Traveling for so long gives us the opportunity to travel to places that might not be top destinations when you only have a week of PTO. When you’re time is limited and there are so many incredible places to go, it’s easy to cross places off the list for a variety of reasons. Including sometimes…questionable…reasons like, “Colombia has too much of a drug problem,” or “Paris has had all those terror attacks lately.” or “But Seoul is so close to North Korea.”
Traveling has turned me into an ambassador for cities that people cross off their lists. I’m no expert on safety, but I do know that the most dangerous thing in the world is to get into a car. I know that my laptop was stolen in Washington, D.C., not Medellin. I know that you can’t predict or prevent some of the awful things that happen in this world, so you can’t let it stop you from enjoying your life.
As specifically listed in my duties as promotor of “dangerous’ cities, I want to tell you all to go to Seoul! Granted, Seoul is the first city I’ve been to in Asia, so maybe it’s got that shiny new-experience dust on it, but I loved it the moment I got here. It got me really excited to see the rest of Asia, too, because if it’s anything like Seoul, I think I’m really in for an incredible three months!
Here is why you should all go to Seoul, like, right now.
10 Reasons To Go To Seoul, South Korea
- Eat your way through the streets of Myeongdong, where you’ll find the most incredible street food like my favorite gyeran-ppang (a fluffy, sweet corn bread with a whole egg cooked on top) or Bungeoppang (a fish-shaped pancake with a variety of sweet fillings like custard, chocolate or red bean).
- Step into the palace complex of ancient Korean kings at Gyeongbokgung Palace. You’ll find many people in traditional Korean dress, which makes it feel like you’re really going back in time.
- Shop for the latest trends on the cheap on the bustling streets of Hongik University district.
- Get your coffee fix at one of the 18,000 coffee shops (yep, 18 THOUSAND, that was not a typo!), many of which have interesting themes like a selfie cafe where you can get your picture on your latte or a sheep cafe where you can drink your coffee while hanging out with real sheep (animal cafes in general are huge here). Be sure to try the Sweet Potato latte, a local specialty (but know that it doesn’t actually have coffee in it).
- Take off your shoes and have a seat on the floor at one of the many Buddhist vegetarian restaurants in Insadong. Don’t forget to wind off the main street into the small side streets to find places like Ose Gye Hyang.
- Experience Korea’s centuries of history at the Korean War Museum. They do an amazing job of putting Korea’s timeline alongside both Eastern and Western history for context. It was absolutely one of the best museums I have ever been to, and I’ve been to kind of a lot of museums.
- Crawl your way through the bars and clubs of bustling hill streets of Itaewon, but don’t try to keep up with the locals! Koreans drink the most alcohol per capita in the WORLD and average 14 shots of a hard liquor a week!
- Get lost in Samcheongdong-gil, a charming neighborhood where you’ll find lots of hanoks, traditional Korean houses, perched on top of the hilly streets, trendy shops and restaurants, and of course, plenty of cafes. You’re Instagram will thank you.
- Practice saying “gamsahamnida”, Korean for “thank you”, with a local. While many Koreans do speak English, the small gesture was always greeted with great appreciation. The locals were so nice to us and often helped us with our pronunciation, and always smiled (and maybe giggled) every time we said it.
- Dive into the “cute culture” of Korea. With their recent pop culture driven primarily by Japan’s Kawaii culture (aka culture of cuteness), Korean shops and street vendors are full of adorable things. There’s nothing more cute than their obsession with Line Friends, known for their undeniably adorable oversized heads. Line friends started out as sticker characters but now have entire stores, cafes, and large-scale characters.
Now go cash in your Chase Ultimate Rewards points for a business class flight on Korean Air to Seoul right now!