Trip Report

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Trip Report

A December Seoul, South Korea trip!

This is a 5 day itinerary for the city of Seoul, South Korea with a side trip to the beautiful Garden of Morning Calm.

by claraAtlasGuru Contributor

South Korea5 days / December 2019

Highs & Lows

The Garden of Morning Calm is incredible in winter with the light shows and is a must see!

Accommodation is incredibly small, so make sure to do research on where youre staying before going.

Itinerary Overview

For 5 days in December 2019, I decided to visit Seoul, South Korea. I arrived at Seoul Incheon Airport, and over the next few days did a LOT of sightseeing with a side trip to the beautiful Garden of Morning Calm. Each district in Seoul has a unique atmosphere, there's incredible temples and beautiful landscape, and its for sure a shoppers paradise! I also tried a traditional Korean "jjimjilbang" (bath house) experience, which was super interesting but really insightful and fun! 

I must say I had trouble with finding my way around at first. Google Maps do NOT work in South Korea due to the North Korean threat, so it was a lot of guesswork at using the tube system at first. Also, its quite difficult asking around as most people are not very good at english- BUT, the people I met were super friendly regardless and always tried if I asked them something. 

The only thing I regret is not staying longer. Seoul is a beautiful city, and there is undoubtedly so much more to see than I did. 

  • 5 Nights: Seoul
    Shopping, cultural experiences, temples and lovely food.

Q & A

  • What would you have changed?

    I would definitely have stayed longer if I could. Seoul has so much to offer and 5 days was not enough at all to explore. I would also go on the full day trip to explore more of the Garden of Morning Calm. Many other areas are there as well and it was a shame not doing the whole thing.

  • Anything go wrong during the trip?

    I would say the accommodation was a fail. I recommend fully looking into accommodation as small apartments are super common, so double check AirBnB or book a proper hotel instead.

  • How was the food?

    I do not remember any specific restaurants, but I love trying traditional foods and Korean (and Japanese) foods are my favourite. Theres lots of lovely little cafes, coffee shops, and ramen places too. Everything was very delicious!

  • What tips would you give a friend?

    A few: Google Maps do not work in South Korea. Download their own public transport app to get around. Download a translation app, particularly for menus as many of the good, traditional restaurants do not have english menus. BUT I still recommend going here, as this is where the best food is. When out shopping, if you are not interested in buying anything, avoid touching items. I tried a few times where I did the mistake of doing this, and if you really look interested but do not want to buy anything, the shop owners can be quite intimidating into pressuring you to buying their items. If you walk away without buying anything, many of them look at you with a bit of a frown, so just bear this in mind....Read More

  • Packing tips?

    Pack WARM for December in Seoul. It gets below 0 celcius, so very cold.

  • Transportation Tips?

    Seouls public transport (underground and bus system) is ULTRA efficient and fast. I had trouble navigating it at first but it gets easier to figure out. Use your translation app to help you.

  • Any surprises?

    The city was beautifully decorated for Christmas in December and there was music playing everywhere, also in the stores. It was truly a lovely atmosphere.

Lodging

  • I stayed at an AirBnB, which was SUPER small. To put into perspective exactly how small- the front door to the room could not be opened fully- there was a desk in the way. The bed was a TINY single one, and my feet BARELY fit. (Im 5'3). I had to sit squint on the toilet as my knees didnt fit if I sit straight, and the door to the toilet could not be opened fully either because the sink is in the way… There was a shower head in the corner above the sink, but there it was too small properly wash, so I used a washcloth and washed my hair in the sink. It was also quite smelly because the plumbing pipes were exposed and the sink leaked a bit of water on the floor. The only good thing about this room was that my luggage fit just under the desk. I will 100% recommend doing more research when looking for accommodation in Seoul, as after doing a bit of research these types of accommodation is common and the apartments are just by default small to "western" standards. I admit it was cheap and I was out all day, but if I could have stayed in a proper hotel, I would have done that instead!