Seoul, South Korea

Seoul is one of the dream destinations of most of the Filipinos now. Thanks to all the Korean dramas, K-pop, Korean barbeques, and Korean skincare that have officially taken over not just the Philippines but most of Asia. Personally, Seoul is my second favorite Asian city, next to Tokyo. It is because Seoul is into anything aesthetic and beauty, which is what I’m much into.

Also, Seoul is always on the global top ten destination cities. You can’t blame the tourists from around the world, right? Seoul almost has everything – world heritage sites, advanced technology, vast underground malls and retails shops, exciting food and side dishes, modern architecture, and beauty and plastic surgery scene. There’s so much to do and see in this city.

Seoul City Guide

Seoul Facts

Seoul, which is during the Joseon dynasty (the longest in Korea) called Hanyang or Hanseong, is the capital and largest city of South Korea. Just after the Joseon Dynasty in 1897, the Japanese invaded Korea for 35 years, destroying their palaces, culture, and economy. Then shortly after freeing themselves from the Japanese invasion, a civil war between North and South Korea began. In 1953, the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), which is now also a tourist destination, was made to separate South and North Korea into two sovereign states officially.

However, there’s no peace treaty signed between two states in 1953, which makes both South and North still at war, without the warfare and clashes. It was only this last April 2018 that both leaders of South and North Korea met in the DMZ and agreed to work on a peace treaty that will officially end the Korean war.

Geography: 

Seoul is located in the Northwest part of South Korea and comprises 605 square kilometers. Han River flows in the middle of the metropolitan city while eight mountains border it.

Climate:

Seoul has a temperate and continental climate. August is the hottest month (30°C), while January is the coldest month (-7°C). The best time to go for tourists is during spring (March – April) and autumn (October – November).

Seoul City Guide

SEOUL PRE-TRAVEL GUIDES

Money changers in Seoul accept Philippine Peso (PHP) but prefer only the 1,000PHP bill. On my experience, I had a higher conversion (maybe around 200-300PHP more) with my PHP was converted in USD here in Manila then had my USD changed in KRW in Seoul. There’s a lot of money changers around Hongdae, Myeongdong and Dongdaemun.

In getting accommodations, always pick between Hongdae, Myeongdong, and Dongdaemun. These places are the most touristy ones and usually, most of the tours’ pick-ups are here.

Airbnb rental are much evident in this city than Tokyo. It is also a cheaper alternative than hotels.

Food is a little pricey in Seoul compared to Southeast Asian countries, but it is cheaper than Tokyo’s. One decent meal might cost P300-P400 while their street foods start with P100. Make a P1,000 budget/day for your meals.

How to go to SEOUL

FROM MANILA:

Numerous airlines offer direct flights every day from Manila to Seoul. They are Philippine Airlines, Korean Airlines, Asiana Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Jeju Air, and AirAsia. Travel time takes 3 hours and 30 minutes, but due to the one hour time difference of Seoul to Manila, you’ll arrive in Seoul in 4.5 hours.

Regular airfare to Incheon (where the airport serving Seoul is) is almost 12k PHP above. An 8,000 PHP airfare is already a good deal, while it can go down to 3,000 PHP (with taxes) during Piso seat sales.

*All prices here are when booked six months before the travel dates. Seat sales are usually based on their promotional posters.

AirAsia
11,500 PHProundtrip
  • Seat Sale:
  • 4,000 PHP
Cebu Pacific
14,500 PHProundtrip
  • Seat Sale:
  • 4,000 PHP
Philippine Airlines
23,000 PHProundtrip (w/ 20kg bag)
  • Seat Sale:
  • 15,000 PHP
Jeju Air
11,000 PHProundtrip
  • Seat Sale:
  • 5,000 PHP

GOING AROUND SEOULSeoul City Guide

Getting around Seoul is easy for they have an efficient transportation system such as their trains and buses that connects the whole city of Seoul and its neighboring regions. You can almost go anywhere with their subway.

Seoul City Guide

If you’re commuting around Seoul, it is better to avail their T-money to avoid lining up every time for single journey tickets or creating an unnecessary line on the bus entrance while counting money. Fare is also 100 won cheaper when you’re using T-money and can also be used in convenience stores.

It costs 2500KRW (~125PHP), but you can also avail it in Klook to save you the hassle.

SUBWAY

Seoul City Guide

Unlike in the Philippines, Seoul’s subway is heaven-sent to the locals and tourists. It is the most efficient and cheapest mode of transportation when going around Seoul. Almost all tourist attractions have a nearby subway stop. You can download their Subway Seoul app to help you in navigating and transfers on different subway lines.

TAXI
Seoul City Guide

Photo from visitkorea.or.kr

If budget isn’t an issue, you can take taxis when roaming Seoul since most of the drivers are already competent in English. You can easily spot them since they are color coordinated depending on their classification. The base fare of a standard cab starts at 2,800KRW.

BUS

Seoul City Guide

Buses are also another way to roam around Seoul, but it is more tricky to navigate than the subway. Unlike in Singapore, where I can use Google Maps to know on what bus number and bus stop I can hop on/off, Seoul is not Google Maps friendly. To know what bus number to ride, you can do advanced research of the places you wanted to go to.

PRIVATE CARS
Seoul City guide

photo credits to klook.com

If you’re not a fan of public transportation and can afford some luxury travel, then book a private charter via Klook. It is comfortable since you’ll have your car. Also, it is efficient since you can also choose to create your custom itinerary that the driver will follow. This option is better for big groups.

ACCOMMODATION

HONGDAE AIRBNB

Seoul City Guide

On our Seoul family travel last Winter 2019, we stayed in a three-bedroom Hongdae Airbnb since we are three families. We settled in Hongdae because most of the Airbnbs in Myeongodng were booked at that time. Hongdae might be on the other side of Seoul, but I love the energy (this is the university area of Seoul) and how cheaper the shops here compared in Myeongdong.

Our Airbnb is a little crowded for 15 people but has a clean and spacious common area. We loved the location because its quiet despite it is just near some shops.

If you’re new in Airbnb, sign up using my referral link, so we’ll both get discounts!

Disclaimer: I’m an Airbnb associate so I’ll be getting commission whenever you book through my link. Thank you!

Seoul City guideSeoul City guide

SUMMIT HOTEL DONGDAEMUN

But on our first visit in 2015 (back to where Airbnbs are still not famous), we checked in in Summit Hotel Dongdaemun. The hotel has an excellent location in Dongdaemun. It was just a 5-minute walk away from the DDP, the malls, and to a lot of restaurants. It is a 4-star hotel, big and clean. The receptionists can also speak well in English. We got the Royal Twin Room that cost us around P5,000/night.

The downside of this hotel was that the room has little space to walk around, especially with open luggage, and the sidewalks are a bit dark and scary to walk to at night.

Seoul City Guide

Seoul City Guide

As I’ve told in the travel guide above, it is better to stay in Seoul, Myeongdong, Dongdaemun, and Hongdae area. These areas are very much alive during the night and are the usual pick-up points of the tours. But honestly, you can stay anywhere in Seoul because they have an efficient train system.

*All hotel prices below are in Philippine peso.

Guesthouse
P500 - P1500per night
  • Hostel Korea Original - P759
  • K pop Guesthouse Seoul - P1,057
  • FunFun Stay Guesthouse Hongdae - P1179
  • Gyerim Guesthouse Myeongdong - P1,232
  • Beewon Gusthouse - P1,405
Budget Hotels
P1,500 - P4,000per night
  • Sieoso Hotel Seoul - P3,355
  • Philstay Myeongdong - P3,745
  • Benikea Noble Hotel - P3,050
  • City Park Hotel - P2,207
  • Hotel Gaon Dongdaemun - P22,839
Luxury Hotels
P5,000 -P9,000per night
  • Hotel 28 Myeongdong - P7,443
  • Novotel Ambassador Seoul - P7,450
  • Hotel Gracery Seoul - P9,135
  • Pacific Hotel - P8,238
  • Grand Hyatt Seoul - P8,769

TOURISTS ATTRACTIONS

Gyeongbokgung Palace

Seoul City GuideIt is the main and the biggest royale palace of the Joseon dynasty. It will take almost 2 hours to roam the whole area.
Open Hours: Wed-Mon, 9 AM – 6 PM
Entrance Fee: 5,000KRW (~250PHP)

N Seoul Tower

Seoul City Guide

It is the communication and observation tower of Seoul located in Namsan Mountain. It is also famous for the love locks on the foot of the tower.
Open Hours: every day, 10 AM – 11 PM
Entrance Fee: 11,000 KRW (~550 PHP) | 241 PHP (via Klook)

Bukchon Hanok Village

Seoul City GuideIt is the famous Korean traditional village in Seoul preserved for many years. It is a residential area, so tourists are encouraged to be respectful.
Open Hours: Mon-Sat, 10 AM – 5 PM
Entrance Fee: free

Lotte World

Lotte World Seoul

photo credits to visitkorea.or.kr

Lotte World is the largest indoor theme park in Seoul. Besides the amusement park is the tallest building in Seoul – Lotte World Tower.
Open Hours: every day, 9:30 AM – 11:00 PM
Entrance Fee: P1,338 (via Klook) | P2,146 (w/ Lotte World Tower)

Myeongdong Cathedral

Seoul City Guide

Myeongdong Cathedral is the national cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seoul and birthplace of Roman Catholic community in Seoul
Open Hours: every day, 7 AM – 9 PM | English Mass: Sunday, 9 AM
Entrance Fee: free

Haneul Park

Haneul Park Seoul

photo credits to visitseoul.net

Haneul Park is one and most famous park in World Cup Park. It is famous for its silver grass and the beautiful view of Seoul from it.
Open Hours: every day, 9 AM – 6 PM
Entrance Fee: free

Changdeokgung Palace & Secret Garden

Seoul City GuideIt is the second royal palace of the Joseon dynasty and known as the Eastern Palace since it is in the east of Gyeongbokgung.
Open Hours: Tues – Sun, 9 AM – 6 PM
Entrance Fee: 3,000 KRW (Palace) | 8,000 KRW (garden)

Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP)

Seoul City GuideIt is the major venue place for fashion shows, exhibits, conferences, and other events in Seoul. But due to its modern architecture and design, it became one of Seoul’s top destinations.
Open Hours: every day, 24 hours
Entrance Fee: free

Cheonggyecheon Stream | Heunginjimun | Seoul Fortress Wall 

Seoul City Guide

Just 5 minutes walk away from DDP are these gorgeous landscapes that are nice to see and walk by too. It is suitable for a slow afternoon stroll.
Open Hours: 24 hours
Entrance Fee: Free

Insadong

Seoul City Guide

Just a few minutes’ walk away from Gyeongbokgung Palace, Insadong is famous for its arts, crafts, and traditional Korean culture.
Open Hours: 24 hours, but shops and cafes are only until 10 PM
Entrance Fee: free

Starfield Library

Seoul City Guide

Starfield Library is one of the Instagram-worthy open libraries in the world. It is located inside COEX Mall in Gangnam
Open Hours: every day, 10:30 AM – 11 PM
Entrance Fee: free

Banpo Hangang Park

Banpo Hangang Park

photo credits to visitseoul.net

It is a long stretch park along Hangang River, where you can view the moonlight rainbow fountain, the longest bridge fountain.
Open Hours: 24 hours
Entrance Fee: free

DAY TRIPS

Nami Island

Seoul City Guide

One of the famous tourist destinations in South Korea is Nami Island because of it’s beautifully aligned trees. It turns into a yellow paradise during the autumn and a pure white winter wonderland during winter. It is one hour away drive from Seoul. You can also visit some attractions near Nami like the Garden of Morning Calm, Petite France and Gangchon Rail Bike.
OPEN HOUR: 7:30 AM – 9:30 PM
Entrance fee: 10,000 KRW (~500 PHP | Book via Klook)

EVERLAND

Seoul City Guide

Everland is the largest theme park in South Korea. It has a zoo, amusement park, a large garden, which is colorful during the spring and summer.
Open Hours: 10 AM – 8 PM
Entrance Fee: 56,000 KRW/day pass (It is cheaper to book in Klook)

EVERLAND THEME PARK: IS ONE DAY ENOUGH ON SOUTH KOREA’S LARGEST THEME PARK?

VIVALDI SKI PARK

Seoul City Guide

If you’re in South Korea during winter, you should try skiing or snowboarding in Vivaldi Ski Park. It is just 1 hour away from Seoul, and the experience is once in a lifetime (esp. if you’re from a tropical country like me)
Open Hours: 24 hours
Entrance Fee: P3,575 (Book via Klook)

READ FIRST TIME SKI EXPERIENCE IN VIVALDI SKI WORLD, SOUTH KOREA WITH KLOOK (+ NAMI ISLAND)

SHOPPING

Myeongdong Walking Street

Seoul City Guide

Myeongdong is synonymous with shopping. If you asked most of the people who went to Seoul where to shop, they’d tell you to go to Myeongdong Walking Street. It has many Korean beauty stores, boutiques, and souvenirs, and Korean snack shops. The bonus point is the various street foods around. The street is open 24 hours, but most of the stores are open at noontime until 10 PM. The best time to go is around 6 PM onwards.

Namdaemun Market

Seoul City Guide

Namdaemun Market is a large open-air market (tiangge-like) that sells various goods – from souvenirs to clothes to food. It is cheaper here than in Myeongdong Walking Street, but the quality is not as good. This market is open from 10 AM to 5 AM but still depending on the store owners. You can go here by alighting in Hoehyeon Station Exit 4, 5 or 6.

Hongdae Night Market

Seoul City Guide

Hongdae is very much like a little sister of Myeongdong Walking Street. The street has lots of skincare and make-up stores, food stalls, and fashion stores. What differs Hongdae from Myeongdong is that there are a lot more bars and street performers here that are enjoying to watch. Thrift stores are also cheaper here than in Myeongdong, maybe because Hongdae is nearer the universities. The night market is at Hongik University Station Exit 9.

Dongdaemun Shopping Complex

Seoul City Guide

If you’re into clothes, Dongdaemun Night Market is the place to be. Just across Dongdaemun Design Plaza are buildings that sell mostly clothes. It is better to buy wholesale here because it is cheaper.

Common Ground

Seoul City Guide

Common Ground is one of the newest modern malls in Seoul. Aside from hipster shops and good food, this mall will also give you some gorgeous Instagram photos. Made of blue shipping containers, this mall is worth a visit. If you’re not into Instagram, then you can just skip this.

FOOD

Seoul City Guide

Shake Shack
Price Range:
400 – 600 PHP
If you wanted to try this Western brand, then Seoul has multiple branches of it. We went to the flagship store in Gangnam, but there are also branches in Doota Mall, Dongdaemun, and Chungdam. Unlike here in the Philippines, there’s no waiting queue.

Seoul City Guide

King’s Cross, Hongdae
Price Range:
P500 for a drink; P1000 for food
Harry Potter fan? Then this cafe will surely make you super kilig because it is six floors of the Wizarding world. The basement is a pub while the 1F – 4F are cafes in different set-ups like Wizard cafe, banquet hall, and wizard dormitory.

Seoul City Guide

Woori Garden, Myeongdong
Price Range:
500 – 1000 PHP
If you wanted some authentic Korean dishes then go to Woori Garden in Myeongdong. The food is a little pricey but the food was awesome. I was so in love with their bibimbap. They also offer some Korean BBQ.

meating hondae

photo credits to hanachrisantyjioe.blogspot.com

Meating, Hongdae
Price Range: 700 PHP for unlimited bbq
Unlike here in the Philippines, an unlimited Korean barbeque is not a thing in Seoul. Only a few BBQ places offer this. Luckily, we found one near our Airbnb. There are a lot of meats and side dishes available, but you only have 2 hours to eat. One thing I noticed here is that their meat is not as flavorful and sweet as the ones in Manila.

SEOUL POSTS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.

Menu