Think modern skyscrapers in a city laced with neon lights, intertwined by Buddhist temples, and you have Seoul: a charming recipe of old and new.
The first two seasons of the PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour took us to South Korea’s capital. In recent years the stop disappeared from the tour’s schedule, but now it’s back once again for the fifth season. The five-day APPT Seoul Festival of Poker will take place at the prestigious Paradise Walkerhill Casino from March 8th to 11th.
PokerStars Qualifiers will be staying at the luxurious Sheraton Grande Walkerhill Hotel, which is the same location as the tournament venue, located inside the Paradise Walkerhill Casino .
If you did not qualify for this event and are looking to book your own accommodation, please visit PokerNews Hotels for great rates on nearby hotels.
Arriving and Exploring
While taxis around the city of Korea are quite cheap, traveling from the airport to your hotel can get quite expensive, costing approximately KRW140,000 for the taxi fare, considering the Incheon International Airport is located one-hour from the city.
It is for that reason that buses are the most recommended mode of transport from the airport. When you exit the building at the airport, you’ll immediately see the bus stands lining the sidewalk. Take KAL Limousine Bus to Paradise Walkerhill Casino. This trip will take approximately 80 minutes.
Once you’re in town, taxis are quite afordable, and I’ve come across an incredible website, Visit Seoul, that provides the most comprehensive breakdown of the various taxis available. I was impressed to discover on this page that Seoul offers a taxi service specifically for non-Korean speaking visitors – brilliant!
While taxis are affordable, Seoul is actually known to have one of the world’s best subway systems, making your journey around such a hectic city much easier than expected. Once again, Visit Seoul provides an excellent guide to using the Subway system.
For a more scenic and relaxed route around town, take a water taxi from one of the 17 stations located along the Hangang River. Click here for timetables and more information.
Lastly, a free shuttle service leaves the tournament venue every 10 minutes to Downtown Seoul, operating between 6am and 11.20pm.
Download | Map of Seoul
If you’re in the market for electronics, then you absolutely must visit Yongsan Electronics Shopping Mall. It’s the largest electronic-specific shopping complex, housing 10 different malls! Like most places in Seoul, you can reach the mall easily on public transport, located near Yongsan Station.
Dongdaemun Market has the ultimate combination of traditional market stalls and modern commercial retailers. Be ready for an overwhelming experience as this is Korea's largest wholesale and retail shopping district with 26 different malls, 30,000 specialty shops, and 50,000 manufacturers! The retail malls open at 10am and they don’t close until 5am the following day, some even operate 24 hours, making it a great place to visit after a day of play. To deal with the overwhelming size, begin your trip at the Dongdaemun Tourist Information Center, located in front of exit 14 of the Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station, for some English-speaking guidance! You can easily reach the market via public transport, located near Dongdaemun Station, but please keep in mind that it closes each Monday.
Lastly, for more of a traditional market then head to GwangJang Market to pick up some hand-made and vintage goods while enjoying some of the best, local street food. Conveniently, it's located near the above-mentioned Dongdaemun Market.
Korean Culture and Food
Seoul is a city of many cultures and variations, celebrated an astonishing amount of museums and galleries throughout the city. With over 700 museums and over 400 galleries, the history buff and art lover will be in a world of bliss. Although, this isn’t the only place to taste a piece of local culture of course, with various spots throughout the city considered cultural grounds.
With so much of Seoul having been modernized, it’s refreshing to be able to truly experience, learn and immerse yourself in the local culture, and a visit to Bukchon Hanok Village, will do just that. It’s a preserved village of hundreds of traditional houses called ‘hanok’ that date back to the Joseon Dynasty. Spend an afternoon strolling through the streets, eating lunch at one of the many cafés and sipping on local flavors at a traditional teahouse.
For a hands-on experience with Korean food, then try Trip Advisor’s #1 ranked “Thing to Do” in Seoul – O’ngo Food Communications. The term o’ngo (oen-go) means modernising traditions, and that’s exactly what they do. It’s a culinary school and tour company offering Korean cooking classes as well as tours to show off the city’s best food and drinks, providing a taste of the real, local flavors of Seoul.
A site that I’ve referred to many times in this article has once again impressed me. Visit Korea has put together a slew of itineraries for tours on foot throughout Seoul. There are so many to choose from depending on your goals, all of which you can find here, fully detailed, mapped, scheduled and even budgeted for your convenience.
* Lead image courtesy of Cities in the World
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