A Beginner’s Guide to Traveling in South Korea

Cindy June 9, 2014 0 Asia

South Korea has been its own country since 1948 and now has a population of over 50 million people.  Over the past 50 years this country has gone from a country ravaged by war to a thriving country with both historic treasures and trendy shopping.  South Korea is a gem in the far east.

Here are a few insider tips on what not to do while you are visiting South Korea.  First off don’t rush out to be the first in line.  If you get an early start you will have to deal with the tour bus crowd.  If you go later in the day, like around 3pm, there will be fewer people, more locals and a better selection of street vendors.

Next, don’t spend your days singing ‘Gangnam Style’. Psy might be considered by some to be South Korea’s ambassador to the world because of the popularity of his song the general population of South Korea have had enough.

When it come to worrying about North Korea, don’t.  Do however take a trip out to the DMZ where there is a museum and a nice view of North Korea.  Caution, do not under any circumstances take any pictures of North Korea.  The military police that are on duty will take your camera, phone or whatever you are using away and you might not like what happens to it after that.

A Beginner's Guide to Traveling in South Korea

War Memorial

Another insider tip is to pack light.  The main reason for this is because Seoul in particular is a great destination for all types of shopping.  The stores are plentiful and the bargains are great so if you start with a full suitcase you will have two choices, either go home empty handed and miss out on all the amazing opportunities to get the latest fashions or buy another suitcase.  The choice is yours.

Besides the already mentioned DMZ tour there are a number other must sees for any trip to South Korea.  Seoul is the most visited city therefore has the most tourist attractions.  One of the top attractions is the War Memorial of Korea located at 29, Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul.  Operating hours are9am to 6pm every day except Monday and admission is free.  This memorial use to house the Korean infantry and now houses 8 different exhibit halls telling the military history of the entire country.

A Beginner's Guide to Traveling in South Korea

The Namdaemun Market

Another visitor destination is Myeong-dong which is one of the top cultural districts.  Located at 30, Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul-si,  it’s a must stop for all your shopping needs.  One of the unique things about this shopping area is the shops are not ones you will find in the United States, making all the more fun to explore and see what outstanding sales you come across or what kind of treasure you will get to take back home as a special keepsake of your trip to South Korea.

If shopping at a discount is more your idea of fun, make sure to visit the Namdaemun Market.  This 600 year old market is most active after dark.  The best time to bargain hunt where you can haggle for the best price is around 4am.  That is when the retail traders and cart vendors are out in great numbers and the crowd is the liveliest.

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