In order to fully experience what Seoul is like, you need to climb higher – a mountain or one of the famous skyscrapers. From there, from a bird’s-eye view, the city cannot be seen with a glance. Bizarrely shaped high-rise buildings grow up and out, helicopters soar from the roofs, and as it gets dark, neon turns on and rages on every sign, which makes it seem that a time machine has worked, and a distant, fantastic future has come. And go down lower – and ancient palaces, tiny, graceful temples and flowering gardens rise before your eyes.
It is this triumph of industrialization, combined with a deep respect for antiquity, that makes Seoul beautiful – quite recently one of the most oppressed and devastated cities in the world.
The name “Seoul” is translated as “capital”, the city received this name quite recently – in the middle of the 20th century, when the country gained independence.
Communication and Wi-Fi
In South Korea, communication standards differ from the usual GSM. Most smartphones will switch to the new mode of operation without problems, but unpleasant surprises are not ruled out. Guests of the city, left without communication, are helped by the gadget rental service. In Seoul, you can rent a phone, a SIM card, and even a pocket Wi-Fi – Seoul WiFi Egg. The most prominent mobile operators in the city are Olleh and SK Telecom.
The cost of renting gadgets and SIM cards may seem excessive – from 5,000 KRW per day only for a router and from 20,000 KRW for a weekly phone use. If your smartphone has “made friends” with Korean standards, you can try to get by with Wi-Fi.
Moreover, very soon the issue of free Internet in Seoul will lose its relevance – the mayor of the city promised ubiquitous Wi-Fi by 2017. Now there is a signal in the subway, most restaurants and hotels, tourist places and shopping centers. Login may require authorization. On the streets, free internet is shared by ipTIME and Seoul Free Wi-Fi.
In July 2016, the Seoul authorities installed on the banks of the city’s Chonggyechon stream, which runs right through the center of the capital, compact hydro stations for charging tablets and smartphones. They can be used for free.
For the joys of a beach holiday, Seoulites travel west of the city – to the Yellow Sea. The journey is short – just over an hour by car. You can also get there by public transport, it will take about two hours. You need to go towards Incheon Airport, and then transfer to buses. Routes No. 302, 306, 301, 111 go to the most popular Eurvanni beach. A sightseeing bus will also take you to the beach, it awaits passengers on the Incheon No. 13 platform.
“Yrvanni” is famous for its beautiful views, the low tide is especially impressive for tourists, when the sea exposes hundreds of meters of sand dotted with crabs and shellfish.
The entrance to the water is gentle, the coast is shallow, so it’s good to relax on the beach with children.
Or you can get off with a stop later and relax on the small and less crowded beach “Ouansun”. Both recreation areas are well-maintained; umbrellas, sun loungers and numerous cafes are at the service of vacationers.
There is no charge for relaxing on the beach; you will have to pay about 25,000 KRW for a sunbed or umbrella.
On the route of the tourist bus there is a stop “Pier Sammok”. Ferries leave from there to the cluster of islands of Sindo, Sido and Modo. On Sindo, a very pleasant place for a secluded holiday is the sandy Sugi Beach. The islands are interconnected by bridges, each of them has picturesque corners where you can sunbathe in silence and enjoy excellent views of the sea.
Treatment in Seoul
The South Korean healthcare system is considered one of the most efficient in the world. According to the Russian Association of Medical Tourism, the most popular services among foreigners in 2015 were the treatment of gastrointestinal problems and cardiovascular diseases. In addition, Korea is famous for its achievements in the field of dermatology, surgery (including plastic), and oncology.
The Samsung Medical Center has an impeccable reputation in Seoul. It provides care in oncology, demonstrates high rates in the field of cardiovascular diseases, surgery and transplantation. The cardiosurgical center of the ASAN Medical Center has proven itself to be excellent. The Severance Clinic has an impressive history, where robotic surgery is successfully used to treat cancer.
Prices for treatment correspond to the quality of services provided. A basic examination will cost 500,000-600,000 KRW, oncology diagnostics will cost from 1,700,000 KRW.
And some exotic. According to studies, half of the population of South Korea resorts to herbal medicine and acupuncture, traditional Korean methods of treatment. It makes sense to schedule a visit to one of the specialized clinics. This will at least relieve fatigue, and maybe even convince you of the miraculous nature of alternative medicine.
Shopping will become an item in the program of visiting Seoul, whether you like it or not. First, shops are everywhere. And secondly, the prices for clothes, cosmetics, electronics in Korea are 20-30 or even 50% lower than in Russia. Read more: shopping in Seoul.
Wherever a tourist goes in Seoul, on his way there will definitely be a market or two, or even a whole shopping district more abruptly than the Moroccan medina.
First of all, shopaholics flock to the Myeongdong area, where every square meter is occupied by shops. Here you can buy everything from clothes to interior items. Mendong is famous for its abundance of affordable brands, and high-quality Korean cosmetics are widely represented in stores.
Another multi-brand and inexpensive place in Seoul is Itaewon Street. Foreigners live and work here, so the stalls are perhaps the most exotic. Itaewon is worth a look for leather and fur products, as well as men’s suits.
Well, elite shopping awaits guests of the Gangnam-gu district. Luxurious boutiques line up proudly in the Apgujeong area on Rodeo Street, in the Galleria Mall. Another high-end shopping area in the area is Cheongdam. A must visit shopping and entertainment center COEX.
Traditional Korean souvenirs can be found on Insadong Street. This is a pleasant place for walking, like the Moscow Arbat. Here the tourist will be offered porcelain, textiles, jewelry, handmade trinkets, art objects.
A visit to the Seoul market can be regarded as an excursion. These are not just trading platforms, some, for example, Namdaemun and Dongdaemun, are quite ancient and introduce tourists to Korean life and traditions. People go to the Yongsan market for famous Korean electronics.
Sales in Seoul are in December-January and in summer. In August, a shopping festival is held, during which discounts on goods reach 60%. At stores with the “Global Blue TAX FREE” or “Global TAX FREE” logo, be sure to ask for a tax refund receipt. The standard VAT rate is 10%. The seller may ask for a copy of the passport.
Cuisine and restaurants in Seoul
Seoul is a very “delicious” city. There are entire “specialized quarters” in it, in each of which they learned how to skillfully cook a particular dish. For example, the Changchung-dong area is famous for its jeok-pal pork feet, and Sindang-dong for its rice cakes in tteok-bok-ki spicy pepper sauce.
Note to all foodies: excellent restaurants are located on the streets: Samchongdong, Itaewon, Apgujeong, Jeongro, Sinchon, Myeongdong and Idae (Ewha Women’s University area). Young people should take a look at Gangnam Street, and for those aesthetes who pay attention not only to the taste and quality of dishes, but also to the style, design and interior of the establishment, a direct road to Insadong Street.
Food prices in restaurants vary depending on the type of establishment. So, the average bill in budget fast food stores, street kiosks or fast food restaurants will be from 2,000 to 9,000 KRW, in restaurants of an average price category – from 8,000 to 15,000 KRW.
Weather in Seoul
According to Citypopulationreview, the most comfortable weather for recreation is in Seoul at the end of spring, when heat and showers have not yet come to the city. Well, and in the first autumn months – it is no longer hot, and the sea is still warm. The streets are very beautiful at this time of the year, this is the season of festivals and outdoor parties. But in the summer it is stuffy and humid in the city, besides, you just need to have an umbrella with you – heavy rains overtake suddenly and go almost every day until August.
Winter in Seoul is mostly snowless, but cold due to the proximity of the sea. A dry, piercing wind is blowing, so you will need a jacket and preferably a winter one.