This past April, I took three weeks off from work to explore Asia on my very first trip abroad EVER! I spent a week in Tokyo, a week in Seoul, and a week in Taipei. These are my adventures.
Second stop: SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA
Click here for part 1!
To kick off our 4th day in Seoul, we headed over to Tosokchon Samgyetang. The specialty dish is chicken ginseng soup; basically it’s a young chicken that is stuffed with rice and then boiled into a soup. We got the classic version as well as a seafood pancake on the side. It was all delicious and we were so stuffed after finishing.
I think Tosokchon typically gets a lot of tourists because it is very close to one of the palaces. And specifically, they probably get a lot of Chinese tourists. The waiters would attempt to speak Mandarin Chinese with us, but HA! Fooled ‘em because we definitely can’t speak any Mandarin.
We went to Gyeongbokdung Palace next, which is quite similar to Changdeokgung Palace, but a bit bigger.
I was feeling hungry so we stopped at a cafe in the subway to chill and grab some refreshments before heading to Siloam Sauna.
Siloam Sauna is a jjimjilbang, which is a Korean bathhouse (similar to onsens in Japan). I became really frustrated as we were trekking to get there because the directions were so confusing. Google Maps is highly inaccurate in Korea. If you know hangul (Korean alphabet), you are better off using Naver maps instead.
But eventually, we made it to Siloam Sauna, which was massive! This jjimjilbang has multiple floors with a bunch of different rooms to explore and relax in as well as the typical gender separated baths. It was so nice to relax and restore our energy in the baths. Afterwards, we felt so relaxed that we just went straight back to our Airbnb to sleep for the night.
We had a late start to our day; I think we were just feeling a bit lazy. After finally getting ready and heading out, we decided on tofu soup (sundubu) for breakfast. We went all the way out to the Gangnam district to get it and we passed by a Shake Shack on the way! I didn’t know Shake Shack had made it all the way to Korea.
As we departed the tofu soup restaurant, it started to rain…heavily. WHYYYYY?! We stopped in a convenience store to buy an umbrella because, yes, it was that bad.
We took cover in the subway and headed over to the COEX Artium, which is a mall that conveniently houses SMTOWN. As mentioned previously, I am a huge fan of k-pop. My inner fangirl was squealing with glee as we went through each floor, which included souvenir shops, a cafe, and even a theatre.
And then for the second time that week, I dropped Brian off at the PC Bang (PC Cafe) and headed back over to 1million Dance Studio. This time, Jin Lee taught the class and it ended up being part one of her Running Wild choreography.
Once the class ended, I picked up Brian and we thought hard about what we wanted to eat. We debated going to another Korean BBQ place, but instead, we ended up at Kyochon chicken…for the third time that week. Still no regrets, it was SO GOOD.
For our last full day in Seoul, we had a slow start, but in the days before, Brian had found information on a walking tour of some temples…in English! So we decided why not and signed up to go on it.
We met up with the tour guides at the entrance of one of the subway stations near the COEX Artium Mall. Our guides spoke English wonderfully and one of them was training to potentially be a translator. We took a brisk walk down the block once the rest of the tour group arrived and walked through a temple covered with colorful lanterns. We also saw the biggest Buddha statue I have ever seen!
After the walking tour, we sat at a cafe with our tour group and got to know them better before parting ways when Brian and I got hungry.
We made a conscious decision that we had to get some KBBQ beef somewhere in Seoul before we left. We eventually found a place in Hongdae that had some affordable beef and as usual, it was so good and left me stuffed.
The morning we left Seoul was pretty dreary, which I’m sure is because Korea was sad to see us go. Brian and I packed up all of our stuff and lugged it onto the train to head to the airport.
Good Bye Seoul, Hello Taipei!
- The subway stations were louder and in general, there was more talking and activity in public places than in Tokyo. Less suits as well.
- People took greater care in their appearance.
- Dance is pretty much the best thing ever, even in another language.
- Korean fried chicken is the best fried chicken. Period. No contest.
- Beef is difficult to find at KBBQ places.
- Idols are everywhere…in advertising. Everything, whether it’s skincare or food or clothing, is promoted by an idol or idol group.
Check out the other posts on travel in Asia: