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, 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.
How to go to SEOUL
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.
GOING AROUND SEOUL
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.
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.
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.
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 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)
VIVALDI SKI PARK
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)
Myeongdong Walking Street
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 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
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
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 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.