One Day Seoul Trip for the Win

Seoul, South Korea at night

If you’re thinking of going to South Korea and wondering what it’s like, you’ve come to the right place. I had a blast the last time I was there, and you better believe I’m talking about it! I spent 3 days in Korea the first time I went there, but for this post, I want to keep it simple. After all, not everyone has the leisure to lollygag around the whole country. So, here’s a one-day Seoul trip for anyone looking for a taste of Korea before diving in.


Itinerary Overview

Since this is just a one-day Seoul trip, the route is pretty straightforward: Go to Seoul. Have fun. Leave. To make it easier, I thought I’d group sightseeing by location. (You can see the details on that under “Must-Sees!”) That way, when you smash together your own trip, it’ll be much easier to figure out logistics. And less headache = more fun.

  • Fly to Incheon International Airport.
  • Shuttle bus to Seoul.
  • Spend the day sightseeing.
  • Bus back to the airport.

Get Thee to Seoul

Getting Around

  • By Metro: Seoul has an extensive metro system that you’ll definitely want to take advantage of while you’re there. Tickets start from about US$1, and the stations also have maps to help you figure out your route. The Seoul Metro Subway Map app also offers a nice hand-up when you’re on the go.
  • By Bus: Fun fact: buses here are color-coded for easy travel convenience. Hop on a green bus to go from station to station and other well-trafficked stops. Blue ones, meanwhile, go for longer distances within Seoul, and yellow goes around downtown. When going from the airport, I’d suggest booking a shuttle bus after going through customs. They’re built in with a big ol’ compartment for luggage, and they’re pretty comfortable for long-distance travel.
  • By Taxi: Seoul’s public transportation is pretty spot-on, so there’s no real need for taxis like in some other locales. Except they’re cheap – like, super cheap, compared to some other cities I’ve been. So, don’t be afraid to call for one if you’re tired and just want to get to the next attraction. (Or your hotel. Whichever.)
  • By Rental Bike: You’d be surprised by how common this is in a lot of East Asian countries. It makes for a perfect green option. (Both in terms of being cheap and eco-friendly.) The downside is it takes longer and it’s tiring, both things that’ll take away from time and energy for sightseeing.
  • By Car: Again, the public transportation in Seoul is pretty good, so I’d only go with this if you were planning to visit the countryside. Otherwise, it’s not worth the hassle.

Tip of the Day: Get a Transportation Card!

No one wants to have their energy sapped away counting change every time you have to hop on a bus. My suggestion? Suit up with a card to pay for transportation: either the T-money Card or the Seoul City Pass.

You can see a more detailed outline here, but basically, T-money is a loadable card and the Seoul City Pass is buy once, ride up to 20 times per day card. You can put as much money as you want on T-money as long as it’s above 3,000 won (about US$2.27), and then use it on buses, metro, and in department and convenience stores. It’s a nice perk that means you don’t have to worry about flashing your credit card every five seconds.

A one-day Seoul City Pass is 15,000 won – but unless you’re flying in and out on the same day, you’ll have to think of transportation to and from the airport. Since you’ll probably be going through Incheon Airport, your best bet is a shuttle bus.

Where To Stay In Seoul

Last time I was in Seoul, I stayed at Aloft Seoul Myeongdong. And I’ve gotta say, it’s hard to beat the value of a nice hotel for a decent price.


Must-Sees In Seoul

As the biggest city in South Korea, you better believe there’s a lot to see. The list I put together below doesn’t even begin to cover it. But these are still a good starting point if you want the best of the best. Or at least, my personal recommendations, having been there before.

Below, I’ve grouped the sightseeing by location to make things easier for when you build your own itinerary. The first six spots are relatively close together, organized from north to south.

The last three attractions are a bit removed from the rest. They’re still sitting pretty in Seoul’s city center, though, so don’t worry – they’ll fit no problem into a one-day itinerary. Since I’ve listed them from south to north, all the sightseeing together makes a full circle.

It’s damn near impossible to fit all nine sightseeing spots into one day, so I’d suggest going with three or four that really spark your interest. It’ll keep your one-day Seoul vacation from turning into a race.

1. Bukchon Hanok Village2. Gyeongbokgung Palace
3. Jogyesa Temple4. Insadong Shopping District
5. Cheonggyeocheon6. Myeongdong Shopping Street
7. Seoul Tower8. Ihwa Mural Village
9. Dongdaemun Design Plaza

Looking for More than Just One-Day Seoul?

As it just so happens, I’ve got a ton more South Korea tips in store. I really enjoyed my stay in Seoul and have 0 problems bragging about it! This time was a one-day Seoul itinerary, but next time, I think I’ll talk more about the bars and libations Seoul has to offer. So, I hope you’ll stay tuned and follow me for more updates.

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Cheers, Jordan