I have been to Seoul twice and I have to say: I just can’t get enough. The city is my happy place on Earth, with its efficient transportation systems, pedestrian-friendly sidewalks, and past and present culture in perfect harmony. There are a lot of places to see, things to discover, and food to eat that planning for a trip to this mega city is imperative.
Admittedly, planning trips can be very stressful. It’s hard to make sure that all the things you want to tick off your bucket list gets covered, especially when you only have a couple of days to wander around an eclectic city such as Seoul. Hopefully, the things I’ll share will help you make the most out of your stay.
Tip #1: Set a theme or an objective for your trip
Are you going on this trip as a K-Pop or K-Drama fan? Are you visiting Seoul to experience what it’s like to be a yuppie in the city? Are you more the nature kind of traveler? Setting an objective or a theme for your trip will help you efficiently plan your trip by focusing on the more important things.
On my first visit to Korea, I went as a K-Pop fan, so my priorities included visiting the places where my K-Pop idols usually go. My second trip was all about experiencing what it’s like to be an exchange student / young professional there. Setting these objectives allowed me to sort places in two categories: high priority (HP) and low priority (LP).
Tip #2: Plot the Spots in Google Maps
Once I have identified my high priority places, I then go to Google My Maps to plot them out. This step allows me to visualize where the places are located. Plotting them like this also allows me to see which places are close to each other. This makes it easy to schedule the places I can visit in a day.
Google My Maps also allows you to measure the distance between two places. Look at the example below:
From this illustration, I measured the distance between Ewha University (lower right) and Yonsei University (upper right). Both universities were 790 meters apart, according to Google My Maps’ online ruler. Knowing this information will help you determine if it’s walkable or you’ll need to hop on a ride.
Tip #3: Plot The Itineraries in a Calendar
This tip is for the OC folks out there, like me. I created a Google Sheets file with the time, broken down in 15-minute intervals, listed on the first column. Then, I listed down the places based on their operating hours (like museums, restaurants, etc.) or how near they are to my place.
With the help of Google Maps, Naver Map, or the Subway or Kakao Metro app, it’s also easy to determine the travel time in between places.
One thing I would like to reiterate and stress out is that you should always take into consideration the operating hours of the places you would like to visit. After all, you wouldn’t want to schedule a visit to the museum only to find out upon arrival that it’s closed, right? That would pretty much set you back for the day.
Another thing I would like to point out is that making this itinerary for your trip is a helpful way of ensuring that you maximize your stay in Seoul. With the city peppered with a lot of sights and sounds, thinking of where to go next can get pretty overwhelming especially if you don’t have your trip planned out. That said, making an itinerary, however, is not fail-safe. The walk wasn’t as easy as you thought it’d be, you woke up late, you got on the wrong station, the buses were all full—there are a lot of factors at play.
When that happens, you’ll just have to go with the flow. Enjoy every step. Get lost and have fun! Who knows? You might just stumble upon your next favorite book shop, or that quaint little cafe with the delicious dalgona coffee ever.
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