic that id stumbled across this traditional eatery. The owner got excited that I walked through the door as he had just recently printed a new menu in English to try and attract new visitors.
To be honest, he didn’t need it as the place was packed, but the wonderful thought was most welcome as I was able to pick and try his popular dumpling and beef soup.
The whole meal totalled in at 8,000 Won, which is £4.50 and comes with a wide selection of Korean pickles and cold ice tea.
As I was on my own he shuffled some tables to make room for me, it was great fun sitting on the floor and being the only westerner in the restaurant struggling to cross there legs.
Today’s Korean word which I learned was Ma-Sid-so-yo, which means: Delicious! After saying this to the head of house his smile was enough to say his new menu worked well and he was happy that I took a random left turn down a back street to find him.
I would share the name of his place, but it was in Korean, I guess you have to make up your own adventure after all and find your own unique experience, something you can’t find in a guidebook.
Enjoy your next fun random exploration!
Many historical locations to explore in Seoul
South Korea has a beautiful cultural heritage that I never knew anything about until I was on my trip. Check out such places as the Gyeongbokgung palace, you can spend a whole day exploring this area.
My feet are worn out, but wow, what a walk, the palace grounds is a must visit on your next trip to Seoul, South Korea.
Be sure to check out the changing of the guards too, that are wearing traditional Korean clothing and put on quite a display.
Introduction to South Korea Drinking culture. Chicken and beer!
Something you might not think at first, South Korea has an incredible drinking culture, they are crazy fun!
South Koreans have many fun drinking games and drinking songs, they take drinking very seriously,
Remember kids to drink responsibly and have a good time! 🙂
If you happen to have some Korea Friends, you have to ask them to come out with you and try chicken and beer experience a new style of drinking that involves Fried chicken and yes, you’ve guessed it, Beer!
Here you can join me live whilst I periscope and share with you my friends, drinking Korean Style: Chicken and Beer.
(Great fun! Always fun drinking a beer with the locals)
Thank you for reading my post about Seoul, South Korea, please leave a comment below.
Thank you for reading my blog post all about why Seoul, South Korea and why it’s my recommended destination of choice for 2016. I hope you found this post useful and wish you many happy travelling adventures for 2016. Have you been to Seoul? Did you enjoy this city too? Can you offer any further recommendations on things to do? Feel free to post below in the comment section, thank you in advance.