Manage episode 214195536 series 1207151
Korea with kids — this South Korea travel blog post & podcast will get you ready to buy flights! There are many things to do in Korea with kids...or without them. Surprisingly, travel in South Korea hasn't caught on like it has in Japan and China. But we're here to tell you that Korea is a great place to explore. Read on (and listen in!) for Korea travel tips, as well as advice on things to do in Seoul and exploring Korea's beautiful Jeju island.
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South Korea Travel Blog: Korea Travel Tips
Today I talk with Sejal Parekh to hear about travel in South Korea. Sejal and her husband have just spent time in Japan, Korea and now Bali, where we spoke from. In this Epic Education Radio episode, I ask Sejal all about exploring South Korea with kids. We talk about things to do in Seoul with kids, exploring Jeju Island with kids, and more.
IN THIS EPISODE
- 02:18 Intro convo - Bali plastic
- 06:47 Intro to Sejal's Family
- 08:49 Why Korea? Why Korea with Kids?
- 11:31 Things to do in Seoul
- 17:09 DMZ: Korea Travel Blog
- 23:14 The energy of the Hongdae neighborhood
- 28:20 Communication & food/eating in Seoul
- 35:08 Getting around Seoul
- 40:06 Pop band encounter
- 41:48 Things to do at Jeju Island
- 45:52 Accommodation on Jeju Island
- 48:50 Getting to Jeju Island from Seoul
- 50:40 More things to do at Jeju Island
- Names: Sejal Parekh, her husband, and their 4-year-old daughter
- Hold passports from: the UK (London)
- Type of travel: Living abroad (in the US) and long-term travel
- A few places they've been: Japan, Korea, Indonesia and Greece
FIND THEM ON
Things to Do in Seoul, Things to Do at Jeju Island & More
This episode is between two family travelers, but as you'll see, all the great things to do in South Korea are for everyone. Not just kids or families.
We discuss why they chose travel in Korea. We also talk about food, accommodation, getting around and more South Korea travel tips. If you're interested in exploring East Asia, then this South Korea travel blog post & podcast should whet your appetite!
Why Korea? Why Korea with Kids?
When I asked Sejal why they chose to travel in Korea, she explained that it had been on her list for a while. Some of her old coworkers had been and sent back pictures. In addition, we both agreed that Korea is in many ways the "it" place in East Asia right now. In fact, lots of cultural and commercial cues point to Korea. Whether it's in design, in music, in fashion or in the beauty industry, South Korea is at or near the center of many present trends.
Another reason why travel in South Korea with kids is worth your time is that it is a very safe and well-run country. The crime rates are extremely low, and the infrastructure is strong. Transportation is fast and effective, and you'll have no problem getting online.
Korea and Japan: Travel South Korea with Kids
You may already know this, but Korea and Japan are extremely close to each other. Sejal and I talk about how fast and easy it is to get back and forth between the two counties. Flights from Tokyo to Seoul are around 2.5 hours, where flights from Osaka to Seoul are much less.
If you're planning to visit Japan (and we certainly recommend that you do), then consider visiting Korea as well.
Sejal and her family had just spent over a month in Japan before they visited Korea. Their Korean trip was for three weeks. Yet Sejal says that if they hadn't already booked flights out, they would have extended their stay.
Where to Stay in Seoul: South Korea Travel Tips
Their first stop was Seoul. This is the capital of South Korea and (arguably) the most vibrant and dynamic city in the country. Sejal chose the Dongdaemun neighborhood because it had lots of the elements they like in city travel. There were cafes, restaurants, and bars on hand. It also holds the futuristic convention center designed by Zaha Hadid.
Things to Do Seoul: South Korea Travel Blog
One of their favorite things to do in Seoul was simply to pick a different neighborhood each day to walk through. In addition here are your (fairly touristy) things to do in Seoul with kids and how they felt about them.
The Hop-on, Hop-off Bus — Things to Do in Seoul With Kids
We have frequently recommended taking the open-top tourist buses in famous locations. This can be a great way to get your bearings in a new city and help you navigate your way later. However, Sejal says that they wouldn't do the hop-on, hop-off bus in Seoul again. Why? For one, it's hard to actually get your bearings because Google Maps don't work in Korea. Therefore, they couldn't orientate themselves as they would have liked to.
The DMZ - South Korea Travel Blog
Visiting the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) may be considered a "touristy" activity by many. Yet Sejal and her husband found it very interesting and meaningful. In fact, they were there just days before the US President's famous 2018 visit.
Sejal describes taking a small tour group. They had excellent guides who told stories of the relationship between North and South Korea. We then talked about how one day Korea's DMZ would be like Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin. Hopefully. How nice it would be in the Korean DMZ was nothing more than a tourist attraction.
One of my favorite things to do in Korea is exploring Seoul's Hongdae District. Occupying the area of several colleges and universities, the Hongdae District is action-packed. Expect lots of cool restaurants, cafes, trendy clothing and design boutiques and more. It is a nightlife area, as well, but extremely lively 24-7.
Food & Communication: Things to Do in Korea with Kids
Sejal explains that English levels appeared to be lower than in Japan during their experiences in the country. They often ran into language barriers but found people to be very helpful.
Eating in Seoul: South Korean Food & Restaurants
Sejal recalls several times when they had to skip trying a restaurant because they couldn't read the menu. Unless there were pictures, they didn't risk it. Solo travelers may take the risk more often. However, when traveling with young kids like Sejal is, sometimes it's best to go with what you know.
Lots of Korean food is fried and/or meat-based. That said, it's still possible to eat vegetarian in Korea. Many places have veggie-friendly dishes, but you should be prepared to ask for them. Prepare a card with the word "vegetarian" written in Korean.
Getting Around Seoul: South Korea Travel Blog
Seoul is a very walkable city with a clean, modern and efficient transportation system. Whether you're traveling in Korea with kids or on your own, you'll find many transportation options. Taxis are clean and safe, as well.
But here's the thing: English is not widely spoken in South Korea. This can make it tricky talking to taxi drivers and subway attendants. And because of Hangul, Korea's writing system, it can be hard to read a map.
Speaking of maps, Sejal explains how Google Maps don't work well in Korea. Instead, most people use Kakao Maps, a local provider. But that means that the maps are often in Korean, which can be tricky to read.
Korea's Jeju Island: South Korea Travel Blog
Straight from the megalopolis of Seoul, Sejal and family flew to Jeju Island. Sejal and family found plenty of fun things to do at Jeju Island, which she describes in the podcast.
Often called "Honeymoon Island" by South Koreans, Jeju has peaceful beaches, green, pastoral hills, and a thriving art scene. No wonder many South Koreans still choose to take their honeymoon here! In fact, anyone who wants to get away from the gritty urban scene will find Jeju Island to be one of the best places to visit in Korea.
How to Get to Jeju Island: Things to Do at Jeju Island Korea
This beautiful dot of green is around 70 kilometers south of South Korea's southern border, but it's around a 90-minute flight from Seoul in the north of the country.
If you're planning more Korea travel south of the capital, then consider a variety of ferries that leave from ports along the southern border. Most people, however, may find the flying from Seoul to Jeju Island works best for their Korea travel itinerary.
Things to Do at Jeju Island: South Korea Travel Tips
There are loads of things to do in Seoul, Busan, and other major Korean cities. However, Jeju Island attractions are also varied and appealing. When looking for things to do at Jeju Island, Sejal and family discovered great beaches, nature trails and much more. "I thought it would just be a pretty island with beaches," she says, "but it was all that and much more."
There are other great things to do at Jeju Island besides exploring the shoreline. Jeju Island has loads of natural beauty past the beaches. For example, there are lots of hillside trails and waterfalls in the interior.
On the cultural side, Sejal recommends visiting the Jeju Art Village. Here, she was surprised and impressed by the variety and quality of art on display. Sejal is also interested in the beauty industry. She discovered that many of the leading Korean beauty products originate in Jeju Island's volcanic soil.
Haenyeo Divers: Things to Do at Jeju Island
One of the most interesting things to do at Jeju Island for Sejal was to visit the Haenyeo divers. These all-women diving groups are part of a matriarchal society on Jeju Island.
In fact, they listed by UNESCO as "intangible cultural heritage." Unfortunately, most divers are now in the 50's or all the way up to their 80's. With this in mind, it's entirely possible that this cultural tradition may not exist in the next generation.
Getting Around Jeju Island: Korea with Kids
Originally, Sejal and family planned to hire a rental car on Jeju Island. Thanks to high fees and complications with their driver's licenses, they went with bicycles and local buses. And they're glad they did.
They took local buses all over. They also easily rented a bicycle with a child's seat, which made for some fun exploring Jeju Island. Exploring things to do at Jeju Island was “very manageable without a car," she says, "despite what other people will tell you."
Where to Stay on Jeju Island: South Korea Travel Tips
When looking for where to stay on Jeju Island, Sejal and family decided to avoid resorts. Instead, they chose a "modern" hotel...with mixed results.
According to Sejal, she felt that South Korean tourism is on the tipping point of something good. However, it's not there just yet. While their room wasn't bad, there were a few things she wished were different. If they return again, she explains, then they would look for a guesthouse, Airbnb or another arrangement.
Know Any Fun Things to Do in Korea?
If you combine both Sejal's and my time in Korea, we've only spent a little over a month in the country in our individual trips. Sejal saw lots of Seoul and Jeju Island. In contrast, I've only visited one district in Seoul a few times. That's why we need your help. We want this South Korea travel blog post to be more comprehensive.
What are some great things to do in South Korea? Tell us things to do in Seoul. Tell us things to do in Busan. Give us details on things to do at Jeju Island and beyond. Where else should we explore?
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you, we might receive a small commission if you make a purchase or book using those links. My opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help you find fun things to do in Korea with kids. If you're looking for things to do in Seoul or things to do at Jeju Island, I hope that this South Korea travel blog post helps!
Full-on family travel fundamentals. Epic Education Radio is interviews, stories and advice for people who decide to make travel a priority in their family's life...and for those who want to. Tune in each week to hear stories and advice from new traveling families, and hear how they've handled various family travel-related issues like education, socialization, working, budgeting, accommodation, road-parenting, safety, technology and more. We talk gear, websites, apps and other resources for traveling & nomadic families, and answer questions from those who would like to do something similar.