Seoul-A city like no other
Seoul offers a good mix of activities for city vibes, experiences in culture and heritage. In recent years, the change for a more English speaking service and hospitality industry is progressing really fast. Even for a frequent visitor like me, I can see a difference both in terms of the number of people adept at communicating in simple English and the quality. For those who have problems with the language, Seoul is possibility a good place to start. If you wish to truly understand the custom and people, you will still need to checkout destinations with more local vibes, if not outside Seoul, within the vicinity of Seoul.
For those who have read my posts about Busan, you have noted my preference for Busan. So what is the difference between Seoul and Busan?
To see how their locals live, their cultures, hospitality, working models to rejuvenate less affluent or economically exciting areas, the sea and coastal attractions, start with Busan.
To see the world of Kpop, rich and glamorous, a faster paced living and how a society can harmonize the best of different cultures with open arms: service standards and team working models (not hours)-start with Seoul. I am always impressed with how foreigners living in Seoul made it a point to volunteer to help tourist overcome language barriers and make them feel welcomed. The picture here shows how they are dressed in red jackets of different languages. They are stationed in busy streets, where you are more likely to be in need to directions or recommendations. And they are not passive, just waiting for people to approach you. They sense tourists looking lost or peering into maps and approach you to see if you need help. This program is a win-win model that I only see in Seoul, and it is working really well, both culturally and economically.
Local Markets/Food streets
Hello Kitty Café*
Cafe with domestic sheep
Suburb areas/Day Trip
Must do (Free) walking tours
This program is supported by "Seoul Cultural Tourism Volunteer Guides" who are knowledgeable in Seoul's history and culture, knows English and are passionate about their country's culture. The registration process is systematic and clear, and the guide will contact you via email with all the necessary meet up details.
Destinations have been thoughtfully chosen, as they are places with historical or cultural insights which may not be covered by commercial tours.
To see the list of destination, click on the link HERE.
Must have mobile Applications
- Metroid HD (Read more about it on page: "Korea- Transportation, Maps, Schedules")
Language Translator App:
- Google Translate App, for just in time conversations (The locals use it too)
Camera Translator App, for reading labels and prints with good accuracy. Works well if you are shopping and needs to read product information or more lengthy notices at public areas.
By proximity of location (Seoul)
Option 1: Palace and cultural heritage (1 to 2 days, depending on pace.)
Must do: Gyeongbukgung Palace (with English guided tour), Insadong, Gwangjang Market,
Also recommendedeCheonggyecheongstream (Free guided walk), Bukchon Hanok Village
Option 2: Along Seoullo, Hidden treasures of Korea, Hanok Village experience (1 to 2 days, depending on pace.)
Must do: Namsangol Hanok Village, Seoullo (Free night walk tour), Namdaemun, Namsam cable car, food hall at Shinsaegae dept sgtore (main)
Also recommended: All the shopping and eating at Namdaemun, Shinsaegae, Artbox at myeongdong
Option 3: Around Hongik University (1 day)
Recommended: AR Trickeye museum, Hello Kitty Cafe, Saturday Flea Market, Sheep Cafe, Buskers and shops at Hongik Univ street of Arts