Travel Guide: Exploring the Wonderful Culture of South Korea

South Korea, known as the Republic of Korea. What’s your perception of South Korea? K-pop? Korean BBQ? South Korea is a wonderful place that is embedded with different cultures such as music, food, or historical geographic position. Seoul is an international city and attracts millions of visitors to explore this amazing place.

When to go?

In my opinion, spring and autumn months are the most appropriate for visitors as the average temperature is really cool and sunny days all the time. In the springtime, most of the flowers are in bloom and green spaces are expanding, as well as the pink cherry blossoms. And in the autumn time, you can see the “color” is total turnover. Loads of orange and red maple leaves.

Pink cherry blossoms in South Korea
Image source: Little Holidays
Maple leaves during the autumn in South korea
Image source: Little Holidays

How to get to South Korea?

Incheon International Airport (ICN), which is one of the largest and primary airports located in Seoul. Also, there are several types of transport that connect between ICN and Seoul. The express train and all-stop train are the most popular one as the duration is really short and comfortable.

Express Train

Express train heads to Seoul station directly from ICN Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. The approximate time is 45 mins and 50 mins, running from Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 respectively. For the fare, it costs 9,000 won and 7,000 won per adult and child respectively. (Remember! The first and last trains running from Terminal 2 are 05:15 and 22:40.)

All Stop Train

The duration of an all-stop train is similar to an express train. It takes around 60 to 70 mins depending on which terminal you are in. For the fare, it costs almost half of express train tickets, Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 stations are 4,150 won and 4,750 won respectively.

In addition, visitors can buy a transportation card to make the rest of the journey more convenient. Travelers can use the subway and buses. Bear in mind, the price and service fee of the card is 500 won and non-refundable.

train map of AREX Express in South Korea
Image source: at Inha University

Currency Exchange

I know everyone is interested in knowing where is the best place to exchange the currency based on the exchange rate. Some visitors will exchange their currency in the airport as it is convenient and reduces the risk of counterfeit currency.

China Embassy Front fx Exchange

This currency exchange store is the most popular for visitors as the exchange rate is the best compared with other competitors. Plus, their reputation is quite good, so the return rate is very high year by year.

Address: 26 Myeongdong 2-gil, Myeongdong 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea

currency exchange shop in Myeongdong
Image source: YBEX

Where to stay?

If it is the first time for you, I would recommend you book a hotel near the metro station. Myeongdon or Insadong could suit you with geographic advantages.

Myeongdon (명동)

If you are a foodie or shopaholic, you should stay in Myeongdon during the journey. Myeongdong is concentrated on the best shopping districts and street food around Seoul. Moreover, you may feel comfortable if you are Chinese-spoken visitors.

Myeongdong, took the angle from the cross road
Image source: Viator

Insadong (인사동)

Insafong is an excellent place to live unless you have got lots of time to spend during your long journey. Also, you can find out about the traditional tea house and something that other districts cannot provide for. The well-known landmark, Hanok Village, is also located here. If you love to visit the historic buildings, you cannot miss them!

Insadong, crowd of people on the street
Image source: Shore Excursions Asia

Tourist Attractions

Seoul Tower (N서울타워)

Seoul tower, the official name is YTN Seoul Tower. Namsam tower is another name for it, and the main purpose is an observation tower that provides people with a nice view with a 360-degrees view. Moreover, the big advantage of this tower also provides dining options and shops for visitors to enjoy every moment. Meanwhile, the bus is not the main mode of transportation that way to get to the spot. The cable car is an excellent experience to reach the tower if you are not afraid of the fear of heights. On the other hand, couples will love it as you can hang your unique love padlocks. If you forget to remember your own one, NO WORRIES! Just buy one from the shops next to you and drop a message between yours.

How to get to Seoul Tower?

  • Bus: No. 02, 03 & 05.
  • Namsan cable car
  • Seoul City Tour Bus
  • Walk

Address: 105 Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan 2(i)ga-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Namsan cable car to Seoul Tower
Image source: Agoda
Love padlocks on the way to Seoul tower
Image source: SnackFever

Gyeongbokgung Palace (경복궁)

Gyeongbokgung Palace is one of the spots that you cannot miss in Seoul. It was built in 1395 and served the Joseon dynasty. Since the palace is the hottest spot around Seoul, you should avoid visiting and crashing with a crowd of people. In my own view, I would say if you reach the attraction around 9:30 am which could save you a bit, you could enjoy the ceremony of the gate opening the palace. If you are lucky, you could join the royal guard changing ceremony at 10 am as well. When you walk around the palace, it is integrated with several sights, including Deoksugung, the National Palace Museum, and the National Folk Museum.

(REMIND! The opening time varies in different seasons. Also, it opens 6 days a week except Tuesdays.)

Ticket Price

  • Adult: 3,000 won
  • Ages below 18 years old: 1,500 won
  • Integrated ticket: 10,000 won

How to get there?

  • Subway: Gyeongbokgung Station Exit 5 or Gwanghwamun Station Exit 2
  • Seoul city sightseeing bus

Address: 161 Sajik-ro, Sejongno, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea

In front of Gyeongbokgung Palace, open ceremony
Image source: Lonely Planet

Gwanghwamun Gate

If you are heading to Gyeongbokgung Palace, why not stop in front of Gwanghwamun Gate? This is the main gate and home of changing ceremony since 1469. Also, this gate is also the background for lots of Korean TV shows or some K-pop music. If you would like to “pilgrimage”, let’s do it.

Gwanghwamun Gate, near Gyeongbokgung Palace
Image source: Viator

Gwangjang Market (광장시장)

Gwangjang Market is one of the best traditional markets that you will ever miss in Seoul. This market is integrated with cuisine and clothing vendors. Especially for vintage clothing, it has become the main reason for teenagers to shop in this “paradise”.

Cuisine

If you are a foodie, you should take your chance to try the traditional food. Food culture can reflect how citizens love their countries and generations.

Bindaetteok

Bindaetteok, made of mung beans and glutinous rice. Usually, Koreans might put in some vegetables and pork to improve the flavors.

Bindaetteok, chewy and made of mung beans and glutinous rice
Image source: Maangchi

Tteokbokki

Tteokbokki, known as spicy rice cake, is combined with Korean spicy sauce and rice cake. This dish is one of the iconic street foods for locals and visitors. Also, Tteokbokki is becoming the most popular cuisine in Korean restaurants around the world.

Tteokbokki, which is spicy rice cake, topping with spring onion and sesame seed
Image source: Wandercooks

Sannakji

Sannakji is a dish of live octopus that is served as a snack. Normally people will be accompanied by alcohol, like Soju. If you get a big heart, let’s do it! I’m not kidding, but this dish needs brave people to finish it.

live octopus, accompanied with alcohol like soju
Image source: Atlas Obscura

How to get Gwangjang Market?

  • Metro:Jongno-5 Station (Exit 8 or 9)

Address: 88 Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno 4(sa)-ga, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Ihwa mural village (이화 벽화마을)

Ihwa mural village, which is a residential area enriched with loads of art. The pretty artwork attracts crowds of photographers to take their memorable works. REMEMBER! It is not a normal tourist attraction and you need to keep your voice as low as possible. Also, just present politely and do not be afraid to say “Hello” to the neighborhood. Meanwhile, try to support the local stores to keep the areas sustainable.

How to get to Ihwa mural village?

  • Metro: Hyehwa Station (Line 4, Exit 2)

Address: 49 Naksan 4-gil, Ihwa-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea

an artwork mentioned sword fencing and a woman using sewing machine
Image source: The Soul of Seoul
a local shop, putting a red cartoon and motor next to the door
Image source: Sara Travels

Lotte World (롯데월드타워)

If you are visiting as a couple or family, Lotte World will fit your schedule. Lotte World is a theme park that includes indoor and outdoor activities to keep visitors comfortable playing in different weather. Before heading to play the games, you can store your belongings in their lockers, which are provided in 9 different spots.

a map of lotte world
Image source: Pinterest

After reading the map, you can imagine how large the Lotte World is. The whole theme park is combined with Lotte World Adventure and Magic Island. If you come as a family, just take a seat on the Lotte World Adventure rides to enjoy the moments.

Lotte World Adventure

Can you imagine how Lotte World can design an indoor theme park like this?

lotte world adventure, an indoor sections
Image source: Visit Seoul

The Aeronaut Ballon

The Aeronaut Balloon is one of the iconic games in adventures. Visitors can take the balloon and look down around the colourful theme park.

people are taking the balloon to watch the view
Image source: Travel Recommends

French Revolution

If you get a strong heart, why not have a try at the French Revolution? They used the electrifying thrill of rotating 360 to 540 degrees. Before starting the rides, read the instructions carefully as some types of visitors suffer disks or heart patient cannot play.

an electrifying thrill, some rocks putting in the middle
Image source: Trazy Blog

Magic Island

Magic Island is a fully outdoor ride with existing facilities. In my opinion, it is a big difference compared to Lotte World Adventure.

magic island, an outdoor facilities
Image source: Pinterest

Swing Tree

A swing tree takes you to sit at the height of 4.5m and spin at the speed of 50km.

people are swing at the height of 4.5m
Image source: Lotte World Adventure

Load Nelson’s Armada

Do you want to ride a swan boat with your loved one? Just prepare for a cozy mood and get on the boat. (REMEMBER! Check the operating schedule before heading to the place.)

some family taking a swan boat

Lotte World Tower (롯데월드타워)

If you make use of your whole day in Lotte World, why not watch the evening view from Lotte World Tower? I recommend visitors arrive before sunset. Also, you can reserve a table to grab a drink in their lounge or cafe. If you are not fearful of heights, just take a lift to the 118th floor. It is the world’s highest indoor glass floor, which is recognised by the Korea record institute.

lotte world tower, one of the tallest building around the world
Image source: ArchDaily

How to get Lotte World?

  • Metro: Jamsil Station (Line 2 & 8, Exit 4)

Ticket prices

  • Park and Museum Pass (Day Pass): Adult 59000 won, Youth 52000 won, Child 47000 won, and baby 15000 won. Further information can be checked it out.
  • Magic Pass Premium: Ride 5 for 47000 won, Ride 10 for 85000 won

Address: 240 Olympic-ro, Jamsil-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Nightlife

Itaewon

Itaewon is one of the hottest spots for locals and visitors hanging out with their friends. You can imagine the whole area including a variety of foreign restaurants, bars, and markets. Here I would recommend some bars for you to have a chilling evening.

Itaewon, nightlife district with some clubs and bars
Image source: Culture Trip

Cakeshop

Cakeshop is one of the oldest clubs in Itaewon and only opens from Thursday to Saturday. It is quite attractive since they use dark red lighting and a wide music range. Also, they may invite some popular DJ to their events sometimes.

Address: 134 Itaewon-ro, Itaewon 1(il)-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea

cakeshop, a clubbing in one of the oldest building in Itaewon
Image source: Seoul
inside of cakeshop, some electrinic devices
Image source: Pinterest

Queen

If you are LGBT, NO WORRIES! Queen Bar welcomes gay people to attend the party. Most people are hot and sociable, which makes it easy to get into their culture. If you are straight, you can still visit but not laugh at them! Try to respect and treat themselves as normal people.

Address: South Korea, 서울특별시 용산구 이태원1동 우사단로12길 7

Queen, a guy bars in Itaewon
Image source: Time Out

Conclusion

Seoul is an excellent city that you MUST travel to after COVID-19. Not only can K-pop support their travelling industry, but also their well-known theme park and architecture. Especially for their traditional food, it has become popular nowadays and is found worldwide in different restaurants. Moreover, the Lotte World is an iconic theme park that can improve our relationships with each other. On the other hand, Seoul is embedded with a wonderful nightlife experience in Iteawon, which is amazing for visitors. If you are over 18, why not grab a drink with your friends or go to clubbing? Anyway, hope you enjoy this article and give you an insight into Seoul.

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