Ever wonder how North Korea looks like? Are you curious to know how people go on with their daily lives there? How about visiting the border that separates the North from the South Korea?
Whenever people talk about Seoul, what usually comes to my mind are the lovely autumn leaves, the yummy Korean dishes and Lee Min Ho (haha). These are the reasons why I got really excited when we planned to go there during the early part of November, which happened to be an autumn season.
During this trip, my friends did all the planning and the itinerary (yup, I didn’t contribute anything, #seoulluckytobetheirfriend!! haha). Anyway, I have listed here some of the activities that me and my friends did during our recent trip, which I hope can help you in preparing your own itinerary.
- Zip-wire your way to Nami Island. Nami Island is a very popular tourist destination in South Korea. It is widely known for its wonderful sceneries and beautiful tree lined paths. There are two options to get to the island, you can catch a ferry (for a 5 minute ride) or you can take a zipline (which is way cooler and fun). To make the most out of your trip, I suggest spending a full day here.
The view that you will miss if you will not take the zipline (haha), and the guys who prepared our seats for our zipline experience.
Ferry – tickets at 10,000 won (Php 450), which includes entrance fee to Nami Island and return ride. Zipline – tickets at 38,000 won (Php 1,710), which includes entrance fee to Nami Island and return ride thru ferry.
- See the border at DMZ and JSA tour. Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) is an area which separates the North and South Korea. The only way to see this place is by booking a tour, which you need to do and reserve ahead of time. This tour is very popular and limited, so it easily gets fully booked. A visit to this place will let you see North Korea through binoculars, learn and understand the difference of life between the North and the South, and the South’s hope for a unified Korea.
Get a tour from Panmunjom Travel Center for 77,000 won (Php 3,645) per person, which already includes lunch. Kinda pricey, I know, but the tour is worth it. Please check out this post to know more about our DMZ tour.
- Watch the changing of the guards at Gyeongbokgung Palace. This event takes place at the square of the palace near the main gate. The guards are dressed in traditional Korean royal uniform armed with weapons and instruments. Tourists can watch the ceremony every 10:00 am and 2:00 pm everyday, except Tuesday. That’s not all, make the most out of your visit by walking around the palace (entrance fee at 3,000 won or Php 135) or joining the free tours that they offer.
- Experience traditional Korea at Bukchon Hanok Village. A stroll on this traditional area will let you appreciate Korea’s culture and architecture, as there are museums, galleries, hanok (korean traditional house) guest houses and places that offers workshops for traditional experiences. Just don’t forget that this village is an actual residential area, so tourists are expected to respect their privacy and behave properly.
- Rent a hanbok and pose for some photographs. Hanbok is a Korean traditional dress. There are certain places in Seoul which offers hanbok experience, with a fee of course and comes with different rules. Some will let you use the clothing within their premises only, while others will allow you to roam outside. Whatever you choose, just make sure that your cameras or smartphones are always ready to catch this moment.
- Shop till you drop at Nandaemun Market. There are a lot of cheap items to buy at this market. They have varieties of clothing, hats, shoes, souvenir items, accessories, skin care products and of course food. K pop fans will also have a blast at this market, as there are a lot of memorabilias to choose from.
- Stroll Myeongdong for some make up and skincare finds. Myeongdong is a crowded and busy shopping district in Seoul. This is the place where you can find the same make up and skincare product stores in every streets. So if you’re going to meet somebody, it is not enough to tell them to see you at Nature Republic store for example, as there are a lot of that store within the area (got it?). Aside from that, you can also find restaurants, shops, tea houses, coffee shops and street food stalls here.
- Indulge on Korean dishes and street foods. One of the best dishes for me (do you agree?). Starting your meal with their unlimited and free banchan (side dishes), to devouring on the main dishes such as bulgogi, pajeon (Korean pancake), Samgyetang (ginseng chicken soup), bibimbap, soft tofu stew and more. And finishing your meal with their sweet and yummy desserts. As for the street foods, there are a lot to choose from and the prices range from 5,000 to 15,000 won. The dining experience is just so good, that I’m always excited for meal and snack time.
- Enjoy the view at Namsan Park. For a breathtaking view of the city, head over to the Namsan Park. You can reach this place by foot or by riding a cable car. The ride is more of functional for me (saves you from climbing) rather than exciting as each car holds more than 20 people, so if you get stuck in the middle, you wont see any view (like what happened to us). As an advice, it is best to ride the cable car going up, then you just have to go down by foot, in order to enjoy the sceneries around. You may also opt to visit the N Seoul Tower Observatory for a fee (10,000 won = Php 450). Before I forget, this is also the place where you can put love padlocks.
- Take home some Korean goodies from Lotte Mart. Korean goodies are simply yummy and irresistible. That is why a visit to Seoul won’t be complete without buying and taking home some of it. For more advice on what you can buy at Lotte Mart, you can visit my previous post here.
So, there you have it, hope you will have a blast on your trip and create exciting memories, like the way me and friends had during our vacation.
- During our trip, the exchange rate was Php 1 = .045 won.
- For more information (opening times, nearest station) on the places I’ve mentioned here, you can visit this site.
When I first learned from my friend that we will spend our last day in Seoul at Lotte Mart, I got so excited (due to the fact that Korean goodies are just so yummy and irresistible) and worried (because I have limited luggage allowance, yay!).