We visited South Korea last May!!! ^_^
My family stayed for a total of 10 days, but I was only there for the first 4.5 days before flying back home by myself. It was also my first time traveling alone internationally!
Even if my trip was cut short, it was five days well spent. We stayed right at the heart of Seoul in Myeongdong. Equal parts modern and quaint, there is so much to love about Seoul! Here are the top 3 things that made me fall in love with South Korea:
THE STREET FOOD & SHOPPING
We had the best time trying out all the street food in Myeongdong. While I’m not particularly a fan of spicy, I really enjoyed the diverse food you can find at the stalls and hole-in-a-wall’s just by walking Myeongdong, where there was something new to try every night.
Korea wouldn’t be Korea without the abundance of cute shops of makeup, clothes, knick knacks. For makeup and clothes, you’ll have a field day in Myeongdong. For bulk buying of souvenirs and all kinds of supplies at negotiable prices, you must check out Namdaemun Market.
For interesting finds, I recommend Insadong for artsy and unique souvenirs, as well as the streets on the way to Bukchon Village, where we wandered into artisan flower shops and frontyard clothes shops. We also made a special detour to Dongdaemun Fabric Market right along the Cheonggyecheon (a creek that flows right through the heart of the city) for my crochet enthusiast sister, where she bought a bunch of colorful yarn.
THE ART & CULTURE
On our first full day, we went marathon sight seeing via the hop-on-hop-off bus system. We visited the Love Lock Zone, Insadong District, took a fail detour to Bukchon Hanok Village (we never made it to the village itself because we got hungry lol) and ended with a spontaneous visit to the National Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art, where we got free admission by chance! The fam were such troopers for letting me indulge in the gallery despite our intense walkathon. (Thanks guys!)
On our second day, we explored more cultural spots in Seoul. We watched the changing of the guards at Gyeongbokgong Palace, the main royal palace. We also visited the Dongdaemun Design Plaza, or as I call it, the futuristic bean! It was a day appreciating traditions and the past, but also innovation and the future.
THE TOURS: DMZ & NAMI ISLAND
The other half of our trip was all about out of city tours! Luckily, we were able to book tours to the mysterious DMZ or Demilitarized Zone marking the border between North & South Korea, and the charming Nami Island!
For booking, our hotel helped us find a guide for DMZ, and for Nami Island, we visited the Naminara Republic Center in Insadong, the day before we went. Nami Island was my favorite part of the trip. Imagine romantic nature walks, live indie Korean music, perfect weather and fresh air, tandem bike rides, lanterns on pine trees, and so so much charm. It was pretty much the best day ever.
It’s cheesy to say, but I love our family’s trips. There’s always so much laughter & weirdness going on, and even if we drive each other crazy sometimes, I wouldn’t trade them for the world. There’s really something about traveling that makes you appreciate the company you’re with.
Till the next adventure,