south korea travel tips 

5 Things I Love About Seoul, South Korea

By globedrifters Amazing trips around the world | Asia | South Korea

5 Things I Love About Seoul, South Korea

Written by : Rebecca

South Korea is an amazing place with beautiful landscapes and a capital that never sleeps. I’ve lived here on and off for almost 10 years now and despite my initial lukewarm feelings for the Land of the Morning Calm, I have grown to love it and call it home. Don’t get me wrong, living here is not without its difficulties, but the pros highly outweigh the cons in my opinion! Here are the top 5 things that I appreciated about Seoul, South Korea.

Gangnam Style - View of Gangnam Station area of Seoul.

Gangnam Style – View of Gangnam Station area of Seoul.

1. Diversity

While Seoul doesn’t compare to lots of other multicultural cities in the world, I have seen an exponential growth in the non-Korean population over the past decade. In conjunction with this growth, I feel that there has been a very positive shift in Korean attitudes towards the non-military expatriates living here. I am also lucky to live in a district of central Seoul called Yongsan that boasts a large number of Korean and non-Koreans living together in the same community. 5+ years ago, this was a place that a lot of Koreans were hesitant to visit because of misconceptions about foreigners or their inability to speak English. Nowadays, these fears have been cast aside by many and it is now a true mixing bowl of nationalities with lots of opportunity for cultural exchange and fun times!

View of Namsan Tower from a bridge in the Haebangchon neighborhood of Seoul.

View of Namsan Tower from a bridge in the Haebangchon neighborhood of Seoul.

2. Food

I considered putting this at the top of my list because eating is one of my favorite pastimes! Korean food is becoming more and more known around the world and I actually read something kind of cool that famous chef and traveler Anthony Bourdain said about Korean food. To sum it up, he explained that for a long time, the spice and seemingly bizarre nature of Korean cuisine was what kept it from becoming popular, especially in the U.S. The lack in popularity is what helped it stay true to its roots and thus, it abstained from catering to American taste buds. Today, the spicy and authentic properties of Korean dishes is what is attracting non-Koreans to it. Some mouthwatering foods and my personal favorites that you have to try are : marinated galbi (Korean style BBQ), braised beef short ribs (galbi jjim), spicy chicken stew (dakdoritang), kimchi stew (kimchi jjigae), and spicy chicken stir-fry (dak galbi).

Korean-style BBQ *yum*

Korean-style BBQ *yum*

3. The City Never Sleeps

Move over New York, there’s a new insomniac ready to take over your reigning title. This is probably one of the things I like most about Seoul. I come from a small town in Iowa where most places of business close early and bars do last call at 1:30 AM or before. When I first arrived in Seoul, I was amazed at the hustle and bustle of the mega city by night, but I have to say that I may have went a little overboard with the late nights out. A Korean night out can reach up to 4 rounds after dinner with rounds of food and Korean-style side dishes, karaoke rooms, nightclubs, and finally, a round of more food and drinks for a breakfast at sunrise. Now that I’m a little older and my body has so kindly given me the gift of the 3 day hangover after a night out, I don’t partake as much in the nightlife, but it is always bumpin’ 7 days a week!

Laser-powered dance moves!

Laser-powered dance moves!

4. Public Transportation

I know most larger cities have this, but out of all the cities I’ve traveled to, Seoul’s trains and buses are the cleanest, safest, and most punctual I’ve seen yet. The buses and A one-way trip on the train comes to about $1.25 USD, so it’s affordable and accessible to nearly everyone. Plus, the transportation connects pretty much all of the country, so there’s really no need at all for a personal vehicle! Finally, there are the taxis. In most big cities, taxis cost an arm and a leg, but not in Seoul! Fares start at around $2.50 USD and a ride across the whole city from Gangnam to the popular nightlife and entertainment area of Hongik University will $20 USD or less!

Seoul Bus

Super Seoul Bus

5. Korean Karaoke!

No matter if you’re an R&B diva, classic rock connoisseur, or OG rapper, Korean karaoke–“noraebang”, which translates to “song room”– has something for everyone.  I’m as tone deaf as they come and even I can get my singing on in a noraebang for hours on end! If you get stage fright like me, then this Korean style karaoke is perfect for you. It’s like regular karaoke, but instead of singing in front of a crowd full of strangers, you’re in a small, private room with just your friends and only your crew can hear your off key crooning. Some song rooms are even pimped out with full food and alcohol service as well. If you come to Korea and want to have an “authentic” experience, this is a must!

Killin' it at the karaoke room!

Killin’ it at the karaoke room!

That wraps up my top 5 about Seoul, South Korea! There are so many more great things about this city, so if you’ve been there and I’m missing some, be sure to leave it in the comments section or tell us about them on our Facebook Travel Forum! https://www.facebook.com/groups/613025845523107/

meditation for the first time 

Meditation for the First Time

By globedrifters Amazing trips around the world | Asia | India

While traveling, I always try to do activities for which a region is known, even if I don’t think I’ll enjoy them. Take trekking as an example. I am not a big trekker. I like leisurely walks, but climbing a mountain and trekking for hours doesn’t appeal to me much. It is actually quite the opposite : I loathe it! I would much rather just look at the mountain from a distance while sipping on some cocoa, so why not try meditation? True story, when at the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains, I couldn’t NOT do it. Up the mountain I went, huffing and puffing during the entire ascent thinking, “I really need to get in better shape!” or “When is break time?

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Loy Krathong Lantern Festival tour in thailand 

Asia – The Land of Festivals

By globedrifters Amazing trips around the world | Asia | Thailand

After living and traveling in Asia for many years I quickly learned that Asia has quite a fondness for festivals. There is the full moon festival, the Loy Krathong festival, harvest festival, hottest day of the year festival, washing hair festival, camel festival, weaving festival and the list goes on. Many of these festivals are enjoyable but what festivals are worth planning your trip around?

burma trip with globe drifters 

Broke in Burma

By globedrifters Amazing trips around the world | Asia | Myanmar

Myanmar is a country that has recently opened its borders to the outside world and travelers are now flocking there in droves. Since the global economy has not largely influenced this country, there are some unique rules to follow, especially when it comes to the money in Myanmar.

india trip globe drifters 

A Love/Hate Relationship – Traveling to India

By globedrifters Amazing trips around the world | Asia | India

Oh India…. you make me feel uncomfortable, give me severe diarrhea, make me take 30 hour train rides but in the end you utterly amaze me. You are that really bad relationship that I keep wanting to go back to. But what is it about traveling to India which is so addictive?

Cambodia-Orphanage-Childsafe 

Why You Should Not Volunteer While Traveling

By globedrifters Amazing trips around the world | Asia

The problem with volunteering overseas is that most do not have a skill set that is really needed for the volunteering position and most organizations want a minimum commitment of 6 months to really “make a difference,” not three days.

getting from bangkok airport 

Getting from Bangkok Airport to your Hotel

By globedrifters Amazing trips around the world | Asia | Thailand

Getting from the Bangkok Airport to your Hotel

Bangkok taxi

Bangkok taxi

There are two airports in Bangkok. One is called Suvarnabhumi Airport, the international flight hub. The other is called Don Mueang Airport for largely domestic flights, but some flights to and from neighboring countries also can be taken here. Both airports are about equal distance to the city center of Bangkok. If you are flying from the West you will be flying into Suvarnabhumi Airport.

vietnam cambodia travel tips 

How to get a Cambodian Visa at Siem Reap Airport

By globedrifters Amazing trips around the world | Asia | Vietnam/Cambodia

Getting a Cambodian Visa at Siem Reap Airport

Getting a Cambodian Visa on arrival at the Siem Reap airport is a pretty easy affair and it is outlined in the 4 steps below.

Just one of the amazing temples around Angkor Wat!

1.) Complete forms during your flight.

There is one international airport in Siem Reap (Siem Reap International Airport.) During your flight to REP, you will likely get the following forms from the flight crew :

  • Application Form Visa on Arrival
  • Arrival/Departure Card
  • General Department of Customs and Excise Passenger’s Declaration (Customs Declaration form)

Cambodia Visa on Arrival Application Form 

Cambodia Arrival/Departure Card

Cambodia Customs and Excise Declaration Form

If you do not receive them from a member of the flight crew member, just ask them the forms to get a Cambodian visa on arrival. If they’re not available, don’t worry; you can pick them up once you arrive at the airport. However, you will more than likely receive them during your flight, so you can fill them out with a pen. Ink pens are not typically provided at the airport, so it’s best to have your own with you. If you have questions when filling out the forms, just ask a flight crew member. He or she will be able to assist you.

2.) Receive your visa at the Siem Reap airport visa area

Once you’ve landed, you’ll enter the airport at which point you’ll need to have the following available to give to the visa officer :

  • Passport with 6 months validity and 2 blank pages for the visa sticker
  • $30 USD cash (exact change)
  • 3 above-mentioned forms (completed)

Once you’ve de-planed and entered the airport, you’ll need to go to the visa kiosks before passing immigration to get your visa on arrival. Look for the signs that say “Visa on Arrival” and follow them. As you enter the airport, you’ll see a large hall/room and will need to walk straight ahead. The signs are typically in plain view, but if you cannot locate them, just ask. Just make sure that you head to the Visa on Arrival desk BEFORE getting to the immigration line.

3.) Clear customs and immigration

Once you’ve given all proper documentation to the visa officer and received the visa sticker in your passport, exit the visa kiosk area and head to the customs and immigration clearance area to your left. You’ll then show them your passport and all other remaining documents including those that you filled out on the flight to Siem Reap. You’ll then pass through the immigration area to collect your luggage.

4.) Collect your luggage

Once you’ve collected your luggage, you’ll exit the baggage claim area into the public area of the arrivals terminal. Your Cambodian guide will be waiting for you there with a sign that says “Globe Drifters” in plain sight. He will guide you to your tuk tuks that will take you to your hotel.

You’re now ready to start your adventure in Cambodia!

The beautiful blue waters surrounding Koh Rong Sanloem!

 

Traveling Alone in India as a Female

By globedrifters Amazing trips around the world | Asia | India

Top tips when Traveling Alone in India as a Female

The Advantage of traveling solo to India

Traveling alone in India as a female can be daunting at times, even for the most seasoned travelers. I thought it would be useful to recount some of my stories and experiences I had. As a female solo traveler who usually throws caution to the wind, I got myself into some sticky situations when traveling alone in India. I will explain the pros and cons of traveling as a solo female, rather than just telling you “don’t do this” or “watch out for that.” This way you can draw your own conclusions and opinions.

koh-phi-phi 

People Ruin Everything

By globedrifters Amazing trips around the world | Cuba | Thailand

What are the downsides of mass tourism?

Seven years ago I visited the island of Koh Phi Phi, which is probably the most popular and well-known island in Thailand. I went during peak season so there were hoards of tourists on the beach and it pretty much ruined the mood. I remember going into the water and thinking, “Is the water really warm because it’s hot out or is everyone around me taking a piss?” Talk about one of the downsides of mass tourism… and there are so much more! Learn about the obvious ones I witnessed and how to avoid crowds and reduce your impact when traveling.

teaching in south korea 

Teaching English in Korea

By globedrifters Amazing trips around the world | Asia | South Korea

Yes, I was an English teacher in Korea…as well as half the American population come to find out. Any time I mention to someone that I was teaching English in Korea I get this response, “I know someone who did that.” I knew it was really popular to go to Korea; money’s good, experience a new culture and the kids are ridiculously cute but shit, everyone and their mother taught English in Korea.

travel tips globe drifters 

Long Neck Village – Ethical Issues

By globedrifters Amazing trips around the world | Asia | Myanmar | Thailand

Ethical issues when traveling to Southeast Asia has always been at the forefront of traveler’s minds. Are we hindering or helping child beggars by giving them money? If we ride on an elephant are we exploiting them? If we visit a ‘long neck’ village, are we encouraging the cultural torture to continue?

Don’t get me wrong, in the West we are burdened by many ethical problems of our own but when you go to South East Asia many of these moral dilemmas are brought upon by tourism and we see it first hand, hence why we feel the need to write about it, talk about it and take action to improve it. But the big dilemma seems to be there is not any clear-cut answer. It is neither black nor white but a large grey area.