Discovering My Heritage: Solo Trip To Seoul, South Korea

September 2016

Hot, Humid, Sunny, 80-90F

No visa needed

Currency: South Korean Won

After Sydney I took a flight to Seoul.  Fourteen hours later I went through Manila, Philippines and finally made it to Seoul, South Korea AND got to my hotel. People are very nice when you look confused and just say, “English?”

I have always wanted to visit South Korea since it is half of me.  My nationality is half Korean and half German.  My Great-Grandfather was from N. Korea and escaped before the boarders were closed due to the Korean War.  He immigrated to Honolulu, HI, where he was in an arranged marriage to my Great-Grandmother (S. Korean). Here is a picture of them with my Grandmother as a baby.

Apparently, having a bunch of kids ages you: 

Ok back to the trip: I purchased a CITYPASS card for the metro system and found it very easy to get around.  Everything was spoken and written in both Korean and English.  I would suggest doing a screenshot of where you want to go written in Korean to make it easier to ask someone directions. I was able to connect to the wifi around the city in order to Google directions as well. Almost everything I did costs an entry fee, but wasn’t too expensive.

My first day I went to the Bongeunsa Temple. There was a monk singing and another playing a large drum while people prayed. It was free to walk around.


Namdaemun Market was huge.  Make sure you go hungry and try some of the street vendors foods.  Here you will find some good souvenirs and haggle prices.

The Seoul Tower was a long uphill walk, but worth the view.  At the top there are thousands of locks people have left with their loves written on the locks. Food is also served at the tower too.

Cafe Bora is a very small shop that serves everything purple.  All the ice creams are made out of purple sweet potatoes. I found out about this place from the Insider Food page on Facebook.  It is tucked down a small alley.

Royal tombs of King Seongjong and Queen Jeonghyeon and The royal tomb of King Jungjong

Gyeongbokgung palace, Heungnyemun Gate, Jagyeonjeon Chamber

I made a reservation with the hotel I was staying at to go to the DMZ.  It was pretty strict with where you could take pictures so most of these memories will just be in my head.  It was a great experience and filled with so much history. I was able to get a picture of North Korea from the DMZ line.  One other thing I found interesting is that all the men born in South Korea must serve the military for 2 years between the ages of 18-30. Women are allowed to volunteer to serve, but they must pass a psychological exam first (bc apparently you would be crazy to want to join the military).  North Korea both men and women have to serve for 10 years.

Demilitarized zone (DMZ), 3rd Tunnel dug by the North Koreans to invade the South. Pictures weren’t allowed in the actual tunnel, but we got to walk it to the 1st barrier, North Korea past the DMZ

The DMZ was an area created by the UN after the war.  After the war and the North and South split and created their boarders, the UN decided there should be a common area where both sides could meet at a seize fire.  Both sides are prohibited from carrying weapons in this zone. This area is occupied by both the North and South and the Swiss and Americans are mediators when one side doesn’t like something the other side is doing.

After my return from the DMZ I went to the Korean War Museum.  It was quiet as people showed respect for those who had fallen during the war. Outside the museum there were tanks and other large military vehicles that you could climb on.

My favorite foods that I ate were Korean BBQ and for dessert, Bingsoo.  Bingsoo was big enough for two people, but that didn’t stop me from devouring it.  It’s basically flavored shaved ice with a thick sauce and a scoop of ice cream. So so good.


Here are a few pictures that made me laugh. There are a lot of people who wear things/sell things that have English writing, but it doesn’t always translate correctly.

Overall it was a great trip to South Korea.  The people were friendly and it was easy to get around. Here are a few more of some favorite random pictures.

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13 comments

  1. I love how you showcase the city’s amazing attention to detail through your colourful words, vivid images and essentially your own attention to detail. The bridge and those jam-packed trees particularly stood out to me. Such a wonderful piece 🙂

  2. Omg I had so much fun reading your post! And you clearly had a lot of fun in Seoul. I’ve never been to Korea myself but it’s a place I really want to visit and after reading your post the wanderlust is even stronger!

  3. I have always heard that South Korean are really nice people, what do you think of it now that you have been there ? And how is the street food ? Doing the DMZ must have been a quite intense thing. Sad for the pictures, but sometimes, the best photos are the ones in your head !

  4. What a cool post, this pics are stunning and I have to say I think you’re awesome for going solo. Following and sharing. Love your site.

  5. That is so funny – I have spent there half a year but still some of the places you presented here are new for me! 😀 Seoul is just so big.. How did you like the Korean cuisine?

  6. It looks like you had a great trip to South Korea. It’s very interesting that you are allowed to go to the DMZ area and take photos of North Korea. Your photos show how much of a difference is between the two countries…

  7. I loved this post and gave you a follow! The sight of that eerily empty train station to Pyeongyang alwas gives me chills. I’m Korean American and have been to Korea a few times so I love reading other peoples’ accounts of their travels! Thanks for sharing!

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