Taking advantage of the Easter break this year, we managed to put in a quick trip to South Korea (a nice 12 day holiday). It has always been one of the destinations I’ve wanted to visit, as their unique culture interested me, as much as their kimchi and Korean BBQ.
It didn’t disappoint. I found Korea to be a cross between say Taiwan and Japan. Some streets looked old and you sometimes wondered if it was really Korea. Other streets looked modern and everything you would see in Japan.
For food, make sure you squeeze in some fried chicken and beer. It’s their thing.
I hit the following locations as part of my itinerary, and please read below for details of the strips and my comments.
Seoul – the capital of South Korea. Plenty of hotspots to hit including the below:
Insandong – creative/arty strip with the art mall. There is a busy strip with lots of shops on insadong-gil. Drop into Ssamziegil to view the collections on display in this hip little complex. Good place to buy yourself a souvenir.
Myeondong – Shopping, restaurants, and just busy! Good for people watching. Find myeongdong-gil.
Yongsan – electronics shopping and Starcraft competitions, but nothing as extravagant as Akiharbra in Japan. If you get to Yongsan station, you’re pretty much there. You can give this place a miss if running short on time.
Dongdaemon – Less touristy around here. Very arty and cultural, with lots of shops and stalls. Widely spread out, so it might take a day exploring the area. It’s where all the locals tend to hang out more. Hunt down Gwangjang Market.
Itaewon – somewhat the least authentic area that I found in Seoul. Lots of expats and western style restaurants (lots of pubs etc). Have a look, but if short on time, give it a miss.
Gangham – uptown Korea, where the rich and business people. Visit the underground shopping strip at the Gangham subway station. The main strip is at Gangham-daero.
Garosugil – upper end shopping with nice shops and restaurants down side alleys. Find Dosan-daero 13 gil. Sorry, forgot to take any photos in this area.
Samcheongdong – cool old meets new style streets. Find Samcheongdonggil road, then locate the tourist centre and grab a walking trail map. Highly recommend you walk the first half of the path at least.
Busan – Located down south about 2.5-3hrs by high speed KTX train. Second largest city, different vibe and less busy compared to Seoul. Some recommended spots below.
Busan Chinatown (Jung-gu) – Labelled as Chinatown, but not very Chinatown. Used to be a redlight district, and now overrun by Russian bars. Give it a miss if short on time, otherwise drop in a have a look.
Gwangbokro – Lots of little shops tucked in alleys. Find the roads Daecheongno and Gwangbok-ro. Explore that area.
Sasang – Stumbled across this area on my way to Jinhae (it’s where the bus terminal is). Has some nice alley ways and shops just across from the bus terminal.
Jinhae – The highlight of my trip. Cherry Blossom festival. See my separate blog here.
Credit goes to my wife Roxane, and my sister-in-law Fiona for helping me recite the hotspots.