Perhaps you are one of those lucky people who have a 3 day weekend coming up and you’re thinking about booking a quick getaway or a new adventure. In my opinion, South Korea is so close and has so much to offer that it can’t be ignored. For most people, there are 3 things to do that rank at the top. Eat, shop, go to a spa. Why? These 3 things are much MUCH cheaper there than here in Japan. There’s sightseeing, but in my opinion if you go along with the eat, shop and spa itinerary you will be not be disappointed.
On my first night I had Korean BBQ with my friend and her friends who lived in Seoul at the time. Since my hosts were gracious enough to pay for my meal, I can’t tell you the exact price of our feast, but generally gut busting servings of food there will run you about 1000-1500 yen. Not only was it cheap it was utterly delectable! They serve various small plates of meats, vegetables and other sides which just instantly materialize as soon as they are ordered. Every restaurant I went to was like this. The street vendor food was equally tasty and fast. It was relatively cheap, ranging from approximately 100 – 300 yen.
You’ll probably be eating a lot of street food as you wind your way through the lively shopping districts. Actually even though I hate shopping, I still have to recommend going to at least one of Seoul’s famous shopping areas (Myeondong, Tongdaemun, Namdaemun) .There’s something for everyone; low priced jewelry, very cheap DVD’s and CD’s, and of course the omnipresent knockoff Luis Vuitton bags. Be prepared to haggle though! It goes without saying that if you go on a weekend, it will be packed but don’t let that deter you. If you can ride the Yamanote line during rush hour, then you should be fine!
One other thing I HIGHLY recommend is going for a massage. They are steals compared to what we pay for them in Japan and you will wonder how you ever lived without one! I got a 60 minute foot massage, which actually included the whole body and extra attention for the feet, for only 4000 yen! If you can read Japanese with no problem, at most bookstores you will find tons of available books on Korean spa tours. They’ll provide you with maps and prices for trustworthy spa and massage treatments. The place I stumbled upon was in Myeongdong, so if you go there keep your eyes peeled!
After you treat yourself to a nice spa treatment, you will be in top notch condition to go sightseeing! The places I enjoyed were the neighborhoods of Myeongdong and Insadong, and the palaces Gyeungbokgung and Changdeokgung. Since I’m limited on space why don’t you check out http://english.tour2korea.com for a rundown of all the sightseeing areas as well as other great ideas for creating your own unique journey into the heart of Japan’s spicier and cheaper cousin.
If you are reading this article and you are not based in Japan, I would not turn your back on South Korea. The sights and attractions apply to everyone, but obviously you might want to make it a 5 day or 7 day trip since you may be taking bit of a flight to reach Korea. There are so many different tours you can take ranging from Tae Kwon Do, temples, DMZ tours, Spa tours…it goes on and on. Make your own path and have a trip to remember!
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