Seoul, Samgyetang and Sejong

After a long flight with little sleep, I arrived in Seoul on Wednesday morning. By early afternoon I was in the city, had checked in and went out for lunch. After some spicy ramen and a coke I was still tired, but had enough energy to get on a city bus tour. The complete route of the hop on and off bus takes around 90 minutes (without any hopping on or off). While at times I did almost fall asleep, I managed to get a good overview of the city. For dinner I headed to the Namdaemun night market, which was very close to my accommodation at Myeongdong.

Thursday started with a visit of the Bukchon Hanok village, followed by Gyeongbokgung Palace, Samgyetang (ginseng chicken soup) to recharge and a tour of the Changdeokgung Palace in the afternoon. It was a lot but I did manage to see everything I wanted. Most of all I’ve enjoyed the tour of the secret garden at the Changdeokgung Palace. It was a very hot day in Seoul and the shadows of the tree provided some cooling. The tour was very informative, but I think the guide was a bit disappointed that her audience did not remember the name of Seoul’s greatest king from the Joseon dynasty after having said his name at least eight times. I’ll give you a hint, it’s Sejong and his face is on the ₩ 10’000 bill. Still a bit jet-legged and having very little knowledge of the Korean language, I was not able to keep up with the names. Even after three days the basics “Hello”, “Thank you” and “Goodbye” are a challenge, and most of the time get mixed up.

In the evening I visited a local English speaking Toastmasters club. I was a guest at the Seocho Leaders Club and it was a great meeting. In comparison to the clubs I’m part of in Zurich, they have a debate in every meeting, which was a lot of fun to participate in. Everybody was very kind and welcoming, and after the Toastmasters meeting we went out for beer and some fried chicken, which I loved.

Friday required getting up early as I had booked a tour to visit the demilitarized zone close to the border to North Korea. For a long time I was not sure if I should go or not, as I only had 3 days to spend in Seoul. Currently, the JSA section is still closed but I’m very happy that I went. It helped a lot to understand Korea’s history, especially from the 20th and 21st century. This was also a nice change to Thursday, where much of what I saw was from the Joseon dynasty (ca. 1392–1910). After arriving back in the city, I went to to check out the view on Seoul Nam San Tower, which was spectacular. I spent the rest of the afternoon strolling a bit through the city and had dinner in Itaewon.

Even though I only had 3 days to spend in Seoul, I’ve enjoyed my time there very much. It’s a city where 10 million people live and I was surprised to see how clean it was. Furthermore, everybody I’ve met was very nice, helpful and considerate, even if they did not speak any English (and I don’t speak any Korean). You get around easily by bus and metro and there are plenty of things you can do. This is certainly a city which I would like to visit again in the future, as I’m sure it has so much more to offer than what I saw.




  1. Additional comment Nr. 1:
    In my next post, I will try to get the pictures into a gallery view where they are bigger, so that you can actually click through them and see them on the big screen (learning along the way 😊).

  2. Additional comment Nr. 2:
    In case you are interested in the Korean language, it is worthwhile to check out this table:
    It provides you with an overview for the pronunciation of the consonants and vowels. In hindsight, it makes much more sense to start with the basics sounds, and then it will also be easier to learn some basic words … like:
    Hello – 안녕하세요 (annyeonghaseyo)
    Thank you – 감사합니다 (gamsahamnida)
    Goodbye – 안녕히 가세요 (annyeonghi gaseyo)
    In case you want to learn more about the Korean language, this seems to be a good website to start with:

  3. Elliot Chung

    Interesting and informative stories about Korean tour.

  4. Ramyon is the Korean’s soul food and you have well started your journey.

    Unlike in Europe, I always found Korean streets are a bit flashy, especially in downtown with all the neon signs, but after being away for a while, I realized that this is what really makes Korea special and attractive.

    You wrote so vividly that it made me want to go back to Korea.

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