On this day: First day in Seoul, South Korea

See more from my On This Day series here, where I celebrate travel memories on their trip anniversaries.

On November 5, 2018, I was spending my first day in Seoul, South Korea.

Boy, was 2018 a great year for travel. Less than two weeks after our return from Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon, we headed out on our first trip in East Asia to explore a bit of South Korea and Japan.

We landed in Seoul in the evening and settled into our accommodation in Bukchon Hanok Village, where we would stay for the remainder of our time in the country.

The next morning, jet lag woke us up at the early hour of 4 am and we decided to start our day. Our first stop was a walk to the closest 7-Eleven, as we had learned from many travel vloggers and bloggers that the Asian franchises carried much nicer selections of snacks than what we were used to in North America.

After returning to our hanok for a proper homemade breakfast of dakjuk (Korean chicken and rice porridge) prepared by our host Mi Kyung, we headed back out again. Our next destination was the neighbourhood of Insadong, an area that became the centre of Seoul’s artistic life and cafe culture following the end of the Korean War. We passed by several galleries, admired some outdoor installations, and then had our lunch break of mandu dumplings followed by tea at Dawon Traditional Tea Garden.

In the afternoon, we took a quick walk by Jongmyo Royal Shrine, opting to just wander around outside. A short distance away was Gwangjang Market, which beckoned us with fresh and delicious local delicacies like bindae-tteok (mung bean pancake).

At this point, our jet lag was quickly catching up to us, so we hopped on the train and went back to our hanok for a rest. Unwittingly, we laid down to close our eyes for just a minute, but woke up nearly five hours later in the dark and completely disoriented. We decided that we really had to make an effort to push through the jet lag, so got up to go outside again and jolt ourselves awake.

We took another ride on the train, taking us downtown toward Myeongdong. We had landed in Seoul in time to attend the Cheonggyecheon Lantern Festival, an event that is held during the first two weeks of November every year. Hundreds of lanterns were on display along the river, celebrating the festival’s 10th anniversary.

When our eyes couldn’t stay open any longer, we called it a night. But before we returned home to bed, I had to pick up one last snack from 7-Eleven – a giant meat stick and Crunky bar to end the day. 😋

Stay tuned for more recaps of this trip, coming up throughout the week.

18 responses to “On this day: First day in Seoul, South Korea”

  1. jasonlikestotravel Avatar
    jasonlikestotravel

    I really like the ‘on this day’ concept, it’s a fun series. Looked like you timed it pretty well with the 10th anniversary of the festival – it looked really cool. Everyone raves about 7-11 too, definitely going to have to check it out when I get to Asia 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I miss Asian 7-Elevens so much! Thanks for reading 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. jasonlikestotravel Avatar
        jasonlikestotravel

        We used to have them in England but not for a very long time so I can’t really remember if they were any good here.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Korean food is probably my most favorite of all. In fact, I want to, one day, go on a food tour of Korea. Nothing but eating. And maybe some walking in between.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, an entire trip of food tours is my idea of dream travel! Korean food is definitely one of my favourites too, probably a close second behind Japanese.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I find the ‘on this day’ concept interesting, it allows you to take a step back rather than talking about a recent trip, it’s not the same approach. I’m just wondering what it will look like in a few years time when it comes to looking back to 2020 🙂 This Crunky chocolate bar is very attractive, is it like Crunch?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think an On This Day post looking back on 2020 would be pretty dull for me. Everyday blends into the next. 😏

      The Crunky bar was similar to Crunch but I actually prefer Crunch bars. Crunky is more fun to say though. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Have you tried White Chocolate Crunch Bars? I can’t remember seeing them in Canada, sadly 😦

        Liked by 1 person

      2. No, I would love those! I’ve never seen them in Canada.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Very sweet, much sweeter than milk chocolate.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post, loved reading it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. 2018 really was a great year for travel: I pretty much was traveling somewhere every month of that year! Seoul is one place that I’m itching to go to in South Korea, and your adventures there make me excited to head over once the pandemic is over. Thanks for sharing your time there!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yup, I went on four trips in 2018, it was a fantastic year for travel! Hope you have a chance to add South Korea to your list someday soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You had me laughing out loud when your “quick nap” turned into a 5-hour REM-fest!

    Crunky. That’s how I feel after a bad day at work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember your post about dealing with horrible jet lag when you came back from Cambodia. We are unlucky to be so far away from Asia. That 12 hour time difference is brutal!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. the lanterns look brilliant! I have never been to South Korea – or indeed North. I hope too if really really lucky next time i head to japan, albeit for probably just a few days. thanks for sharing Jess!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s exactly what I did. A few short days in South Korea before our Japan trip. The flight over is quick and cost us less than $100 CAD.

      Like

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