- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
Visit South Korea
Experience Seoul’s nightlife
I claim Seoul to have the Best nightlife in the world. Yes, the absolute best. I’ve partied in over 40 big cities across North America, Europe and Asia since 2012, and nothing is on the level that Seoul is on.
The nightlife in Seoul feels like a nonstop party, and drinking alcohol is a frequent social event among friends. Almost everyone drinks a popular local rice liquor called soju, which is normally served in a green glass bottle. It’s similar to sake of Japan, but soju is actually the most popular liquor sold in the world (more than 61 million cases were sold in 2013).
Whether you like to kick back and enjoy a beer with some friends, or dance at a nightclub, Seoul has something for you. Head to Gangnam to the posh nightclubs, Itaewon for the cultural diversity, and Hongdae for the hundreds of pubs to experience the best after-hours entertainment. Almost nothing closes until the sun rises.
Get years ahead in technology
It seems like Korea is five years ahead of the world in technology.
At night, the streets never darken thanks to the perpetually illuminated neon lights, which make Las Vegas look like a rural suburb. Inside nearly every room of every building in Seoul has a giant Samsung TV screen mounted on the wall. Other top-of-the-line Samsung & LG products like computers, cell phones, printers and air conditioners are seen everywhere. Samsung even produces a brand of high-tech cars commonly seen on the streets of Seoul.
But above all else, the readily available and utterly fast Wi-Fi speeds are perhaps the most impressive of Korea’s tech-driven economy. In fact, South Korea is renowned for being the most connected country in the world, thanks to its widespread Wi-Fi availability (you can pick up a Wi-Fi signal from any coffee shop, restaurant or street corner).
Have fun on a budget
While Seoul may not be as inexpensive as other destinations in Asia, it can be traveled cheaply, which is why many backpackers and budget-minded travelers make a stop here.
Food, in particular, is very affordable. Street vendors, which are stationed throughout the city, are the cheapest option. You can get mandu (Korean dumplings), ddeokbogi(Korean spicy rice cakes), fried chicken and more for less than $3 USD. As long as you avoid the touristy restaurants, a traditional Korean BBQ meal will cost you no more than $12 USD (soju and beer included). Especially in my rural town, I can eat a Korean BBQ meal for $8USD (booze included).
Accommodations are just as reasonable. Hostels offer rooms for less than $10 USD per night, and cheap hotel rooms can be found throughout the city. However, if you want to experience even more Korean culture, consider staying at a jjimchilbang (a Korean spa). For 7,000 KRW per night ($7 USD), you’ll have the opportunity to experience Korean culture first-hand. The base price includes a mat for sleeping, access to the spa and showers and a change of clothes to sleep in. Depending on the jjimchilbang, you can also pay a little extra to get a massage or a haircut.
Meet awesome people
Korean people are awesome. They are very open minded, friendly, and welcoming. They will treat you with upmost respect, and they genuinely are curious to know you as a person. I have made so many amazing Korean friends since I’ve been living here, and I am very thankful for all of them.
I’ve traveled all around Asia, and I haven’t found people as heart warming as Koreans. This country has truly emerged as my second home, in Asia- some 8,000 miles away from my home in the USA.
I can’t stress enough about the incredible Korean hospitality and friendliness. You just gotta come here to see it yourself!
Admire Buddhist temples
After living in Asia for a while, and visiting many Buddhist countries (hello Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam), I have gained a huge appreciation for this religion. You might be surprised to hear that Buddhism spread all around Korea centuries and centires ago.
All around Seoul and the countryside are hundreds of colorful, detailed Buddhist temples. They preserve a rich, ancient heritage to Buddhism, which was introduced to Korea in the fourth century. According to a recent government survey, about 25% of Koreans still identify themselves as Buddhist. Buddhist temples like Jogyesa, Myogaksa, Bongeunsa and Jingwansa (situated within Bukhansan National Park) are some of the city’s must-see religious sites around Seoul.
I’ve learned that Buddhism is all about peacefulness, loving and kindness. Buddhists take all the negativity around them, and learn how to turn it around by developing a positive mental state of mind.