Are you living in Asia and want a quick weekend Getaway, or if you’re travelling in Asia and planning to make a transit in Seoul flying from the west to other Asian countries. Consider spending your 2 days in Seoul. I made a spontaneous decision about going to Seoul last month, and it was some of the best 2-days I’ve spent in a city.
If you know nothing about Seoul, this is the guide for you. Below I include details of places to visit and eat to help you get the most out of your 2 days in Seoul.
Face it, 2 days isn’t a lot of time in Seoul, or most of anywhere in my opinion, but hey, you can still do a lot!
I’m a slow traveller. As much as I enjoy visiting attractions, I love taking long walks and find a local coffee shop to chill. If you’re the kind of tourist who loves hitting one attraction after the other, you can visit TripAdvisor.
If you have any particular interests, send an e-mail to Visit Seoul for specific travel information or check out their site. They are Seoul’s city tourism bureau. In my case, I wanted to find traditional Korean music performances. I browsed through their site, but honestly, there was so much information, so I emailed them directly for help. Although I couldn’t find any performances that fit my time in the end, They were beyond helpful and almost replied to me instantly.
Now, watch my YouTube vlog to travel with me to Seoul!
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Before we continue to the specific places for your 2 days in Seoul – Let’s talk about transportation, communication, and navigation.
Unlike some cities that have troublesome transportation connecting from the airports to the city, Seoul’s subway system and the Airtrain made it super convenient to get into the centre! That’s partially why Seoul is so appealing to me if I just want a quick getaway or having it as a transit hub. It’s all about convenience.
The average English level of the young people in Seoul are quite good, or at least they try. If you are Taiwanese (or a Mandarin speaker), some stores and restaurants at the main tourist attractions speak Mandarin. All the subway station signs got Chinese, English, and Japanese written on it, too. So, if English is not your strong suit, you’ll be fine. I include a small basic Korean language tutorial (sort of) at the end of the blog, don’t forget to check it out!
You think Google map works everywhere. You’re wrong – I was wrong. I didn’t do any planning before I landed in Seoul because I thought I could download a Google offline map for Seoul like how I usually go about when I go to a foreign city. However, South Korea protects their national businesses pretty damn well. Hence, it was very difficult and basically impossible to plan transportation using Google map, so I downloaded two apps on iPhone in which I found quite helpful.
For subway route planning, use “Seoul” Subway Mapway: It’s in English, and it has an interactive map. You can tap any two points on the subway map and it will show you the most convenient connection and how long it will take.
For Attraction recommendation, use “Korea Tour”: This app recommends you the best spots in Seoul based on its user data. The best part? you can set the language in simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, Japanese, English and Korean! It also got a map and public transportation planner.
My favourite walk in Seoul: Bukchon Hanok Village (北村韓屋村) – Samcheongdong (三清洞咖啡街) – Insa-Dong Art Street (仁寺洞藝術街)
Bukchon Hanok Village (北村韓屋村) is the home to hundreds of traditional Korean houses. “Bukchon” literally means “northern village”. The general vibe of the village is very peaceful, and some of the families have lived here for generations. Today, many traditional houses are renovated and converted into cultural centres, museums, coffee shops, and restaurants. You’ll see a lot of tourists coming here for photo shoots in traditional Korean clothing. Watch the video!
Half of the village is on a hill, so you get an awesome bird view of Seoul. They are several cafes in the area that have a rooftop terrace. We picked a random one and got an awesome view like the photo below.
Eat in the village – Korean Ginseng Chicken soup
My friend strongly recommended me to try Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup (人參雞湯, or Samgyetang in Korean). As I described in my vlog – Ginseng Chicken Soup isn’t any chicken soup. First of all, Besides using Ginseng – a type of root plants that are supposed to be good for your health, the chicken is also stuffed with sticky rice (糯米). Second, I did not expect this one-person meal to use an entire chicken in the soup. I ordered the original and Jim ordered the one with garlic soup base.
We ran into the restaurant by complete accident, and it turned out to be a restaurant in the Michelin guide. Frankly, I have nothing else to compare the meal with, but I thought it was amazing. After I came back to Shanghai, I was craving the chicken soup, but of course, it wasn’t the same. The price was quite reasonable (around 10 euro) considering how expensive eating in Seoul is in general.
? Address: 170-3 Gahoe-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul | ?Price: $$ | ?Nearest Station: Anguk
Samcheongdong coffee street (三清洞)
Seoul is famous for its coffee shops – if you are a coffee lover or simply love checking out coffee shops, you need to come to Samcheongdong. It is the cutest place ever! Samcheongdong is directly connected with Bukchon Hanok village.
Most of the cafes are in a renovated Korean traditional houses. Besides coffee shops, you will also find many adorable jewellery and clothing stores. I usually don’t buy jewellery, but the prices and lovely designs made me went a little crazy here. It’s a great part of the city to waste an afternoon.
We also encountered a great street performance in the area! This guy really got a good voice. We loved it and sat across from him. He basically gave us a little concert! I recorded a bit of his singing and put it in the opening of my video 😉
?Nearest Station: Anguk
Insa-Dong Art Street (仁寺洞)
Insa-dong is the home to multiple galleries, small arts and crafts workshops, and tea shops. It’s also referred to as the art street. We saw many stores that sell antiques as well as art supplies and decorative artworks.
Ssamziegil (森吉街) is an art and cultural complex in Insadong that houses multiple art exhibitions, unique restaurants, Korean food stands, coffee shops, handicraft workshops, and nicknack stores.
Ssamziegil got a pretty cool floor plan – You can go to the top floor first by stairs and browse through the stores walking downwards in a spiral.
?Address: 44 Insadong-Gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul | ?Nearest station: Anguk
Nearby Eat – Korean BBQ (Family style)
You gotta have Korean BBQ when you’re in Seoul (Sorry, vegetarian friends! Seoul isn’t a very vegetarian-friendly city.) As I mentioned before, eating out in Seoul can get quite expensive, and Korean BBQ is no exception. However, we found a family-own BBQ in a small alleyway with outdoor seating. Even local Seoul-ers said the price was cheap! They use charcoal. There was a charcoal oven right behind us, and the owner came out and grilled for us.
I didn’t get the name because it was completely in Korean (The menu got English, though.) However, It’s near Insa-dong and Jongno 3(sam)-ga Station. I’ll update the location as soon as I find out. Otherwise, there are tons of Korean BBQ restaurants in the area. I’m sure you can find one that fits your budget!
?Near Jongno 3(sam)-ga Station
I was going to put everything in one post, but it turned out to be lengthy, so I’m separating it into two posts. Stay tuned for the next one!
Have you been to Seoul? What’re your favourite things about Seoul? Comment below!
Also published on Medium.