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Never been to Asia. Is Seoul the place to start?

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st. louis
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Never been to Asia. Is Seoul the place to start?

My girlfriend recently got accepted into an international conference in Seoul. Very exciting, but I'm debating if I'm going to go with her.

I've never been to Asia, but have wanted to visit for a while now. But the places on my list to visit have been Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, etc. I've never even considered Seoul, due to what I perceive as a lack of tourist options.

The conference is in late July, which it looks like is in the rainy season and we'd stay for about a week. She'd be busy during the days, so I'd get to explore on my own. So far, it looks like the attractions are mainly limited to markets, malls, and restaurants, with a few temples and the DMZ thrown in. Overall, rather disappointing. For a city bigger than NYC, I expected more options to pop out at me.

Does Seoul offer enough entertainment and excitement to the average American, or would I be happier if I held out for one of the more tourist-friendly cities in Asia? Thanks in advance.

Rayleigh, United...
Destination Expert
for Seoul, Rothenburg
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1. Re: Never been to Asia. Is Seoul the place to start?

What interests you?

Seoul has great clubs, plenty of tourist attractions, trips to nearby cultural places, markets, a totally different lifestyle, a mountain in the middle of the city. It has great food, no great wine but good other local alcohol, the DMZ.

I personally would go there- but what is it about other places that gives them more pull for YOU?

If you tell us that we can teil you if Seoul has it/them!

melbourne
Destination Expert
for Seoul
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4 reviews
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2. Re: Never been to Asia. Is Seoul the place to start?

Does Seoul offer enough entertainment and excitement to the average American, or would I be happier if I held out for one of the more tourist-friendly cities in Asia?

Absolutely. Seoul is currently in the top 3 destination to visit this year by The New York Times in an article called: “The 31 Places to Go in 2010.”

Here's the lists :

1. Sri Lanka

2. Patagonia Wine Country

3. Seoul

4. Mysore

5 .Copenhagen

6. Koh Kut,

7. Damascus

8. Cesme

9. Antarctic

10. Leipzig

11. Los Angeles

12. Shanghai

13. Mumbai

14. Minorca

15 .Costa Rica

16. Marrakech

17. Las Vegas

18. Bahia

19. Istanbul

20. Shenzhen

21. Macedonia

22. South Africa

23. Breckenridge

24. Montenegro,

25. Vancouver Island

26. Columbia

27. Kitzbühel

28. Norway

29. Gargano,

30. Kuala Lumpur

31. Nepal

Tokyo, Hong Kong & Singapore are not in the list...well... there must be reason why Seoul is in the list.. let alone being the top 3.

Visit this link for your trip planning :

http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/index.kto

www.visitseoul.net

New York
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1,877 posts
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3. Re: Never been to Asia. Is Seoul the place to start?

As a New Yorker, I can vouch for the fact that Seoul has plenty to occupy you for a whole week. It got shopping, entertainment, and vibrant culture scenes (music, art, movie and theater, not Broadway level, but plenty of musicals and performances to see). On top of that, Seoul has been a capital for about 600 years, so it has some historical sites such as royal palaces and areas where you can preserved traditional houses. (Something New York is some what lacking)

Since you are not familiar with Korea, check out the official travel site, http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/index.kto

st. louis
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4. Re: Never been to Asia. Is Seoul the place to start?

Thanks guys. The more I look into Seoul the more I think it fits what I want out of a trip. I love to explore cities on foot and take walking tours of neighborhoods, and a diversity of neighborhoods is a must. I also love art, so I'll probably be visiting lots of museums.

Everything else is looking good. Street food, open air markets, a buzz of activity.

I guess my other big question is the weather. It looks like I'll be visiting during the rainy season (late July). Is this a concern? How hard and heavy does it rain during this season? Does the rain come in waves or is it usually steady? IE, is it like in Florida where there are thunderstorms one minute and sunshine the next, or like England where it's overcast and gloomy all day?

Seoul
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5. Re: Never been to Asia. Is Seoul the place to start?

well, that's depend on what days of the end of july.

if you visit seoul probaly right before august(july 28th-)

you have a good chance to meet sunny, hot and humid

weather right after moonsoon. but before that

probably plenty of rains, but you know, everywhere

the weather is very volatile(climate change...), in seoul we got off the winter mid-april! and after two weeks, very hot

and humid, unbelivable.

Auckland Region...
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968 posts
13 reviews
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6. Re: Never been to Asia. Is Seoul the place to start?

Hi

No douibt you have researched and come up with specific ideas covering.....

Gyeongbokgung Palace

Don't miss,,

"The Ceremony of Opening and Closingg the Palace Gate abd Gate Guard Change" - full costume. 11.30am or 2.00 pm is performance

National Folk Museum

National Palace Museum all same location

Maybe....

Namsamgol Hanok Village

Namsam Mountain (cable car) and Seoul Tower

Maybe,....

Korean Folk Village and/or Hwaseong Fortress

DMZ - choice of tours

Another amazing place is the War Memorial of Korea

This is a musem complex, very insightful of struggles of Korea and American involvement on the peninsula.

Some amazing outdoor displays of military hardware including...

B52 Bomber, MIG fighter, american tanks etc.

May interest you. Not mentioned much in these forums but I highly recommend. You could easily spend 2.5 to 3 hours here or more.

Have fun.

DCtheKiwi

Edited: 20 May 2010, 07:48
Liege
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260 posts
23 reviews
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7. Re: Never been to Asia. Is Seoul the place to start?

Seoul is very interesting to visit. The are renewing the city so nicely. Go and walk along the river in the middle of the city. see the new Museum... Korean people are so friendly, they really want to help you.

Seoul, South Korea
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8. Re: Never been to Asia. Is Seoul the place to start?

If you do your research and have a local friend to show you around and take you to good places to eat and have drinks, then Seoul is a great city to visit. This is especially if you like Korean food and to go out partying all night long. There is also good shopping and sights.

Of course, Japan (especially places like Kyoto) has many more preserved sights. Korea, on the other hand, was plundered several times by Japan and also much was destroyed during the Korean War. So there aren't as many beautiful temples or artifacts to see in Seoul like in Kyoto. If you are into perfection and like quirky things, then Japan is for you. Also, Japan has great sushi and shopping!

Thailand is very tourist-friendly and there is great nightlife and some decent shopping. It also has the beaches! There aren't many people who don't like Thailand. Also, the food is terrific! Bangkok is a wild and crazy place full of things to do.

Hong Kong and Singapore are also worth visiting (excellent shopping and cuisine), but I think Seoul has more varied things to offer.

The problem is July is monsoon season and it can seriously rain all day... The end of July should be fine, but very hot and muggy.

If you buy a cheap ticket through United Airlines, you can get a free layover in Tokyo. I would suggest that. Korean Airlines also has something like this. But I prefer flying Asiana Airlines to/from Korea. They are bit more expensive, but the service is SO much better!

9. Re: Never been to Asia. Is Seoul the place to start?

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