November 28, 2020

A family reunion in South Korea

Almost a year ago, my Australian family, my mum and I struck a deal – we were going to meet each other somewhere halfway…. and where was that somewhere halfway? Seoul, South Korea of course.

I’ve always fancied the idea of visiting Seoul and given its location, it meant that it genuinely was a halfway point for my family and I.

It also meant my Australian family got to experience what cold weather in December was like for the first time!

Sophie and her family in Seoul

We spent a week in the South Korean capital, making the most of our time together and exploring a place none of our group had visited before. And how was it? Amazing!

After a catch up in the hotel bar and an exchange of Tim Tams for Cadbury’s chocolate, we set out to see the sights. Here’s some of the highlights from our trip…..

Getting a cultural fix at Gyeongbokgung Palace and Jogyesa Temple

When you look at all of the guide books and speak with people who have been to Seoul before, all of them recommend trips to Gyeongbokung Palace and Jogyesa Temple.

Gyeongbokung Palace, built in 1395, was the main royal palace of the Joseon dynasty. It was destroyed during the Japanese colonial rule and later painstakingly reconstructed.

We spent an afternoon wandering and learning about the palace’s history.

Make sure to enter via the main entrance and experience the changing of the guard.

For those who want a larger understanding of the palace’s history there are free English tours available.

Read more: Renting Hanbok in Seoul

On our first morning we visited Jogyesa Temple and had great fun learning about buddhism and seeing the locals visit.

It was absolutely freezing – some of the water features in the temple had actually frozen over and then it began to snow.

Visiting Seoul’s coolest cafes

South Korea – especially Seoul – is home to some incredibly cool cafes and we were eager to try out a few during our trip.

We ended up visiting the Harry Potter themed cafe and the vending machine cafe. I’d read about both of them in blog posts before the trip and was eager to see if they lived up to the hype. Believe me, they did.

The Harry Potter cafe had several floors, each with their own theme.

We ordered their own version of Butterbeer and a slice of Oreo cheesecake. Then when we were done, we went to the top floor where they had capes, scarves and broomsticks that you could try out.

We almost missed the vending machine cafe as it literally is a small slot in the wall! But when we were inside, there were so many things to choose from. We opted for their juice drinks, a tin can cake and I ended up having a Christmas themed ice cream.

Eating out at the local markets

Food market in Seoul

We were lucky enough to have the Myondong Market close to our hotel and we definitely made the most of it.

We got into the habit of looking around to see what was on offer and then trying a bit of everything – the ideal way to eat street food.

I was a big fan of Tteokbokki and strawberries covered in mochi.

We all decided to give the huge ice creams a go – the temperature was in the minus figures but we all wanted to try it because it was huge!

Seeing the city from above

One of the best ways to understand the sheer size of Seoul is by visiting Namsan Mountain.

We opted for the lazy option by getting the cable car up but it was really cool!

Once you get to the top, the railings are all covered with love locks. I loved how couples had written the dates of their visit and some had even left instant of themselves along with the locks.

If you’ve got more time on your hands, there are plenty of hikes that you can try.

Going to a concert

I’m a big fan of going to concerts overseas so was glad to be in the city when U2 were performing as part of the Asia leg of the Joshua Tree Tour.

We had the best time, dancing and singing along with the locals.

It was the band’s first time playing South Korea and the crowd were really excitable which is just what you want from a show.

Read more: What it’s like attending a concert in South Korea

Being trendy in Gangnam

Gangnam was made famous for the PSY’s song Gangnam Style but there’s more to the district than that. We explored the shopping mall and the beautiful Starfield library. I’m genuinely not sure how anyone gets work done there because it looks so pretty!

We also tried out the food court in the shopping mall – I had a cracking Bibimbap.

Starfield Library, Seoul, South Korea

As you can see, we tried to pack as much in to our short trip to Seoul and we all came away saying it was the best trip we’d had in ages.

Our trip to Seoul allowed us to catch up and spend quality time together, while also experiencing a rather big adventure. If you’re looking for a place to spend some time with family I would definitely recommend South Korea. I’d love to go back with them and travel outside of the South Korean capital.

Here’s what we got up to in video form…..


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A post shared by Sophie Williams I Journalist (@sophieroseonthemove)

How to get to South Korea

I flew with my mum direct to Seoul with British Airways while my Australian family flew with Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong. It was pretty much the same flight time for both groups.

I would definitely recommend British Airways – the staff were friendly, the meals were good and there were good options on the flight entertainment system. The flight left London mid morning which made it perfect for getting to the airport without already feeling exhausted.

This post is in partnership with the South Korean Tourist Board who invited me to share my experiences in the country with my family. As always, all views and opinions are my own. But you must know what Seoul genuinely did steal my heart and I am desperate to go back! 

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