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Seoul Explorer: Top Tips for Your First Visit to South Korea!

Are you a budding Seoul-enthusiast?

Intrigued by the Hally-U Wave?

Hoping to visit South Korea this summer but have a number of questions?

Here are some top tips that may make your life easier when visiting Seoul!

Subway and Travel 교통

Downloading a subway app is a must, especially if you’re planning to explore the buzzing capital. The great thing about Subway apps, is that they don’t require Wi-Fi to work.

It is vital that you purchase a T-Money card, also known as a Transit Smart card; these work in the same way as an oyster and can be used on trains, buses, taxis and sometimes in shops. Most importantly, you must tap your T-Money card when entering and also when leaving the bus. Also be aware that all tube stations can have a number of exits, sometimes up to 12. Lastly, the bus services and tubes do not run 24 hours a day.

Travel Etiquette  여행 에티켓

Unlike the London underground, the Seoul subway system has designated seats for the elderly and pregnant women. It’s completely frowned upon to occupy these seats, even when they are free.

Taxis   택시

I have travelled to Seoul twice now, and this is something that I cannot get my head around. First of all, only travel with an orange taxi, as these are the cheapest metered taxis. Every taxi is equipped with a Sat-Nav, which may not always make life as easy as it should. The drivers in Seoul may not know the area that you mention, or simply may not want to travel that far. I kindly suggest that you have your address or hostel information written in Hangul, as this is the most reliable way of communicating the information with your driver. Sadly, you may have a driver decline your request, as some of them are weary of foreigners. It’s always trial and error.

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©Street Food Buns, Ifay Auziera, 11.06.2016, www.inspiremekorea.com

Food and Drink   음식과 음료

Once you arrive, you will realise that food and drink are the cheapest items that you can buy. Soju sells for around 88p. Crazy right? Unlike restaurants in London, portion sizes will be bigger and the quality of food will be better. Speaking from experience, I would 100% eat street food, as you can’t go wrong. What I do suggest is that you only eat what you can see; I would not order over the phone from an unknown takeaway (where in this case, they are all unknown). I caught food poisoning from a fast-food fried chicken place, and as the Koreans say “Ppali Ppali”, meaning “hurry, hurry,’ I personally would recommend in-person dining experiences, as the food is prepared thoughtfully.

Nightlife   밤문화

Funnily enough, Koreans are not as enthused about K-Pop as the rest of the world is. Most clubs play Hip-Hop, K-Hip Hop, House, Rock, Trance, Techno and a touch of K-Pop remixes. If you looking for 24 hour fun, food, DVD Bang and Noraebang, then Hongdae is the place for you . Hongdae is located on Subway Line 2 (Green Line)

Station Name: Hongik University Station, Exit 2.

Cosmetics   화장품

Korean cosmetics are known to be the best, and of course, great value for money! The following brands are often endorsed by K-Pop idols and actors/actresses; and you most definitely will find K-Pop playing in these stores!

 Etude House

 Holika Holika

 Tony Moly

 Nature Republic

 The Saem

 Skin Food

 The Face Shop

 Missha

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© Shane Henry, 11.06.2016, www.inspiremekorea.com

Shopping   쇼핑

There are a number of markets and shopping complexes, the best being Myeongdong, Insadong, and Dongdaemun.

Insadong   인사동

Here you will find more traditional items, and pieces of art that can be given as a gift or taken back as a souvenir. There are a lot of interesting food places and pop up stalls here too.

Myeongdong   명동

Myeongdong is like the Oxford Street of Seoul, except it’s more than 3 times the size.

Dongdaemun   동대문

Here you will find the famous Dongdaemun Shopping Complex (Mall), and Dongdaemun Market. If you’re looking to go on a shopping spree, then this is the place to visit.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

©Inspire Me Korea, 11.06.2016, www.inspiremekorea.com

Palaces  궁전

There are a number of palaces that you may visit during your trip, but I would suggest that you visit Gyeongbokgung Palace (경복궁), which is located in Gwanghwamun Square (광화문 광장). At the centre stands a statue of King Sejong the Great (세종), and this area is beautifully lit at night-time. During the daytime, you may experience the changing of the guards.

Pharmacies and Medicine   약국 및 의료

During both of my trips, I unfortunately became ill with the flu, and food poisoning. Although chemists/pharmacies do exist in Seoul, they can be very hard to find and slightly overwhelming; especially if you do not speak the language. My advice is to travel with your own First Aid Kit, flu tablets, allergy tablets, paracetamol, diarrhoea and sickness pills; and most importantly insect repellent and sun lotion.

I hope that this information has been eye opening and useful! Go forth and explore. Have a good trip!

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Featured Image Source: ©Inspire Me Korea, 11.06.2016, www.inspiremekorea.com

Shari Coakley

Longing to travel, and document my experiences. A vast taste in music; always enthused by culture and people. Favourite city so far? Seoul...<3

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