Insadong in the morning
Insadong at night
Gwangjang street food market
Hanok Village (traditional korean houses)
Gyeongbokgung Palace + Hanbok rental
To plan our trip to Seoul, we watched a ton of these videos. They’re funny and well made so they got us very excited about going to South Korea. After watching so many videos and all the hours we spent doing research, little did we know, our expectations where far from what we where about to discover.
Let me tell you : Seoul is AMAZING !! Modern, sophisticated, easy to move around, food is great, and if you’re traveling with a toddler, it’s the best place on earth.
We stayed there for 2 weeks (not counting the long weekend that we spent in Jeju), we booked an Airbnb in Gangnam the first week and in Insadong the second week. That was a perfect plan since it allowed us to visit different parts of the city.
In Insadong we stayed in this Airbnb, which was very centered and a lot of restaurants, bars, shops, and karaokes were right under the building. Plus, the studio was very cute and baby friendly.
Here are the reasons why we loved Seoul so much and also a few tips just in case you’re planning a trip there :
Kid Cafes : Emiliano is obviously not always interested in our traveling activities so it was really nice to be able to go somewhere and focus on activities for him. There’s something amazing that Seoul has, KID CAFES. It’s a mix between a coffee shop and Gymboree. You have the option of playing with your kids or hang out with your friends and sip on a cup of coffee while your kids play on their own under the supervision of the people working in the cafe. Every cafe is a little different but you can find slides, toys, and everything to make kids have a good time. This is such a great concept and it made it soooo easy for us to do something focused on him. After a couple of hours playing he would fall asleep in the stroller and SCORE !!, time for us to have a peaceful lunch 🙂
Department Stores w/Baby Lounges : The Lotte departments stores were amazing. We had lunch in their food court a few times (while Emiliano was sleeping in the stroller). The food options are fresh and delicious. You can find everything, from authentic Korean food, to chinese, sea food, japanese, french… It’s great to have so many different options under the same roof without having to struggle with your kid being over it and all especially thanks to my other awesome discovery……. “The baby lounge” !! This is the greatest idea EVER. It makes us wonder why they don’t have that in the US or Europe !! The baby lounges are assigned areas for babies or toddlers with nice changing station (with a sinks and soap…), a separate big sink with running water in case of a big explosion :-), high chairs to feed them, a nursing room, a Nursery with cribs to let your baby sleep while you keep shopping, game room, and even a station where you can rent a stroller for free. The lounge is supervised by a very nice lady that’s happy to assist you with anything you need. This baby lounge has made our life sooooooo much easier !!
Coffee shops : There’s a million of coffee shop in each neighborhood, all pretty, with unique decor, good service, friendly baristas that make amazing coffee, and they gave us free samples. The craziest part of it all is that even tho we want it to due to the excellent customer service, people don’t tip in Korea !
Cosmetics/ Beauty products : We can’t talk about South Korea without mentioning their beauty products. There are more beauty products stores than clothing stores. You can literally find them everywhere! In the big streets of Gangnam, inside the metro stations, malls, and even the airport. Products are very cute and we got a lot of samples every time we bought something. I think we finished our vacation with more sample than products we actually bought.
Hanbok rental + Palace : One of the fun things you have to try is rent a Hanbok (traditional Korean clothing), and visit the Palaces. The entrance is free of charge if when you wear a hanbok. At first I thought it would be very touristy and kitch, even offensive to Korean people, but there was a lot of people including Koreans renting them. Even our friend who is from Seoul was really excited to dress up with us. Hanbok rentals cost around $20/person and palace entrance is about $3 so it’s not something you would do to save money but regardless it’s a very fun experience.
Fish Market : We visited the biggest sea food market to buy fresh sea food. So fresh that it’s still alive (they keep shell fish and fish alive in aquariums until you buy it). Then we went to eat it upstair in one of the restaurant who will prepare it for you. WARNING, to be clear, they will prepare it !!! Not cook it !! We ended up having ALL of our food raw, which is heaven if you love raw seafood, but I don’t. The octopus and some of the other seafood was still moving although it was cut into pieces. I was so disappointed that I didn’t even take photos, but now it’s a pretty hilarious story to remember !!
Jeju : Jeju-Do is a volcanic island in the south, we went for a week end, see my post about it there).
Do you know about Seoul ? Do you have any other tips and recommendations ? Please leave it in the comment below, I would love to know more about the city for our next trip.