Seoul Gyeongbokgung Entrance Me

Solo travel in Seoul – A recap of my first solo trip

In Korea by Jaclynn Seah6 Comments

So I’m back from my first ever solo trip to Seoul! Man, it’s so hot in Singapore. I’m headed back to work and am going to have to squeeze some time out for in the upcoming weeks to write… hope to get it all out soon while it’s fresh in my mind.

I kept a physical journal on this journey using my last Moleskine cahier. Since I was solo, it was mostly me and my thoughts and a handy pen to write them all down, I brought the markers along to sketch but will admit to being too lazy to use them even… I’ll include pix here after I’ve collated them from both iPhone and camera, and when words fail me, maybe a sketch or two from my book.

Seoul Sojourn 2011 Travel Journal

My journal that I wrote, drew and stuck things in on this solo trip

In a nutshell, travelling solo is definitely an experience. There is great freedom in being able to come and go as you wish, change your itinerary on a whim or if you just don’t feel like it, not having to wait around for other people… but it also means you have to get through everything on your own, from small affairs like deciding what to eat for lunch or getting super lost at night.

It’s also quiet, particularly when you’re in a country where you don’t speak or read the language. Your main form of communication is an apologetic smile and frantic hand gestures, so imagine my relief when I finally found a like-minded English speaking traveller to hang out with one day – it was fun making new friends.

Seoul has the vibrant metropolitan city feel down pat, so quite often I felt right at home like I was in Singapore, able to navigate the subways fairly successfully, managing to figure out shopping centres and dealing with hordes of people quite deftly. But unlike Singapore’s modern city-scape, Seoul has managed to blend its natural, older facade with its new one, making it a truly interesting place at heart.

Right in the centre of Jongno are the Joseon palaces Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung, spiritual sites like Jogyesa and JongmyoGwanghwamun Square and you have the Bukchon Hanok alongside Samcheongdong. My favourite find was the Cheonggyecheon, the man-made river that runs through the city, and I also enjoyed watching the Nanta and Jump shows in the evenings.

Also, the entire city is HILLY. If people wonder why all these Koreans are so skinny, or how their old people stay so fit, it’s because they have to navigate all these insane slopes, stairs and inclines everyday!

I stayed at Seoul Tower Ville, a pretty cheap but well situated apartment complex on the hill of Namsan near Myeongdong where the beauty shops are. Great central location but it is a bit of a climb to get up that slope. See my full review on Seoul Tower Ville for more. It’s the same hill where you can visit N Seoul Tower as well.

Anyway for starters, here are some of the resources I used:

  • Zuji.com.sg – to book my flight. The Cathay Pacific flight was much cheaper here than via the airline website
  • Visit Korea – Official Korea Tourism Organization – it’s pretty extensive and informative, and most of my practical info came from here. What I want to do is add some personal opinion so its easier for someone to decide whether to go there or not
  • TripAdvisor – Seoul Activities – Quite useful in seeing suggestions on things to do and other people’s opinions

See all my Seoul posts from my first solo trip, or check out the rest of my Seoul posts from later trips. Or you can check out other spots to see in South Korea as well.

Comments

  1. Solo traveling is definitely an enriching experience, and it’s inspiring to read that you’ve done it every year since your Seoul adventure. I’ve done it only once in Turkey, and I remember being all jet-laggy in bright-as-a-daylight Istanbul studying the map and sleepily wandering around. But everything went uphill from that point onward. The freedom, the flexible itinerary, the I’m-happily-getting-lost in this new city experience, the I’m-gonna-hop-off-a-plane-to-another-region-in-Turkey-tomorrow-just-because-I-can adventure. I haven’t done much solo experience after that, though. I suppose traveling in pair is cheaper when it comes to accommodation, so yeah… that. T.T

    1. Author

      Hi Andrew! thanks for the comment. I agree it generally is cheaper for accom in a pair or group unless you’re ok with sharing dorms in hostels :P

      Hope you’ll get more solo travel at some point! it sounds like you enjoyed Turkey on your own (that’s one place I want to go as well) :)

      Maybe to get the both of both worlds, you could travel with a friend to the same place, but head out separately and have your own adventures!

  2. Hi Jac,

    I plan to travel solo to seoul as well, and was wondering whether people would think i’m crazy. I’m so inspired to go after reading this post. How long did you spend solo-travelling there? Thinking of going for a week to explore seoul mostly and probably Busan/other province.

    1. Author

      Hi Steph,

      Definitely not crazy! I think Seoul is a pretty easy place to travel around on your own, mostly because it’s a modern city with good transportation networks and it’s quite tourist friendly.
      I spent a pretty leisurely week in Seoul, mostly shopping, eating and walking around (check out my other Seoul posts on the blog), but I think if you just wanted a snapshot of Seoul you can spend less time there, which should give you time to check out the other places, which unfortunately i haven’t been! Jeju Island also supposed to be nice, and you can fly there from Seoul…

      happy travelling!
      Jac

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