What to do in South Korea – Seoul

Hello everyone! Hilman here! Contrary to many beliefs, there are many things to do in South Korea, Seoul, apart from shopping through the touristy Myeongdong and Hongdae.  I will be sharing with everyone how to have a good time in South Korea when you’re either tired from shopping or too broke to do so. Hope this changes your mindset that Korea is not all about shopping and finding your oppa.

Taking a parachute by booking from Paralove was one of the best things I’ve shopped for. A day donned with imperial wear at the palace cost around $10 and you can feel like your part of the cast for ‘Da Chang Jin’. Treat yourself to the nearby Ginseng Chicken Soup for that traditional food and you can even order a black version of it. Of course, your day is not completed without eating some street food such as the Korean satay. Not a fan of spicy food? No worries our dear Friend can’t either and is surviving despite the rumors of Korean food being spicy. Finally, AirBnB? Why not head back to a jimjilbang (Korean Sauna) that only costs $10 per night where you can bake yourself in a wide variety of ovens from 86°C to -8°C. Read more below for more non- shopping related activities on what to do in Seoul!

There are some free activities that can be done in Seoul, South Korea! Firstly, hiking is both free and good for the body. In this case, Yeongmasan was a great beginner mountain for us to begin with. Once up, my friends were greeted with an amazing view of both nature as well as the city. Be sure to pack your lunch climbing any mountain!

Next, we were greeted by a Shake Shack nearby. That’s right, a Shake Shack right here in Seoul. I do have to admit I tried it for the gram or as they call it here, meok-stagram (Which is a combination of eating and Instagram). Shake Shack Korea tastes as of how it’s American counterpart would taste like and end it off, head over to the nearby fish market and try the live octopus. Don’t worry about which stall to choose from as all of them are identical.

Before our day ends, we went over to Myeongdong to check out the famous LINE bear, Brown! We were shocked to see him all bandaged up but it was all part of the Halloween look. A different Brown from the touristy bear that everyone has a photo of. The best part, taking photos were FOC.

Lastly, we went over to Jamsil Stadium to take a look at the national sport of Korea, baseball! Purchasing the ticket was rather confusing as you had to buy from the respective gate of the team you are supporting, we only knew about Doosan Bears, but we accidentally bought tickets from LG Twins. Making it a little awkward to be shouting for the bears when all around you were LG fans.

The total cost of the day, around KRW50,000.

What to do in South Korea – Jeju

Jeju is a beautiful island but sadly it lacks in the public transport area. My friends and I could rent a car from Lotte-Rent-A-Car at a cheap fact. TIP: Do sign up for a membership as new members are offered promotional prices and membership is free. Talk about a good deal

When I mention the word Jeju, most K-pop fans are gonna go ohmaigawd GD Café. And that’s right, we went over to Aewol Port where the GD Café is but not for the Café but instead for the signature seafood ramyeon. Priced at only KRW6,000 you get to eat ramyeon with a whole crab inside, mussels, clams and even an abalone to yourself. The rich broth made me get a second serving. After eating such a delicious meal, why not go paddle in a canoe as what my friends  and I did!

Next up, head over to Oedolgae where you can catch a pillar of stone in the middle of the ocean. A tip would be to head over early to be able to enjoy the scenery more as we barely made it for the sunset. Another recommendation for a beautiful scenery would be at Seopjikoji where you can ride a horse for a price of KRW10,000. It’s a little expensive but it’s not every day you can sit on a horse and be taken for a ride.

Lastly, Jeju isn’t complete if you don’t climb the tallest mountain in Korea, Mt Hallasan. This mountain has the highest peak in the whole of South Korea and it even gives you a customized certificate with your name to show that you complete the hike if you bring it down to the office counter.

Fun fact, did you know that if you rub the nose of the iconic Jeju stone statues, Dol Hareubangs, you will be blessed with a baby. I decided to give it a go by rubbing them. Status update: I’m still not pregnant. Stay tuned tomorrow for another iconic location in Korea, Busan!


What to do in South Korea – Busan

Back here again for the iconic Busan! There are many ways of traveling to Busan with three types of buses and three types of trains. If you are planning to take the KTX, do consider the 3-day pass! It’s sure to save you some money!

First up we headed to the Oryukdo Skywalk where you can literally walk on a glass bridge out of the cliffs! Do take your time exploring the area and the beaches there as there are tonnes of amazing scenery. A combination of both land a water is truly something to pause and soak in.

Another popular spot would be the Beomeosa Temple. This temple, situated right next to the coast teleported me instantly to a state of inner peace as we admired the crashing waves. There are tonnes of places that can be explored near the temple such as a nearby food street.

Next up would be Taejeongdae where you can literally walk out to sea on top of a mountain. Getting there was easy, if you lack the time, do take the tram up and alight at the observation deck! Take your time in that area and head upwards where you will eventually see a plateau with people on them, follow them and you’ll be right next to the sea in a matter of moments!

Finally, no trip is complete without their food and the most iconic food of Busan would be their Hotteok! I was never sick of biting into the hot dough filled with peanuts and honey. Other iconic places to visit would be the Gamcheon Culture Village and Jagalchi Fish Market. I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of them so I shan’t say anything more! Definitely will go back to Busan again, 不见不散

To start the day off, we departed early to Pocheon Art Valley. It’s the closest Korea can get to the Grand Canyon so why not check it out. In addition, it’s very accessible as the only mode of transportation is the Subway! You can stand in between the valley and take a photo or watch performances if you are lucky enough!

Nearby the Art Valley, there would be another beautiful site to visit, Herb Island. For this coming Winter, they put up Christmas decorations and it will be lit up every day from 6 PM onwards! Only downside is you must take a taxi from the subway and it costs around KRW10,000. In herb island, be prepared to smell all the herbs as they are literally planted and grown on the ‘island’. Do check out the multiple Christmas trees they have too!

While you are here, why not try out the famous Kyochon Chicken! It offers a wide variety of flavours however, I am never sick of ordering the honey glazed chicken. To end the day, what better way than Bingsu at Sulbing. Their specialty is the injeolmi bingsu, however, we opted for a sweeter choice. Sounds like we’re putting on too many calories? Fret not, there are tonnes of para-para machine and my friend has some pretty sick moves don’t you agree?


Back to Seoul

Unlike Singapore, Korea changes seasons. The best time to come down to Seoul Forest would be during the change of season from Fall to Winter! We headed off to Seoul Forest and along the way to the forest, we got lost and stumbled upon a Commonground lookalike, Understand Avenue! This is way better than the overpopulated Common ground as there are many different colours of containers with each representing a theme that raises awareness! Some were regarding animal abuse while others were about coastal protection! The actual Seoul Forest was amazing too with much flora and fauna and there were tonnes of leaves changing colours. From green to yellow, yellow to red and even green to red!

Another scenic spot during this change would be Sokcho! We traveled the Excellent Bus (I kid you not, that’s the actual name of the bus) and was greeted by the coast with tonnes of ports to check out! Of course, while in Sokcho, you must check out Seoraksan! Another mountain that has an amazing view. At the peak, it was quiet only with a few locals up there! However, it’d take at least a day to hike up so we took the cable car instead. Also around the area, there were a few waterfalls that we hiked up to and there was a bridge to enjoy the view of the waterfall!

There are tonnes other places to check out during the change of seasons such as Haneul Park and Bukhansan! So, do make use of your time and explore nature! Stay tuned tomorrow for the conclusion of Korea! Till then!

Today’s the last day and to wrap it all up, Korea has been an amazing place to travel the last 3 months. With all the touristy, not-so-touristy and of course the accidental finds. Don’t let others tell you that this place is boring or that place is boring, just get out there and explore!

No matter where you go to for exchange, it’s always the company that matters. From the daily bros that decided to take a backstreet boys album cover in imperial wear to my second family with our attempt to recreate a picture, we saw on Instagram. To those who forced me to take this disgusting ride at Everland. To the family that cooks every week together as we miss Singapore food and yet still watches YouTube videos on them. At the end of the day, we still found places that we found beautiful, in the middle of the forest, at the top of the mountain and even out at sea.

I hope that my takeover has been useful for those of you coming to Korea. It’s not all about shopping, shopping, and shopping. Every destination is as exciting as you want it to be!

About the author Name: Hilman

Home University: Nanyang Technological University

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