Seoul, South Korea is one of those rare foreign countries where you can fit right in even if you don’t know the language. Everywhere you go you see English translations, from the subway to the grocery store. In fact, Seoul provides a multitude of free tours (in English) throughout their city.
If you haven’t already been on a cable car or seen a city view from a tower the N Seoul Tower overlooks the 10 million people (plus) and has many restaurants as its base. It also has the highest post office, so if sending your loved ones a post card from the highest point in the world interests you there are post cards and stamps available to mail your postcard at the top of the tower.
A couple of very cool ideas the U.S. could highly consider adopting: “call” buttons at restaurant tables and mini-TVs on buzzards. In Seoul each table has an actual “call” button you push when you’re ready to order, need something, or are ready to pay your bill. If you’re waiting for a table or even just a coffee at Dunkin Donuts they hand out buzzards with TVs on them to keep you occupied while you wait without shouting out order numbers or names. Both were incredibly efficient ways to do business while cutting out interruptions while dining.
“Poly, poly” means quick, quick. A term often used in Korea for how quickly things happen, this phrase also refers to how quickly elevator doors close so be quick when getting in and out. The Korean culture is very respectful of others and you’ll notice everyone stands to the right on an escalator (unless walking) and to the sides of the subway as they wait for the other passengers to depart the train. It is also very quiet in the subway as people either keep to themselves or talk in a very hushed voice if talking to a friend. So when you visit don’t expect the noisy subway system you’ve seen in U.S cities, but instead a quiet hush with a mix of soft ring tones when a train is approaching.
A “must” when in Seoul is enjoying a Korean BBQ (and plenty of Soju to wash it down). If you’re looking for nightlife (any night if the week) you’ll want to hit up an area of town called Hongdae. Koreans are known for their “work hard, play hard” mentality so you’re sure to find streets filled with people (even at 4am)!
Our tour of Gyeongbokgung Palace was probably the highlight of our visit due to our incredibly competent and gifted tour guide, Sammy.
As for food, Koreans are known for their love of onions, garlic, and meat. We took in the love of garlic culture by eating at a great little place in Gangnam called “Mad for Garlic”. The food is delicious but be sure to bring some gum along for afterwards.