Brighter Tomorrow insider guide to Seoul South Korea
Visiting South Korea
I have just come back from visiting South Korea and thought I will take some time to share some advice and tips.
While visiting South Korea, I found many Koreans can speak some English. This means they understand some basic words and phrases. However, I found that staff at my hotel spoke fluent English and the guides on my tour also spoke English very well.
If you cannot speak Korean, then it may be worth investing in a translation app.
I found hotels in Seoul can be relatively inexpensive. The hotel I stayed at was a four-star hotel that had Western food and had staff that spoke English fluently. Having staff that can speak fluent English was quite helpful when asking about sites and customs. Plus, having a hotel that served Western food was refreshing. Interestingly, I did have the opportunity to visit another hotel while in Seoul. The hotel was a hotel I was considering, and it was about £200 less for the total stay or just about £20 per day cheaper. At the cheaper hotel, I found their level of English was much poorer and they spoke very fragmented in English.
The cost for 9 nights at the hotel I stayed at was just over £100 / night. I was quite please at the level of service, quality of food, and reasonable prices. I will recommend this hotel to anyone considering staying there.
There are several companies offering ½ day, full day, and evening tours of Seoul. I found the level of English of the guides to be quite good and the prices quite reasonable. However, the tours took us to a ginseng and red pine oil company that used high pressure sales tactics to push unfounded health claims regarding their products. I was not very pleased with this and began choosing not to go into the sale pitches. A downfall of the tours is that they are very commercial and do not really take you into anything cultural and they tend to focus on shopping.
Also, I encountered one company whereby I pre-booked the tour and less than 24 hours changed the departure time. Unfortunately, I did not receive the notification in time and missed out. My advice don’t pre-book tours.
There are a lot of Western food franchises in Seoul, especially American. Western styled food, I found to be reasonably priced and very authentic. However, I found the food for Korean food, especially Korean barbeque to be quite expensive. For a couple, I will recommend a food budget of £50 / day if you are eating very cheap. £75 - £100 / day if you are eating mid-scale.
I have found to be extremely cheap.
From Incheon Airport to Gangnam - £30
From Gangnam to Incheon Airport (early morning) - £50
Where I travelled in Seoul taxis ran between £7 - £12
However, the one drawback was the cab drivers pretended not to speak English, which made getting around Seoul to be a bit challenging.
Allegedly Seoul is known for its shopping. However, I found it to be quite a lot like a charity shop or pound store like. It was very difficult to find anything electronics, non-clothing or non-souvenir related items in the Myeongdong shopping district. The one very interesting experience, after 4 PM in the Myeongdong shopping district street vendors come out and you can get street food.
People & Safety
I found the people in Soul to be very friendly and very courteous. It was very much like visiting Israel. Overall, I felt very safe in Seoul and never really felt in danger.
What to See
I believe taking a day to travel to the DMZ and JSA is worth the travel. Also, going into the Myeondong Shopping area after 4 PM is an experience that you need to have. Finally, trying Korean barbeque is also something to try.
If you are someone looking for somewhere different to visit, then I will have to say Seoul should be your first choice. The cost is reasonable, and it is an experience of a lifetime.