30 Things to Do and Know about Seoul – South Korea Travel Guide


(foreign music) – Why hello there, I’m currently in the middle (laughs). Oh why hello there. You’ll have to excuse me. I’m in the middle of reading one of my favorite Korean novels, in the city of Seoul. And today, I’m going
to be sharing with you some of the best things you can do on your trip to Seoul. So without further ado, let’s get started. (electronic music) Now this is a city like
I have never seen before. It’s this hyper advanced Asian city that loves poop emojis
and loves spicy food. Coincidence? I think not. From its’ Korean barbecue restaurants, its’ vibrant, alcohol infused nightlife, and of course its’ love for everything that is cute and weird, I have never seen anything that quite
compares to South Korea. After just shy of a week in Seoul, these are the 30 things, facts, and places that I can’t pronounce, that you need to know about before arriving in this incredible
travelers destination. Starting with number one,
the lightening fast internet at affordable rates. From the moment I arrived at the airport I was extremely excited. I had options to have unlimited internet on my phone for an entire month, at basically the price I would pay for the most basic entry
level plan in Canada. But the amazing thing
was, that fast internet is not just limited to your phone. It’s also in the hotels, the hostels, wherever you go, you can get huge files uploaded very quickly. And that makes me very happy. The second thing you need to know is that Seoul is a massive, gargantous, monolithic city, with
sides separated by a river. It can actually take
you quite a bit of time to get from one side to the other. There’s two main areas we stayed in there’s Gangnam and there’s Hongdae. I wanna again reiterate that I’m gonna struggle to pronounce
a lot of these names. So if you’re gonna be that person in the comments section
any you’re gonna be like, “He didn’t pronounce it properly.” Well, I know you’re not
perfect either, so try me. Now Gangnam is this very hosh posh, kind of Hollywood style
side of South Korea. It is beautiful. It is lit with neon lights. And it definitely is a place
that I recommend you check out. But I must say that while it was beautiful it’s definitely much more the local South Korean side of things. And while that can be an amazing thing it can also make things a
little bit more difficult. To best explain that I’ll give you the other side of the
equation, which is Hongdae. Hongdae is the university
town in South Korea and things are a bit more compact. It’s easier to walk from place to place. You still have that beautiful vibrancy. You got the night markets. You got amazing shopping,
affordable prices in some areas. While the accommodations is probably gonna be around the most expensive you’ll find in South Korea. Now, with that being said though, it is worth every penny. Hongdae is the place that
I recommend you stay in. Because if you’re an English speaker it definitely makes it
easier to get around. There was more places
that had English menus. But there’s still going to be a bit of a language barrier, which brings me to point number three. The language barrier is sometimes quite real in South Korea. Most people don’t really
speak English that well and I don’t speak Korean that well. From time to time it can be hard to order from a restaurant,
talk to a taxi driver. Another thing that makes it challenging is they have their own
completely unique alphabet, which, mind you, is actually
a very cool alphabet. I mean, just look at that. Very cool, Korea. Now that we’re in the 21st century one of the things we’ve become reliant on is our phones, on Google maps, on Yelp, those GPS based apps that help us get from place to place. Finding the best
restaurants, the best bars, figuring out where to
go, how to get there, and something that really made Korea challenging for me was the fact that GPS is kind of like, disabled here. It’s the only country in the entire world that does not have Google Maps. Even their friendly neighbors
to the North have Google Maps. Now the reason they don’t actually have it is because of that very same reason. Apparently South Korea wants to limit how much of the GPS and map systems are publicly available. There are some Korean equivalents, but the thing is they’re
not currently in English. With that being said, I was able to use Google Maps to some extent. It just won’t really show you how long it takes go get from place to place. You can still see your blue
dot walking around the map because it won’t show you where to walk. I found that it was a little
bit helpful for bus routes because when I needed
to do a long distance I could still see which
way the bus station was. I could still see which direction it ran. Even though it didn’t give me an accurate time estimate, I was usually able to somehow use that a little bit. I wanna talk about a place by the name of Common Ground. Now Common Ground is
the shipping containers that have been turned
into a very trendy place to get a coffee, get some food, and do a bit of shopping. One morning we started off our day here. And these are some of the restaurants I highly recommend you check out. So Allie’s explained that, essentially, there’s a vacuum created by this. And it’s sucking the water
upward into this cup here. Oh, you can flush it, like a toilet. Oh, here we go, ohhhh,
coffee magic here folks. Look at the mushroom on top. And six hours later it is ready. Kati doesn’t even like coffee but she can appreciate the craft. I don’t always drink black coffee but with this style of coffee I would. It’s a solid cheese block. – No, it’s red. – [All] Ohhhhh! – Oh my gosh, it’s like
a golden brick of life. I love cheese. I love bread. I love this. That’s like four dollars. So this coffee was four dollars. There are so many cool places to eat here. And, and it also brings
me to my next point which is Korea’s love for everything that is cute and weird. I’m so sick of the world telling me what I can and can’t do, it’s time to fly. (electronic music) So, I’ve never in my
life seen this before. But I just got handed a guide
on how to care for a Marimo. These are 40 year old Marimos, but they didn’t always start off so big. They’re basically a giant
algae ball or plant. Those little guys right there are about one month to one year. – When do they start
talking and saying, “Daddy.” – [Man] I don’t know if they ever do. And of course, you could get some slime. I’m having way too much fun in here. Bit of a focus called Wiggle Wiggle. – We will now take our
relationship to a next level. – We spent about an hour 1/2 to two hours shopping at around three or four of these stores in Common Ground. (he barks) Now before I get a noise complaint, I figured I’d move on to the next point, which is that you must check out the nearby coffee shops. If we find it, this is truly a hidden gem. This is so cool. Hidden in the midst of
all the repair shops, all the mechanics, is
like this converted garage that’s become this really
trendy coffee shop. Baesan Coffee and Column Coffee. And these are these incredibly trendy, hipstery, very Oh, Matcha’s really big here in Korea. – I have no idea what
it is, but it’s amazing. (electronic music) Bay-be coffee shops. Now on to the next point. I wanna talk about transportation. And I know this next comment might be a little bit controversial because I’ve just watched three YouTubers review on South Korea and they all said that the metro system
was cheap, affordable, and easy to use. Okay, so here is the
situation with transit from somebody who can’t speak Korean and can definitely not read it. It is very challenging. The metro system here
is a bit of a nightmare. Nothing was written in English. None of the locals fully
understood what we were saying. And we couldn’t use Google
Maps to tell us where to go. So we got in the metro
anyways, just to test it out. And yes, it was very efficient. It was actually super quiet, super clean. The quietest metro system I’ve ever taken. But we ended up going
in the wrong direction and there was no English
signs to tell us otherwise. And that would be the last time that we tried using
it, on our entire trip. Buses were actually still usable, as I said before, using kind of a primitive Google Maps,
I was able to figure out where the pickups were and if they were the right bus, based on the numbers. But because we were in a
big group of four of us, we actually spent most
of our time taking taxis. And here’s some great news for you, wanting to travel South Korea. We are not setting foot in
another bus or metro system. Taxis are so cheap. We just took one that
was probably about 15 20 minutes and we paid
around six US dollars. Starting around three dollars and having the meter raise very
slowly, it’s sometimes even cheaper if you’re in a big group to take a taxi for the short distance. Also, do not bother with Uber
unless you want Uber Black. Because that’s the only
version they have available. And unless you’re made of paper money then it’s not for you. Now, a bit of information on prices. I would say South Korea is definitely a bit more expensive than
your average Asian city but not as expensive as, let’s say, Tokyo. So some prices that you should know about are of course, going to
be the transportation, which I’ve already shared
a little bit about. Now, going on to accommodations. Hostels can be as cheap
as 10 dollars a night, whereas if you want a
mid to entry level hotel you’re looking around $50 US a night. If you want something nice, like we had in the Gangnam District,
we stayed at Glad Live, Glad Live and it was $90 US a night. It was absolutely beautiful. But it wasn’t necessarily the
most centrally located hotel. We also stayed in Hongdae. So for $80 US a night, this
is where we’re staying. It’s called Twins Guest House. It’s in a more expensive
area by the name of Hongdae. It’s in a great location. We got this bed, we got an extra bed. And this is all ours. We got a knock on the door, they’re like, “Yes, sorry, we put
you in the wrong room.” It’s still nice. – We still have, I don’t know what they call this, vanity? – Little makeup station. There’s one bed and there’s Kati’s bed. And the bathroom. Hongdae will be a bit more
expensive than Gangnam. But I wanna reiterate that I do think Hongdae is probably the best bet for most people wanting
to visit South Korea. Now, as for the price of food, well that will be discussed a little bit more throughout this video. But you can find very affordable food. Like as cheap as $5 to $6
dollars for an entire meal. You can find a massive
platter of local food for $10 US dollars. So I did find that food
in Korea was reasonable to even sometimes being quite cheap. Now my next tip, find a
local guide if you can. Maybe you have a friend
who lives in South Korea or your friend has a friend. Take an opportunity to
reach out to these people because it is a bit of a more challenging place to tackle, being such a large city with sometimes a bit
of a language barrier. But if you find those local guides, that is where you’ll find your local gems. And thank you to Hian for being such an amazing guide to us. She showed us so much of the city. Now later that night, we actually met up with Hian and she showed
us this traditional style Korean restaurant. And this is something I
highly recommend to you, is to find a traditional meal. Mmmm, traditional. Everyone’s taking their shoes off. The great thing about it, is that it’ll stretch your taste pallet. You’re gonna be trying things
that are incredibly spicy. You’re gonna be trying
plates that you would normally consider to be hot plates but they’re gonna be given to you as cold noodles or cold soups. You’re gonna be trying
foods that you probably didn’t even know existed. Sitting on the ground, some
of us have our legs folded. Some of us are not
flexible to fold our legs. So I just have my legs
completely straight. – Some or just you? – Just me. (laughs) This right here is so good. I didn’t love every
single piece that I tried but at the end of the
day, because you have so much variety, you do
find a few key pieces that you really enjoy. And that’s what travel’s all about. Pretty sure that meal was
about $10 dollars per person. Very affordable and we ate so much that well, I literally
had to drag Kati out. She ate a bit too much. Now another big thing
that defines South Korea and Seoul is definitely
their drinking culture. They know how to drink. One of our nights out with
Hian, she taught us about Soju. Basically, what it is,
it’s a clear spirit, typically distilled from rice and grains, usually around 20% alcohol. And this is the most popular drink in South Korea, hands down. Not only is it popular, it’s actually the most dranked drank in
the world, apparently– – Apparently. – On average, a Korean will drink about 13.7 of these shots every single week. Now I’m not here to
make any judgements but. Now on to the next point. You don’t just stop there at the Soju. Soju is just like the
pure form of the drink. But what better way to celebrate than to make it a bit
more of a social drink. The best way to do that
is to make a Somac. What that is, is basically take your Soju and now mix it up with your beer. – [All] Whoa! – And you’ve got a Somac. That’s so good. It’s like the perfect compliment. There’s tons of different
ways you can mix it up. But the way that Hian had taught us, was either to take a chopstick, a fork, a utensil of some sort, and basically just jab it in. And up and down, up and down. And right there, you
have your first Somac. Now, not only do you need to know the drinks you’re gonna drink, but you also need to know
the rules of the game. When you’ll be having
a full dinner like this people will basically be, cheersing, every five minutes, every 10 minutes. – [All] Cheers! – Every Soju bottle has a number between one and 50, underneath the lid. What you can play is the guessing game. I know the number. You’re gonna guess the number. And I’ll tell you if it’s higher or lower. In this case we’re gonna play, they get to give away an entire drink. – Six. – [Man] It’s higher. – 23 – Yes, yes! – Christian!. (they applaud) – 14. – Yeah! (they applaud) – Another way to play it is that when you pull off the lid from the Soju there’s often a long aluminum little tail. If you twirl it up, make
it into a harder tail, if you break it, the person to your right has to drink their entire drink. – Oh, so I wanna break it. – The loser’s gonna drink a whole Somac. – Break it, break it. – [All] Yeah! – [Man] That’s it, that’s it! – [Woman] Level three, level three. – Level three! These are some games that we played and they made our nights
that much more fun. For all my team ge-lox ladies, you’re in luck because South Korea is a cosmetics heaven. Kati went absolutely
crazy, from the different skin care, facial treatments, everything you could possibly imagine. South Korea is the place
where you will find it. Now not only does she have fun with it. We also both went and bought
some set of eye contacts. They don’t improve your vision. But they do change your eye color. They change the size of your pupil. All this for $20? Oh my gosh, oh my gosh. (he laughs) – I look so weird. (he laughs) – [Man] Oh my gosh. – This is scary. – [Man] Oh, you look beautiful. – No, I look scary. Alejandro hasn’t seen me, so
I want to film his reaction. – Ewwww. (she laughs) – This is one of the widely accepted beauty cultures, here in Korea, is to get colored eye contacts. It’s gonna match my shirt. – [Woman] You seem so scared. – I just hate putting things in my eyes. – [Woman] I know. – [Lady] No, no, no. No, no, no, no, no. – She’s gonna help me. – [Lady] Okay, no, no, no. (she laughs) – [Woman] Did you get it? – No, it’s so hard. I think I got it. I can’t. – [Lady] Come on. – I’m gonna hold my breath, okay? – I can’t believe it. We tried for hours and I just,
I had to give up, I couldn’t. On to the next note. That is that Korean shopping
is some of my favorite. I have found so many
unique clothing pieces, statement pieces, and the awesome thing is they can be found, actually,
relatively affordably. So we did shopping at a couple different areas throughout our trip. One of the many designer
areas is Garosu-Gil. This is one store I really liked. They have some super cool trends that you will not find in North America. And this store right here,
called Around the Corner, it’s about mid price but they have a huge selection of
awesome Korean clothing. I wanna find unique statement pieces that don’t break my wallet. That are relatively affordable. And that’s where I found my best luck was in the walking street of Hongdae. Hongdae has so many
incredible, hidden shops. Some of them are underground. Some of it’s knock off but some are just truly original pieces at a
relatively low price range. So I got a hat, I got some Velcro shoes. They’re back, everyone. Bring back the elementary school fashion. Everything’s shockingly cheap. These shoes are about $35, hat’s $20. I got a really awesome jacket for $30. So the cool thing is you can negotiate with the different stores. Some of them, that are
more like pop up shops. Leave some room in your luggage and you’ll definitely leave
with some great value. I also just remembered one thing that was a little bit weird
about the shopping, though. Usually there’s only one size. There was no small, medium, and large. Typically quite baggy,
that’s the style in Korea. And one thing I,
particularly, struggled with is that often you’re not actually
allowed to try things on. I asked a lot of the service clerks why. And they actually said
it’s because of makeup. But I’m a guy so I guess
maybe Korean guys wear makeup. I don’t know. I shopped so hard that when I had to leave Korea, I was wearing about 10 bundles of clothing on top of me. My luggage was at least
15 kilograms over weight. Kati has like eight jackets on, four pairs of shorts over top. In most circumstances I would
say I look like an idiot but honestly, in Korea, I kind of just look like a K-Pop star. I’m looking pretty fresh. Got some denim over denim. Ladies, watch out. This is going down as the most stressful check in of life. Oh my gosh. Most certainly, one of my
favorite things about Seoul was the food experience. It is definitely a foodies destination, if you know where to go. And luckily, we had an
incredible Korean barbecue, where it was all you can eat,
it was reasonably priced. So you take a bit of
lettuce, a bit of salt, a little bit of spice. Gonna wrap it up, bon appetit. Hmmm, a little hidden gem. This is interesting. Like this delicious,
creamy dessert coffee. It’s so good. Everything looks so good. – I can’t remove them. – Perfection. – Very spicy, he did like this. No, it’s like. – [Man] It’s a lot spicy. – It’s very spicy.
– It is. That was one of the best meals. We spent about $14 maybe even
$13 US dollars per person. I think that’s incredible value. If you’ve never had this before, if it’s done right, it’ll blow your mind. This is a must have
when you come to Seoul. – It’s very interesting. – [Man] It tastes like a real tomato. Do you like it? – No, of course not. (he laughs) – And so even though the
tomato wasn’t for me, I’m excited to try mine. I got the sweet pumpkin. You got the peach. – I got the peach. – Oh, ladies and gentlemen. This is peach, this is pumpkin? It tastes like a PSL. – It’s my favorite. – Another thing you need to know about, extending on to the food is street food. An you can find it in a
lot of the touristy areas from Hongdae to Insa-dong. – So I don’t know if this is Korean but it’s called tai-a-key. And it’s basically like a
waffle in the shape of a fish. It’s so cute. Like, this one has the mouth open. So they put ice cream. We have to try it. – Oreo, honey, ice cream, all together. Oreo, honey, and ice cream. – [Man] Yeahhhh, all the
best things in one fish. And the incredible thing is, once again, it’s relatively affordable,
for the most part. Now one of the questions
a lot of people have, “Is South Korea safe?” And unfortunately, it’s really just not. As much as I would love to get behind the country and say that
this is a safe destination where you can be at peace,
it’s just not the case ever since the dropped bear incident. The mortality rate has risen 3,016% in the past year and 1/2. And it’s only expected to rise from here. For the most part, South
Korea, exceptionally safe. It’s the kind of place where Kati and myself, whoever,
can walk alone at night. Two thumbs up for me. Because safety is cool. Now, how’s the weather? Well, from what I could see,
it’s actually very mild. It’s kind of similar to where I used to live in Vancouver, Canada. It’s got its’ fair share of rainy days. It can occasionally get snow. It can have those beautiful
hot days in the summer. Now this one’s a little
bit of a random one but it could come in handy for you. There’s lockers in the subway stations. One night when we decided to go out we actually went down
to the subway lockers to try and drop all my bags there. And because it’s such
a safe place to do so, I had no problem with leaving my camera gear in a random, paid locker. It’s a cool little side fact, that could come in handy for you. Something crazy you can do in South Korea, that I never got a chance to do is actually eating octopus,
that has just freshly killed is a strong word. Let’s say, freshly been ended. The cool thing about it, is that because its’ nerves are still going off they literally will latch onto you. And so some people have actually died trying to eat this octopus, because it grabs onto their throat. But that just kind of raises
the excitement of it all. So I you wanna try something new, eat a semi live octopus. Now Korea is full of
traditional experiences mixed with somewhat touristy experiences. Luckily Kati and I brought the best of both worlds together. – Look, my waist, it’s so beautiful. – [Man] It’s so flattering. – I feel like a cupcake. – How do you say, “very cute,” in Korean? – Keo pa. – Keo pa, now I don’t know about you guys. But I absolutely hate tourist attractions. So, luckily, we’ve been able to keep things super local today. (laughs) And we’re going off to show you the traditional side of
the town, so let’s go. Looking good guys! Looking good. (laughs) This is not just a thing that Kati and I decided to do, you’ll
actually see tons of people wearing these very, very
cool traditional outfits. Looking good, guys. – Thank you. – [Man] No, not you. – It’s very pretty, actually. I like the colors. (electronic music) – Now this is something
that kind of shocked me a little bit, and that’s that we really didn’t see that
many tourists in South Korea. The only place where we
saw the occasional tourist was actually in Hongdae. And even at that, it
felt predominantly local. When there’s too many tourists around you kind of dilute the real culture. And I never felt like that was the experience in South Korea. On to the next point. And that is themed cafes. – So gross. – I gotta be honest, I
don’t know how I feel about eating somewhere, where they’re associating themselves with poop. And here it is. This is Seoul’s only poop cafe. I just got myself a rose latte. I gotta say, if you wanna take a photo with a toilet bowl
latte, this is a really, really tasty latte. I’m actually surprised to be saying that. Theme cafes are definitely a big thing to do here in Seoul. You’ve got cat cafes, which
are seen, now, everywhere. But I highly doubt
you’ve seen the next cafe I’m going to show you. The second you check in, they tell you you have to remove, basically
anything that’s shiny. I kept on a few bracelets and he comes running over and grabs onto my bracelet. That is the best thing I’ve ever seen. He’s checking my pockets. Literally, first thing he did is slip his hand into my pocket and he’s grabbing the receipts in there. Can we get one? – I want one. – [Man] Bubble butt,
bubble bubble bubble butt. (laughs) – He’s so cute, so soft. (relaxing music) – There’s a fight for Pride Rock here. (raccoons hiss) Oh, traffic jam. He just activated pancake mode. Now with all the Soju, Somac, Somac, and all the other drinks
that come with it, of course, the night
life is bound to be big. Unfortunately, we never
had a true big night out. It’s definitely something I would love to go back and experience. But from what we saw, walking around on a weekend in Hongdae,
there was tons of bars that were just bumping. I wish we had gone to a K-Pop
club or something like that. It would have been really cool. But again, there’s always
another trip ahead of me. For all you foodies out there, look no further than the 7-11, to try some very unique pieces that I’ve only found in South Korea. Alejandro went online and searched for the best Korean snacks. If you come to 7-11, you
gotta get this right here. This is oh-bu chip. This smells like Cinnamon Toast Crunch. This is a must have. The taste you can see And lastly, we’ve got
the classic oh-bu chip. Cheesy burrito. And one thing that I
actually kind of liked was their banana milk. The first sip kind of
threw me off a little bit but by the second and
third, it really grew on me. If you want a cool Instagram photo then check out this library right here. Inside of the Coex Mall, it’s also right next to a Gangnam style monument. Now whenever I travel, I like to have a base understanding
of some of the cultural norms wherever I’m going. And in South Korea, there’s
some very unique ones. The first one is called manner hands. So everyone get your manner hands here. Getting touched on the arm, on the hip, anything of that sort can actually be very uncomfortable unless it’s invited. A lot of the time you’ll see South Koreans when they take a photo together and they don’t know each other very well, they’ll actually have a hovering arm. But the gap is actually not accidental, it’s intentional, because
those are manner hands. Another extension is that you actually don’t go in to shake with
an older person’s hand unless it’s been invited. And if you do, it’s best to
use two hands in a shake. You have to pour with two hands. – [Lady] A respect time? – Yeah, like respect a person. – Here Christian, I’ll give
it to you with one hand. – Oh, ho, ho. A fascinating conversation
I had with Hian our guide, was actually about the way she interacts with other locals. She was saying that most people actually won’t talk to
one another on the street. It’s kind of a weird thing
to talk to a stranger. If you desperately need directions, don’t be afraid to ask somebody, but for the most part it’s not something that’s closely integrated
into their culture. There’s usually a bit of a
divide between strangers. Three, two, one, An-yo. Now guys, the most important point of all the 30 points is right here. So listen up closely because you cannot go to South Korea without knowing this. You must never, never, never, otherwise it could be the last time you ever go to South Korea. Five days in South Korea
was just not enough. It was an incredible trip. But I only got a small glimpse of what this monolithic city has to offer. I would love to go back sometime soon. I really wanna make a comprehensive guide, to actually show you
the best places to go. But if you have anything in South Korea that you recommend, I would
love to hear your feedback. Together we are stronger. Guys, if you enjoyed today’s video hit the subscribe button,
that’s a thumbs up. Hit the thumbs up button. Hit the subscribe button. And the notification
button because YouTube does not always push
out those notifications. I always post my videos on Saturdays. So I will see you right back
here on the next Saturday. And as always, let’s get
lost again, in the next one. (he barks)

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