Road Trip Guide: Seoul

You have not seen Asia unless you have seen Seoul.

Seoul for road trippers is knowing how to get around with a little bit of street savvy. It is, after all, a city where exotic spicy food, fashion markets and ancient temples abound.


Seoul's subway system is the third largest in the world.

You may find it confusing as a traveler to find the true center of Seoul because of the many districts within the city. The river Han bisects the city in the more traditional and historic north (Gangbuk) and the more affluent and modern south (Gangnam).

When you get to Seoul, buy a T-Money card. It works like a rechargeable credit card that can be used for almost anything to get around Seoul. Not only does this save you 100 Won on all trips, it also spares you the hassle of computing how much each trip costs and avoiding long ticket lines.

It is always helpful to have the destination written down in Korean for the taxi driver.

Toll expressways are part of Korean highways and in Seoul you pay toll, even on top of your taxi fare.

Taking the subway is the best method of getting around Seoul. Thankfully, signs are also written in English (as well as Japanese and Mandarin when applicable).

Taxi drivers anywhere in the world may take advantage of a tourist if they don't know how to get to their destination or don't speak the language. Therefore know your whereabouts in Seoul, make sure the driver turns on the meter and hire an interpreter (available in Seoul taxi services) if you want to agree on a fare. Report a rip-off if necessary by taking the driver's details.

Renting a car in Seoul is not recommended. Traffic is always heavy during rush hours and parking space is almost impossible to find.

Getting lost in Seoul? Here's a trick. Know the landmarks closest to you, and orient yourself with the Han river which divides the city between (sort of) north and south.


Seoul's Top 5 Palaces to See

  1. Gyeongbok-gung – Palace built during the Joseon Dynasty
  2. Changdeok-gung – A UNESCO World Heritage Site also built in the 14th century
  3. Deoksu-gung – Korean and Western style palace located in downtown Seoul
  4. Changgyeong- gung – Built as a summer palace during Koryo Dynasty in 11th century
  5. Gyeonghui-gung – Free for the public. Twice burned down but rebuilt and restored in 1985

Seoul's Top Parks to Visit

  • Memorial Cemetery 4.19
  • Boramae Park
  • Namsam Park
  • Olympic Park
  • Tapgol Pagoda Park
  • Yangjae Citizen's Forest
  • Yeouido Park
  • Yongsan Park
  • Hangang Citizen's Park

Top Temples and Shrines in Seoul

  • Jongmyo Shrine
  • Guksadang in Mount Inwang
  • Jogye Temple
  • Bongeun Temple

Top Amusement Parks in Seoul

  • Lotte World
  • Everland
  • Seoul Land
  • Children's Grand Park


A jjimjilbang is probably one of the cheapest ways to live in Seoul. It is basically a storage / stay-over facility where you can store your luggage while sleeping wherever you want and have free access to sauna facilities and TV.

Many budget hotels are more often labeled as “guesthouses” or “hostels” and can go anywhere from 4,000 to 40,000 Won.

Expensive hotels in Seoul offer the best amenities. Keep an eye out for international chains such as Park Hyatt, Sheraton, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott and Grand Hyatt.


Department store basement food courts are common in Asia and Seoul is no exception. They are an excellent place to find cheap and delicious quick meals while you're shopping.

There is no shortage of exotic Korean food in Seoul. Try manduguk in Sadongmyenok chain, a gigantic bowl of dumplings soup with meat, veggies and side dishes.

You may find a few chains of US, UK, European or other Asian restaurants in Seoul, but why bother when you've got scrumptious and cheap Korean barbecue places everywhere?

A word of caution to travelers in Seoul: If you're not used to the spicy food and do get sick, medical bills can cost you a fortune. Consider getting a travel insurance.

Coffee is very big in Seoul.


Travelers who want a taste of Seoul's international nightlife should check out Itaewon. Some popular places to see: Gecko's, Dillinger's, The Rose & Crown and Richard Copycat's diner.

Much of nightlife happens in university areas, the ritzy but subdued Apgujeong and Gangnam. Seoul has no shortage of clubs and bars for those who want a busy evening.

Marie Puddu is a Contributing WikiTravel Editor. She's on Twitter @WeTravelConnect

Photo: GalleryFantastic
Share on Google Plus

About the Author

Marie Puddu
We like the freedom of open road travel. Whether it's in the streets of London to the outback of Australia, nothing beats driving your vehicle and enjoying your trip -- your way. Join us in sharing ideas on where to go, where to stay, and fun things to do on roadtrip stopovers all over the world.

    Blogger Comment