Seoul at a glance
Seoul is the capital and metropolis of South Korea. With over 9.7 million inhabitants it is constantly abuzz with things to do and places to see. It’s the city that never sleeps. And rightly so.
There’s something for everyone: whether you have a fascination for ancient traditions, you enjoy the excitement of nightlife, you like to see and experience cutting-edge technology, you appreciate the tastes of new cuisines, or you want to stay up-to-date with the newest fashion trends.
Seoul has it all.
Why a month and not a week?
A short-term stay will give you a glimpse of Seoul, but purely at the surface-level. A month will begin to give you a deeper understanding of what’s underneath that surface.
What are the people like? What is the culture like? What places can you see other than the popular tourist attractions? What diverse cuisines does Korea offer?
I might even argue that a month isn’t even enough, but it’s a good place to start if you have the time and resources to.
More time, means more memories to create. More memories created, means more stories to tell.
When to visit
Seoul has four distinct seasons and its climate is characterized by a large range of temperatures.
Autumn (September – November//10°C to 25°C)
Autumn is a feast for the eyes! Everywhere is painted with shades of orange, yellow, and red, making the autumnal landscape a picturesque setting for any traveler.
Winter (December – February//-10°C to 10°C)
Cold and dry. But the best season for winter sports and cozy and warm meals and drinks.
Hotel and airfare prices will drop because of it being off-season, so it might be a great time for those on a budget. However, walking around for long distances might not be too feasible in the cold weather, so keep that in mind.
Spring (March – May//15°C to 25°C)
The weather is mild and pleasant.
And the city erupts with flowers. The cherry blossoms bloom and leave the city in a blanket of delicate pink petals.
Summer (June – August//20°C to 30°C)
Say hello to humidity and monsoon season!
And don’t forget the onrush of tourists, because it’s peak tourist season!
But the warm weather does lend itself to enjoying ice cream or bingsu!
Getting around Seoul
Subway and buses
Seoul is one of the easiest and most convenient cities to get around by bus and subway. I wouldn’t be surprised if more people actually favoured this form of public transportation over others.
The Tmoney card is a transportation card that can be used on all public buses and subways in Seoul.
Where to purchase
Convenience stores and ticket vending and card reloading devices inside of subway stations.
How to use
Tap your card when entering and exiting subway stations or when getting on and off buses. Place the card on the sensor until you hear a beep. Once the beep sounds, you’ll see the amount charged at the top and the remaining balance on the bottom of the sensor’s screen.
You’ll find a ticket vending and card reloading device at every subway station. Pick the English option and follow the steps – it should take no longer than a minute or two.
Don’t put large amounts of money on your card. If you lose it, you’ve lost all that money with it. Just reload as necessary.
Don’t prefer the Tmoney card? No problem! You can purchase a single journey ticket. But the upside of the Tmoney card? You’ll be charged less with transfers within a specific time frame.
There are two common types of taxis in Seoul:
- Ilban (general) taxi
- Typically orange, but you’ll see a few silver ones around.
- Moebum (deluxe) taxi
- Are black and fancier than the general taxis. Also more expensive.
Available taxis can be identified by the red light just inside the passenger-side windshield. This light says “빈차” (bincha), which means “empty car”. If the light is off, this means that there is already someone inside.
Begin at 3,000 KRW and increase by increments of 100 KRW according to the time and distance. Fares go up (~20%) at midnight until 4:00am.
“No! I won’t take you!“
Refusing passengers isn’t uncommon. So don’t be too surprised if it happens. Some drivers will refuse to take a person that is only going a short distance. Sometimes, you might even get refused for the opposite reason: your destination is too far away!
Always get a receipt!
Every receipt should have the cab driver’s contact information. If you’ve left something behind or if you had a problem, this number is important to have.
The currency used in South Korea is called the won (₩ – KRW). Banknotes come in denominations of 1000, 5000, 10 000, and 50 000. Coins are available in 10, 50, 100, and 500 won.
There are three main areas where you can exchange currency once you arrive:
- Currency changers
Although perhaps the most convenient because you’ll be there once you arrive, chances are that this will be the most expensive place to get your money exchanged. If you have time, get your money exchanged in Seoul instead at either a bank or a currency changer.
Banks in Korea are highly reliable and you can get good exchange rates from them.
However, they do have limited hours. Typically, banks will be open from 9:00am to 4:00pm from Monday to Friday. A select few banks may also be open on Sundays.
KEB Hana Bank is the largest foreign exchange bank in Korea. Most locations, especially those in tourist areas, will also have English-speaking staff.
Most money changers within the city are authorized, but I have been told that some may not be – so be cautious.
A fair few can be found in tourist locations, such as Myeongdong, Dongdaemun, and Itaewon.
A great plus to these money changers? Some are open 24 hours and the majority will be open every day of the week.
Seoul through the lens
Instead of telling you about the beautiful landmarks and landscapes of Seoul, let me show you a few of them through the lens.
For more in-depth itinerary ideas, check out my Seoul posts here.
Want a more district-specific itinerary? Check out my
1 day Seoul itinerary for Jongno-gu (종로구).
Basic expenses for your month in Seoul
This is one of the expenses that I am not able to put a finger on. It could vary quite drastically depending on the are of Seoul that you choose to be in. Is it a tourist hotspot? Is it considered to be in the more luxurious part of town? And it also depends on what kind of accommodations you are looking for. Is it a 5-star hotel? An Airbnb? A hostel?
If you eat out at restaurants for all 3 meals of your day, food will most likely average between 30,000 KRW and 40,000 KRW. It can range between 10,000 KRW – 15,000 KRW per meal.
However, you can find small meals (such as kimap, soup, and street food), for anywhere between 1,000 KRW to 5,000 KRW.
Want to have access to calls, texting, and data? Monthly pre-paid plans can range anywhere between 30,000 KRW to 60,000 KRW.
A standard journey on the bus or train will cost between 1,000 KRW to 2,000 KRW.
A taxi journey halfway across Seoul will most likely cost you around 15,000 KRW.
What else would you add to this list?
Do you prefer going on longer trips or shorter ones?
Let me know in the comments below!
*As the months go by, I will continuously add to this post, so make sure to come back for updated information.