Updated: September 18, 2017 (added: “list of other places we’ve been”)
Updated: July 18, 2017 (added: more “things to do” and “places to eat.”)
The first time we went to Seoul, we were only there for two short stopovers, going to/from Hong Kong. This year, we were able to spend a longer time in Seoul, since it wasn’t too far away from Japan. Traveling overseas involves such a longgg flight! Why not make the most out of it by going to a neighboring country (or few)? That’s if time permits.
During our first visit in Spring 2015, we felt completely overwhelmed because we didn’t know where to go and how to get to our destinations. Google Maps wasn’t (and still isn’t) widely used over there, so it only helped at times when we needed to get between two major tourist destinations. It doesn’t calculate the time it’ll take on foot or by car, but it may sometimes show you one for public transportation, if there’s a route. Daum and Naver Maps were the most commonly used, but it was only in Korean! What help was that to us? None, because I can’t read Hangul lol.
Below you can find a few tips and some of the places we went to, that I thought was worth mentioning. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, you can leave a comment at the end of the post 🙂
Google Maps – I usually “save” the locations on my Google Maps before I leave on vacation. That way, I know what’s nearby to where I’m at, based on looking at the pinpoints. I’ll usually just navigate to the closest station or destination by viewing the map, instead of using the automated navigation that’s calculated for you.
Daum/Naver Maps – Both apps can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play Store. If you can read Korean, these apps will be useful in getting around. Daum now supports English, but the words on the map are still in Hangul.
Uber – This transportation service wasn’t available the first time we were in Seoul, but now it’s offered! If you rent a SIM card when visiting, you’ll be able to use this service to get around. However, we stuck with the wifi hotspot because it saved us a lot more money.
Wifi Hotspot – There’s a number of companies you could choose from to rent your pocket wifi’s. The first time we went, we just chose the one that gave us a discount for flying with Korean Air. The last time, I decided to make a reservation online to get a lower promotional rate, with a different company. We only needed to show them our reservation paperwork, passport, and paid for the deposit. You pay for the rental cost when you return the device and then you’ll receive your deposit back. This probably won’t be ideal if you’re traveling in a larger group and plan on splitting up.
T-money Card – A reloadable smart card that’s used to pay for public transportation and also in some stores. It saves the hassle of purchasing a ticket for each journey and even gives you a discount during transfers. This can be purchased at any station.
Things to do in Seoul:
Myeongdong Street – This is probably one of my favorite areas to go to when I’m in Seoul. Here, you can find plenty of beauty products and clothing stores where you can shop ’til you drop! I’m usually not a hugeee shopper but we definitely splurged a little this time. In the evenings, the street food vendors start setting up and you can try all sorts of unique and delicious food items.
Hongdae – The other area that I liked going to. We didn’t get a chance to go here during our first visit, so we made sure we had a chance to this time around. There’s plenty of stores and restaurants in Hongdae. The crowds that walk these streets tend to be a younger crowd. Just imagine what it’s like at the malls on the weekends with teenagers everywhere. Everyone dressed soo nicely around here too! If you’re into streetwear / hypebeast brands, you can find a lot of them in Hongdae. But be careful, there’s also a lot of counterfeits.
teamLab World – I wasn’t able to make it to the Pace Gallery in San Francisco, when the teamLab exhibit was there, but I was so happy to find out I can see it in Seoul! It’s a permanent exhibition and it’s right inside of Lotte World. We didn’t have enough time to check out the Lotte World amusement park, so I can’t comment on that.
Dongdaemun Design Plaza – The architecture here is amazing! I just love how bright and colorful everything is in Seoul. There’s even an LED rose garden that lights up in the evenings. My pictures didn’t capture how beautiful it was, so it’s just something you have to go see for yourself.
Trick Eye Museum – I felt like this place was a little gimmicky and slightly overpriced, but it sure did help us kill time. It’s an art gallery where you can take pictures with flat paintings, that give a 3D optical illusion. If you need a good laugh, this “museum” will be the place that’ll give you one.
Common Ground 커먼그라운드 – A hipster shopping spot in Seoul built out of shipping containers! You can find trendy stores, restaurants and food trucks here, along with many young adults taking selfies and OOTD’s haha.
Bongeunsa Temple – A buddhist temple located in Samseong-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul. You’re greeted by a long walkway of colorful paper lanterns as you walk closer. So charming!
N Seoul Tower – We took a roundtrip ride up on the Namsan Cable Car, to get to the tower. Once you get to the top, you can see city views of Seoul. They also serve food here, so grab a “hot dog” (corndog) or two! It’s delicious! There’s also an area where you can put love locks. <3
Places to eat:
Chicken 678 – If you’ve heard of the comedian and TV host, Kang Ho-Dong, you’ve probably heard of or been to Kang Hodong Baekjeong Korean BBQ. There’s locations in LA, NYC, Atlanta and even Honolulu! I wish they’d bring a location to Dallas because I love that place! But this isn’t about KBBQ, it’s about his other restaurant that specializes in Korean fried chicken! We’ve gone to this restaurant during every visit. There’s a bunch of locations across South Korea, but the location we always go to is in Myeongdong. Apparently there’s even a location in Tokyo’s Koreatown! Yes, we went there again in Tokyo. Our favorite flavor is the spicy Thai chili and the soy garlic. Sadly, the spicy Thai chili was sold out when we went the last time, and it’s not offered in Tokyo. While you’re eating the perfectly double fried chicken, wash it all down with a glass of Hite beer!
Kiss the Tiramisu – Heavenly desserts in a fancy disposable cup. We got the original tiramisu and strawberry tiramisu with soft serve ice cream. Sometimes, these things look better than they taste, but wow! These were delicious! I’ll probably be getting these every time I visit. The flavors were great and it wasn’t overly sweet like most desserts. We walked by this small store a few times and the lines were crazy! Luckily, the line was much shorter when we came by the last time. That’s when we decided to see what the hype was about and I’m glad we did! After we got ours, the line behind us got long again!
James Cheese Back Ribs – When I first mentioned spicy cheese pork ribs to my friends, while we were in LA, everyone thought I was crazy. Little did they know, all of them loved it! (Or I think they did..) Pictured below is only half the portion of what we received. I’m not sure if it’s the same at all locations, but the Myeongdong location charges per person (₩14,000-18,000/person). There’s four choices of heat levels to choose from and we chose “spicy.” There’s also the option of normal cheese, double cheese, and triple cheese. If you’ve had Mr. Bossam in LA, this is pretty much the same thing. Comparing the two, they’re both really good, but I think this one was spicier. We didn’t order the fried rice with this one, but I believe you get it along with your combo at Mr. Bossam.
Noo Na Hol Dak (누나홀닭) – I don’t think I’ve ever had honey butter fried chicken before this day. The closest thing to it might be Whataburger’s honey butter chicken biscuits, but this isn’t even the same thing! We ordered the half spicy and half honey butter, which became the perfect first meal back in Seoul! The cheese corn on sizzling hot plate was sweet, rich and creamy. Even though it was probably 10 or 11 in the morning, we still paired it with an ice-cold mug of Cass draft. Why not? We were on vacation!
Mr. Holme’s Bakehouse – The original location can be found in San Francisco, but now you can get it in Seoul! There’s also a few other locations around LA. It’s the home of the half-croissant and half-muffin hybrid, cruffins! The flavors change daily, but you can usually find their flavor updates through Instagram or Facebook.
N Seoul Tower hot dog – As mentioned earlier about things to do, you can find the “hot dog” near the steps leading up to the tower! Add some of the spicy sauce and you’ve got the perfect corn dog with the best batter!
Myeongdong – Back to my favorite street but this time I’ll cover some of the good eats I had. If you see the strawberry red bean mochi, get it! The mochi was perfectly soft and the red bean just paired so well with the sweet strawberry. In the mornings, there’s a street stall (next to Nature Republic) that serves Korean egg toast. If you’ve heard of Isaac Toast, I think this place is better. The ingredients include eggs, butter, ham, cheese, and shredded vegetables, topped with a sweet and spicy sauce, and sandwiched in between two soft slices of bread. It’s a savory and sweet meal you can take to go. This same stall also serves odeng (fishcake) served with spicy soup, as well as other breakfast items. I wish I knew about it the first day because I’d probably go every morning! There’s just so many street food items to name, I’ll probably just have to make another post for it some other time.
Other places we’ve been:
Food: Honkaz, Hong Cup, Kang Hodong Baekjeong KBBQ, Issac Toast, Two Two fried chicken 둘둘치킨, Taco Bell (bulgogi tacos/quesadillas), Lotteria (cheese stuffed burgers)
Dessert: Milkybee (rose-shaped ice cream), 32MM Ice Cream, Starbucks (egg pudding)
For more photos or places I haven’t listed, you can find it on IG under the hashtag #sherrytravelsseoul