Seoul Searching
October 23, 2008 11:44 PM   Subscribe

Seoul Filter: Help me plan my weekend around Lotte World and Building 63 in Seoul. Hello, my girlfriend and I will be travelling to Seoul from our countryside campus (Soonchunghyang University). Since we’ve just finished our midterms, and since we are both new to Korea, we’ll be spending this, hopefully unraining, weekend in Seoul to explore a bit.

I’m planning the trip so that we can fit as much in as possible while not spending unnecessary money. We don’t want to get stuck in indecision; therefore I would like some advice about things we can do. I’ve been to Seoul a few times; however, it is quite overwhelming. This trip, I’d like to always have a destination.

Our trip revolves around spending a day (Saturday) at Lotte World and another day (Sunday) exploring and visiting building 63. We will go tonight; therefore, we need a place to stay and a place to have dinner. Are there any recommendations for not-so-seedy love hotels, great jim jil bangs, and decent restaurants? Please help me plan around these locations.

Note: She is Chinese and I am Canadian; therefore, together we can figure out Chinese and English; however, we are Korean language novices.

Things we need:

-Good places to eat.

-Good places to sleep. (Places that won’t split us up or frown down on us for being a couple. [I also have a tattoo on my arm])

-Interesting things to do.
posted by Knigel to Travel & Transportation around Seoul, South Korea (4 answers total)
I haven't been there for a couple years, but very close to building 63 right on the river is a miniature golf course. It's in a nifty spot, involves a very large ball, and when I was last there was only 5000W. The walk along the river from the golf course an onward is pretty nice. I remember that near building 63 we went to a good kamja-tang restaurant but of course cannot be specific.
My experience is that most love motels are pretty decent and I'd imagine that in the city they'd be fine.
Also, not too far away is Namsan tower - have you been there? It's a nice view and you can take a cheapish gondola up there and then a nice downhill walk when you're done. You don't even need to pay to go to the top of the tower, since from the bottom of the tower the view is good. There is a restaurant there that has decent Western food (if you want a change, being from a smaller area) that's not too expensive.
Have fun and eat well for me!
posted by shokod at 12:39 AM on October 24, 2008

You can't go wrong with NamDaeMun ( SouthGate ) market at night or even during the day. Good cheap eats and shopping 24/7.... can't help with the hotel though, I always got the Hilton, b ut definitely not a cheaper establishment....
posted by dawdle at 7:15 AM on October 24, 2008

When we'd go to Seoul (we lived in the south, on an island) we'd often stay at the Savoy Hotel, in Myeongdong. It's right by the Myeongdong subway stop, in a cool neighborhood for walking around and street shopping, and there are enough western and Korean restaurants in the area to get you by. It's also walking distance to things like the Seoul Tower and Namdaemun, and is easy to get back to late at night after a few rounds of soju. It is, however, a bit pricey ($120-160 USD).

If you're looking for something a little different, I highly, highly recommend a guesthouse near Insadong called Seoul Guest House. This is traditional Korea-style sleeping (they have rooms with beds but most rooms you sleep on the floor). It is run by an awesome family with two awesome dogs (see the website) and is tucked away on a quiet street with a beautiful garden. The atmosphere staying there is like staying at a B&B — there is less privacy than a Western hotel but nobody will be in your business (well, it *is* Korea so there will be some nosiness, but surely you're used to that). This place is so awesome and we were sad that we discovered during the last few months of our 3-year stay in Korea, otherwise we would have spent much more time there.

The neighborhood is great for walking around, lots of little art galleries and shops, traditional restaurants and modern cuisine, all places locally owned (i.e. no chains like TGIFridays). It's much like Insadong but way less touristy. There is a lot of history in this neighborhood too. You can take a walking tour or visit a small palace. Best yet, prices at the guest house range from 35,000 won for a single with a communal bathroom to 85,000 won for a full-sized room with private bathroom. If you can't get a room at this place there are several similar guest houses in the 'hood but I can't vouch for them.

One of my best memories of our long and sometimes frustrating stay in Korea was last October, our final trip to Seoul before moving back to the States, and walking through this neighborhood — all the ginkgo trees were raining down yellow leaves that shimmered and fell like gold flakes in a bottle of liqueur and covered the ground so you couldn't see the cobble stones below them.

P.S. I am a female with lots of tattoos, and I lived in a very rural part of Korea and I never had trouble even when I spent long winter days in the bath houses. Especially in Seoul, they will make allowances for the fact that you are a Westerner.

P.P.S. Have fun!
posted by Brittanie at 2:33 PM on October 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

I haven't been in Seoul since about 1973, but I would recommend some of the old Palaces, they are fantastic, I'm sure they still are...

have fun!
posted by HuronBob at 4:53 PM on October 24, 2008

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