- Book your flight tickets
- Determine places you want to go
- Plan stops for permissible meals and prayers
- Book for accommodation
1. Book your flight tickets
So you've managed to grab that cheap Seoul tickets from Air Asia's promotion. Congratulations! That is one thing sorted. But what about those without tickets? Well, what are you waiting for? ;) Luckily for us there are many flight aggregator sites in operation right now. Just decide when to go, and the site will search multiple airlines and list down by the cheapest price possible. Below is an example from the site skyscanner.com :
For Air Asia flights, there is a site (fleapy.com) that list down all promotion prices when you put down your destination. The result for Kuala Lumpur - Incheon is here. Below is the screenshot:
So when is the best time to visit Korea? I would say during Spring and Autumn. Go for early Spring (April) if you want to see beautiful cherry blossoms, but the rest of Spring is equally beautiful too with colourful flowers and very pleasant cool weather. Autumn is around late September to early November, and it is also cool with the sights of leaves changing colours.
2. Determine places you want to go
Some people go to Seoul knowing exactly where to go. They want to attend convocation of their family, or maybe attend concert of their favourite Korean group. But for the rest who are still deciding where to go, this site has categorize attractions in Seoul into eight categories:
- Palaces/Traditional Villages/Cultural Buildings & Experience
- Nature’s Places/Parks/Rivers
- Shopping/Places to buy Souvenirs
- K-Pop/K-Drama Places of Interest
- One Day Visits/Theme Parks
- Other Attractions
Cheonggyecheon Stream. Credit: me
Decide which categories interest you most, or go to one place for each category! Also it is highly recommended to look at Korean Tourism Organization's website for the places you want to visit and find out the admission fees (if there's any), opening hours and other information. Look at places you can go in one visit (nearing each other) and plan how long you will be spending there; 1 hour? 2 hours? Half a day? One whole day?
3. Plan stops for permissible meals and prayers
We need fuel for all the extensive walking we will be doing! So look at where we can stop and munch some food. This site has a list of halal, vegetarian, vegetarian friendly and seafood restaurants Muslims (and others too!) can go. Look for the restaurant closest to the place you will be during those meal times. Browse the entries using district tag, (for example if you will be in Namdaemun, look at district: jung-gu tag) or type "restaurant jung-gu" into the search box.
Halal tandoori in Itaewon. Credit: me
If you won't be going back to your room for prayers, look at where to stop for prayers in the category: prayer place tag. But don't limit yourself to these places! This is where Muslims would have to be creative. Do like what students in non-Muslim countries do: pray in nursing rooms (only if you are female okay), under the stairs, at the parks, in changing rooms etc. The whole world is our mosque :) Bring with you a qiblah compass, spritz bottle for ablution, small cloth to be put on the floor and you're good to go.
4. Book for accommodation
Choose your bed: 5 stars hotel? No star hotel? Guesthouse? Dorm? Seoul have so many accommodations that suit every budget. Look at sites like agoda.com to book accordingly.
Where to stay? For those looking for cheaper and more homey experience, Seoul have two areas with a concentration of guesthouses and hostels: Mapo-gu and Jongno-gu especially around Anguk-dong. But this doesn't mean that you can't find cheap accommodation elsewhere. Search around and you may be surprised. :)
It is very recommended that you book for accommodation near to the subway station of the line you most frequently use in the trip. This way you will spend less time (and energy walking) for changing line. The walk to change line is not really near. For Malaysians imagine the length you have to walk to change from KTM Komuter to KL Monorail in KL Sentral. In some stations it is that distance... times two.
NEW! Check out our site's listing of budget accommodations in Downtown Seoul here.
P/S: I am sharing a travel itinerary and map I created for a weekend trip to Seoul that I've yet to take. Hopefully it can give you more ideas on how to plan your trip.