During the month of April I had the great pleasure to travel to Seoul, South Korea. It was my first time visiting and I was excited to travel to another destination in Asia. In the past, I’ve had the great pleasure to visit Hong Kong, Bangkok, Shanghai, Beijing and Tokyo and if you have been following me for a while you know I am a big fan of Asia. Before the trip I did some research on what are the “must visit” attractions and places to walk around and explore, most importantly what are the well known markets in Seoul for me to visit during my trip as visiting the local markets would give me some insight on connecting with the local culture which is one of my favorite things to do during my travels.
Be sure to visit the following links where I review the hotels where I stayed in Seoul, a recap Q&A talk and sharing my tips about the transportation.
- Sheraton D Cube City Seoul – Deluxe Room
- Sheraton D Cube City Seoul – Pool overview
- W Seoul Walkerhill Hotel- Wonderful Room
- Limo Shuttle Bus from Seoul to Airport
- Taxi Experience in Seoul
- Q&A about Seoul
On Today’s coverage I will be sharing some of my observations throughout my trip to Seoul and what I learned from my trip. I maximized my 8 days in Seoul to the fullest and I was able to visit all the major attractions, markets and used the two main sorts of transportations. It was a successful trip because I left Seoul with a clear understanding of their lifestyle and overall culture engagement.
- The street markets in Seoul are simply incredible. They are quite a few markets in Seoul that you should visit and I highly recommend to do so, though I will recommend my 2 favorites which are: Insadong Market and Namdaemun Market, both of them markets are super well known and Namdaemun Market is the largest market in Seoul. Insadong Market is much smaller and offers a completely different atmosphere. While exploring Insadong Market you will find a lot of souvenir shops (higher end), a lot of little restaurants, ice cream shops and some shopping, it is also feels less crowded than Namdaemun Market. When you visit the largest market in Seoul it will feel like you are in another world. The hustle and bustle of the city can be felt here. The locals are out and about shopping, you will get experience the local vibe and the variety of shops within the market are never ending, aside from that the hardcore local food is sold in Namdaemun Market and getting to see the locals dining in the middle of the market. It is overwhelming and makes you think “Where do I begin?”. Both markets are completely safe but as always, just be aware of your surroundings and belongings, I didn’t feel in danger at all during my visit at the markets.
NATURE IN SEOUL
- Throughout my travels I focus on soaking in the nature of each destination, wether its a beach, a desert, a mountain, etc. It is one of my favorite things to do during my down time as it gives me a different perspective of the destination. Throughout my time in Seoul I went to do the Namsan Park Hike and I was stoked that I went on such a hike. From Namsan Park I was able to reach the N Seoul Tower view point which took me almost 2 hours to get there by foot. The views from the hike were stunning, the flowers were blooming and I was able to experience the local wild life as well. Unlike some of the destinations in Asia that I have visited in the past there was barely to zero pollution which made the hike and views even better. The little pollution that Seoul had during my visit was coming from Shanghai, which is normal for that to happen during the month of April. If you are a fan of going on hikes and breathtaking views of the City from above, this is a place not to miss during your trip to Seoul. Namsan Mountain or Mount Namsan is a 262 metres peak in the Jung-gu district of south central Seoul, South Korea.
Namsan Park Hike
FOOD IN SEOUL
- I must admit, before I started traveling the World for a living I was a very picky eater, which means I would barely eat food and would stick to the food that I was a fan of and would eat the most. Shortly after the start of my travels I snapped out of my picky eating habit and decided to step away from my comfort zone and try new things. By trying new things was when I started to embrace new food around the World and I was glad I did that. The food in Seoul was delicious and I must say that one of their main condiments is spice, which I am truly sensitive with because it causes me heart burn. Not only do you get high end food by well known chefs at local restaurants, but also you get the local street food vendors selling some of the well known “snacks and bites” in Seoul where you can see how they cook it and once finished, they will hand it to you – those tend to be the cheapest food in Seoul. The local market known as Namdaemun Market offers a unique street where hundreds of local dishes can be cooked for you and once your meal has been cooked, they invite you into their little shack for you to enjoy it. The culture is fascinating and seeing the locals cook was a thrill and they really focus on keeping their environment sanitary and clean which for me its the number one priority before I go and dine at a local street market.
- Aside from the local street food that you will find all over the markets, you will also get to see chefs within the restaurants who cook your food right on the spot, teppanyaki style. Which makes the food so fresh and tasty. I decided to give it a try and eat one of the popular dishes in Seoul which is meat, fried eggs with noodles and rice. I wasn’t sure what to expect but everyone around me was eating it and I decided to give it go. It was very cheap and it only cost me $6 for a goos size plate of food. They add extra spice on the side if you would like and some soup. It was delicious and the chef makes sure the meat is perfectly cooked as well.
Dessert in Seoul
- I can’t deny it, I love a good dessert and one thing I noticed about Seoul is that they truly love sweets and pastries. You can’t visit Seoul and not have one of their pastries or deserts as the presentation, style and taste its one of a kind. I was able to try a variety of deserts such green tea ice cream, red velvet, chocolate mouse cake and it was one of the best desserts I’ve had. Perfectly cooked and just done right. Good thing for all you can eat menu as I was able to take advantage of things. One thing I noticed about their dessert that the sugar content was used to a minimal and it doesn’t overpower the treat. Aside from the delicious pastries I had – I also gave it a try to their 100% natural donuts, it was my first time trying these donuts and I cannot go back to a regular donut, the taste of it was perfect and the dough was just right – it is indeed very different from the typical donuts we can get here in America but the locals in Seoul are very aware of their health and find ways to treat themselves with something healthy and tasty at the same time. They succeeded in my opinion.
LIFESTYLE IN SEOUL
- From my 8 day visit to Seoul I was able to experience the lifestyle in Seoul. It is a fast pace destination and you can feel it when walking the streets. The hustle and bustle can be felt early morning and in the afternoon when the locals are wrapping up their work. The traffic is manic as well. The locals are super friendly and attentive, I had my fair share of eventful moments when I would get lost and the locals would lend a hand to help me, they are friendly with the tourist which I greatly appreciate. It is a destination that creates their own resources when it comes to entrepreneurship and business. They are people who want to create new things and innovate and being an entrepreneur myself is something that I truly connected with. While walking the streets you will feel a hectic vibe, it is hard to put it into words and its a moment that you have to experience to know what I am talking about. Security is high in Seoul and you will see that a lot everywhere you go which is understandable. From time to time you will see locals on the streets making a special snack that the locals eat and it was fascinating to see and for a small fee of 1000 Korean Won which is 85 cents you will be able to try one.
Local vendors in Seoul – Running her own business
- One of my favorite areas to experience the lifestyle in Seoul was being able to visit Bukchon Hanok Village which is a traditional area where the locals still live and Today, many of these hanoks operate as cultural centers, guesthouses, restaurants and tea houses, providing an opportunity to experience, learn and immerse in Korean traditional culture. It is required for us visiting the Village to keep the tone of voice low to respect the locals in the area and it is highly enforced here. You are able to walk around the village and see the little shops, enjoy some tea and connect with the locals. On the image I am sharing below, this is what a traditional house looks like and now it has turned into a local business for the visitors to experience.
Traveling to Seoul was an absolute pleasure and it has been one of my best trips I have made during 2015. Not only was I able to connect with the culture, experience the lifestyle, try the local food and visiting the most popular markets – But it also opened my eyes and motivated me to create new things and continue to strive for innovation. Seoul is a destination that I will certainly be returning to because of everything they offer. I encourage you all to visit and make the suggestions above a priority during your trip.
For those who have visited Seoul – How was your experience?