South Korea is a beautiful destination to visit. There are 2 biggest cities that you definitely need to see: Seoul and Busan. The time you spend is Busan is more like the holidays, as far as it is more relaxed and there are the sea and a beach. Last time I've visited Korea, I had a quick trip to Seoul for 24 hours to say hello to this city and to admire its urban views.
Here is what you can do in Seoul and what you can see with some little tips and secret locations. It is also great to have friends in the places where you travel to, so you get the maximum of your trip. This 24 hour trip to Seoul was productive and I saw many things, but at the same time, it was kind of relaxed and enjoyable. You know, when there is no rush and no stress that you do not have time to see everything you can for a short time.
What you can see in Seoul and in the virtual trip with me: Insadong area with lots of authentic Korean style and different cuisines restaurants, Vegetarian Korean restaurant, Tee Place, art and craft street, Dongdaemun plaza, Temple.
The fast speed train from Busan to Seoul takes 3 hours. The price is about 100.000 KRW (about $100).
You can simply buy a ticket at the train station, you won't even need a passport for that, so it is very easy. It is better to buy the ticket in advance though, especially if you are travelling on the weekend or public holidays. Just a few days before the departure will be fine. The trains connecting Busan and Seoul cities are running every 15 minutes.
What you can see in Busan and our random schedule of the short trip:
How to get to Insadong? To get to this street, take a train to the 'Jonggak-yeok' 종각역 train station, take exit 3 and then walk to the left. Turn left again at the traffic light, do not cross the road - you'll arrive at Insadong street - you will see many people and lots of small craft shops.
Insadong It is a popular area with authentic traditional Korean restaurant, art shops, crafts and souvenirs market, some fashion shops, cool cafes and street food. The street is not that big, but make sure you turn to the small streets to see the hidden places. Many of the restaurants here open after 2-3 PM. Here we've found a vegetarian Korean restaurant 'Insarang'. It is also a tea house, so there is a large selection of tee. However, for the tea, we went to the other cafe - the 4 level tea house with a cool interior and wonderful fruit tea.
The prices for the souvenirs are fair and in some shops are even cheaper than in the other touristic areas, but do not forget to compare prices and ask for a little discount if you buy a few things.
After lunch and explorations of the local art, we checked into the Designers hotel. It is a pretty new, large but cozy hotel, fair price and good location. It is a hotel chain in Seoul and there were another the Designers next to Dongdaemun plaza, which was fully booked, so we chose this one, within only 3 train stops away from the plaza.
In the evening the city looks very attractive with all the lights of the megalopolis and Korean decorations for Buddha's birthday. During 12-15 of may, Korea is decorated with paper lanterns installations and beautiful colorful lanterns.
This cafe is located in a busy area with lots of restaurants and bars. A nice place with a crazy blizzard interior, where you can listen to the life fun music and have a few drinks. There is some food as well if you are hungry. The band in the cafe is playing new and old tunes, which are not always related to jazz, but with is a lot of improvisations and charisma.
There is 5.000 KRW entree fee ($5), cocktails are around 10,000, beers around 5,000KRW.
To experience Korea - try some street food. For example, grilled chicken skewers, tempura sausages or patisserie.
See Dongdaemun plaza - the biggest atypical architecture in the world. Urban sleek views, futuristic design, and art apace to see inside. There is also a great shopping mall across the road. You can even enjoy this place if it is raining.
Another must-see place is a beautiful temple in the middle of the city - the oasis of an ancient culture with the background of contemporary views on skyscrapers. There is a symbolic entry fee, equivalent to a just a couple of dollars. You can spend 2-3 hours there, admiring the old architecture styles, beautiful greens and lakes (if you walk more deep inside, there are fewer people too). If you want to have a quick look - it will take you about half an hour.