Here’s What you Need to Know Before Going to Seoul

Korea has been dominating pop culture the past decade. Korean entertainment has opened eyes to the country’s trending skincare, cosmetics, electronics and more. Luring in tourists by the second with its ever evolving trends in hopes of experiencing these changes first hand. 

No doubt you’re an eager ready-to-visit traveler trying piece together a scintillating itinerary. To make your travels smoother, here’s an overview of what to expect in Seoul.

Why Travel to Seoul

As the bright shining capital of South Korea, Seoul has cultivated bits and pieces across regions to offer a sample of what the country has to offer. Its distinctive districts are a patchwork of shopping coves, loud markets, quiet residences, lively university sectors and sleek office blocks.

Photo of Fish Rice Cakes at Myeongdong

Interspersed are a mixture of fine dining restaurants and street food stalls, late night barbecue places and fried chicken rounding up the culinary scene. Social entertainment establishments fill up the streets with karaoke rooms, night clubs, cocktail bars and dessert shops, keeping the city awake throughout the night.

Bukchon Hanok Village

Modern luxuries aside, Seoul imbeds a lot of its rich history in the form of traditional architectures and temples. Dig into the history of the well-preserved Hanok village as you pass by wood and stone lined residences. Absorb the stories told at palaces, museums and temples along the way. Immerse yourself in the culture by joining a temple stay, language classes or even hanbok rentals. 

Dongdaemun Design Plaza

Travel to Seoul because this city preserves its heritage through beautiful architecture and spiritual spaces. Simultaneously, it surges into the future with innovative technology and creative expression. 

Here Are Some Cultural know-hows:

Age

An inevitable question you’ll face is, “How Old Are You?” Age hierarchy plays a crucial role in social interactions in Korea, so don’t take it personally. It’s all part of daily behaviors like who pays for the meal and order of soju top ups, as a form of respect.

Names

Following the above point, there are many terms used to address people older or socially superior to you. Affectionate terms such as oppa and noona are used for older friends and family, whereas strangers should be referred to by their last names and –ssi suffix unless asked otherwise. 

Cutesy Culture

If you’re an avid K-pop or K-drama fan, no doubt you’ve come across the cultural phenomenon of aegyo. This deliberate act of being cute and childish may seem bizarre in other countries, but in Korea, it comes with surprising benefits. Try pouting at a shopkeeper when bargaining for a discount and see where it gets you.

Currency

The local currency used is Won ₩. A 1,000Won note is equivalent to $0.85USD or $1.13 CAD. The word ‘Won’ is derived from the Chinese Yuan (¥) and Japanese Yen(¥).

Language

As the national language spoken here is Korean, fret not as you’ll find many of the millennials there to be more familiar with English, especially in tourist dominant areas. And if that isn’t enough, google translation comes in handy as you can show them the translated Korean Characters.

Nightlife

Seoul is truly a city that never sleeps – restaurants stay open until late hours of the night, competing with many bars, clubs and late-night grills. Whether you’re letting those dance moves shine on the dance floor or munching away on some fried chicken after a passionate karaoke session, don’t expect a solid eight hours of sleep.

Cosmetics and Skincare

Photo taken at Style Nanda Hotel

Highbrow cosmetics and skincare hold monopoly in Korea for a reason; because appearances matter. Break out your trendiest outfits while exploring town to fit right into the crowds. Make sure to bestow a polite nod when someone does you a favor, or thank them with a kamsahamnida.

Food

Street Food at Myeongdong

Food completes the adventure, and Seoul is both spicy and hot. Korean cuisine isn’t just kimchi and spicy rice cakes however; stone pot rice aside, ox bone broths, military stew, braised glass noodles and Jokbal await. 

Photo Taken at Line Friends Café

And we can’t forget about the intricate flavours of pastries and their delicious coffee culture. Offering sweets in all sorts of establishments from retail stores, street stands, beautifully decorated cafes and even in libraries. We’ve made an article to show you the most instagrammable cafes of Seoul, check it out now!