What To Do in Korea: Sally’s List

I recently met up with two bloggers on a world trip who’d just arrived in Korea and hadn’t jumped into seeing everything yet. I was bubbling with suggestions of things to do. I then saw another Internet friend tweet that she wanted suggestions for her Korea bucket list. That’s when I decided this had to be a post. Then I sat down and made the list and it turned out to be 50% food suggestions. That’s when I decided this had to be two posts. Here’s the second list: What to Eat in Korea.

Keep in mind two things. First, I live in the countryside and don’t know Seoul as well as some. There are probably some other cool attractions in Seoul that I’m missing, so forgive me and comment with your own suggestions. Secondly, I don’t know much about clubbing or nightlife, so this list doesn’t include any specifics in that area. Once again, if you are an expert, then comment please!

Suggestions are in groups of five, the top groups more essential than the bottom groups. However, there is nothing in this list that I wouldn’t recommend doing. If my family would ever visit me (hurry up, Mom!), I would drag them on every single one of these endeavors, provided I had the time.

Without further ado, here is my list! Enjoy South Korea!

  • Go see one of the “great gates” of ancient Korea
  • Overnight at a temple (temple stay), preferably outside of Seoul
  • Overnight in a jjimjilbang (찜질방), or Korean spa
  • Go to a Noraebang (노래방), or karaoke  room
  • Climb to the top of Namsan Tower
Temple stays give you the chance to relax and learn about Korean Buddhist culture.
Temple stays give you the chance to relax and learn about Korean Buddhist culture.
  • Walk through one of the large outdoor markets, like Namdaemun or Dongdaemun
  • Visit one of the old, royal Seoul palaces located inside the city
  • See Hongdae at night or go out in Hongdae
  • Take the subway across the river (and don’t forget to look out the window!)
  • Visit a dog or cat cafe
Dogs and coffee can happen at the same time in Seoul.
Dogs and coffee can happen at the same time in Seoul.
  • Visit the Korean countryside
  • Visit a city outside of Seoul (Gyeongju, Daejeon, Daegu, Busan, etc.)
  • Walk through a Shinsegae department store
  • Visit Insadong
  • Attend any festival going on in Seoul at the time
You won't find this is Seoul
You won’t find this is Seoul
  • Go shopping for socks or smart phone cases
  • Walk through Gangnam (while listening to PSY)
  • If you have the guts, go to a service in one of Seoul’s megachurches
  • Climb Mt. Ansan for a killer view of Seoul
  • See Cheonan’s Independence Hall of Korea
This museum is both beautiful and educational.
This museum is both beautiful and educational.
  • Do the Samcheok Ocean Railbike on the Eastern coast
  • Drive down the 30 minute stretch of road between 고래불해변 and 축산리, staying close to the shoreline to see seafood hanging out to dry for long stretches (summer only)
  • Visit the Mr. Toilet Museum
  • Walk into a traditional Hanbok shop
  • Have coffee in a themed cafe in Seoul

squiggle3

Liked this article? Like the ABOFA Facebook Page to keep in touch, or subscribe to the email list to make sure you don’t miss new articles.

Mini Photoessay: Sudeoksa Temple Village

The little villages outside of famous temples are sometimes serious tourist hubs, in stark contrast to the zen-like feeling just a few miles up the road. This particular village sits at the foot of Sudeoksa Temple (수덕사), snuggled against Deoksung Mountain (덕숭산).

I went to Sudeoksa Temple for a temple stay as well; see the written post about that or alternatively check out the photoessay.

ginseng candy korea sudeoksa
The machine’s three bars rotate around each other, stretching the ginseng candy out until it’s ready to eat.
A shop selling weird things to eat or cook with.
A shop selling weird things to eat or cook with.
Any wooden souvenir your heart could desire can be purchased here.
Any wooden souvenir your heart could desire can be purchased here.
A rice snack vendor, where 5-10 grains of rice are steamed, flattened and somehow magically turn into these warm, crispy rice cakes.
A rice snack vendor, where 5-10 grains of rice are steamed, flattened and somehow magically turn into these warm, crispy rice cakes.

squiggle3

You can also find me on the ABOFA Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter. There’s also an email list, if you’d like to subscribe.

An Accidental Visit to the Princes’ Islands

When life gives you passage on the wrong ferry, look out the window and enjoy the ride.
When life gives you passage on the wrong ferry, look out the window and enjoy the ride.

My mom and I had been talking about visiting the Asian side of Istanbul for the entirety of our trip. We’d seen it shortly, on a guided tour, and we’d taken a bunch of ferries here and there, although not by ourselves. We woke up on a Saturday, a beautiful day, and had our plans in hand, literally, in the form of my Frommer’s day-by-day book: an Üsküdar walking tour.

Continue reading An Accidental Visit to the Princes’ Islands

Photo Highlights: DMZ

1: a military outpost overlooks the DMZ surrounding Freedom Bridge, where POWs from the Korean war were released. they look tough, but I got the soldiers to smile and wave back.

2: the barbed wire fence surrounds a huge wildlife area. nature has flourished, while a nation remains divided.

3: all of the different DMZ sites feature at least one tourist shop, where you can buy different North Korean “products”, NK themed souvenirs or even currency.

4: people wrote their sentiments of reunification on these cloth strips, then tied them together on one portion of the DMZ fence.

5: the Korean train system was once built over the border and operations were supposed to begin, linking the two countries for the first time in years. unfortunately, diplomatic relations shorted out and the service was stopped here, Dorasan station, the farthest north the train may run. the train station is regularly empty and now sees soldiers and tour groups.