11 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting Seoul, Korea (TRAVEL GUIDE)

By Aileen - March 09, 2017

Seoul is currently on top of travelers list, you might find its travel advertisements everywhere. For me and Brittany, visiting Seoul was a very delightful experience, especially because of the culture, the atmosphere, the people, and of course the cosmetics! I had done tons of research before finally went there, but still found many interesting facts and tips after experiencing seven days being independent traveler (not necessarily backpacker). If you are planning to go to Seoul and happened to stumble to our blog (which we are glad!), we do hope it would be useful for you guys and girls :)

1. Check and prepare for the weather and the worst possibilities
Make sure to check the weather forecast before you go there, especially during autumn and winter. Do not underestimate the cold weather, especially for tropical people like us! We went there at the end of October, we had checked the weather forecast before and it showed around 17 degrees, which was good, then we didn't bring any coats. The day we arrived, it was raining and the temperature dropped to 10-13 degrees with heavy wind. We surely had not prepared for that and ended up buying new coats and umbrella.

2. Search for shortcuts or different routes to tourist attractions
The subway routes to famous tourist places like Myeongdong, Hongdae, and Gangnam are definitely very busy. You could save more time by choosing the shortcuts to several places, it will also be useful to find the nearest route or subway line from your current position.

3. Make sure to download these useful apps
I found sygic travel application was incredibly useful to organize daily itinerary. It has suggestions of top places to visit with the operational hours, address, and maps. It shows the exact location of every place and the duration to travel between them. It would be best to combine with city rail map (Seoul part). This app shows the combination of subway route, bus route, and regular maps which is perfect! Make sure to search and save/point your destinations in this app.
Korea government offers plenty vouchers and promotions for tourists. Don't miss it, you may save a lot. Download these two apps klookvisit korea and scroll around!

4. Learn some Hangeul characters
Most of the public places and restaurants already got English translation, but some of them only use Hangeul characters, like this bus. It might be hard to find the right directions or destinations, luckily Brittany able to read all the characters! daebak!

5. You would be grateful to have studied more Mandarin
I didn't know that almost 80% of the people usually the sales person, able to speak Mandarin very well until I got there. Their Mandarin were way better than their English, but it would be fine to communicate with English with young people. There are tourist helpers wearing red outfits at the center of tourist spots like Myeongdong street, palaces area, and Dongdaemun. Usually there are two people who provide english and mandarin service, but almost every time I asked, they prefer and more fluent to explain in Mandarin.

6. Rent hanbok when visiting palaces area 
Seoul's palaces are: Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung, Deoksugung, and Gyeonghuigung. Each palace has its own energy and charms. All five palaces waive admission fees for visitors wearing hanbok. The fee is waived for hanbok wearers even on holidays and on special event days. The hanboks are rented for a relatively low price as much as 10,000 ~15,000 won for the first two hours. Hair accessories and a purse are included in the hanbok rental price.
Organize your time to visit main palaces like Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung, you can visit those two by walking and take bunch of photographs in two hours.

High school group wearing hanbok

taking picture together with a Chinese tourist (are we look alike?)

at Changdeokgung Palace
7. Always ask for more free samples and masks when shopping
Shopping for cosmetics and beauty products is a must in Korea! Pay attention more to big promotion like 1+1, 10+10, 50+50 (talking about a year supply), buy regular size free small size, etc. They are very generous in giving free masks for everyoneee..... just have a chit chat or buy small things and ask for more free gifts 😊

Mask Haul on day one >.<

8. Do not be too tempted by the street food
Street food is always tempting, but be careful when buying those appealing food. Street food in tourist spots like Myeongdong and Namdaemun are rather expensive and the taste are not that different or special than the other places like your hometown maybe. So please select carefully and enjoy!

9. Do not crazy shopping for Korean food and snacks in grocery stores or marts
Popular Korean food like kimchi, tteokbokki, gochujang, nongshim ramen are getting easier to find anywhere around the countries, including here in Bali, Indonesia. It would be better to check the price in your hometown first before going cray shopping there. I found the price was relatively the same or just slightly cheaper. Unless certain more uncommon stuffs that you cannot find in your country, just go ahead! Don't be like me regretting only bought one bottle of makgeolli that was realllllyyy good :(

10. Organize your time to go to Gapyeong (Nami Island, Garden of Morning Calm)
If you like nature, please spare time to visit Gapyeong. It is not far from Seoul, the transportation is really easy, and definitely worth it! You may purchase the ITX ticket to Gapyeong in advance to reserve the seat and save travel time because it is faster than regular subway. The main and most famous destinations are Nami Island, Petit France, and Garden of Morning Calm. If you plan to do a day tour, please choose only two destinations, that way you can make the most use of your time and be back in time for the last train.

in Nami Island

11. Spend some shopping time in Incheon Airport
Last but not least, I regret than I did not have much time in the airport. The airport was huge and you can find almost all cosmetic brands there, as well as famous snacks with packed travel boxes. There were many promotions and discount, the price was even cheaper than in the city.

That's a wrap! Hopefully you found some of what you were looking for before finally visiting this famous city. Feel free to add things for you who had been in Seoul or ask questions about anything. See you in another travel post! 

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