This is my cityblog about a world metropole, that inhabitates half of the country in its core and agglomeration. A place, that I frankly speaking do not even adore as much as Mexico City, but due to personal reasons, it made me spend the longest period I’d ever spent in a foreign city since years. Here are tips and tricks of Seoul and a little story of mine, of a country, where I’m supposed to be from, as a half Korean. The picture above is my girlfriend and I, celebrating my 24th birthday.
- 04.17 – 08.17
- Five months
I worked a three months Workaway in a guesthouse in Jongno-gu, Hyehwa and met my girlfriend there as well, who was working as a receptionist. Also Dimitri, my friend came from Shanghai to Seoul, to pick me up, so we could go together to Vladivostok, Russia, but we both got rejected at the Visa application center. I returned to Seoul on August 2017, in order to work at another Workaway for one month in Mapo-Gu, until I moved to Itaewon for a week. just before September, I moved back to Switzerland, cause of private matters, until I returned to Seoul again on December 2017 for three weeks in Itaewon, working my third guesthouse job in Seoul with my girlfriend. Just before Christmas, my girlfriend and I left South Korea, to travel together around Asia.
Let me give you the best advises on food, activities and lifestyle choices on my Citytrip blog of Seoul. Enjoy!
I know this little part as well as the content of my jeans pockets. Not only are the prices for good food and arcade cheaper than downtown, you can also visit the Naksan Park, or the hills around Sung Kyun Kwan University, that both carry the walls of Seoul and nice spots for little hikes.
Visiting Naksan park – If you leave the Hyehwa station on Exit 2, you are already facing the Marronnier park, a good place to chill with your partner or friend, to just sit and talk. Sometimes there are artists doing different acts on the streets, so you might get lucky with that. By walking further up, towards the shops, you can find a Lotte, other little 24/7 stores and several food options. Get some snacks and drinks and begin to walk East for the Naksan-gil road, and discover the Eastern walls of Seoul. Once you are up on the hill, enjoy a nice view, possibilities to lay down on some pavillon spots or go south of the Naksan park, to discover funny little street arts and nice coffee places, that are hidden from the downtown scenery.
Going for an arcade run – Where basketball only costs 500 and Tekken 200, this is a good little place to waste your life on some great fun for a little cost. Especially on a rainy day, you have the possibility to do something awesome. My personal favorite is the hammer thingy next to the entrance, or the Basketball game.
Samcheong – By going via SKKU or Seongbuk-dong, you can cross the Northern part of the Samcheong park and reach Samcheong-dong too, but even better, you will be able to see the walls of Seoul, a nice view across the city and do good exercise, because this trip is the longest and the hardest one to do, but also the most interesting. After you exit the Samcheong park, you will be facing Samcheong-dong, where several art shops and cafes are open to tourists within the old traditional Korean houses. Definitely recommended in the district of the historical center of Seoul.
Sung Kyun Kwan University (SKKU)- A nice walk up the hills of the oldest university of Asia, reveals a nice spot for a little walk, which you can continue, by going into the Southern area of the Samcheong park, and exiting next to Samcheong-dong. Not only is it one of my favourite routes to do, but it’s also a very variative little trip, that doesn’t take long time.
The most famous core of gatherings, when it comes to interest in shopping, party, international gatherings and music. While the prices for food and fun is higher than elsewere in Seoul, you have the possibility to do several fun activities, like the Trick-Eye Museum, where posing with 3D elements will make your friends remain speechless.
There are also the best buskers and street artists performing in Seoul, that have a sorted schedule and dance, sing and act for the crowd for free. Close to Hongdae, you the chance to reach Sinchon or Ehwa University so all in all, a famous place to go to.
Coffee & Restaurant
Paik’s Coffee – The popular Korean coffee chain is my personal favourite, to get my Peach Ice Tea by Take Away, for 2000 Won.
Hong Kong Banjum – also owned like Paik’s coffee by famous Baek Jong-won, this place offers cheap food for good quality and nice environment.
Gangnam – I admit, I never properly went to Gangnam, cause I had simply no further interest, but maybe one day, I’d write more about it. All that is clear; It is the high society, that goes for clubbing there.
Itaewon – The high society, but with more fake than real material. A redlight district, touristy restaurants and coffee places, and overpriced tags are making this place a typical party spot.
Hongdae – Where people begin to look mortal and sometimes also wear casual clothings at a weekend. A great place to not only go out clubbing or to bars, but also for art scenes, street artists, good food places and a nice vibe.
Sinchon – Now, this mile is for the students. The ones, that try to make a fancy night, but drink soju before entering the club.
Going into Nature
Seoul Forest – Reachable within short time from anywhere in the center of Seoul, this nice little spot of green is inviting for a little walk between trees and flowers. It is not an actual forest, but nice for a little change of pace.
Ilsan park – Much larger, than Seoul Forest and far away from Seoul. If you are keen to invest actually good time for good returns, then I personally would recommend you to visit Ilsan for a daytrip, as it has many various activities to offer, beside the calm and peaceful vibes, which are harder to find in Seoul.
Bukhansan National Park – Hiking for a few hours, climbing steep hills with your hands and an astonishing view across the city and suburbs of Seoul? Visiting the most famous park around Seoul is definitely a must and can be done various times. I did it twice and enjoyed these trips with good kimbap rolls in my bag as picknick.
When to go
April – June is the awakening of live among the living, after the rough winter, which passed through Seoul. July & August are promising hot and humid weather, that cannot be enjoyed at all times. I would rather skip these times and be here for September & October, where the season of Fall enters and temperatures drop on a comfortable level, before November – March are bringing the cold months back to South Korea.
The people of South Korea are mainly indifferent looking among themselves, as they are all trying to look like famous idols, instead of individuals. While most of the facilities display a large “Walt Disney Land” downtown Seoul, the pressure within the people is recognizable, in family matters as well as in their language of honorific grammars. It is not my favorite country, but this is mainly my personal opinion, since I have not the character, that suits this specific society (rather Mexico or Nepal for me). Nevertheless, it is a place worth visiting, not in the first place for the natural beauty or the ancient buildings (I’m hard to satisfy), but the food, fun and the absurd activities, that invite you to Seoul.