7 Unique Things about Seoul, South Korea
Seoul is definitely a very unique city. It manages to strike the right balance between tradition and innovation. You can find groups dancing to K-pop around the university area, an entertaining nightlife as well as beautiful historical, traditional and cultural places. In all its contrasting mix of styles and architecture, here are the top unique things I personally experienced during my visit to Seoul.
1. Find Wifi (almost) Everywhere
Seoul is one of the smartest cities in the world, according to Forbes. I could definitely feel that as soon as I landed. Traveling from the airport to Seoul city proved to be a very simple task with all the information available. Buying tickets in the airport subway station was very easy and there is even someone there to help you. As were changing to other platforms and enjoying the small promotional screens in the subway. On top of that, my stress level went down to zero as I was almost always connected to WiFi! During the entire trip! This includes while riding the trains, walking around the city, shopping and sitting in cafes and restaurants. Thanks, Seoul, for saving me a data sim card!
2. There are no Google Maps!
What?? You read it right, you will not be able to use Google Maps in South Korea! If you search South Korea on Google Maps, you will find something that looks like a paper map. I actually enjoyed this new experience though. It brought back memories of when I had to find my way without the help of a blue dot. I guess this made reaching my destination feel like small achievement every time 😛
3. Charge your Phone Anywhere for Free!
My phone was on 20% and I knew that, with the amount of videos and pictures I was taking, it would be dead in the next ten minutes or so. But no need to worry if you are in Seoul, though! Most restaurant, bars, and even small cafes would be very happy to charge your phone while you are eating and drinking. And they already have all the chords available for you! South Korean are very helpful and will keep your phone plugged in behind the counter for as long as you need it. I must say, this made being a tourist all day and night way more pleasant!
4. Top Destination for Plastic Surgery
When walking around the city, I’d see people, especially young women with bandages around their faces and plaster on their noses: post plastic surgery stroll. If you feel like a face make-over make sure to look into Seoul before deciding. Seoul is, in fact, a top destination for plastic surgery with nearly a million surgeries a year. There is also a very pro plastic surgery culture in Seoul, including nose jobs and double eye lid surgeries. However, many Korean women, who do not want to participate, complain about this beauty standard that they feel has been imposed on them.
5. Find Great Beauty and Skin Care!
If you do not feel like changing the shape of your nose or jawline, South Korea is also a great place for a variety of beauty and skin care! Think hair removal, acne scar removal, sun spots, wrinkles removal, creams and lotions; Korean skin experts are true magicians! In Korea, boys and girls are equally invested in skin care and make sure to have their morning and night routines in check. As for hair removal, those are true bargains. Small area hair removal (like underarms) can cost you as low as $5 per session!
6. South Koreans Love to Drink
Not drinking when you are out with South Koreans is highly improbable. And they are a fun bunch to drink with too! The common alcohol in Korea is Soju which is made of rice. Koreans like to pair different alcohols with different foods. For example, when having Korean BBQ, my friend made a cocktail of Soju and Korean beer, called Somaek. I am not a beer fan but this cocktail did make my tongue happy. Another interesting drink I tried was Makgeolli, a milky rice wine that we paired with Korean pancakes.
7. The Food, and Most Importantly the Banchan 반찬 !
Of course, everyone raves about South Korean food! I ate so much in Seoul, I could feel the food up to my throat some nights! Korean food is such an delicious blend of sweet, salty and spicy. Their unique pickles called Kimchi are either loved or hated. They have also been influenced a lot by American food resulting in their version of fried chicken or adding spam to noodle soups. But the highlight of my food experience in Korea was the crazy number of small side dishes you would get when ordering a meal! These side dishes are called banchan and they hold an important place in Korean food culture. Can’t complain when more tasty food is put on the table for free!
If you have already, have a look at the top things to do in Seoul where I was toured by my local friend around the city.
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Until next time!