I’ve been to South Korea more times that anyone should, both backpacking and teaching English, and it’s a great destination for both. English teaching steals most of the international press that South Korea receives, but it has more to offer than that.
South Korea is an awesome place to backpack, away from the tourist hordes in South East Asia, with a great infrastructure, plenty of awesome sites, unique accommodation and still being cheaper than the West, I’m always shocked so few backpackers venture out this far. Anyway, I shouldn’t complain, leaves more space for us! Anyways, check out the best 5 things to see in Seoul, Korea:
1) Mount Namsam:
Not the biggest mountain in the world at 265m above sea level, but few mountains are found in the centre of a huge city like Seoul, so the views from up top are second to none. Also at the summit are the Palgakjeong Pavilion, Seoul Tower, and a marine aquarium so give yourself a couple of hours to enjoy them all. You can then go up the Seoul tower (almost 500m about sea level) for sunset and watch Seoul’s nightlife come alive.
To get up you can hike (hard work, speaking from experience!) or take the cable car.
2) Gyeongbok Palace:
South Korea’s most famous palace is right beside the American embassy. They offer free tours in English three times a day, you’ll need at least an hour or two to wander around the entire complex. It’s only $3 for an enteance ticket too! (but it’s closed on Tuesdays so be warned!)
It may be exceptionally tourist-orientated, but it does a good job at it. There are great traditional tea houses dotted around for you to sample some of the local brew. The streets are narrow and endless, and if you’re wanting to see some of the traditional culture of Korea, it’s all on show here, you can see it all without even having to leave the city.
4) Dongdaemun Market:
For those of you out of the Asia loop, Korea rules the roost for pop culture. Their singers, celebs, sports and fashion all permeate through the rest of the continent and Dongdaemun is the commercial centre of that.
You can shop for all of Asia’s newest trends for dirt cheap prices, it might not be a male traveler’s dream but the girls will need bigger backpacks after a visit here!
5) Namdaemun Market:
This is the real Asia with countless street vendors and more than 1000 stores all packed together so tightly you’d be excused for getting claustrophobic. There is also an endless supply of delicious food stalls so come hungry and leave satisfied!
I’ll be going back to South Korea soon, to organize recruitment for my English camps there. I’ve already hit up these sites a few times but I’ll definitely be revisiting the markets again and I can’t wait to find some more things to see, some more interesting rooms in Seoul, and some extra clubs to visit! Happy travels!