Throughout my childhood, my parents and I took vacations twice a year, which fostered my love for traveling. During the summer of 2016, I traveled without them for the first time. One of my college best friends convinced me to go to South Korea with her. I mostly stayed in Seoul, but here are some of the places I went to and things I did.
Myeong-dong is a great shopping district for international fashion brands like H&M and Forever 21 and Korean cosmetics brands like Missha, Etude House, Innisfree, and many, many more. Since a lot of tourists shop at Myeong-dong, some of the salespeople know Mandarin, which is very helpful since I’m Chinese, don’t know Korean, but want to learn about Korean skincare. Surprisingly, the salespeople know very limited English.
One of the streets at Myeong-dong offers a variety of street food, including potato tornado, tteokbokki (stir-fried rice cakes), meatballs, jajangmyeon, kimbap, egg bread, etc. I literally spent half a day just eating there. I also visited a Hello Kitty-themed cafe…hehe.
Because of Hongdae’s proximity to Hongik University, it is known for its clubs and entertainment. I only went clubbing once while I was in Korea. Unlike those in the U.S., clubs in Korea stay open until the morning instead of closing at 2am. I actually had to stay at the club until 4am, because I would have had to pay to leave earlier. The club used this method to keep the club populated throughout the night. I was so over it during the last two hours. I suggest starting your night later so your energy doesn’t die out before you can leave.
Aside from clubbing, my friend and I also decorated a cake for fun in Hongdae. The cake started out looking ok but then ended up looking kind of creepy. Crossing off cake decorator from my list of potential career paths.
Ewha Women’s University, also known as Edae, is popular for its shopping district. In addition to well-known Korean cosmetic brands, there are a lot of little stores that offer trendy clothing and shoes.
Gyeongbokgung Palace was the main palace of the Joseon Dynasty. At certain times of the day, visitors can watch The Changing of the Royal Guards Ceremony, which is an opportunity to experience a historical, traditional event.
This communication and observation tower is the second highest point in Seoul. I rode a cable car up to Mt. Namsan to walk to the tower. The tower is a great attraction for photography at night when it is light up.
In addition to a great view of the city, the tower has restaurants and gift shops. A lot of couples put padlocks on the fence around the tower as a symbol of their love. My friend and I also put a lock on the fence to “leave our mark” in Seoul…LOL.
The world’s largest indoor theme park features fun rides, an ice rink, and parades. There is also an outdoor section called “Magic Island.” I spent almost 10 hours at Lotte World and went on all the thrill rides. To blend in with all the cutesy Korean girls, I bought a pair of white bunny ears and wore them all day. They’ve been very useful for Halloween…haha.
- Buy a T-money card and load money into it once you get to South Korea. It’ll make taking public transport much easier. The cards are sold at convenience stores.
- Natives will use metro station exit points instead of street names when giving directions.
- Ladies, wear whatever you want, but if you wear spaghetti straps or crop tops, be aware that the more conservative, elderly people will hardcore stare at you and silently judge.
- Don’t be afraid of alleyways in South Korea. That’s where a lot of cheap, family-owned restaurants that serve good-quality, delicious food are located.
- If you want to experience a bit of everyday life, spend half a day at a cafe and read, browse the Internet, or chat with a friend. It’s a super chill experience.
You can see more of my trip in this video my friend/travel buddy made 🙂
Thank you for reading!