1 day in Seoul

As someone who has had an appreciation for Korean culture for about 10 years, now I finally took the opportunity to visit Seoul! There are many things I checked off my list, but in retrospect if I only had a single day in Seoul this is how I'd take on the day.

CONTENTS

Must Have Mobile Apps

First thing's first, install apps before you go! The app ecosystem stands on its own, so you'll need at least a couple Korean apps on your mobile device.

  1. TMONEY CARD

Korea has a great public transportation system, but you'll need to use a pre-paid transportation card for your fare. Buy a card once you arrive at any convenience store or at one of the vending machines at the airport. Be warned though puchasing or topping off a card is CASH ONLY. There is also a TMoney app available (Korean language only), but I used a physical one while I was there.

Download for Apple -- From the App Store

Download for Android -- https://g.co/kgs/YwTxAG

  1. NAVER

Instead of Google or Apple maps, or Yelp for that matter--Naver is your one-stop shop for finding the best ways from point A to point B and reviews/info. As with most services, you'll need to sign up for a free account to access the app.

Download for Apple -- https://apps.apple.com/us/app/naver-map-navigation/id311867728

Download for Android -- https://g.co/kgs/XPdR9S

  1. PAPAGO

Papago is a translator by Naver. You'll need this because you can't actually search Naver in anything but Korean. So, use it to translate to/from your native language and Korean when you're in a bind. Papago also has useful features like formal/informal options and photo/image to text.

Download Apple -- https://apps.apple.com/us/app/naver-papago-ai-translator/id1147874819

Download for Android -- https://g.co/kgs/9UDuX4

Getting Around

Use Naver Maps, period! It looks a little something like this:

Eats

While the first thing you might think to eat in Seoul is Korean Barbeque, there are a few specialties in particular which I highly recommend having while you're there! Although I would recommend having each of these dishes at dedicated restaurants, you can find them all in one place at Gwangjang Market. Disclaimer, I love carbs and seafood over red meat and therefore am slightly biased toward them. :)

Raw Beef Salad/Yukhoe

Raw Marinated Crab

Live Octopus

Hand Cut Noodles

  1. Changgo 43 -- Raw Beef Salad, 육회 "Yukhoe"

Changgo 43 is a Korean chain which specializes in high quality beef. I recommend the Korean Beef set menu with the raw beef salad and kimchi stew or cold noodles on the side. We went to the location in Myeongdong, as it was near our hotel.

Changgo 43 (Myeongdong) on Naver: https://naver.me/GSiUUu8J

  1. Pro Soy Sauce Marinated Crab -- Raw Marinated Crab, 게장 "Gejang"

Located in Gangnam, this restaurant is well known for being frequented by celebrities and foreigners. Their main dish is raw marinated crab, which you'll find super sweet and soft in texture. They offer a regular soy marinated crab and a spicy version. I preferred the regular, and I also got a raw marinated crab bibimbap which was 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

Pro Soy on Naver: https://naver.me/G3JhhAWT

  1. Sea Sliced Raw Fish Sarang -- Live Octopus

Hands down, the place to eat fresh seafood would be Busan. But, if you're in a bind and in Seoul this place is the next best option! They have a wide variety of fish dishes, but I went for the live octopus. As an added benefit the staff is helpful (in the overbearing aunty way), so they'll show you how to have the perfect bite/which sauces to use etc.

Sarang Fish on Naver: https://naver.me/5qRAP1Ia

  1. Samcheongdong Sujebi -- Hand-Torn Noodles, 수제비 "Sujebi"

Hand cut (kaljuksu) or hand torn (sujebi) noodles are a must in Seoul, and you can get either dish many places. My pick was Samcheongdong Sujebi based on its proximity to Gyeongbokgung Palace/the Museum of Modern Art. It also has a 1-star rating from Michelin, if that affects your opinion at all.

Samcheongdong Sujebi on Naver: https://naver.me/Gw5EaR1A

Sights

Gyeongbokgung Palace

Buchon Hanok Village

Namsan Tower

Han River

  1. Gyeongbokgung Palace

Not much to be said here, Gyeongbokgung Palace is the historical home and main palace grounds of the King. Buildings have been preserved, so it's worth seeing and if you want to rent traditional clothing from one of the many shops around the palace you'll have free admission.

Gyeongbokgung Palace on Naver: https://naver.me/FLBKTWSB

  1. Bukchon Hanok Village

Bukchon Hanok Village is a neighborhood near Gyeongbokgung Palace (hanok meaning Korean Traditional) where you can oberseve the traditional style homes. This area is well preserved, and you can find an iconic view of Namsan Tower as you roam around. To get to the iconic view I'd take the bus to the Bukchon Sulhwasu House, cross the street into the Gahoe area, and find the view you like (think, walk uphill as much as you can).

Bukchon Sulhwasu House on Naver: https://naver.me/FI8ZVa9M

  1. North Seoul/Namsan Tower

Think Seattle Space Needle, enough said 😅-- LBVS. Hike, take a bus, or take a cable car up the mountain to reach the North Seoul Tower. Take a pic, catch the sunset, pick up a souvenir mug, and check this place off the list ✅

Namsan Tower on Naver: https://naver.me/xlW10MyG

  1. Hangang River Parks

The Han river is the major water way around Seoul when you see the city on the map. There are several parks along the river, so you can visit them or rent a bike with your T-Money card and ride along them all.

Below I've linked a starting point for BTS ARMY! This is the second area along the river dedicated to RM for his birthday, so head down to the pin, walk down to the running/biking path along the river, and hang a left. You should pass by some pink flamingos, and then you'll come across the benches with RMs lyrics as well as a little birdhouse shaped sign describing the spot.

RM Forest 2 on Naver: https://naver.me/FXrEQpwJ

Activities

Cafe Hopping

7-Eleven Iced Americano

Gwangjang Market

Museum of Modern Art

  1. Cafe Hopping!

Seoul has a huge coffee culture, so there are plenty of cute cafes to drop by for an Iced Americano (really, they hit different in Seoul) and dessert.

  1. 7-Eleven

Drop by any 7-Eleven for a DIY drink and convenience store snacks. The signature "thing to get" is a cup of ice and a pouch drink. Drinks in pouches vary from juices to coffees, but I went with the Iced American in a pouch. Honestly think it was the best one I had while there. 😅

  1. Gwangjang Market

Gwangjang market is a classic food market, and it was featured on Netflix! This market is a good day-time activity (although it does go into night). There are also several food tours via Air BnB experience you can book in advance, so you don't have to worry about things lost in translation or how you're going to finish all the food!

Gwangjang Market on Naver: https://naver.me/xswYOmpE

  1. National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art

This museum is conveniently located next to Gyeongbokgung palace. It was a must-see for me because the Hyundai interactive exhibitions were still going on, but regardless of what is currently resident I'd recommend it.

Museum on Naver: https://naver.me/54Vkke2z

Now, if you did all that in a single day I'm impressed. Good luck, have fun, and I hope this was helpful! 😊