My personal guide for those travelling to South Korea and planning spending 7 days there.
South Korea has come a long way and the capital of Seoul is the perfect example of a metropolis that has been built for the modern age. Technology-focused and fashion-conscious, what will strike you the most is just how well Koreans are able to balance their deep connection with tradition and history. The city is a crazy juxtaposition of temples and ancient villages with cutting-edge skyscrapers, bright billboards, and endless K-Pop.
For those planning a trip to South Korea, here is a 7 day Seoul itinerary that'll get you started.
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Where to stay in Seoul?
The Complete 7 Day Seoul Itinerary
The below is a full rundown of my schedule and itinerary that we ended up following. As with every trip, there were a lot of adjustments that had to be made along the way. With the weather as cold as it was in the deep of winter (February) and being hit hard with gastro issues, there was less travel outside of Seoul than we wanted. Instead, we took a slower pace approach. Last thing to note is that we saved a lot of money on this trip because we had a friend teaching English in Seoul which meant we had a free place to stay.
|Date||In-Flight||Day 1 – Seoul What’s Up?||Day 2 – Shopping Frenzy||Day 3 – The Touristy Stuff||Day 4 – Sleep In Day||Day 5 – More Touristy Stuff||Day 6 – Korean War, Jjimjilbang and Food Poisoning||Day 7 – DMZ||Day 8 – Bye Seoul!|
-Flight: AC063YVR -> ICN
|Morning||Sleep in||Sleep in||Sleep in||-Deoksugung for Guard Change @ 11AM|
-Walk towards Gyeongbokgung to see the two statues
|Sleep in||Koridoor DMZ Tour (11AM - 7PM)||Sleep in|
|Lunch||Chuncheon Dak Galbi (late)||To Sok Chon||Myeongdong Gyoja (late)||Late lunch at the bottom of Bokchon Hanok Village||Cafe @ Korean War Museum||Snacked on some food we brought||Fruits and snacks|
|Afternoon||-Ehwa University Neighborhood|
|Caffe Bene||-Bokchon Hanok Village|
-Lotte @ Seoul Station
|Korean War Museum||-Bus 6011 to airport
-Flight: AC102YVR -> YYZ
|Dinner||So Do Jeok||Jeonju Jungang Hoekwan||X2 in Hongdae||Warawara soju bar (late)||Bongchu Jjimdak||@ Dragonhill Spa||Dinner part of the tour near Dorasan Station|
|Evening||-Bus 6011 from airport|
-Settle into friend's place
|Walk around Myeongdong||-Clubbing at Harlem, nb1 and nb2 in Hongdae||-Shopping in Dongdaemun|
-Crazy spinning amusement ride
|-Cookin' Nanta Show|
|Dragonhill Spa||-Gangnam Underground|
|Accommodation||Friend's apartment||Friend's apartment||Friend's apartment||Friend's apartment||Friend's apartment||Friend's apartment||Friend's apartment|
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Things to Know Before You Go
In addition to the itinerary, I put together my top tips I learned from travelling to Seoul for the first time. These will sure help you save money and travel smarter.
- Exchanging money – Don't even bother changing money at home. Change a bit to last for a day at the airport and change the rest at another money changer in the city. Most of them can be found in Myeongdong. For example the rates we found at the airport were 1 USD = 1045 Won vs 1 USD = 1070 Won in Myeongdong
- Getting from the airport to the city – The most economical method is to take a limousine bus. When you arrive you'll find a big counter for busses right when you exit baggage. You can ask them for which bus to take depending on where you're staying. Most likely it'll be some 6000 series bus. There's a coupon for 1,000 Won off that you can unlock at the end of the article
- Getting around – If you want to go to specific places make sure you have the name and address of the place in Korean characters
- Taking a cab – We found that cabbing was sometimes just way more convenient to get around especially if you don't live near a subway line. All cabs except for the black cabs start at 2400 and possibly up to 2800 late at night. Most of the times we were paying about 5000-10000 total depending on how far we needed to go. These days, Uber is an alternative “best way” to get around the city.
- Subways – Know your exit number before getting out of the station. Once you get out you will definitely be more even more lost
- Tax refund – Keep your eye out for stores that have tax refund. Typically if you spend more than 35,000 you should be able to get them to give you a receipt & envelope
- DMZ – After the flight and hotel this should be the next thing you need to book. Weekend slots go out really quick.
- Jjimjilbang – How can I describe this experience. Think of it as a mashup with an arcade, spa, and sleep over. It's something completely unique and a must-try in South Korea
- Cookin' Nanta Show – Worth the price. Book online as a member and save 10%
- Start brushing up on your Mandarin because it'll be more useful than English
- For To Sok Chon try to go before 12 or after normal lunch hours to beat the line ups. This is the only place we went to that actually had long line ups
- Things to buy while you're there – Cheap soju, face masks, strawberries, pears, tangerines, red ginseng
Must See Places in Seoul
- Bukchon Hanok Village and if you're up for it, the Hanbok experience
- Gyeongbokgung Palace
- Korean War Museum
- Dragonhill Spa (Jjimjilbang)
Must Have Apps
- Subway by Jihachul – Super powerful you'll realize. If you click on one starting point and then an end point it'll calculate the best way to get there. Play around with it.
- i Tour Seoul
- Learn Korean (or search up any Korean language app)
Top Food Places We Tried
- Myeongdong Gyoja
- To Sok Chon
- So Do Jeok
- Jeonju Jungang Hoekwan
- Chuncheon Dak Galbi
What We Missed
- Cheonggyecheon Stream
- N Tower on Namsan
- Hongkik University area
- Fish Market
- Dr. Fish
- Mr. Pizza
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Where to stay in Seoul
As I mentioned, we were lucky enough to have a close friend offer her place while we were there so accommodations were covered but I did some research and found these two properties that I'd highly recommend when looking for a place to stay in Seoul.
Connected directly to the massive Lotte Department Store and the Euljira 1-ga Subway Station on Line 2, this is a luxury hotel that has no shortage of amenities including modern rooms, fitness centre, spa, a number of restaurants, and pool. Since this is walking distance to Myeongdong, you're right n the heart of the action whether it's food, shopping, or nightlife.
Now that's a lot of stereotypical words packed in a property! Kidding aside, this is an awesome budget guesthouse to consider if you're okay with something that resembles of a hostel but has private room options. Location is excellent being in Gangnam and is near the subway line.
- February is insanely cold. It's not about the air temperature but it's the wind and humidity that really gets to your bones. If you can, I'd recommend coming to South Korea in the spring or fall time.
- One observation I made is that Seoul is I'd say 40% shopping. There's lots of places to buy items like clothes. Next to shopping, I'd say it's all about the food in Seoul.
- There are certainly a number of sights to see but I'd say you can count the main ones with your fingers. Next time, I would really like to see more of the country side and cities to the east and south
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