From Shenzhen to Seoul: A Quick Korean Getaway
I’m a big fan of Thailand, I really am, it’s cheap, the food is awesome, people are great and it’s close enough that you don’t need that many days off to really take advantage of the beach for a few days. If someone were to ask me where they should go on their 3-4 day holiday 3-4 days ago, I would have said Thailand in a heartbeat…that may no longer be the case.
Korea, for me, and I assume most people living in Shenzhen seems way too far off for a quick getaway from Shenzhen’s hustle and bustle, when in fact it is about the same distance away as Beijing and costs only slightly more to get to at 2500RMB, if tickets are booked through the right agency. A quick three-hour flight lands you at Incheon, an hour outside of Seoul, and from there, the sky is the limit.
Plan on getting a hotel in advance, as most of the hotels will be nearly full, regardless of when you decide to go. Agoda.com is a good choice for getting a good deal and they have a respectable rewards program. We stayed in Dongdaemun, but as my girlfriend puts it, “wherever you are in Seoul, you’re almost always at the center”, that said, be sure to do your research and find the best place for your travel needs. Once you’re settled in, you’re ready to go.
Seoul has to be one of the most happening cities in Asia, but unlike a large number of them, has managed to preserve its rich culture alongside the rapid growth that makes it such an interesting place to be. With five massive palaces to visit, the ancient city wall as well as the city gate, Seoul is not lacking in cultural heritage.
Modern attractions abound as well, be it the N Seoul Tower on Namsan, the vast cityscape, or the purpose-built canal that runs right through downtown, Seoul is both the engine and the result of South Korea’s quantum leap into modernity of the past half century.
Bars are also nearly everywhere, but one of the things that Seoul is really known for is its shopping. Do yourself a favor and get yourself to Dong dae moon for some great deals and a 24/7 shopping experience with some wholesalers (just buy two or more) only opening in the afternoon until the morning of the next day!
Korean Food & Drink
After a day of trekking around Seoul I was keener on the food and drink that Korea had to offer and as far as food in Asia goes, I rank Korea way near the top if not at the peak. Perhaps the greatest thing about Korean food is that there are a great many dishes that don’t have ‘an acquired taste’, which when I’m told ‘it takes some getting used to’, I generally take to mean, much like China’s stinky Tofu, that they taste horrible.
For a foreign pallet, I would highly recommend Bulgogi, a marinated beef dish that goes great with rice and is often served at Korean BBQ restaurants, which have generally great food to begin with. Also try Hae mul pa cheon or Korean seafood pancake; I call it Korean pizza which often gets me corrected, but whatever you call it, it’s delicious and great for rainy days.
If you’re planning on hiking, see if you can get some Kim Pap to-go and pack it away as a snack for the road or picnic when you get to the top of whichever of Seoul’s numerous hills you plan to summit.
As far as drink goes, Korea’s national drink is Soju, which is a bit like Vodka but sweeter and with less of a ‘kick’, though I would recommend a flavored version such as Cherry or Lemon, which are fantastic.
So, if you’ve got a few days to spare and are looking to take in some sights or even just relax for a few days in a modern metropolis, Seoul has everything you need.
Have any travel experiences you want to share? Been to Korea? Tell us your story!