Tokyo or Seoul? (Or Somewhere else?)

Feb 18th, 2012, 03:07 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 267
Tokyo or Seoul? (Or Somewhere else?)

I am taking a trip to Kyoto and Hong Kong, with room for one more stop, in September. I am spending about four or five nights in each city. I love Kyoto and Hong Kong, but I did not love Tokyo on my only trip there. I was planning on giving Tokyo another chance, but now I am considering Seoul instead. (I am using an award ticket which permits two stopovers, hence the three different city option). I realize I could do both Tokyo and Seoul by visiting Tokyo when I am in Kyoto, and taking the bullet train, but that would push my budget above where I want it to be, and I have it in my mind that three cities in about twelve to fourteen days is what I am looking for.

Though the DMZ seems very interesting to me, I am not sure why else I would want to go to Seoul? I know only a couple of people who have been there, and they do not speak very highly of it. The truth is, I really do not know much of anything about Seoul or S. Korea. But I feel like I should at least go to one new place, since I have already been to Tokyo, HK, and Kyoto.

Can anyone help me with what kind of city Seoul is? Is it a great walking city (which I love), is there great food, shopping, nightlife?....How are westerners treated (I have heard it is a very closed society, and I do not know anyone there), is language and communication a problem, is it expensive, etc....?

I welcome any specific advice on Seoul, as well as general advice. I am also considering Bangkok as my third city, but I have been a few times before, and the heat and rain in September give me pause, as well as the general issue of feeling that I have already seen and done a lot there.

Thank you.
fishskis is offline  
Feb 18th, 2012, 05:09 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,072
I much prefer Tokoyo to Seoul. Areas of Seoul are walking/walkable but not the city as a whole. I didn'tfind any great food,or shopping, or history - didn't look for nightlife. Taxis were inexpensive (4 yrs ago)and subways easy but no real exciting places to visit. Koreans treat westerners well - same as Japanese. I didn't find either group especially friendly but I believe it is more shyness and lang barriers US still has troops stationed in Seoul so they see Americans.

The DMZ is more of 'I have been there' place but nothing exciting to see IMHO - just a strip of barren land with fences etc. My favorite in Seoul was the baths. I'll take Japanese cuisine any day compared to Korean. Maybe you should explore a 2nd location in Japan. HawaiianTraveler has many posted trip reports and information re Japan. Consider a 2nd place in Japan that is interesting but different from the huge city of Tokoyo. I may go back to Seoul someday ONLY if the routing of an airline sends me there but not as a Destination. Is Tai Pei or the Phillipines within reach? I'd check and see. Actually - what an interesting 'problem' to have. Let us know what you chose.
wintersp is offline  
Feb 18th, 2012, 06:31 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 267
Wintersp, thank you for your reply. It is very helpful. What you wrote about the DMZ confirmed one of my suspicions (what I am really fascinated by is the idea of going to North Korea, something I really want to do, but am somewhat fearful of). Fortunately for me, a few years back I did a lot of business travel in the region, and Taiwan and the Phillipines were visited multiple times; no need or desire to return now.

I am leaning towards doing exactly what you said, doing Tokyo, and adding a day trip(s) to Kyoto or Tokyo to explore some new place(s) in Japan.
fishskis is offline  
Feb 18th, 2012, 10:09 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,140
Check the weather. I think it is rainy in Japan in Sept. There would be a sumo tournament in Tokyo.
mrwunrfl is online now  
Feb 19th, 2012, 03:35 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,072
I too, desire to visit N. Korea. I believe it can be done by going through China. You may like to read the book "In the Absence of Son", a Korean American's foray into N. Korea to free a family member that got separated from the rest of the family.

HT's reports about some out of the way places in Japan piqued
my interst to places outside of Tokyo.

I hope Tokyo is more rewarding for you this time. Let us know
when you return.
wintersp is offline  

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