My first trip outside of Hong Kong (besides Macau) was to South Korea. I wanted to go somewhere in Asia that most Westerners don’t seem to frequent. South Korea was an obvious and easy choice. It is a four hour direct flight from Hong Kong International Airport.
So I hopped onto the red eye early one Saturday morning and arrived in Seoul just in time for breakfast. My hotel didn’t allow check in until 2pm and it was full to occupancy so early check-in wasn’t possible. Instead of hanging around the hotel until I could check in I left my carry-on suitcase in the hotel’s storage room and went on a jaunt around the city.
Its easy to get around Seoul by metro (or underground/tube/subway/MTR – whatever you know it as). Being familiar with the Tube in London, England, the Subway in New York and the MTR in Hong Kong, made it very easy to navigate the metro in Seoul. In fact, that was my transportation to and from my hotel.
Below are the top 5 things I did in Seoul.
1. Take the DMZ Tour
DMZ stands for the De-Militarized Zone.
The tour included a stop at the Third Infiltration Tunnel where you learn about the history between North and South Korea, a stop at the Gyeongui Railway Transit Office (located in the DMZ area) to see where athletes who competed in the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongyang took the train to Pyeongyang.
2. Visit the castles
If you would like to tour the castles don’t go on a Monday. I stopped by the Changdeokgung Palace but they were all closed because it was Monday. I was leaving the following day so I didn’t have time to go back. I did manage to take some photos on the common grounds at the entrances to the castles.
3. Trek up the to the N Seoul Tower
You can take a bus up the hill to N Seoul Tower but if you’re feeling adventurous then get there by trekking through Namsan Park. After about 30 minutes of walking you might question your life choices but the views across Seoul are so breathtaking that you will quickly forget how many steps it took to get to the top.
By the way, I wouldn’t suggest buying a tour. I bought one but missed the memo that I needed to confirm it at least three days before the tour otherwise I would forfeit my spot and money. Thankfully its a nominal amount. I still wanted to visit the tower so, I found my way there.
4. Visit the markets
Like most major Asian cities Seoul has its share or markets which sell everything you can think of. From clothing to footwear, accessories and food. The markets I visited were Namdaemun Market and Kwangjang Market.
5. Take in the sights and smells of street food market on Myeongdong Street
Myeondong Street Market is on a pedestrian only street with dozens of food vendors lined along it. There’s everything on offer, lots of meet for the meat lover and sweet treats for the sweet tooth. There are also conventional restaurants littered throughout the area if like me, you have an unadventurous palette.
I would love to visit South Korea again but a different city, just to experience somewhere new. The people in Seoul were warm and no one seemed intrigued or took any sneaky photos (of course they might have and I just didn’t notice). I would definitely visit South Korea again. There’s so much to see and a weekend trip is only a taster.
Have you ever visited Seoul or would you like to visit?