See Seoul on a Budget

Author: , January 12th, 2015

Seoul - Lane NiesetSouth Korea’s capital has come a long way since the Korean War. These days, Seoul mixes its storied history of temples, palaces, and empire, with more modern day delights from a nonstop nightlife to a thriving shopping scene. And while prices can teeter on the expensive side, there are plenty of ways to soak up the culture — and incredible Korean cuisine — while traveling on a budget. Here’s how:

1. Taste temple life. Thousands of temples dot Korea’s countryside, and the best way to experience five thousand years of Korean history is by embarking on a temple-stay. Take a two-day zen retreat learning about Buddhism, traditional tea ceremonies, and meditation right in the heart of Seoul at Jogyesa Temple in Insa-dong (98,000 Korean won or about $89). Or swing by one of the other temples in town for a tour, like the thousand-year-old Bongeunsa Temple or Sueng-Ga Temple, built in 756.

2. Get a kick from Korean cuisine. Koreans love their spice — hello, kimchi! It’s a passion that extends to street food in Seoul, like jjukkumi: small octopus that can be dipped in red pepper chili paste. The city’s many food alleys serve up traditional fare like Gwangjang Market’s bibimbap, a mixed rice bowl with meat and a raw egg on top, or Namdaemun Market’s cutlassfish served in a spicy sauce (as found at the eponymous Cutlassfish Alley). The best part? Prices at the markets are pretty cheap, around $6 for a plate.

By Lane Nieset – Full Story at Shermans Travel

Image by Lane Nieset

Korea’s Gay Seoul

Author: , October 23rd, 2014

Seoul South Korea

As my partner John and I settle into a dining room at The Plaza in Seoul, Korea, the hotel’s public relations manager, Nayhe Kim, leans into the table and says, sotto voce: “I have to admit, I’m a little surprised. Do Americans really come to Seoul on vacation?”

It’s a fair question. With the exception of those Korean-Americans who visit to keep in touch with their families and heritage, most US visitors to Seoul over the past two decades have been military and business travelers. The tourism trade has focused on attracting leisure guests from within Korea and from other Asian countries. That helps explain the fine dining options at The Plaza: Shanghainese, Japanese, and remarkable Italian at Tuscany (of all Western cuisines, Koreans have the strongest affinity for Italian–the noodle is a culinary common denominator).

Kim laughs delightedly when we sheepishly confess we’d been expecting to find Korean food here. “Business travelers expect things that are very cosmopolitan in Seoul hotels,” says the University of Hawaii-educated Kim. “And many of our Korean guests have Korean food all the time, so they want something different here,” she insists.

By Jim Gladstone – Full Story at Passport Magazine