Having lived in Seoul almost 3 years now, exploring its nooks and crannies, having sought out the best foods possible and having played tour guide for friends and family, I am finally ready to share a fool proof, fun, week long travel guide for you. To start, a few lists to help you get organized and prepared.
Must use in Seoul:
This website. Living in Seoul, I use it almost weekly. Search anywhere you want to go and it will give you all the details and directions you need.
This phone number: 1330, it’s the english help hotline. They can help you with booking and finding things, very helpful, easy and free.
Must haves for packing and being out:
Cash for street food/purchases (most places take cards, but its always a good idea)
A word on packing: Honestly, Seoul has everything you need and you need to pack light. Do your research on the weather and pack accordingly, but know that Koreans tend to dress up, so wearing sweat pants, while may feel comfortable will make you a bit uncomfortable. But jeans are totally acceptable! Truly, I suggest travelling as light as you can, especially during the day because WALKING and stairs and more walking. Anything you need, I promise you can find either on the street or at any convenience store that I guarantee is 5 feet of away from you, anywhere you are.
Planning your trip: I’ve designed a printable travel guide set that will help you plan, prep, pack, schedule, organize, dream for and celebrate your trip. Get the set here.
Must eat foods: Bingsoo, Kimbop, Korean BBQ, Dumplings, street foods, Dak Galbi
Itinerary: You can shuffle these days and nights up anyway you please! I would begin by booking your DMZ tour first and MONTHS in advance. Then plan your days around this as the tours get book insanely fast. And know, that I refined this itinerary around my family, who tends to sleep late and move slow, so you can absolutely do multiple things in a day without being completely miserably tired each night!
Here is what a 1 second view of your trip may look like! Read more about how to make these videos here.
Day 1: DMZ tour! We always use this site to book, its annoying (welcome to Korean websites) but is your best option. There are 2 options, the full day is about 92$ USD and it takes you ‘technically’ into North Korea. The half tour is 42$ and does everything but go into NK, this short tour is not worth it in my and all my friends opinion. The tours are interesting and a cool thing to say you have done, but if you only have 2 or 3 days in Seoul, unless this is your life’s dream, you can skip the tour altogether. Honestly, I give you permission…
Day 2: Walk the Cheonggyecheon Stream. This is beautiful and one of my personal favorite places in Seoul. Its amazing to be in nature and look up at the huge buildings. You can see a lot of fun daily life here and there are always some kind of festival or event happening. See route options here.
Night: Wander Myeongdong and eat ALL the street food (tips for eating street food here), TONS of shopping here and a dog cafe (or find another animal of your choice: sheep, turtle, cats, racoon) Myeongdong, to me, is the most ‘typical’ Asia experience I expected, tons of people, neon signs, lots to do, see, eat and buy.
Day 3: Gwanghwamun Gate/Gyeongbuk Palace, Bukchon Hanok Village, Samcheongdong shopping/wandering, King Sejong Statue (this is technically all one place, just wander around and you will see!) This is also where you can find places to try on traditional Korean Hanboks free or for a small fee. We found a free place by the King Statue, but there are also places inside the palace.
*note you will want to spend a lot of time here to do all of these things!
*Food rec: There is a delicious build your own pasta place here, when walking on the main shopping road, it is on the left. Sorry to not be more accurate, but its pretty easy to find.
Night: Itaewon dinner and street/souvenir shopping. Our favorite places to eat here: Japanese Ramon, Petra Palace, Johnny Dumpling
Day 4: Seoul Tower!! This place is beautiful, iconic and technically free, you just have to walk up (very up hill) through the gorgeous Namsan Park or ride the bus! Going up in the Seoul Tower is very inexpensive and worth it for a beautiful 360 view of the city. You can also ride the cable car up (not expensive, but not worth it, you don’t get any additional views and is kind of annoying to find) There are always shows, Hanbok’s you can try on and more going on. So plan a bit of time to hang out and grab a snack. And really, be sure to hang around Namsan Park too!
*Dont forget to add your love lock to the tower! You can buy them at the tower if you forget yours 😉
Night: Jump! A super entertaining show for tourists.
Day 5: Insadong, really great korean arts and shopping.
Night: Hongdae or Sinchon. Both really fun college areas that have tons of street performers, shops and good food choices. Always something exciting going on here! In Sinchon eat at the Korean Dessert Cafe for Bingsoo.
Day 6: Korean War Memorial Musuem. This is free and will certainly be a highlight of your trip. It is interactive, beautiful, interesting and so educational. You should plan to spend at least half of a day here and you still wont see everything.
Night: Make Jewelry! There are Banji stores where you can hand make your own real silver jewelry. Its incredibly fun, easy and beautiful. There is one in Itaewon, it will be best to go in person to make an appointment or just drop in. Just dont go past 7 pm or you wont have time to finish. The one in Itaewon is behind the McDonalds on the back road that runs parallel to Itaewon.
Day 7: Head back to Hongdae to go to the Trick Eye or Love Museum. You will need a few hours to go through each one and will want to make sure you camera has a full battery. Pure entertainment that is totally worth every penny 😉
Night: Gangnam for shopping, exploring and amazing food. There is another Korean Dessert Cafe here, along with a GiGi’s Cupcakes and a LOT of great western food options on that road. Our favorites are the Brick Oven Pizza, Fry Pan for friend chicken and the Dak Galbi with a cheese moat!
Other really fun places we love that you should check out or switch out for different activities listed above: Olympic Park, go to a baseball game, Jamsil or Coex Mall, go see a movie in one of the crazy cool themed theatres, walk the city wall, hike Bukhanson mountain, walk along the Han River, Go to Seoul Forest.
There is SO much to see and do in Seoul. Use these tips to best help you plan your trip and use this planner to make sure you make the best use of your time. Korea is so beautiful, so make sure you plan some time to get outside of Seoul outside! Our favorite place outside of Seoul is Sokcho, but Busan is amazing also. You can see all of my posts about Korea here for more ideas and tips.
Feel free to ask any questions you have about planning your upcoming trip to Seoul in the comments or tell me your favorite place in Seoul if you have been!