experiences

Trip Report: Accidentally Seeing Seoul Like a Local

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I wound up in Seoul over Buddha’s birthday which meant not only were no DMZ tours running, but almost everyone had that Monday off for a holiday. Imagine my surprise when the spots on our must see list turned out to be popular with local folks as well!

Both reassuring and disappointing since it meant lines were awfully long. Our first stop of the day was the N Seoul Tower. We navigated the subway easily, but once we ascended the hill to the cable car, we hit a long line.

Walk to N Seoul Tower from Metro

After about 20 minutes in line we reached the point that marked a 70 minute wait. We gave up and decided to take the stairs to the top. Very plucky since we weren’t dressed for it! But the weather was great — barely above 70 with clear sunshine and fantastic views along the way.

Steps to N Seoul Tower Keri

It was much faster to climb than wait for the cable car, but we arrived pretty tired, only to stand in another line for tickets. And discovered there would be at least an hour wait to take the elevator to the top of the tower. We were eager to see the views (particularly a glimpse of N Korea) so decided it was still worth it, and purchased the combo ticket A for ₩ 2,000 more which came with a large popcorn and two drinks to help pass the time (a savings of ₩ 3,000).

N Seoul Tower Line for Elevator

And still 100 people in front of us after 75 min

It wound up being quite a bit longer than an hour, but eventually our number was called and we made it up to the top. The views were great, but not worth 2-3 hours of waiting and hiking. And then it was an hour wait to get back down!

View from N Seoul Tower

N Seoul Tower View Keri

Tip: If you, like me, enjoy ascending the highest point in an area to see what you can see, go during a a week day and/or early in the day to avoid crowds, otherwise give it a miss.

From there we popped over to the nearby Namdaemun Market to see the goods for offer and hopefully get a tasty cheap meal. It was a great experience to walk through but we weren’t confident enough to eat — my friend isn’t a fan of seafood and my stomach isn’t always the hardiest at times.

Namdaemun Market Seoul

From there we got a little bit lost looking for the subway station and came upon Namdaemun Gate, also on our list, and judging by pictures being taken, many others.

Namdaemun Gate Seoul

That helped us get our bearings and we soon found a subway station — stopping first to peruse the local beauty products and grab dinner at a chain restaurant (whose name was only in Korean) that served nothing but fried chicken (which was quite good).

Seoul Fried Chicken place snacks and beer

pre-meal snacks

fried chicken with mustard and green onion

fried chicken with mustard and green onion

Judging by the crowds everywhere we went, our choice of entertainment and meals were in line with locals’ preferences — the first time I’ve unintentionally achieved that!

More posts from the trip report:

Checking In and Air France Lounge at IAD
Korean Airlines First Class IAD-ICN
Hyatt Regency Incheon: Great Service, Hard Beds

Coming Soon Park Hyatt Seoul: Claustrophobia On the 11the Floor

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Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world. www.twitter.com/klatravel

4 Comments

  1. rocksurf

    May 15, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    Just got back from there myself. Food is amazing and so are the people and sights. Can’t wait to go back.

  2. Glenn (The Military Frequent Flyer)

    May 16, 2014 at 1:13 am

    Here are a few tips from someone who has lived there twice and visited often:

    -Visit the Seoul Tower at night, the lights of Seoul are fantastic.
    -Kangnam(Gangnam) is the best place for night life.
    -If you have jet lag, go to the Namdaemun market at midnight. That is when it is really alive.
    -Try Cold Noodles. A great lunchtime dish made from buckwheat. Great on a hot day.

  3. Charlie

    May 16, 2014 at 1:38 am

    I will be there Monday and Tuesday so I appreciate your post and Glenn’s comment! Also staying at the Park Hyatt so looking forward to your impressions of it.

  4. BillyNY

    May 16, 2014 at 4:27 am

    Cass is the sound of vitality.

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