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The ultimate solo female travel guide to Seoul was a must! Seoul has my heart. I’ve travelled to Seoul many times for work as a flight attendant. But in September 2022, I planned a solo trip to South Korea for two weeks.
Seoul has everything you can dream of as a city, including nature, mountains, and hiking trails. I feel that there are certain things you need to know before coming to South Korea that would make your female solo travel trip carefree.
Before we move on! Don’t forget to check out >> 11 important travel tips for solo travel to Seoul
I’ll share everything you need to know in this ultimate solo female travel guide to Seoul! I hope you’ll enjoy Seoul to the fullest after reading this! Let’s dig in!
Solo travel to Seoul
The best thing about travelling alone to Seoul is safety. South Korea, in general, is a super safe country for solo female travellers. Like in Singapore and most places in Thailand, like Chiang Mai, I’ve never felt unsafe.
My first time in Seoul, I went out for drinks with co-workers. I was shocked when I saw people randomly leave their belongings, like purses or phones, on the table. Koreans respect other people’s belongings!
Seoul is such a diverse and dynamic city. It reminds me a bit of New York. It never sleeps if you don’t want to. Even though it’s the middle of the night, there is always something to do and food to get.
The city has many cultural places, museums, trendy neighbourhoods, cool coffee places, outside gyms, great hiking trails, and more for any solo traveller. It’s impossible to get bored.
Just getting an iced coffee, sitting on a bench near the Han River, and doing some people-watching or reading a book is relaxing!
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Public transport in Seoul
Public transport in Seoul is also excellent, which is great for solo budget travellers! The city has an accessible bus and subway system that is cheap too, making travelling in the city a piece of cake. You’ll need a transportation card and an app, but more on that later!
Even the train system that connects the airport to Seoul or Seoul to other cities is well-arranged and clean. I took the KTX bullet train from Seoul to Busan in 2.5 hours. At the same time, this is not the cheapest option if you plan well ahead, but I loved the experience. It was relaxing, looking out the window and enjoying South Korea’s scenery.
Is Korea safe for a solo female traveller?
I believe Seoul and South Korea are very safe for women travelling alone. I have never felt unsafe walking the streets of Seoul, even late at night. In other countries, you must keep an eye on your belongings in crowded places or on the subway.
Don’t look for trouble just because a country feels safe. Bad people are everywhere, including in South Korea. People will look and stare sometimes, but it’s nothing compared to the amount of obvious staring in countries like India.
Most of the time, dressing modestly and adjusting to the country’s values is a good idea.
Think of what you’re planning on doing. Out clubbing, revealing clothing is more acceptable than having dinner in a family restaurant. Wear whatever you like and feel comfortable in.
Where to stay in Seoul as a solo traveller?
What is the best area to stay in as a solo female traveller in Seoul? A location that is central but maybe not on an overly busy street. We need our beauty sleep.
Especially when travelling by public transport, staying in a location well connected to a bus or subway station is very convenient in Seoul. You don’t want to drag your luggage around for thirty minutes before getting to your hotel.
With all that in mind, and after researching many neighbourhoods in Seoul, I decided to stay in Myeongdong. Myeongdong is right in the middle of Seoul and very well connected by public transport.
Myeongdong itself is a shopping area. There are shops, restaurants, street food, and many coffee places! It’s an excellent spot to stay in, with plenty of things to do. The area around Myeongdong Street can get busy in the evenings, especially on weekends. So keep that in mind if you’re looking for a quieter area to stay in.
All the street food stalls in the evening are fantastic! You can skip dinner one evening and try all kinds of street food from the stalls.
If you’re looking for a simple, good, and clean hotel with a great location in Myeongdong, check out Hotel Thomas. I stayed here in September and would definitely stay again.
You’ll have everything you need just around the corner. It’s a 5-minute walk to the subway station and a 10-minute walk to Myeongdong Street. This area is quieter than the area around Myeondong Street.
The hotel has a coffee bar, but I suggest walking across the street to Koffee Sniffer!
Another area in a good location, well connected to public transport and with plenty of things to do, is the Gangnam area. Especially the area near the Han River, near Sinsa Station or Apgujeong, is my favourite.
The area is more spacious than the narrow streets of Myeongdong. There are plenty of places for food, shopping, and drinking. The area in Apgujeong has some of the trendiest bars, restaurants, and shops!
It will be a bit more expensive, but worth it if you can afford the little splurge.
Patio 7 Hotel is a small, trendy design hotel in Gangnam. The rooms are a little smaller but clean, with a private bathroom. I loved the set-up of the bed area.
The hotel has a wine shop and bar where you can buy a bottle of wine or have a glass.
If you want to stay in a traditional Korean home, check out this place! Unfortunately, it was already booked during my time there. But maybe you’ll be luckier! I hope to stay in a traditional hanok the next time I’m there!
Bukchonae has a fantastic location! Close to Buckchon Hanok Village, Insadong, Myeondong, and Gyeongbokgung Palace! You’ll be within a decent distance of many sights and plenty of coffee bars and restaurants!
This place looks so beautiful and has awesome reviews from other travellers! It’s worth paying a bit more for the unique experience.
Things you need in Seoul
You can’t stay in Seoul without a T-Money Card, and it will make your life so much easier! You can use a T-Money card for public transportation, taxis, and convenience stores. Just look for the T-Money sign.
You need to top it with cash at any of the ticket machines at the subway stations or a convenience store. Remember, you’ll need to cash for this.
You can buy a T-Money card at most convenience stores in Seoul, and you can also use it in Busan. You can use it for smaller payments in a convenience store or some taxis, but since you can use credit cards too, I would save your T-Money card for public transport.
>> Check out this bundle! It comes with a T-Money Card and a local SIM card. There is wifi in most places, but I found it very unstable sometimes. You’ll need data to get around. I highly recommend getting this bundle. You can pick it up at Incheon Airport!
Naver app/ Kakao Maps
Download Naver Maps or Kakao Maps to navigate your way through Seoul! Google Maps doesn’t work properly, unfortunately. Naver Maps is much easier when navigating public transport or looking up restaurants and sights.
The subway details tell you exactly which exit to take or which car is the fastest for easily changing lines!
There was a time when Uber didn’t work in Seoul. But the last time I was there (September 2023), Uber did work! However, I found getting a taxi sometimes took a long time.
As a backup, I would download the Kakao Taxi app. At first, it will look like you need a local credit card to order a taxi. But look for the payment option that says ‘pay to driver’. Then, you can order a taxi just like the Uber app and still use a credit card to pay when you get in the taxi.
Many places will have an English menu for travellers, but I found that the smaller places or places outside the main areas don’t. It can be a little intimidating to walk into a place where you don’t understand anything🥲
But Google Translate will be your saviour! Especially the feature where you can scan a sign or a restaurant menu, which will translate automatically! This feature is a lifesaver for every traveller!
The Google Translate app is essential because sometimes there’s still a language barrier in Korea!
The Discover Seoul Pass is exclusively for tourists! You can buy the pass for a certain amount of days, which lets you visit any included sights. This will save you money than ending up buying all tickets separately.
The passes can be easily downloaded to your phone. A 24-hour pas will cost you about KRW50,000 (€45/ $46) with 71 attractions included.
The best things to do in Seoul for solo travellers
Bukchon Hanok Village
Visiting Seoul is not complete without a visit to Bukchon Hanok Village. Have you ever seen those photos of Seoul with those fabulous-looking houses and people wearing beautiful dresses? That is Bukchon Hanok Village.
Bukchon Village is a traditional Korean village with a rich history. The village consists of many alleys and hanoks (traditional Korean houses) and is meant to show South Korea from 600 years ago. I hope one day, when I’ll get back to Seoul, to sleep in a traditional hanok!
It’s easy to get lost in all the alleys. But the main street to take beautiful photos is Bukchon Village Photo Spot (type that into Google). You can rent a hanbok and wear it for your visit to Bukchon Village and the Gyeongbukgung Palace!
There is no entrance fee, but this is still a residential village. People live here, so don’t be loud.
When you’re done walking up and down the steep alleys and need a delicious iced coffee or iced tea, I recommend checking out E.Chae Coffee Pub, located down the main road. The place is stunning, with a cute little courtyard. They had the best coffee from my entire trip to Seoul!
Gyeongbokgung Palace is one of the biggest palaces in Seoul and is worth visiting. It’s near Myeong Dong or Insadong and can easily be walked.
Like renting a school uniform in Lotte World, you can rent a traditional hanbok (Korean traditional clothing from the Joseon dynasty) and visit the palace.
If you’re wearing a hanbok, the entrance to the palace is free. Many Koreans and foreigners wear a hanbok and take photo shoots.
It’s a lovely idea to rent a hanbok and take a professional photoshoot in the palace. You’ll have a remarkable memory of your trip and beautiful photos to take with you!
Book now! >> Gyeongbokgung Palace Private Photo Shoot
It’s very nice to see that you can wear traditional clothing from another culture without being accused of cultural appropriation. When walking around Bukchon Hanok Village, I also saw foreigners in hanboks walking around. But the most beautiful thing was to hear Koreans complimenting them on their appearance. Awesome!
Even if you’re not wearing a hanbok, the palace is impressive. The entrance fee is only a few euros, and visiting the palace is easy. However, if you prefer to know more about the history and visit other places, check out these tours!
- Seoul: Royal Palace Morning Walking Tour
- Seoul: DMZ, Gyeongbokgung Palace & City Tour
- Seoul: Gyeongbokgung & Bukchon Village with Hanbok
Don’t forget to visit the palace at night too! The palace is beautifully lit, which makes for beautiful photos from the square.
Gwangjang Market became famous when it was featured on the Netflix series “Streetfood Asia”. It is a must-see, and although it has become super touristy, there’s still plenty of food to try.
Especially if you’re into trying weirder stuff like fresh octopus (it still moves on your plate😳)! I personally passed on that, but look for gimbap (Korean sushi), sundae (blood sausage), tteokbokki (rice cakes in spicy sauce), noodles, dumpling soup, and so much more!
It can get crowded during lunch hour, so keep that in mind. Many places have set menus where you can try out different foods.
>> Check out this tour that combines all of the above! Gyeongbok Palace, Bukchon, Village and Gwangjang all in one guided tour!
When visiting a new destination, I want to visit a good museum, preferably one with art and one with history. The Korean National War Museum is one of those museums you must see!
The museum tells all about the Korean War. A subject that I found very interesting to learn more about! The best thing is that the museum is free to visit (closed on Monday).
You can visit the museum in the morning and make a combination with Namsan Seoul Tower.
The Han River is the heart of Seoul and a lively area, especially in the summer. People go for a walk or a run, ride a bike, drink, and eat. There are several spots with outdoor gyms, open spaces for picnics and BBQs, benches to sit and relax, and more.
There are also some spots with cafes and restaurants where you can enjoy the view of the river. The Starbucks near the Banpo Bridge is the best for an incredible view during sunset. You could also rent a bike and bike around the Han River. There are bike lanes everywhere for your safety.
Bike up to the Banpo Bridge and get some chicken, ramen, and beer from nearby convenience stores. Do what the locals do, and they even sell picnic mats! Chicken and beer at the Banpo Bridge is a must-do in the ultimate solo female travel guide to Seoul!
During the summer, a light show on the Banpo Bridge attracts many people having a picnic on the riverside.
No trip is complete without a cooking class! When we indulge in the local cuisine, we want to know how to make it so we can recreate and re-live our trip when we’re home.
Korean food is fantastic! We all know about Korean Fried Chicken and Korean BBQ, but how about learning to cook authentic Korean dishes to surprise your friends at home?
In this highly-rated Korean Cooking Class and Market Tour, you’ll visit a local market to buy fresh ingredients and some Korean street food. You’ll then learn how to cook four dishes, and after, you’ll enjoy them with different banchan (side dishes).
Cooking classes are also great ways to meet other travellers when travelling solo in Seoul!
Book your cooking class now! >> Korean Cooking Class and Market Tour
Hiking Inwangsan Peak
With so many parks, hiking trails, and mountains, making at least one hike is a must. It’s a great way to burn calories, and the view from these hiking trails up in the mountains is fantastic.
The weekends are super busy in the city, so they’re the perfect time to escape to the tranquillity of a quiet mountain. I visited Inwangsan Peak on a Saturday afternoon and barely encountered any people. Don’t forget to bring mosquito repellent and plenty of water!
Myeondong Skincare Shopping
If you’re into skincare and beauty shopping, Myeondong is the place to be. You’ll be tripping over beauty stores lined up next to each other. Most stores have special promotions, and walking around before purchasing pays off.
Usually, there are loads of 2-for-1 promotions, or even buy this, and you get this for free. Be careful, though! Before you know it, you’ll be walking out with triple the amount you had in mind.
The sales ladies can be a little pushy, even after you’ve said no many times. Keep your foot down, and don’t buy anything you don’t want. It’s a bit of a scam where they force you to buy up to KRW100,000 to get sales tax back right away.
If you want to buy that much, sure! But if you don’t want to, don’t let them trick you!
Gangnam is also a great area to do some shopping. If you are into designer luxury brands, you will get your kicks here! The best relaxed and trendy bars, coffee places, and restaurants are here.
The famous COEX Mall with the Starfield Library is also located in Gangnam. I didn’t find the mall that special, but the Starfield library is incredible and very instagrammable.
One thing that will really catch your attention is the number of photo booth studios in South Korea. They’re not just in Seoul; I also saw them in Busan.
These photo studios consist of a few photo booths in an unmanned studio. Props, such as bunny ears or crazy glasses, are available to make your photos even more fun. Some are more simple, and others are pretty professional-looking!
Do you want a fun memory of your Seoul trip? Take some funny photos in a photo booth! Hongdae is the place to do this.
There are two theme parks to visit in Seoul. Lotte World is easy to go to since it’s located in Jamsil, Seoul. There is a direct subway line to Lotte World. If you’re into theme parks, you can’t miss Lotte World.
It’s a tradition to rent a school uniform when visiting Lotte World. Yes, even at an age where you’re far from being a student! If you’re into cosplay, this will make your day at Lotte World extra fun!
>> If you plan on visiting multiple sights and tours, it can be smart to check out Go City Pass Seoul! With these passes, you’ll save more bucks than getting every ticket or tour separately!
Day trips from Seoul
There is a lot of fascinating history in South Korea. Visiting the War Memorial Museum is one thing, but what about visiting the border between South Korea and North Korea?
You’ll be picked up from your hotel and visit the DMZ. You’ll learn all about the history between the two countries and what led to this place’s existence.
This must be one of the most interesting tours you can do as a tourist. You’ll see the Bridge of Freedom and go in the tunnels under the demilitarized zone.
You can glimpse North Korea from the Dorasan Observatory if you’re lucky! The tour starts very early and is about half a day. You can add a shooting range experience or a city tour to the day if you want to.
You can’t miss this tour if you’re interested in South Korea’s culture and history!
Book your tour now! >> Seoul Demilitarized Zone Day Tour
Nami Island is a half-moon-shaped isle with beautiful scenery, where many movies and K-dramas were filmed. The Garden of Morning Calm is a 300,000-meter garden with beautifully sculpted flowers, trees, and pathways. A great day trip if you’re looking to escape the busy city!
What to visit after Seoul
So what can you do after visiting Seoul? I highly recommend taking a trip to Busan or Jeju Island! Check the weather for both destinations beforehand!
Busan is the second largest city in Seoul and is near the beach. I took the bullet train (you can also fly out) from Seoul Station to Busan and stayed for three days. I loved Busan! There are three beaches to check out: Songdo Beach, Gwanggalli Beach, and Haeundae Beach.
Jeju Island is THE weekend getaway for Koreans! If you’re not spending some time in Busan but want to spend some time near the beach, Jeju Island is the other option! There are several flights per day, and renting a car on the island is easier to get around.
Is Seoul budget-friendly?
Like every other city, Seoul can be as budget-friendly or as expensive as you want. However, don’t expect prices to be the same as in Asian countries like Thailand or Vietnam. If you know where to go, Seoul can be very affordable.
There are plenty of fancy bars, restaurants, and high-end BBQ places that can ring up your budget. But if you stick to street food, smaller restaurants, local alcoholic drinks (try makgeolli, a Korean rice wine, it’s delicious!), and the occasional convenience store snack and lunch, you’ll be good!
Convenience stores in South Korea are on another level! You can get good food and drinks for a budget price. If you’re a fan of Seoul, you’ve probably already seen all those reels passing by of Korean convenience store food!
The biggest expense is going to be accommodation. Accommodation will cost you an average of €60 per night for a double room with a private bathroom and air conditioning.
Things to avoid in Seoul as a solo traveller
Seoul can get very busy, especially on the weekends. Restaurants are packed, and restaurant queues can get long (most restaurants don’t accept reservations). If you’re looking to escape the busy city, this would be a perfect moment to visit nearby places or hike in the mountains.
Try to avoid taking public transport during rush hour. It gets busy on the subway in every big city during rush hour, but taking the subway in Seoul during rush hour is awful. It’s so crowded that you’ll be better off travelling before or after if you have the choice.
With that being said about rush hour, it’s also wise to avoid going for lunch during lunch break. There are lines everywhere, from restaurants to even the smallest coffee cafes. People who take their break during lunch hour take that opportunity to go out or run a quick errand. You’ll notice instantly how busy it gets everywhere.
The best time to visit Seoul
Check carefully in which season you would like to visit Seoul. Winter is freezing and long, summers can be extremely hot, and there is a lot of rain in July. In July 2022, there were floods in the city because of heavy rainfall.
The best time to visit Seoul is late spring and early fall. In these months you’ll have the best chance of pleasant weather!
This concludes everything you’ll need to know about solo travel to Seoul! I hope this ultimate solo female travel guide to Seoul will help you prepare for your solo trip!
→ Don’t forget to check out part 2 if you haven’t already! >> 11 important travel tips for solo travel to Seoul
Have you ever been to Seoul? Leave me a comment below!
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