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  • Writer's pictureKristin

South Korea: Babymoon

Updated: Feb 13, 2021

Our most recent travel adventure took us to South Korea in September for our Babymoon. To be honest, it was a pretty last minute decision to go to South Korea. We knew that someday we wanted to go there, but weren’t planning on it being so soon. However, Alex’s company was short-staffed and he couldn’t get more than 9 days off at once, so we needed to pick somewhere we would could see a lot in a short period of time, plus an interesting destination. Alex also had several hotel points/vouchers he needed to use, so we needed to go to a country that had a good selection of those hotels. (Normally we're all about the budget friendly options, but passing up on hotel vouchers isn't very budget friendly.) In addition, with me being 25 weeks pregnant it needed to be somewhere that wouldn’t have any food/health issues. So with a combination of these factors, we ended up deciding on South Korea!


South Korea was very interesting, but it did have a very similar feel to some of the other Asian countries we had been to. I would say the best analysis would be that it was a mix between China and Japan. It was very modern and technologically savvy – for instance you could use your phone to pay for a movie ticket – but it still had street vendors. Overall, it was very westernized (no staring at foreigners here!), but you could blatantly see their loyalty to their national products. LG & Samsung were the only phones that we saw (I think I only saw 1 iPhone the whole time we were there) and Hyundai and Kia were the most popular vehicles.


Here are a few other things we found interesting….


Preference for Warmth

….or so it seemed. It seemed to us that Koreans liked the temperature warmer inside; either that, or they were trying to conserve energy. In Busan, it was 28+ C but with really high humidity (probably around 80-90%) but there seemed to be no airflow in the subway stations or in the trains until after 9:30 a.m. Another example, was that when we were on Jeju Island, we took the local bus and all the windows were sealed with no A/C until around 8:30-9 a.m.


Love for Coffee

There were almost as many (or more!) coffee shops in South Korea as in North America! Not only are Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts there, but they have several local Korean chains as well. As you were walking down the street, you’d see many Koreans with their iced beverages or coffees with them. They also use these coffee shops as social places. Instead of Dunkin Donuts being a place where you just stop and run, in Korea, the stores are made to be more of an experience with comfy tables and chairs.


Food

Most of the time when we travel the food is one of the highlights of the trip. However, to be honest, in Korea we struggled to find food that we liked. We actually had more Western food on this trip than many other trips. At first, I thought maybe being pregnant caused me to have an aversion to Korean food, but Alex didn’t like it either, and he typically likes most ethnic food. One of the main reasons that I didn’t like it was because most things had a pickled taste to them, and I’m not a huge fan of pickled things in the first place.


At each meal they would provide you with several small dishes, which almost always included kimchi and some other pickled side items. A lot of the food also used a red sauce (I wasn’t a fan of this sauce). Another side would be a bowl of broth. Many of their food offerings would either be noodle-based or soup-based, but it didn’t seem like there were many vegetables in any of these dishes. I guess they expected you to eat the pickled side items. I had read that historically part of the reason they did have so many pickled items, is that it was a way to preserve vegetables and other fresh foods during the winter, as there wasn't a huge local selection of these. Also, in dishes that did contain meat, there was very little meat in it. Plus, we found that meat dishes weren’t common to begin with, and with our budget, they weren’t very affordable when we did find something.


Before we went to Korea, I thought there was going to be a lot of ‘Korean barbeque’. However, the only place where it seemed the most popular was in Seoul. As barbeque is expensive in a restaurant, we ate the meat sticks from a street vendor where it was 2000 Won (almost $2) for one stick. We ordered some chicken and then later realized they had given us some chicken hearts for a few of the sticks. Luckily, I had grown up eating chicken hearts on our farm, so I was used to it.


Whenever we travel, we like to do the McDonalds comparison – to check out prices and food offerings. However, there wasn’t too much unique about the South Korean McDonalds – they had pretty much the same food offerings as North America and prices were similar. However, we did notice at places where soft drinks were served that they automatically served us Pepsi – there didn’t seem to be any other choices like Sprite, etc.


Mother Friendly

Maybe it was because I was pregnant, but I really noticed the amenities that were offered to South Korean mothers. Everywhere you went in Korea there were nursing rooms for new moms – like the airport, subway station – and there were even some public restrooms that had stalls with small toilets and sinks for children. They were really cute!


Cost Comparison

Our basic consensus was that the cost of items in South Korea were very similar to the costs of items in Canada. At the present time, the exchange rate was 1050 Won to $1 US/Canadian. A meal at a basic establishment would be about 6500-8000 Won (or $6.50-$8 CAD) and a value meal at McDonalds would be equivalent to $7-8 CAD. Groceries and clothing items were similar to what it would cost in Canada as well.


However, we did find that taxi fares were a little more reasonable in S. Korea. The fare was 2500 Won/$2.50 for the base rate and then 100 Won/$1 on the meter. Our longest taxi ride, which was 45 minutes, actually only cost us 18,000 Won/$18 CAD.


Here are a couple of other price comparisons:

  • Most Bus Rides were 1000-1500 Won per person

  • High Speed Train Ticket to Seoul was 22,000 Won per person

  • All-Day Subway Pass in Busan was 4,000 Won per person

  • Most Subway Rides in Seoul were 2500 Won per person

We did have a good time in South Korea, but I think we realized that we have spent a lot of time in Asia, so some of the things didn’t bring as much excitement or novelty as a place we had never been before. However, the Korean people were very nice and it was a great country to visit.


Check out the related post for our itinerary & activities while in South Korea.

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