Travelling in Seoul – Tips
Right. From my research there is a lot of people who wrote that it is difficult to travel around Seoul, because everything is in Hangeul (korean character) which scared me. People got lost all the time apparently. I am going to tell you, that it is soooo not true! Come on people, just use your common sense, pay attention to where you are going, obviously have a metro and road map with you. (Even in London I still bring my tube map and a-to-z map when I go to places I’m not familiar with) I did not once got lost in Seoul and I am a very ditsy person.
Whilst reading this post, have a listen to this song by Clover – 어느 파도, one of my soundtracks going around Seoul.
Getting around is so straight forward its amazing. I think this might be because I expected the worst.
- First buy your Tmoney card,a top-upable travelling card, usable in taxi, bus, and metro (similar to those in London, AMS, SG, even Porto). You can get this at any 7eleven, which can be found almost within 5 minutes walk to where ever you are. If you are like me I wanted something cute/ different for my T-money card, because where else can you get a cute/non-card travel card? I got a TOTORO one, to get this I persisted and bought my first ride on a ticket, found the TOTORO T-Money at a shop in Hongdae called I think Book.com. I know Totoro is not really Korean but I can’t help it. 😀
- Top-up your T-money card. You can do this at 7eleven or any place with the Tmoney card sign. the machines in the stations has English as choice of language, because they are so user friendly it is pretty straight forward. Tmoney card is easier and cheaper that you don’t have to think about it.
- Get a metro map. Familiarise yourself where you are staying, what lines are nearest to your hotel. I tried going on a taxi but I think you need to be really good in your Korean Pronunciation or have your destination written down to use them, so I would highly recommend the subway.
- If you want to go somewhere look at the name of your destination and the name of the next station heading to right direction – See example below
- Look up on the sign above the metro door. The one with the arrow is the name next destination of the train whereas the one greyed out are where the train came from.
- For example: I want to go to City Hall and I am at Hongik Station, I need to know that the next stop from Hongik towards City Hall is Sinchon
There are a lot of different Maps that you can get, from the Airport, some train stations has got its tourist information office that you can get maps from and most area would have its own tourist information booths. My favourite map was actually the map I found in Seoul Magazine online I printed these out before I left and it was very useful. But don’t worry if you have not got a printer at home the ones available there are good too. Because I was staying in the Hongdae area and I spent most of my time in the area, I also used the hongdae map a lot, I didn’t get lost once.
Different from Japan where the best place to find an ATM is inside a 7-eleven, in Seoul it is best to find CITIBANK ATM in the subway stations. I almost panicked when I tried using a supposedly International ATM and it said that my card does not have any money on it. Aaargh. But it turns out it was not an international ATM. To be safe just use the CITIBANK ATM.
I didn’t hire any of those mobile/cell/handphone from the Airport. But I survived just on WIFI using WhatsApp or twitter to communicate with people, WIFI could be found almost about everywhere. I found a connection when I was walking between a big motorway and a building site, that was not even your weak 1 bar kind of connection, it was a full five.
I really feel though that although very little planning was very helpful at least to make sure I really wanted to go to these areas, I would hate to fall in the unnecessary tourist traps. Here are some blogs that I would recommend you read for good places to go
- Jamie Liew – A blog by a Malaysian who is currently living in Korea as a student at Yonsei University
- Peaches and Lemon – a brief encounter of Seoul but with Beautiful Pictures
- This user is dead – I think this written by a Seoulite reviewing food places – I wish I found this one earlier
If you are also interested in the Korean Culture and People have look at these blogs
- Eat Your Kimchi – Very silly, quite popular blog/vlog by 2 Canadian Teachers
- Eyagee – Really friendly guy, who I think is an English teacher too, lots good detail about Korea and Koreans
I hope this is somewhat useful. I have find it a bit difficult to summarise this trip. If you have any question don’t hesitate to ask, I’ll definitely try to respond.