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Hi, I'm planning to visit SEOUL, please help? :)

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Jakarta
posts: 28
reviews: 1
Hi, I'm planning to visit SEOUL, please help? :)

Hi everyone,

I'm planning to visit Seoul this July, end of July actually. Plan is to go on 22-30 of July, it will also be our 3rd year anniversary trip with my wife.

What I would like to know is:

* What are the best areas to stay in? We both enjoy street shopping, food stalls, lively markets with little this and that, sure some branded boutiques just to look at would be nice (I know they're quite expensive there, so not planning to shop on much branded items).

* Hotel recommendations? We would prefer a 4-star or 5-star hotel that is great in location, but also doesn't kill with the price. Something not too old either. I had a look at the "Designers Hotel", but I'm not too sure if its good?

* How much do we have to spend/prepare on food and drinks alone, per day, for the two us?

* How much do we have to spend/prepare on transport, such as Subways and Busses per day?

* Are taxi fares expensive there? There would be some point that we might need to have a Taxi to drive us somewhere I'm sure, and I would like to factor in the Taxi budget before going.

* What are the "must-see" places when you visit Seoul for the first time? The icons? The great places? The great atmosphere?

* I am of course, planning to take my wife on an anniversary dinner on the 25th of July. Would you be able to please recommend me a place romantic enough to have it at?

* What are other things that I need to know about Seoul? Should I be prepared for bad taxi drivers? Dangerous streets I should avoid? Things I should keep attention to?

* Are there enough Koreans to speak English? I was in Japan once and it's hard to communicate sometimes as most Japanese there doesn't speak English. :)

I think those are the questions I have for now, thanks alot!

27 replies to this topic
Makati, Philippines
posts: 108
reviews: 186
1. Re: Hi, I'm planning to visit SEOUL, please help? :)

Hey there! I’ve been scrimping on hotels in Seoul, so I don’t have any third-anniversary worthy places to recommend, but here’s my two cents on everything else.

1. I think staying north of the Han river is really the best. Most of the nice places are near central Seoul. I really recommend Myeongdong as a nice area to stay in – it’s very lively and is close to a lot of places of interest.

2. You can find fairly decent meals in restaurants for 8,000 to 15,000 KW per meal. I normally budget 12,000 a meal for all meals during the trip and find that that’s enough – breakfasts tend to be cheaper so it evens out the more expensive meals, like dinner.

3. You can plan your exact train expense by downloading the Jihachul app and carefully planning your commute. I normally take about 2-5 train rides in a day and spend about 3,500 to 6,000 KW on trains per day. Get a T-Money card for a bit of a discount and skipping ticket purchase queues while on holiday.

4. Taxis are cheap if you don’t get the fancy black ones (there are blogs on this – please check it out) and don’t take them for long distances. I’m from the Philippines and find that the price of taking a cab is almost the same in Seoul – a fraction of what I have spent in other cities (like Hong Kong and Tokyo). I typically budget 12,000 KW per ride, but by my rough estimate (and fuzzy recollection) I have never spent more than 4,000 KW on any one cab ride. As a general rule, however, I make sure I’m home by midnight so I’m not forced to take a cab anywhere.

The language barrier makes cab rides difficult. I have to have the address in Korean and GPS coordinates. I’ve been thrown out of cabs because of my Western pronunciation of Korean places.

I had a bad experience with a mean cab driver who wouldn’t use the meter! Don’t ever take a ride in one of those. He’s the exception, because cab drivers are generally honest in Seoul, but guys like him exist to please be aware.

5. I’m going to post again on recommended places – I have to think about this, hee hee. Maybe you can describe what's fun for you two.

6. I can’t recommend a romantic restaurant because I don’t think I’ve been in one.

7. As for English, it’s easy to navigate the trains and tourist-friendly areas because of all of the English signs but speaking is another thing. The romanization of the Korean words isn’t always helpful if you don’t know how Korean vowels are pronounced. For example, I wanted to take a cab to Hoehyeon. I asked the cab driver to take me to Who-way-hee-yawn. It didn’t work! It turns out that’s a two-syllable word.

I was hiking and reached a crossroads with signs in Hangul. Yikes.

I’ve been to restaurants in Seoul where English was not spoken. Ended up with weird double orders and spicy meals that were not supposed to be spicy.

Still, language-wise, it’s easier to navigate and move around than Japan. It’s easier to find people who understand English and are willing to help point stuff out.

Okay, I owe you that list of must-sees. Will post soon

london
Destination Expert
for Seoul, Rothenburg
posts: 7,159
reviews: 147
2. Re: Hi, I'm planning to visit SEOUL, please help? :)

For hotels, take a look at Seoul Royal hotel, which is well located and often good value. It's right in middle of Myeongdong and a short walk to Chongye stream, Insadong and palaces. They have their own bus to/from airport.

Lotte City is higher priced, usually as is Westin Chosun.

President has good rooms, well located- but also has less good rooms- beware of those.

melbourne
Destination Expert
for Seoul
posts: 1,394
reviews: 4
3. Re: Hi, I'm planning to visit SEOUL, please help? :)

For romantic dining with beautiful night views, you may consider:

- N Grill: www.nseoultower.com/eng/visit/restaurant.asp

- Top Cloud: http://www.topcloud.co.kr:8080/

Please look at our "Top Question" for what are the must sees and must do-s located on top right on this page.

Happy Anniversary.

Moraga, California
posts: 19
reviews: 23
4. Re: Hi, I'm planning to visit SEOUL, please help? :)

We just got back from Seoul. I am sending you my comments.

* What are the best areas to stay in? We both enjoy street shopping, food stalls, lively markets with little this and that, sure some branded boutiques just to look at would be nice (I know they're quite expensive there, so not planning to shop on much branded items).

We stayed at Doulos hotel in Jungno gu area. It is located near Jungno 3 metro station. There are ton of restaurants around this hotel. Hotel room is very clean. Staff is wonderful. Room is small but we do not care because we do not spend our time in the room. We need a nice and clean room to sleep. Bed is good.

* Hotel recommendations? We would prefer a 4-star or 5-star hotel that is great in location, but also doesn't kill with the price. Something not too old either. I had a look at the "Designers Hotel", but I'm not too sure if its good?

We stayed at Doulos hotel from May 8 to May 11 of 2013. We got a good deal from hotels.com, 80 USD per night. It is located on a small street/alley. Breakfast is good. We would stay here again. check out my my Doulos hotel review.

* How much do we have to spend/prepare on food and drinks alone, per day, for the two us?

You can get away with 40 USD per day for 2 persons. A bibimbap bowl or a kimchi bowl is around 7 USD at a fast food restaurant. There are tons of BBQ restaurants in Seoul. We found a good BBQ restaurant closed to Doulos hotel. Prices was also very good. Dinner for 4 is around 48 USD. We had 4 orders of BBQ, 2 orders of rice, and 2 bottles of soju. I can not write the name of this restaurant in Korean. I can tell you how to get there from hotel Doulos.

* How much do we have to spend/prepare on transport, such as Subways and Busses per day?

We used subway to get around Seoul. A long distance trip costs around 3 to 5 USD. Short distance trip is less than 2 USD. It is cheap to get around Seoul by subway. It is very easy to use the subway. If you are not sure how to get to your destination, you can ask the train station attendant or any young Korean in the station. Korean folks are super nice! We had a great experience with Seoul and Korean folks!!! Love them! I am not Korean and live in San Francisco. Had Korean friends in high school many years ago.

* Are taxi fares expensive there? There would be some point that we might need to have a Taxi to drive us somewhere I'm sure, and I would like to factor in the Taxi budget before going.

Did not use taxi ;therefore, I have no comment.

* What are the "must-see" places when you visit Seoul for the first time? The icons? The great places? The great atmosphere?

We visited Gyeongbokgung Palace, Bongeun Temple, Bukchon, Hanok Village, Cheonggyecheon Stream (at night), and Korean Folk village(day trip), Dongdaemun market, and Namdaemun Market.

I would recommend Gyeongbokgung Palace, Bukchon, Hanok Village, and Cheonggyecheon Stream at night. When you visit Cheonggyecheon Stream at night, make sure you start from the top of the stream where you can find lighted statues and lanterns. There is a light show at every half hour. Once you have enough fun with Cheonggyecheon Stream, you can find ton of restaurants and cafes in this area. There are a lot of restaurants and clubs in small streets around this area. Korean folks know how to party.

* I am of course, planning to take my wife on an anniversary dinner on the 25th of July. Would you be able to please recommend me a place romantic enough to have it at?

Do not know.

* What are other things that I need to know about Seoul? Should I be prepared for bad taxi drivers? Dangerous streets I should avoid? Things I should keep attention to?

We walked thru dark alleys and small streets. We feel quite safe.

* Are there enough Koreans to speak English? I was in Japan once and it's hard to communicate sometimes as most Japanese there doesn't speak English. :)

The young folks speak English. My experience is that they went out of their way to help me. One pizza delivery man who did not speak English went out of his way to help me to find a restaurant and I found it. The bottom line is.. explore without any expectations and keep an open mind.

We had a great time in Seoul!! We used subway to explore Seoul...Seoul is huge and very modern! The public transportation system is first class. Korean folks are wonderful!!!!

I hope you have a good time in Seoul!!! Cheers.

Jakarta
posts: 28
reviews: 1
5. Re: Hi, I'm planning to visit SEOUL, please help? :)

Hi thank you all so much for the inputs. We now have a general idea of what to prepare and what to expect.

I'm now considering hotels in Myeongdong or Gangnam, which do you think is more preferable?

As for hotels, despite the fact that we don't usually splurge for it, but since it's our anniversary, I want our hotel to be slightly on the upside while not killing my bank account. Are there any recommendations on these two areas?

Also - should we bring alot of cash or we are better off to pay with credit cards while we are there?

Jakarta
posts: 28
reviews: 1
6. Re: Hi, I'm planning to visit SEOUL, please help? :)

I can't open the TOP CLOUD link? Thanks. :)

Jakarta
posts: 28
reviews: 1
7. Re: Hi, I'm planning to visit SEOUL, please help? :)

N grill is SO expensive T_T...

london
Destination Expert
for Seoul, Rothenburg
posts: 7,159
reviews: 147
8. Re: Hi, I'm planning to visit SEOUL, please help? :)

Don't agree N grill is expensive. You must expect a premium price when at Seouls high point, on a tower with views like that.

Singapore, Singapore
posts: 333
9. Re: Hi, I'm planning to visit SEOUL, please help? :)

Yep, with a view of the city, the prices are quite alright.

It's a full course dinner, I think it's ok to splurge a bit since it's an anniversary.

If not, you can just go to N Terrace for a coffee or dessert. Or any of the restaurants on Seoul Tower should be ok, some are more casual, i guess.

melbourne
Destination Expert
for Seoul
posts: 1,394
reviews: 4
10. Re: Hi, I'm planning to visit SEOUL, please help? :)

Aigoo... When you post the question, you didn't mention you have a specific budget in mind.

Considering the good food, ambience and beautiful panoramic view, like what others have said, dining at N Grill is not expensive at all. You can even reserve special couple seats if you book in advance.

Don't forget to tell them that you are celebrating your wedding anniversary, who knows they might provide a special surprise for you such as a free cake or a little souvenir for you.

If you have problem communicating with them, ask your hotel concierge to help you with the booking.

Top Cloud: www.topcloud.co.kr

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