“The past, the present, the future. In Korea, they all bleed together. If you’re there for the whole ride, one explains the other. Drop in the middle, it makes no sense at all.” 

Anthony Bourdain

When we lived in Japan, to be honest, South Korea was a little farther down on our bucket list. Eventually, however, it’s allure set in, made that much sweeter by the short and inexpensive flights from Tokyo to Seoul. We found the South Korean people to be friendly, outgoing, and curious in a way people on the street in Japan never were. They want to meet you, to know your story, to share a Soju, and to help you find your way down after you accidentally climb the highest mountain in the area with your two kids. (There is a bit of a back story there).

What surprised us the most about South Korea was the delightful (albeit strange) mix of old confucian culture – honoring your ancestors, age, and seniority –  while at the same time seeming to openly embrace visitors from the west much more than many of the other Asian countries. No matter how short your trip is, however, you need to take the time for a traditional Korean Spa treatment. You can thank us later.


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Tips on South Korea/

  • Our forever go to, Google Maps, doesn’t work in South Korea (nor does Apple Maps). Plan ahead and download maps.me, city mapper, or another offline GPS app to help you find your way around. This hurt us big time, as public transportation was a bit harder for us to wrap our heads around.
  • Forget Yelp, MangoPlate is the go-to app for restaurant reviews and recommendations. Its a great starting spot when looking for good eats anywhere in South Korea, but particularly in Seoul.
  • South Korea is very ATM friendly, so save your ATM withdraw for street markets. Nearly everywhere else is happy to take card.
  • A Korean body rub is definitely worth the experience. Find a local place, leave your modesty at the door, and jump in head first.
  • No matter what your reservations, your must try list needs to include Kimchee and ginseng chicken soup.
  • Gwangjang Market (pictured above) is a feast for your eyes and ears as much as your taste buds. If you have any interest in Korean Cuisine, you need to visit. Don’t worry about what you are eating, just eat it.