Seoul, South Korea

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

Seoul City Guide

Seoul Facts

During the Joseon dynasty (the longest in Korea), Seoul is called Hanyang or Hanseong, was the capital and largest city of South Korea. 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 was no peace treaty signed between the two states in 1953, making both South and North still at war, without the warfare and clashes. It was only last April 2018 that both South and North Korean leaders met in the DMZ and agreed to work on a peace treaty that would officially end the Korean war.


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.


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 for tourists is during spring (March – April) and autumn (October – November).

Seoul City Guide


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


Numerous airlines offer direct flights from Manila to Seoul – Philippine Airlines, Korean Airlines, Asiana Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Jeju Air, and AirAsia every day. Travel time takes 3 hours and 30 minutes, but due to the one-hour time difference between 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 promotional posters.

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


Getting around Seoul is easy because they have an efficient transportation system such as their trains and buses that connect 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 of 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 using T-money plus; it can also be used in convenience stores.

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


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 transfer on different subway lines.

Seoul City Guide
Photo from

If budget isn’t an issue, you can take taxis when roaming Seoul since most 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.


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 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 want to go to.

Seoul City guide
photo credits to

If you’re not a fan of public transportation and can afford some luxury travel, 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.



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 Myeongdong was 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 are compared to Myeongdong.

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

If you’re new to 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


But on our first visit in 2015 (back to where Airbnbs are still not famous), we checked in in Summit Hotel Dongdaemun. The 4-star hotel has an excellent location in Dongdaemun. It was just a 5-minute walk away from the DDP, malls, and many restaurants. 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 had little space to walk around, especially with open luggage, and the sidewalks were 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, staying in Seoul, Myeongdong, Dongdaemun, and Hongdae area is better. 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.

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


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 building.
Open Hours: every day, 10 AM – 11 PM
Entrance Fee: 11,000 KRW (~550 PHP) | 241 PHP (via Klook)

Bukchon Hanok Village

Seoul City Guide

It 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

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 the birthplace of the 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

Haneul Park is one and most famous parks in World Cup Park. It is renowned 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 is known as the Eastern Palace since it is 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 Guide

It is the primary venue 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


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

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


Nami Island

Seoul City Guide

One of the famous tourist destinations in South Korea is Nami Island because of its 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)


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)



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 mine)
Open Hours: 24 hours
Entrance Fee: P3,575 (Book via Klook)



Myeongdong Walking Street

Seoul City Guide

Myeongdong is synonymous with shopping. If you asked most of the people who went to Seoul 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 stores are available 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 depends 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 the little sister of Myeongdong Walking Street. The street has lots of skincare and make-up stores, food stalls, and fashion stores. What differentiates Hongdae from Myeongdong is the many bars and street performers that you’ll enjoy watching. 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 clothes primarily. 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 skip this.


Seoul City Guide

Shake Shack
Price Range:
400 – 600 PHP
If you want 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 want some authentic Korean dishes, then go to Woori Garden in Myeongdong. The food was a little pricey, but the food was excellent. I was so in love with their bibimbap. They also offer some Korean BBQ.

meating hondae
photo credits to

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. I noticed here that their meats are not as flavorful and sweet as the ones in Manila.


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