Seoul Searching…

This is a diversion post totally unrelated to Jeju. It seems these days that im like the go to person when people are traveling up to Seoul so I thought I should make a post about it and just refer it via a link the next time I get asked. ㅋㅋㅋ

Here’s some places of interests and tips i have from my travels and stay there 🙂

Grouping food & shopping together by areas

MYEONGDONG

myeongdong

Clothes, cosmetics, food, Artbox (one of my fav stores).  You can literally find anything there. From the mammoth Daiso to international fashion stores and local korean brands ( my personal favs include who.a.u and 8ight Seconds) to street shops selling KRW10,000 clothes shoes and bags. Theres something for everybody. Cheapskate or atas 🙂 Special mention goes out to the CTRL A stores. Cutest socks from ₩1000 and really good quality.

Food wise – Myeongdong street food is awesome. Whether its a snack or a meal, so much to choose from. I especially like the grilled butter squid at ₩5000 and Cinnamon pancake (hotteok).

squid

For people looking for a substantial meal or sit down restaurant, there’s a buffet there called Vikings (its near the Daiso area – Starbucks and you can only get to the restaurant via the cafe on the second floor. There’s lift access also at the back of the building but its too complicated for me to explain it. Price is ₩24900 for dinner and comes with a shabu shabu pot apart from the buffet fare. Its good value but only so-so in the offering.  If you are a huge seafood enthusiast, better to just head to seafood buffet Todai Todai which is also nearby (In M-Plaza next to Zara)

However if going light is your area of preference, and you love porridge as much as I do,  my recommendation is Bonchuk.  i find it really delicious. It leaves me feeling really healthy after eating it as well.

image

You can get the exact location from this blog.  http://ilovemyfoodlots.blogspot.sg/2014/05/bonjuk-myeongdong-seoul-south-korea.html

Shinchon/Ewha University/Hongdae 

– Its the three big name universities in Seoul and when you have a lot of female university students, the natural evolvement of the area will be cheap shopping and a litter of makeup stores.
For Shinchon, you need to go out of Exit 2, Ewha Womens University is Exit 3 and Hongdae is Exit 9 (Theres a SHOES shop Schoopen there which is a hit with university students and tourists alike.  All three areas are streets and streets of shopping – better still great fashion at bottom prices. Can’t complain.

Food specialty in this area:
8 Flavour Samgypsal, heres the link: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=1555859&nearBy=shopping&

A blog about it: http://www.jessytheklchic.com/2015/02/food-palsaik-samgyupsal-korean-bbq.html

Exit Shinchon station exit 6, walk down the street and cross at the lights. Once you reach the other side, go left all the way till you see a KIA showroom. The restaurant is located below the showroom.

Dongdaemun District – Migliore/AMPM Tower/Doota

Here’s where you can find nice and good quality leather goods by korean designers.  Decent priced and not too expensive but quality is good.  I used to shop there a lot 7-8 years ago but recently prefer the Gangnam Underground Shopping Mall instead.

Sadly I don’t know any specific must try food in this area.

Itaewon – This is where you can find designer inspired bags in quality leather for a decent price.  Costs are above USD100 but the sewing is good and its also made in Korea.  Itaewon is the Holland Village of Seoul.  Lots of really nice pubs, clubs and restaurants (international). Alight at Itaewon Station. Go to Exit 1 – the restaurants and mainly behind Manhattan Hotel 🙂

This is definitely the place to go to when you’re sick of eating Korean food after the umpteenth day.  My favorite western restaurant there is Left Coast Burgers.  Gourmet burger joint that does not break your bank.

Details on location: http://www.leftcoastkorea.com

Bukchon – A really beautiful area in Seoul where you can see traditional korean houses nestled in modernization.  While at Bukchon, you can also visit Insadong, the cultural village of Korea.  There’s a lot to see and do in these two places.

14

I would have tea in one of the traditional teahouses there and also order a mixed selection of Hangua (this is korean sweets and biscuits).  The place is truly unique. I sometimes bring a book there over the weekend, read it over coffee in one of the quaint little cafes there.

Here’s the links: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=561382

Insadong: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264354

When you’re in Insadong, you might want to try out this restaurant.  Hanjeongshiks are a must in Korea.  Eat like the emperor! 🙂

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**this is not the restaurant offering.  Its just what a good hanjeongshik spread should look like)

http://vintagetrinkets.blogspot.sg/2014/01/seoul-2013-insa-dong.html

Last but not least, here’s a MUST TRY dessert to complete your experience.

Patbingsu –  http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_6.jsp?cid=1692586

http://evanandrachel.com/2014/08/bingsu/ (No.5 is my favorite.  You can find Sulbing in many places.  There’s one in Hongdae and Ewha – Just walk
along the shopping streets, you’ll be able to see it.)

OTHER USEFUL TIPS TO SURVIVING SEOUL

ON Staying connected!

Mobile Sim card:

Cheapest way is to purchase a EG Simcard. Preorder is preferred and all you need to do is to go the site listed below and pick out the plan and your place of collection.

Remember the card is a standard 35000won and if you pick the bigger data option, it doesnt mean you have to pay more.  Just pick according to your preference between having more phone minutes or data. Card lasts for up to 5 months. Just top up online or at the GS convenience stores when you run out of credits.

Here’s the links for simcard
http://www.egsimcard.co.kr/eng/buy-eg-sim-card/online/buy-egsimcard.asp

Olleh Egg.
This is a portable modem that allows you to stay connected all the time when you are in Seoul. (Or jeju or anywhere in the country for that matter). Charges are 5000 won a day. Its a good option to have when you are not planning to stay for many days.  Go to Airport doors 5A or 11B section, there’s a litter of counters that have mobile phone service.  Head to KT Olleh counter for this.

**South Korea is the most connected country in the world (lost to Denmark in 2014, reclaimed title again this year.  Yes I’m a geek. bleh) so not only are wifi speeds incredibly fast but its so easy to get connected just about anyplace anywhere in Seoul for free (mostly via IPTIME which is basically name of an unsecured wireless modem owned by someone nearby) so frankly if you’re gonna be in Seoul just for a few days, can just be cheap and not go through the hassle of getting the simcard or the egg.

ON Transfers/transportation
Never take taxi from airport to hotel as its crazy expensive.  They have a fantastic bus system that connects to all the major hotels so ask at information desk in Airport which one you should take that’s close to your hotel or place you will be staying at.  Also buses have dedicated bus-lanes, so you will never be caught in the bad traffic jams especially during peak hours.  Cost of buses are usually ard 10000-15000KRW per person. Taxis will set you back 90,000-100,000won.

Theres also the express train option to Seoul Station on the nonstop line which takes 43 min and a 52 min option on all-stops train. Price is double on nonstop line. Always check train timetable. Korean trains are prompt so please go early to avoid missing the train.  At airport, go towards Airport Rail direction and you will be able to ride the trains.

Money Exchange

I hope I don’t get flak for this and people don’t come after me for disclosing the cheapest place to get more won for your currency.  I also hope that with more people going, the owners don’t get greedy and start adding on points that make the transaction shitty. To my knowledge the best money exchange place in Seoul is at Myeongdong.  Once you go up exit 6, where the large Nature Republic is (theres also a CD shop located above) , walk past it and go left all the way.  Walk down till you see the Chinese Commerce place with the big red doors.  Theres a huge money changer just across from it.  The difference is pretty substantial so if you happen to make Myeongdong a stop in your itinerary, try to change your currency there instead. The other noteworthy place with decent exchange rates is inside Seoul Station.  I forgot the name of the bank that operates the exchange counter but theres always a ton of people there.  Its not quite Myeongdong but if you need cash and happen to take the airport express to Seoul Station, its a great alternative.

All the best and have a lot of fun in Seoul.  If you find yourself lost, there’s tourist info outlets everywhere so just go straight to them.

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