Seoul is one of the easiest destinations to travel to in Asia. You can get by with knowing little to no Korean. Most people in Seoul either spoke some English or Mandarin Chinese. In fact – it was surprising to me that there were so many Koreans that spoke Chinese!
It’s also a city where getting around is insanely easy. The subway metro system connects the whole city together, Taxis are abundant, and everything is affordable.
One of the benefits to Inter-Asia travel is the vast amount of culture you can experience from a 5-hour flight. Hong Kong is one of the most central locations you can pick as your origin city. A 5-hour flight gets you to Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Mainland China, and all of Southeast Asia.
And thus, Seoul is one of the premier destinations as it is extremely tourist friendly, without tourist traps and gotchas.
Booking your flight and hotel
Although I flew Hong Kong Express for this trip, I cannot recommend it as it’s not the most comfortable budget airline. Deals can be found usually starting 1-2 months before your expected travel date. I really recommend looking for package deals on Ctrip, or package deals on Expedia.
Though both sites have the same choice of hotels, the airlines are different. I found more major carriers such as Asiana and Korean Air on Expedia, while finding more local airlines such as Dragonair, Hong Kong Express, and Hong Kong Airlines Ctrip.
The best areas to stay in are near train stations with more than one line – Seoul Station, Dongdaemun, Chungmuro, and most places in downtown Seoul, north of the river.
Getting to Seoul from Incheon Airport
Like most major Asian cities, Seoul has an airport that is a bit of distance from the city center. The most convenient way to get into the city is taking the KTX airport train, which costs 12,500 KRW, or roughly $12.50 USD. However, if you arrive after 11:45pm or so, you’ll be taking the late night bus.
Incheon Airport will have signs in English and Chinese to guide you to the right transportation after you leave customs.
Getting around Seoul
Immediately after arriving at Incheon Airport, you’ll find a CU convenience store that’s open 24-hours. Buy a T-Money card and load it up with enough to get you into the city. The T-Money card is the single tap-to-pay card for public transportation and certain merchants.
With this, you’ll have access to buses, trains, and even taxis. It’s really a must have.
What to eat, see, and do
You’re probably no stranger to Korean food. Kim chi, Korean BBQ, spicy tofu soup, and bulgogi are probably all things you’ve heard of before. In Seoul, you’ll find all of that. Here are a few snippets of food, tourist attractions, and places to visit.
Hyundai Department Store
If you’ve been to Japan, you’re familiar with the multi-level department stores that have everything from furniture, electronics, to clothes, food, and beyond. Well this is the Korean version. ranging anywhere from 8-12 floors of non-stop shopping. You’ll find amazing everything at the Hyundai Department Store (Yes, THAT Hyundai). They have locations all over Seoul.
N Seoul Tower
Formally called Namsan Tower – This is the best skydeck view of Seoul. There are many ways of getting up to the top, including a paved hiking trail. The recommended way is to take a taxi from Seoul Station to the Namsan Cable Car. From there – you can take the tram if the line is not long. And if it is – just walk up. It only takes 30 minutes.
At the top, you’ll see a plethora of love locks, food, and drink. Visit the ticket office to buy a pass to go up.
Majang-dong Alley and Meat Market
Here you’ll find the highest quality of Korean meats, and a selection of the best Korean BBQ restaurants that focus on the quality of meat. Definitely do not miss it. Here’s how to find it.
Dongdaemun Market and Myeong-dong Shopping