If you're planning a weekend trip to Seoul, you're in for a treat! Seoul, the vibrant capital of South Korea, offers a plethora of activities and attractions that will keep you entertained throughout your stay. Start your weekend off by exploring historical sites such as Gyeongbokgung Palace and Changdeokgung Palace, where you can immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of the city. Don't forget to indulge in the local cuisine, with street food stalls offering mouthwatering treats like tteokbokki and samgyeopsal. For a more modern experience, head to the trendy neighbourhood of Gangnam, known for its upscale shopping centres and vibrant nightlife. If you're a nature lover, make sure to visit Namsan Park, where you can take a leisurely stroll while enjoying panoramic views of the city.
If this has got your interest read below to find out more about my weekend getaway from Hong Kong to Seoul, here is my Seoul Travel Guide.
In 2016, the city became my top destination to visit. I was eager to explore the lively capital and managed to find time for a trip. I booked a flight from Hong Kong with HKExpress, which cost me around $1040 HKD.
I have had a positive experience flying with HKExpress in the past. There were no issues with the flights, planes, or staff. Additionally, I found that flying with HKExpress was more affordable compared to other airlines such as Cathay Pacific and Korean Air.
The flight duration was approximately 3 hours, and it landed at Seoul's Incheon Airport, which currently serves as the city's primary international airport. It should be noted that although there is another airport in Seoul with the word “international” in its name, it was the previous international airport before the construction of the new one. The old airport is now exclusively used for domestic flights.
Airport to The City
To travel from the Airport to Seoul's downtown area of Hongdae, taking the subway train is a convenient option. The fare for this 50-minute journey costs slightly over 5000WON ($5 USD).
To access the airport railway, exit arrivals and head to the basement level. Follow the signs indicating the way. Along the route, you will come across various convenience stores, including a 7/11. Take a moment to visit one of these stores and purchase a transport card, which costs 4000 WON ($4 USD). Continue towards the subway station and locate the add-value machines to load credit onto your transport card.
Transport in The City
The metro system was my preferred mode of transportation for both getting from the airport to the city and visiting various attractions. This subway network is not only efficient and affordable but also incredibly user-friendly, making it effortless to navigate my way to the desired destinations.
If you are looking for information about public transport, including maps and stations in Seoul, you can find all the details on the official tourism website.
Attractions I Visited & How To Find Them
Bukchon Village is a must-visit destination in Seoul. It is conveniently located within walking distance of both the iconic Gyongbokgung Palace and Anguk Station, making it easily accessible for tourists. This traditional village offers a glimpse into the rich Korean culture, with its traditional houses and charming streets. While exploring Bukchon Village, visitors can also enjoy the experience of browsing through trendy boutiques and cosy cafes located along the touristy shopping streets.
Visiting Bukchon Village is a cost-free experience that allows you to explore its charming streets and browse through various stores and boutiques. Additionally, there is a free information centre/museum that visitors can also enjoy.
Gyongbokgung Palace, situated near Gyongbokgung Station, served as the residence for kings and royal families during the Josen dynasty. Admission tickets are priced at 3000WON, which is equivalent to approximately $3 USD.
During my visit to the palace on a weekend, I noticed that it was quite crowded. However, the unique architecture of the palace made it a worthwhile destination to explore. The complex boasts numerous buildings, walls, and walkways, offering visitors plenty of opportunities to immerse themselves in its beauty. In fact, you may find that you end up spending more time there than originally planned due to the abundance of areas to explore.
Korea War Memorial and Museum
One of the most captivating historical attractions in Seoul is the war memorial. This remarkable museum houses an impressive collection of over 13,000 artefacts, all beautifully displayed. Visitors can explore a wide array of items such as cannonballs, bullets, model warplanes, uniforms, guns, knives, model replicas of battles, shields, armour, books, and much more. It truly offers a comprehensive glimpse into the history of warfare.
The museum grounds feature an extensive exhibition of warplanes, bomber jets, cannons, missile launchers, army jeeps, a large boat, and helicopters. Visitors can explore this outdoor relics museum free of charge. Additionally, there is an indoor museum and war memorial that require an admission fee of 3000WON (approximately $3 USD).
The location is Samgakji Station, specifically exit 1. To get there, simply walk straight out of the exit and continue in the same direction for about 100 meters.
For more information https://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu
Children's Grand Park
The Grand Children's Park is a fantastic place to visit if you're looking for a fun-filled day of picnicking, entertaining children, or simply escaping the hustle and bustle of the city. Located conveniently at the Grand Children's Park Station, it's easily accessible by subway, taking approximately 1 hour from the Central/Hongdae area. The park entrance is conveniently located just outside the station exit.
The park is very large and has a wide variety of things to do. Some of the attractions include carnival-style rides, a zoo, playgrounds, gardens, and water features. You can enter the parkland, zoo area, parklands, gardens, and playgrounds for free, and there are plenty of grassy areas where you can have a picnic. However, there is a fee for the amusement rides. Adult tickets cost 10,000 Won for two rides (about $10 USD), while children's tickets are cheaper. For more information, check out Seoul Grand Childrens Park on VisitSeoul.net.
Seoul is widely known across Asia as an excellent shopping destination, and it certainly lives up to its reputation. Exploring the vibrant shopping streets of Seoul, I had the pleasure of browsing through trendy Korean fashions and discovering some amazing pieces. Whether you prefer high-end designer areas or budget-friendly university shopping areas, Seoul offers a plethora of options to suit your shopping preferences.
Apgujeong, located in Seoul, is renowned for being one of the most affluent neighbourhoods in the city. This upscale area is a mecca for fashion enthusiasts, as it boasts a plethora of high-end fashion brands such as Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Chanel. Don't miss the chance to explore the Galleria Department Store, which showcases numerous esteemed fashion designers. In addition to these international luxury stores, Apgujeong also offers a range of trendy independent boutiques that provide more affordable fashion options for shoppers.
For backpackers looking to save money, it is advised to skip this area. However, if you are on a weekend trip to Seoul and enjoy exploring designer pieces and the latest fashion trends, then Apgujeong Rodeo Station is a fantastic place to indulge in some retail therapy. You can conveniently reach this shopping destination from any exit of the station.
Myeongdong in Seoul is known as the hub of shopping in the city. It is often the first location where popular brand name stores choose to open their doors in Korea. Here, you can find a wide range of international chain stores such as H&M, Zara, Nike, and UNIQLO, offering products at reasonable prices. One must-visit is the Lotte Department store, where you can enjoy several floors of duty-free shopping. An added convenience is the option to shop hands-free by purchasing your desired items at the store and collecting them at the airport before heading home.
Myeongdong is a popular destination for makeup enthusiasts. Korean women are known for their love of beauty products, and if you share the same passion, you will have a fantastic time exploring Myeongdong. Many stores in the area provide free samples of various products, allowing you to try them before making a purchase. Additionally, some stores offer exclusive discounts for visitors.
Ewha Women's University Shopping Street $
Ewha is a budget-friendly shopping destination, particularly appealing to backpackers looking to update their wardrobe while in the city. This area primarily caters to women's clothing, including footwear, shoes, bags, and accessories, as well as offering a variety of makeup options.
The starting prices for bags, accessories, and clothing items are 10,000WON (approximately $10USD). Although there is no try-on policy, sizing is not an issue. As someone who is 5'9″ with a standard western build, I had no difficulty finding clothes that fit me.
To reach Ewha Womens University Station, you can take Exit 1, 2, or 3. This station is conveniently located just a few stops away from Seoul Central Station, making it easily accessible for shopping purposes.
Hongdae is a popular destination for shopping, particularly in the evenings and on weekends when it comes alive with energy and excitement. The area is known for its abundance of local Korean fashion, with endless streets filled with clothing, bags, shoes, accessories, and makeup. Additionally, Hongdae is located in a college area of Seoul, which means that shopping here is relatively affordable. Most items start at prices as low as 10,000 WON, which is approximately $10 USD.
If you're looking to experience the vibrant atmosphere of Hongdae in Seoul, there are several convenient stations you can visit. Hongdae University Station (Exit 9), Sangsu Station (Exit 1), and Hapjeong Station (Exit 3) are all great starting points for exploring the lively Hongdae shopping streets. After a day of exploring the city, take the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture and ambience of Hongdae.
* While this list is not exhaustive, it includes some of the main attractions in Seoul that I personally chose to visit. After researching various top attraction lists online, I selected these places based on my interests. As a history enthusiast, I visited Bukchon Village and Gygongbokgung Palace, both rich in historical significance. Additionally, I explored the Seoul War Memorial & Museum, which focuses on war history. Being an adult who still enjoys childlike experiences, I couldn't resist visiting the Grand Children's Park. Lastly, I took advantage of the more affordable shopping options in Seoul, as compared to Hong Kong, to indulge in some retail therapy.
Where Did I Stay?
The Maru Hostel is located in the vibrant restaurant and bar district of Hongdae. It is conveniently accessible by foot from Hapjeong Station or Sangsu Station. For those interested, the hostel offers a female 4-bed dormitory option at a cost of KRW27,900 ($24 USD).
The hostel offers a diverse community of both local long-term residents and backpackers. The youthful and friendly staff are always available to assist guests. Conveniently situated within walking distance, the hostel provides easy access to a wide array of international and local restaurants, nightclubs, street food vendors, a supermarket, shopping malls, market streets, and the subway station.
The hostel offers various amenities including WiFi, a communal kitchen, a rooftop area, and a complimentary breakfast consisting of basic bread and eggs that guests can prepare themselves each morning. With a total of 51 rooms, the accommodation options range from dormitories with mixed or female-only occupancy and 4-14 beds to single, double, and family rooms.
This post provides valuable information about the cost of travelling in Seoul, a city known for its affordability. Whether you're exploring during the day or late at night, Seoul offers a safe and secure environment. With its vibrant and energetic atmosphere, it is particularly appealing to shopaholics.