Updated: May 6, 2019
Seoul was so much fun I've been twice within the last 6 months! I would say in all of Asia it has some of the best and affordable shopping, tons of great food, and a youthful and lively energy to the city. Also Korean skin is on another level. I've never been to a city where everyones skin was literally glowing and glistening... I was in awe. I left the Seoul with a total Korean makeover, a suitcase full of super cute clothes, and lots of great skincare.
To and From Airport:
The more cost-efficient options are the train and bus but they drop you off at different designated areas and you will have to find your hotel. Since wandering around looking for our hotel with luggage wasn’t ideal we decided to book a taxi upon arrival. In the Arrivals Hall of Terminal 1 counter no.23 we booked an International taxi for about $50-60 USD one way (flat fare, no additional luggage/toll fees, and English-speaking driver). I believe you can catch a taxi outside of the airport but its metered and they might not speak English and charge extra for luggage and tolls so I found it easier to just book the taxi inside the airport. Our driver was really nice so we asked him for his card and set up hotel pick up to take us to the airport before we left.
If you have bigger groups its cheaper to get to and from the airport. My second trip to Seoul was a group of 5 so I set up pick up and drop off using Black Link which was great. It cost $30 per person roundtrip with a private van for all of us and our luggage. The driver was waiting for us outside the arrival hall once we arrived, walked us to the van, and dropped us off directly at the hotel.
Where to Stay:
Both my trips to Seoul were short 3 day trips so we only had time for Myeongdong and Hongdae. Myeong dong was great for tons of skincare/makeup/name brand shopping and Hongdae was great for more affordable boutique-ish clothing shopping/accessories/souvenirs (I found it to be a little cheaper than Myeongdong also). Hongdae is also close to the university so it’s a poppin area with lots of youngsters hanging, street performers, and lots of good food options. Our first trip we stayed in Myeongdong and would take 10-15 min taxi rides to Hongdae (cost about $10usd each way). Since I preferred Hongdae my second trip we stayed in Hongdae and only spent a day in Myeongdong.
Address: 24, Supyo-ro, Jung-gu, Jung-Gu, Seoul
This hotel ended up being a nice location 10-minute walk from the shopping area. It was on a quieter street with a couple café’s in walking distance. The staff was helpful and the rooms were good size and really clean. Definitely would stay here for the price and convenience.
Address: 31 World cup buk-ro, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Great location about a 5-minute 2-3 block walk from the main shopping street in Hongdae. The hotel was really clean, staff was helpful/pleasant, and would definitely stay here again. We ended up having their lunch buffet before we left for the airport our last day and for $16USD it was a really good buffet with tasty options like sushi, pasta, bimbimbop, desserts, and etc. Great deal!
Where to Eat:
For Breakfast we would just get pastries/carb load at Paris Baguette since it was quick & easy option close to both hotels we stayed at. For lunch we snacked on all the street food options both areas offered.
For Dinner we ate at several BBQ places in Hongdae but I can’t recall the names of them. Sorry! But they were all equally just as good and if you walk around the main street you will see lots of affordable food options to choose from. I feel like since it’s a university area the food wasn’t very expensive. For 2 people at each place we ate at wasn’t more than $40 USD for dinner.
Address: 8 Hongik-ro 6-gil, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Dude! All you can eat BBQ for $12!!!! Seriously can’t beat that. It definitely wasn’t the highest quality meats (I mean for $12 you can’t have the highest standards) but for the price and taste it’s pretty legit. We had lunch there and since it was such a good deal ended up going back later that day for dinner :P Dinner I think was a little more and cost $16 USD. The place was clean but didn’t have the fans to suck up the smoke so you end up leaving with your hair and clothes smelling like BBQ.
Where to Shop:
Myeongdong is one of Seoul’s main shopping districts. This bustling area offers mid to high level international clothing brands and tons and tons of Korean skincare/cosmetic shops. If you’re into skin care this place is your mecca. With so many options I would recommend trying Innisfree, Misha, and Klavuu (Laniege is a great Korean brand and in HK and we always get amazing service and tons of free samples but we were disappointed when we stopped by several of their locations in Myeongdong and no one bothered to help us or even say hi). It’s a great brand but service was disappointing. If you end up staying at G2 hotel you will pass by the Gothic Cathedral on your walk to the shopping area which is what Myeongdong is also known for.
The girls here were very nice and tried their best to help us despite the language barrier and we ended up getting a really good deal. I read lots of reviews and blogs about the brand ahead of time and their facial essence is supposed to be on par to SKII and much more affordable option. We also purchased their 24K collagen as a gift for my cousin and I saw her couple months after she was using the product and her skin looked noticeably healthier and brighter.
I LOVE love love their face mask! My skin has gotten super dry lately so I use their mask 2-3 times a week and my skin is glowing and moisturized the next day. Their mask are gentle which I like and packaging is cute so they make nice gifts. In myeongdong one of the locations features their Green Café and has cute drinks/snacks and definitely Instagram worthy.
We stumbled upon this brand and love it! We were just looking around when one of the shop girls approached me and basically said I needed help. She sat me down and ended up giving me an entire make over and recommended all these diff products. She was so great we ended up buying a bunch of stuff. I normally don’t wear foundation/makeup but their cushion has great coverage, high SPF, and at the end of the day my skin still looked great. They use “pearlsation” in most of their products which is nice since I have dry skin and gives it that dewy fresh look. If you’re not into the dewy and like more a matte finish this might not be the best cushion for you. Their eye cream is also great! You can just tell by the consistency of the product as its much thicker than most creams. Would highly recommend checking out this skincare/makeup line especially if you have dry and older skin like I do.
I’ve been shopping online with this company forever and was super excited to visit their flagship stores which feature the Pink Pool Café and Pink Hotel. They also have makeup line called 3CE and I love their blushes which are high pigmented but still natural looking and last all day. Make sure you wear a cute outfit to get your insta worthy pics.
Located next to Hongik University Hongdae is a fun and lively area great for music street performers, shopping, nightlife, and food. We like staying in this area since I felt it had more dinner options and better clothing and gift shopping. There’s lots of boutique stores that are moderately priced but also an area with super cheap options.. like $17USD for jeans, $10USD tops $15 USD dresses. I found some really cute stuff here and felt the quality was decent. The jeans I’ve worn and washed dozen times now and still in good condition. If your looking for more affordable clothing, gifts, accessory shopping Hongdae is a fun area and then you easily cab to Myeongdong for a day. Make sure you check out the Carin Hongdae Lounge for a cute snack and photo opp!
There are tons of palaces, history, and tourist attractions the city has to offer but we mainly came for the shopping and food. We did have the chance to check out Deoksugung which was about a 15 min taxi ride form Amanti hotel. I especially enjoyed the changing of the guard’s ceremony they do daily since it was interesting to observe such an old and formal tradition that still takes place today. The guards look super BA in the traditional uniforms. At the end they let you take pics with them and some of them were making funny faces at me which I thought was cool since they were so formal and serious during the ceremony.