The first time I went to Seoul, South Korea in October 2014, I knew I had to come back.
Three (3) full days were not just enough to explore the colorful and beautiful city of Seoul. So when I stumbled upon an airfare sale a month after, I immediately booked myself a seat but this time, since I am traveling for a full week, I decided to have a detour.
Use the search box below to find the best day trips in Seoul, South Korea
Flashback before 2014, I was resolved never to visit South Korea. I was not just interested. My friends who had been to the city were all raving about practically everything in it – from the people to food to tourist spots to shopping to weather – they were all into it. Well, that was before I got introduced to a Korean actor named Seo In Guk and then months after, to the most adorable triplets in the universe, Daehan, Minguk and Manse. When I finally decided to give in, I realized that it was not just a hype – my friends and everyone has been right to rave about South Korea.
Fast forward to August 2015, it was my birthday month. I would be spending my birthday in Busan – alone before transferring to Seoul to meet up with some friends from Japan and experience the city for the second time around. Busan is the second largest city of South Korea. While Seoul is the shopping capital, I believe people visit Busan for its natural parks, history, and laidback lifestyle. You can either take a bullet train via KorAil (the most efficient way if you would ask me), a domestic plane or local bus to travel from Seoul to Busan. It took me months of research before finally coming up with my itinerary. And so with utter nostalgia, I would like to share with you these seven (7) awesome things that made my Busan trip a remarkable one.
Related Article: List of Cheap Hotels in Korea
(1) Metro Subway. Local Bus. Bullet Train. Yes, try their local transportations.
I have been fortunate to have visited other countries and always try to use their own means of going to different local places. Since South Korea is known to have one of the most efficient transportation systems in Asia, if not in the world, this is bound to be a happy experience, not to mention cheaper in any way. I find it a joy whenever I stepped in and out of their metro knowing that I had successfully figured my way in and out of the city. It is relatively easy. Just always have a map in your pocket and you’re all set to lose yourself. Hopefully, you are always up for an adventure of a lifetime. Just a reminder though that you have to be cautious of the metro’s last trip at least in the stations where you will be catching the train as chances are, you’ll miss it if you are not aware of the timings. I had this exact mistake when I overenjoyed myself in a beach. I ended up riding a cab going home.
Here are some of the tours that we recommend in South Korea:
Check out some of the cool and cheap tours you could do in Seoul.
(2) Beomeosa Temple.
It is one of the 25 major temples in Korea and has 11 hermitages on the mountain. It is also Korea’s major temple of Seon practice as well as Comprehensive Training Monastery. I went here in August – summer – probably, not the best month to do so as the weather was worse than my own country’s but the view was spectacular. I bet this would be particularly beautiful during Autumn when the leaves would all turn yellow. The vast land of nature being enjoyed by local families was refreshing. I don’t see that often anywhere so when I saw the local people having a picnic over boulders, dipping in the cool spring waters or simply enjoying the trees; I had to stop to take it all in. And then there was the temple itself. Just like the other temples in Korea, its intricate design was a sight to behold. There are buses dedicated to and from this temple and since this is situated well on top of a mountain, the bus ride itself is already an experience. Make sure to choose a window seat!
(3) BIFF Square.
I could walk the whole day around the area and still find new things in every corner. From food to different local activities, this is a haven for cheap finds. Walking two (2) more blocks would give you the gigantic Lotte Mall. Another day to lose yourself if you are into shopping. One of the interesting queues here would be this stall selling wrapped vegetables with kimchi as sidedish. It was situated right when you enter the street but I don’t think the location was the reason why people were digging it. The line was long enough to make you walk away if you are an impatient person but the people patiently waited for their turn to be served that I believed it was already a staple in the market. A must try!
Undoubtedly, one of the most awesome views I have ever seen. It is an enormous national geopark at the edge of the city. You can either ride their Danubi for a fee to get on and off the designated pickup and dropoff points or walk the rest of the way. I did both. My most favorite part of the park is the rock formation just above the Pacific ocean where you can see Japanese islands from afar. I sat there, my feet dangling below, a tourist boat sailing in front of me and had an amazing time. Well, it’s not everyday that I am literally at the edge of the world. You have to spend at least half a day to appreciate this place. Lots of walking and hiking all through out but definitely all worth it so be sure to wear comfortable shoes and clothes.
(5) Local Cafes
South Korea is known for this. It puzzles me how they all survive considering the very competitive market. It was my first time to try Angelinus Coffee and I was not disappointed at all. So if and when you go to Korea, do away with the worldrenowned cafes and patronize their own. You will not regret it.
(6) Gwangalli Beach
This is one of their famous beaches. I arrived here around 8PM and was surprised that it was still packed with people. A lot of them were sitting on the beach, listening to loud music from across the road, looking at the beautiful Gwangan bridge. In this crazy times of social networking, I was glad to see people from all ages communicating with other people and for once, not absorbed with their smartphones. If you get hungry, you will just have to cross the street where restaurants and cafes are linedup endlessly. What’s more, you don’t have to take a private car or a cab to get here just take the subway and walk three (3) blocks and voila, a beach in the city! I could not have thought of a better way to end a long day and my birthday for that matter.
(7) Local life
What better way to do this than live with a Korean family? Yes, I tried Airbnb for the first time in this trip. I was excited and apprehensive at the same time but the mixed emotions were worth it. My host was very hospitable. The father is a business owner near their condo; the mother is a housewife who helps in her husband’s business but most of the time, stays at home to cater to her family’s needs; their daughter is a nurse. They were very helpful and accommodating. I even spent 2 hours talking to the mother and daughter after a long day just about anything while having my late dinner at their home. It was particularly cute because the mother only knows a little English but she was so determined to entertain their guests the best way possible so sometimes, she would just act it out. The daughter said that one of the reasons why they decided to rent out their spare rooms was because they would like to practice their English. It was like a sleepover with an old high school friend. I have to warn you though that you must be extra cautious in choosing your hosts. While Airbnb has already made its name in the tourism industry, there was still news of bad experiences in other countries.
About the Writer:
Carina Delos Santos, Child of the Universe, Citizen of the World, Proudly Pinoy. A wanderlust from the Philippines who believes that not all who wander are lost. A banker who enjoys seeing the world away from her own world whenever time and money permit. While I enjoy getting lost in books too, I still believe that of all the books in the world, the best stories can be found between the pages of a passport.