My Week in Seoul Itinerary
I have now moved to South Korea! Check out my posts on the GOE orientation, my first day/first week. I want to finally give you my official week in Seoul itinerary. This is a pretty long post so that’s why it has taken so long to get to you 🙂 Technically it was more like 10 days but whatever 😛 I’m keeping what I did each day short and I will eventually have longer, more in-depth posts on the different neighborhoods of Seoul!
Day 1: Landing + Incheon
Originally my plan was to stay in the Incheon Airport Spa. I loved it/completely recovered from jet lag due to the spa. However, that just didn’t work out this time around. Instead I stayed in the very cool Art Park area in Songdo, Incheon. I didn’t stay long, but you can check out my full thoughts in the post about Songdo! After perhaps the worst series of flights I’ve ever been on (my entire body became a massive muscle cramp) this was a very cool place to walk around to try to re-align my body.
Day 2: Onwards to Gangnam
I checked into the Bunk Guesthouse in Hongdae, Seoul. I really recommend this hostel, the owner is super helpful and I met a ton of wonderful people 😀 Hongdae is very close to where I was when I attended Sogang University. It was interesting to see what was familiar and what had changed.
I immediately found some likeminded people and we headed out! We first stopped in for some K-BBQ because it’s the food I’d missed the most. Ugh. So good. I could eat K-BBQ almost everyday, and I practically did over the course of my time.
Then it was on to Gangnam. We headed to the Bongeunsa Temple, where we were lucky enough to witness a monk performing the bell ringing ceremony. It was absolutely beautiful and I wish I’d spent more time wandering, but I did get to sit and feel the peacefulness for awhile. We also hit the COEX Mall famous Starfield Library which is magical.
Shopping in Myeongdong and Insadong
Although I really didn’t wind up buying much while I was in Seoul, I still wanted to check out some of my favorite stores from four years ago. Amazingly, they have only grown in popularity. Chuu and StyleNanda now have huge flagship stores that are a lot of fun to visit. Although, I was saddened to see that Chuu had lost most of it’s entire concept that I had loved about it (super pretty underwear) as they became popular for their jeans. Style Nanda also has an awesome cafe that is worth the visit alone.
I couldn’t stop myself from heading to my favorite place in Seoul almost immediately. While I knew I would likely be spending a fair amount of time in Insadong I still craved the traditional hotteok (akin to a donut filled with nuts and honey) streetfood and the most amazing fried dumplings of my life. Luckily, both were easily acquired. I also love the shopping in this area, and it’s the place I was tempted to buy the most things.
Day 4: Han River Ferry and Relaxing
I didn’t do a ton this day besides hang around Hongdae and check out the shops there. There are a lot of pretty awesome shops here, especially for clothing. Many will even offer to make you a garment you like to size, if you have the time, or at least tailor it for you.
Then I headed to one of my other favorite places in Seoul, the Han River. One of my favorite evenings had been spent on the banks of the Han near Yeouido park/island. They claim it’s an island but it’s pretty firmly attached to the mainland in my opinion. Maybe it used to be one. This time I headed out on a river ferry which was a fantastic way to see the city lit up at night.
Day 5: First Palace Day and Quick Temple Stay
My obsession with the older parts of Seoul continue. I didn’t really see much of the “main” tourist attractions on my first trip and so I made up for it with this day. First I headed to Gyeongbokgung Palace. This is the most famous palace in Seoul so I made sure to arrive bright and early to beat the crowds. AKA, 10AM. I caught the changing of the guard ceremony at 10:30 which was a lot of fun! Just make sure you have that sun umbrella as it can be very bright in the sunlight.
And then I headed to a three hour “temple stay” a Jogyesa Temple. This was super awesome! The temple stay included tea and question time with a monk, who happened to be a woman, which was especially cool.
Since I did so much today already, why stop there? I headed to Cheongyyecheon Stream and bathed my feet in the most peaceful area of Seoul. It’s a manmade stream built over a real stream that used to be there. You truly don’t even feel like you’re in the city. And then, since I had someone with me to share the giant bingsu, we went to Sulbing. We had K-BBQ at a random place for dinner. All in all Delicious!
Day 6: Ikseon and Hongdae Cafe Hopping
This is a lesser known area of Seoul that’s really starting to become popular. I am sure soon it will be one of the major attractions. As is, it’s pretty awesome for cafe hopping, which is what I did there. First was 동백양과점 익선점, for the amazing souffle pancakes. Their tea is really overpriced so I’d skip that if I were you, but the pancakes are worth a try. Also, the setting is lovely. All lot of the architecture in the shops and buildings reminded me intensely of the Kdrama Mr. Sunshine. Cozy, late 1800s. I also went to Hotel Seine. Another cafe with a fantastic setting, but the food is rather mediocre.
And then, because I wasn’t done cafe hopping, I headed to Vow and Mamacaron which are right down the street from Bunk Hostel. Vow is pretty overpriced in my opinion, but the milk tea is pretty delicious so whatever. It’s another nice setting as well. Mamacaron has *awesome* macarons. I would wind up stopping here another three times.
Day 6: The Dragon Hill Spa
I really wanted to try out this place, as it’s the most famous spa in Korea. So I scheduled my entire day around it. Annnnnnd….you can skip it. This place honestly isn’t any better than Siloam Sauna in terms of actual bathing facilities, and it’s so popular that the people are almost overwhelming. It’s cool, probably worth a visit if you plan on staying for a long time in Seoul, but I’ll be going elsewhere next time.
I ended the day with some nice Chimek, or Chicken with Beer (the place is in Hongdae and named Chicken and Beer so that’s easy) with some hostel-mates and it was soooooo goooooood.
Day 7: Inwangsan Mountain Failure
This was one of my worst days traveling period. And I pretty much did it all to myself. I really wanted to hike Inwangsan, a mountain famous for its shamanistic heritage. It also leads to the walls encircling Seoul which are gorgeous and have great views of the city. I’ll write a full post on how this all went wrong, but know I emerged so tired and exhausted I couldn’t even do anything the next day.
Day 8: Nothing (Because of Failure)
I literally just sat in my hostel and read. It wasn’t a bad day. But unlike the other days of rest I’ve taken while on trips, this was not great. I was physically exhausted and the rest was necessary – not a choice. The main highlight of this day was ordering in dinner. I got the beef bone soup – I make my own version of this back home but I wanted to try another country’s. I find this soup highly fortifying which is why I ordered it – and it was great.
Day 9: Second Palace Day + Siloam Sauna
I was feeling much better on this day – thank goodness. Good enough to head out bright and early to rent a hanbok. It will get you free entrance to the palaces, and often you’ll receive discounts from cafes in the vicinity. And, it’s a ton of fun. Lots of Korean people will coo over you and you get to really step back in time when you wander the palace.
Next, Changgyeokgung. And I really can say that you don’t need to go to all the palaces in Seoul (there are six). While there are some differences (and I’d argue Changgyeokgung is prettier than the more famous Gyeongbokgung) you only need to see one or two palaces to know what it’s about.
Finally, I had to head to another spa. I was still recovering. And I woke up fully refreshed the next morning! I was ready for my trip to Nami, and for the upcoming excitement of starting my new job. Siloam is my my recommended spa to visit!
Day 10: Nami Island Daytrip
Again, I’m going to have another post on this. Suffice to say, I really enjoyed Nami Island! While it is wayyyyyy easier to take a tour there, if you are adventurous, I would recommend trying to get there yourself. I wish I had spent more time there and been able to explore on my own more.
Day 11: The Other Side of Hongdae and Onwards to Changwon
Before leaving, I wanted to have have some last minute experiences recommended by the hostel owner. One of these places was the area of Hongdae that somehow gets overlooked. It’s not even difficult to find, it just involves turning left where most people turn right. It was shocking how few tourists you found almost immediately. When you come out of the Number 6 or 7 stop in Hongdae, and simply head in the opposite direction of the little park and the new mini-mall. It’s still bustling and fun but a nice look at the “local” Seoul.
The hostel owner also took us out for Samgytang, a ginseng chicken soup. It’s a bit pricey but totally worth it! If you can get your hands on some of the ginseng alcohol, it’s bizarrely addictive.
I hope my Week in Seoul Itinerary has been helpful <3
And that concludes this ridiculously long post! Check out some other stuff I’ve written!