Summer is upon us in Seoul, South Korea. Usually Summer means BBQs, bikinis, beaches and booze.
In Korea we are blessed with such extremities of weather; blistering heat or torrential rain, that you’ll probably be left with squelching shoes of water either way.
I have decided to take this opportunity to share with you a list of places or activities, in which you may wish to partake, during these unbearable apocalyptic days.
They also come with air conditioning and a roof
1. Visit the Aquarium.
COEX Mall has a large aquarium riddled with various sea creatures from all over the world. Like most things in Seoul, the price is pretty decent.
Youre dry and cool
Its pretty big and will certainly take you a while to walk around
Theres some pretty mental sea creatures..
Be prepared to suffer the onslaught of all of Seoul who have, rather originally, thought of the same idea.
Shoving ajumas (old korean ladies) at every single window you come to.
Korean children, who for some reason, are still more majestically mesmerised at the sight of your foreign face than a great white shark gliding past it.
Where : Seoul, Gangnam-gu, 159 Samsung-dong
Website : http://www.coexaqua.co.kr/
Phone number : +82-2-1330 (English, Korean, Japanese, Chinese)
Directions : Exit 5 and 6 of Samseong station (Seoul Subway Line 2) are connected to COEX MALL. At the end of Ocean Walk is the Aquarium.
Cost : Adults 17,500 won, Teens 14,500 won Children \11,000 won
2. Lotte World theme park.
This indoor theme park has enough tricks to keep you entertained for an entire day. Boasting a couple of roller coasters, water rapids, ice-rink and restaurants, this theme park will certainly provide some joy for even the most depressed characters. Lotte World has either been designed by a pyscopath who is more precise than a rolex watch or a complete mentalist who is more insane than Dr. Evil from Austin Powers. I am unsure to be honest. The lack of signs can leave you completely lost and you literally stumble across rides and amenities. This could be however, one of the most ingenious ideas a theme park has ever come up with. Everything is disguised by something here and you never truly know what your doing or where you are going. It feels like that time you took mushrooms and told yourself you will only walk straight regardless of the obstacle, yet mysteriously ended up back at the same point you started. The ridiculousness of it will make you forget about the heavens opening up outside..briefly anyway..
Indoor roller coasters..
Too many other rides to remember
Lots of junk food
Dance intervals with incredibly attractive Eastern European/Russian females and males cartwheeling their way across stage waving, creepily smiling, winking and singing.
Youve probably already been
Where : Seoul-si Songpa-gu Jamsil-dong 40-1
Directions : Jamsil Station, Subway Line 2 & 8, Exit #4 (Direct access from station)
Opening Hours : Mon Thu : 09:30 22:00
Fri Sun : 9:30 23:00
Website : www.lotteworld.com
* Day (09:30 ~ ) Adults 26,000, Youths 23,000/ Children 20,000 won
*Afternoon (16:00 ~ ) Adults 22,000/ Youths 19,000/ Children 16,000 won
*Evening (19:00 ~ )Adults 15,500/ Youths 13,500/ Children 11,500 won
3. Games Arcades.
Koreans love video games. Fact. So do I. If you also share my thrill of using a shotgun to decapitate a zombie in House of the Dead 56 or replaying the exact same level as last time on Time Crisis 21 , spraying your way through an airport full of security guards with rocket launchers, only to be eaten alive by a rogue locust moments later, then this is for you. The brilliant thing about games arcades is that they always have the same games, regardless of where you are in the world. Theres nothing more thrilling than walking into a games arcade and seeing the same brand of games youve publicly grown up with but never publicly completed.
Loads of games
Multiplayer and singleplayer
1,000 won a game (about $1)
Cant keep chucking the money in forever..
Might look weird flying solo..
Where : Usually close to CGV movie theaters, techno marts or indoor shopping malls.
Yongsan Station, Sindorim Station, Guro Station, Coex Mall
Directions : Subway/bus/Taxi to the nearest station
Cost : 1-2,000 korean won per play
4. PS3 Room/Nintendo Wii Room.
These are not to be confused with games arcades. For the more dedicated gamer you can head on over to a PS3 or Nintendo Wii bang (room). Choose your video game of choice and be seated on a two-three person sofa in front of a 40 inch HD television. Populated predominately by young korean males epically enthralled in similar battles of Winning/PES, these game stations are exactly what the doctor ordered on a rainy day. Cold beverages of your choice are on offer whilst the over the counter service can provide you with ramen/noodles, snacks or gaming assistance (menu systems in Korean may take a while to figure out)
They are popping up all over the place
Perfectly Set up for gaming with your friends
Convincing your friends to come to the one near you
Where: The best one Ive been to is at Noryangjin station although they are dotted everywhere. Just look out for the PS3 symbol amongst the Neon madness in student areas in particular.
Directions: For Noryangjin. Leave the subway station (Blue Line) and head across the bridge going outside. Walk down to the left and head towards McDonalds. Walk past Mcdonalds (should be on your right) and head across the pedestrian crossing in front of you. Walk towards a fork of neon lights and head down the right of the fork. Keep walking past a Daiso amongst other small shops and turn right at the next small fork. Immediately from here there are two on your left with a PS3 sign outside. Go down the stairs and start gaming.
Cost: about 4,000-5,000 won for playing the games + drinks or extras
5. Cat Cafe/Dog Cafe.
Do it once. A cafe where you spend time with small furry animals. Each cafe has a large number of cats or dogs depending on which you choose. The cafes are riddled with toys for you to shake in front of their furry little faces.
Can be quite enjoyable
No time limit
Can pretend to be a crazy cat person for a short while
Get there early and the animals are pretty friendly
Can be annoying
Dogs can be smelly
Get there late and the animals dont care about you
You might feel a bit weird sat in a cafe playing with cats and dogs
Tom’s Cat Café in Hongdae, Seoul www.tomscat.com
Gio Cat, Seoul www.giocat.com (Seoul-si Mapo-gu Seogyo-dong 358-92 3F) Hongik Univ. Station, Seoul Subway Line 2, Exit #6 >> Follow the street with the Smoothie King in front of the Hongik Univ. entrance
Bali Cat, Seoul
Bauhaus Dog Cafe : Hapjeong Station. (Directions: http://www.eatyourkimchi.com/bau-house-dog-cafe/)
Cost: about 5,000 won
6. PC Room.
The one and only place to hang out for young Korean people. These places are on every corner on every floor. Packed full of Koreans swearing because someone stole their minerals in Starcraft/Fifa Online.
Can spend hours on the internet playing games
Only PC games
7. Noraebang (Singing Room).
A room kitted out with stereos, disco balls and microphones. Pick a song. Type it in. Start singing. There is a large English section in every song book.
Sing any song you want
Get incredibly drunk and forget the time
Must have friends..
Where: Every corner
8. Jimjilbang (Korean Spa).
Take your clothes off and sit in a variety of saunas, spa pools and steam rooms. These places are incredible. There are male and female only sections where you are completely naked and there are mixed areas where you are unfortunately clothed and sit in steam and sauna rooms. Clothing is provided on the way in. Shorts and a t-shirt.
Variety of rooms
TVs airing the latest shows.
Food courts and refreshment areas
Massages and scrubs are available
The naked sections may leave you feeling uncomfortable by wandering eyes..
Koreans are rarely kept
If you get a scrub prepare yourself to be battered and torn apart by an old Korean same sex person.
Where: All over seoul but Yongsan station (Dragon Hill Spa) is probably the biggest and nicest in seoul. Leave Yongsan station, go down the escalators and turn right. Cant miss it.
**TIP Dont go to one near your school. You may see your students!
Cost: 10,000 won including refreshments and such.
9. Indoor Shopping.
Im all for sticking it to the man but there comes a time when I relapse and give him all my money. There are two huge malls/shopping centers in Seoul. Both are at opposite sides of the city. They contain all the consumerism you want.
Stores you know
Can be nice and relaxed
Theres a movie theater inside every shopping mall/center
Can be hectic
You might spend all your money
Lotte Mall Gimpo Aiport (The biggest in Korea) Subway to Gimpo Airport
Coex Mall (The biggest underground mall in Asia) Subway to Samseong
AK plaza Another relatively big shopping center. They are all over.
10. Trick art/eye museum.
This is fun for a couple of hours. You walk about and take photos in 3-D photos which look as though you are part of them. You basically walk about like your in a cattle market. The place is busy and unless you go mental in the photos it can actually be pretty lame.
Can take funny photos
Showing the photos to friends can be quite amusing
Its not a new thing
The actual process isnt fun
Having people watch you pretend to be in a 3-D photo is weird
Where: Seoul-si Mapo-gu Seogyo-dong 357-1 Seogyo Plaza B02-01
Directions : (Line 2, Exit 9). Walk straight then turn left at the first intersection. Walk until you reach Starbucks on the left. Cross the main street on your right and go down the alley next to Holika Holika. Continue walking for a minute and Santorini Seoul will be on your right.
11. Order Mcdonalds delivery
You can get McDonalds delivered to your door. Sorry I didnt tell you earlier.
You dont have to go anywhere
These good folk will come to your house and feed you!
Where: Your house
How : If you can read your address in korean then call the number.
***TIP When in doubt add an errrr sound to the end of your order
For example Big-err Mac-err Set-errr Trust me theyll understand you.
The general order this phone conversation will go is:
-Payment (Say Cash-ee or Card-err)
If you cant speak any Korean or dont understand still then the good people at eatyourkimchi.com explain everything here http://www.eatyourkimchi.com/how-to-get-mcdonalds-delivered-to-your-home/
Want Pizza Hut, Dominoes or Papa Johns?
12. Buy an Xbox/Ps3.
It might be this point right now that you wish youd bought an Xbox/PS3 or Nintendo Wii. If you havent then get on over to the nearest Techno Mart and purchase one. Yongsan has an entire gaming section.
Where: Follow this link. Contains a step by step guide on how to get there
If in doubt just keep saying X-Box to people and youll eventually get there
Cost: Varies..depending what you purchase. Remember that you can haggle prices here! The phrase Kaka ju-say-yo means make it cheaper please. I am yet to hear someone refuse.