5 Things You Could Do Without When Visiting Korea

This is a list of places in Korea that are popular destinations for tourists HOWEVER after living here for 2 years I can confidently write this list of 5 things you should not be wasting your time on if you are only here for a week or two.
If you are coming here for the long term this list really doesn’t apply to you. You should try everything. haha

1. Itaewon

Itaewon has to be the biggest time waster I have seen for tourist. Unless your hostel is located here or you’re meeting a friend who lives in Korea for lunch you really have no business here. There is nothing Korean about Itaewon and it is basically a haven for foreign expats who live here. The night life? Pretty similar. If you are here for the long term Itaewon is a great place to get comfort food, or any foreign foods like Indian, Greek, American, etc. If you’ve got time to kill or are here for a while, Itaewon will be your home away from home. Here for a week? Suck it up, you’ll be home soon.


2. Gangnam  STYLE! -No. No. Fucking stop.

With PSY’s chart topper, Gangnam Style, Gangnam has become one of the must stop locations on a traveler’s bucket list. However, you may end up walking away with only a picture of the Gangnam Station sign. Why?
There is nothing touristy about this area.
Exit 11 consists of restaurants (a ridiculous amount of Japanese ones) and stores you can find back home (Nike, Adidas, Baskin Robins, etc)
Exit 12 consists of Gangnam’s night life.
-OMG but Traveling Kimchi! I want to experience Seoul’s Night life Gangnam Style!
First off-stop saying Gangnam Style!
Second, that’s great but, as much as I hate to say it, a decent amount of the clubs don’t like foreign customers.
Places such as Noise Basement and Ho bar, which are often mentioned in many travel blogs, charge foreigners $20 cover during free cover hours (NB) or ignore you completely (HB).
Not saying the whole area is like this, because it’s not, but if you don’t know where you are going you will probably end up creating an unpleasant memory that night (and not the good-unpleasant memory ^.- jk).
Also, the places that are worth going to aren’t different or special from those back home.
I’ve lived in Gangnam for 2 years and can count the number of late nights I’ve had at exit 12 on one hand.
But if you have a Korean friend or are here for the long term, once again, I say give it a go. You’ll end up finding the places that are really good to their customers.

*But if you really have to go-take Line 2, the green line to Gangnam Station.
Take exit 11 and as you exit make an immediate U-turn.
Behind exit 11 is a Gangnam Style photo zone (pictured below). Enjoy.

3. Palace, Palace, Palace.


Calm yourself. You really don’t have to see every single palace. They will all start looking like each other eventually. You might not want to say it for risk of sounding culturally ignorant but everyone’s acknowledged it-even the Koreans.
If you want to see what palaces are worth visiting look out for my next post about Top Must-Do Activities in Korea!
Coming Soon!

4. Octagon

So, I’ve seen Octagon mentioned time after time in different countdowns and blogs-even one written for CNN  featuring it as one of the hottest places in Seoul. Mmm…not so much.
Octagon’s prime time has come and gone and while it’s still kinda of a cool place to party don’t go expecting “Korea’s hottest spot.” It’s really good and has a good sound system but the hot place for clubs like this changes about every 1 1/2 years. Not to mention since it’s on almost every single list it’s become overrun with foreigners.
Not to sound anti-foreign but we tend to hop on the “hot train” late here.
So chat up some Koreans and ask them for their recommendation-they tend to be more up to date on the club trends.


5. Amusement Parks

Amusement parks are fun, no one can deny that and while Lotte World, Everland and the like are appealing in all their cute, animal ears glory-when it comes to rides and actual thrill you may feel that they fall a bit short. Coming from a state that’s really excited about 6 Flags, the Korean amusement parks were more of a relaxing stroll in the park then adrenaline pumping rides.
Given, if you have kids or are a reminiscent adult missing the simpler kiddie rides this might be just what you’re looking for. Again, however, if you’re here for a long time it is something you should try. The parks often have foreigner discounts and specials that let you in for $10! So all in all, go for the pleasant stroll in the park not for the thrill screaming rides.


Any way you choose, Korea is a good time to be had by all.
Don’t think too deeply about any decision and just have fun with whatever you end up doing!

Are there any items on this list you agree or disagree with?
Any you would add to the list?


8 Comments on 5 Things You Could Do Without When Visiting Korea

  1. haha Love this, and I agree with most of them. I;m so in love with Itaewon that I never skip it, but it’s probably more overrated than I know.

  2. heathershambles // July 29, 2014 at 12:10 pm // Reply

    I absolutely agree with you! A friend of mine used to visit Korea regularly, and when he said he was going to Itaewon, I had to groan out loud!

  3. I agree with all of this. There truly is no point to waste your time at these spots if you are on a quick vacation. Good tips, excited to see what you recommend they should do!

  4. HAHA, I’ve have so many visitors come since I’ve been here, and so many are always like “I WANNA GO TO GANGNAM” and I hate to sound like a downer to them, but I’m like, well there’s nothing there, and I don’t really like Gangnam, so you can go do that while I’m in school lol. And surely enough, afterwards they told me “I just walked around and saw shops”. DUH. I also enjoy going to Itaewon, but I think that’s just because I live in Seoul and it’s always nice to feel surrounded by people like you for a bit, but yea, I try to avoid it when I’ve got a visitor. Good post 🙂

  5. Good list! My buddy just came to visit and asked about visiting Gangnam. I begged him to do something else, haha.

    The only one I’d disagree with would be palaces. I’ve been to quite a few and never seem to get tired of exploring them. But that’s just me 😛 I won’t deny they can get very similar!

  6. I’ll second the part about Itaewon, unless you live in a small town with 0 foreign food. I feel like Itaewon is the only place to get decent Greek food or something that might not be found in any other place. Still, I prefer Hongdae when trying to find some “good” beer. The other cities are catching up, though. Honestly, I don’t know what the appeal of Gangnam would be for tourists. It’s mostly well-known for schools from what I’ve been told. Silly Psy created a fake tourist spot.

    Great ideas and post, though. Looking forward to more.

  7. Great tips from someone who was a tourist at one time, but who has now been living there a while. I hope to get into travel writing and blogging and will keep these in mind if I ever make it there.

  8. Funny read! And I pretty much agree. Unless you’re staying here long term, no real need to go to any of these places. I have a family member visiting for Chuseok but she’s in her 60s so thankfully I dont think she’ll care about Gangnam Style! haha 😛

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