I recently travelled to the capital cities of South Korea and China–Seoul and Beijing respectively. Now, it’s your turn. Here is some information to help you get started.
Get active country hopping—without a tour guide
BY PHILL FELTHAM
When someone tells you that Asia is one of the cheapest places to travel, listen to them.
Recently, I traveled to Beijing and Seoul for vacation. China, despite its world power influence, huge size, and fast growing economy, is still a pretty cheap place to travel–at least to Beijing (prior to the Olympics).
China’s capital has great architecture. There is nothing like casting your eyes on the huge size of the Forbidden City or gazing at the Great Wall in person. You marvel how wonders like these were ever built and the amount of time it took to build them. You need one day just to cover the Forbidden City and, if you’re wise, you’ll take some time to absorb the atmosphere of the Great Wall, as you may never get that chance again. Yes sir, Beijing is definitely worth the money.
Seoul, however, requires a little more careful planning. Most of the palaces are inexpensive, however, they can be covered within a couple of hours. At the Changgyeonggung Palace, you receive a guided tour. Kind of inconvenient if you just want to absorb the architecture at your own pace. If you’re a go-go traveler who must see everything at once, then the tour will suit you just fine.
If you’re a temple and palace enthusiast, then your costs will stay down; however, if you want to broaden your horizons and take in the scenic views of the city, more careful planning is required.
The Seoul Tower is an absolute must-see, but experiencing the cable car and observatory together can be pretty hard on the wallet. Samson Park, which surrounds the tower, is a nice size but its sites are pretty inconvenient to get to.
If you have a few dollars and like a little risk, take the DMZ tour. It takes a day of your time. If you want to visit an amusement park, then head south of the Hangang River and visit Lotte World Amusement Park.
The scenery of Yeouido Island is beautiful. There is a one-hour boat tour that takes you up and down the Hangang River. If you take the boat tour closer to sunset, you can take a picture of the 63 Building (63 floors with shopping on the bottom floor); just watch out for glare when taking your picture.
Certain parts of Seoul are clean and well-developed. As I mentioned, the temples and palaces are inexpensive. The gigantic Temple Of Heaven Park and the Summer Palace in Beijing are huge and low in price. If you visit these places, be prepared for lots of walking.
If you’re not looking for backpacking journeys and just want to hit the big cities while doing a little country hopping at the same time; then the Beijing and Seoul combo is great.
Use the below links to help you plan your memorable trip.
Hostel World: Book with this website. It’s great for online bookings.
Tour2Korea.com: TWW’s Senior Editor Karli Vezina–a Canadian living in South Korea–gives this website two thumbs up. It’s great for background information on sites and hostels. You can also use this website to book hotels.
Lonely Planet Guides for Korea and China. If you are living in North America, you can buy these books or other relevant travel guides at your local bookstore.
Your local book store: It’s true, you will need to read more than just the Lonely Planet Guides for good information. The big book stores are just as good as the Internet.
The Internet: Research Beijing and South Korea with Google, Yahoo, Bing, and The Weekly Wanderer. You’ll be glad you did. iT!
Travel Writer Phill Feltham recently traveled to Seoul, South Korea, and Beijing, China. He is also the Publisher of The Weekly Wanderer.