This story was first published on 17 January 2017. It is now updated with the latest information on travelling to South Korea under the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL).

 

After more than a year of relying on K-dramas to get your South Korean fix, now we can finally start visiting the country once again under the vaccinated travel lane (VTL) scheme.

In case you haven’t been there, one of the most exciting things about travelling to Seoul (other than the cosmetics and skincare shopping, of course) is the abundance of amazing snacks you can find on the streets. We look into the best Seoul street foods and where to find them!

Satisfy your sweet tooth with hotteok and dalgona

Image of Hotteok, a famous sweet street snack found in Seoul Image of Hotteok, a famous sweet street snack found in Seoul

Try the goodness of hotteok, a sweet, pancake-like street snack popular in Seoul.

Hotteok (pronounced 'ho-tok') is such a famous street snack that you'll be able to find it everywhere in Seoul. It's a pancake cooked on a griddle and then stuffed with fillings such as cinnamon, brown sugar, honey and nuts. Delicious.

Where to find it:

The most famous place to find hotteok is by Sungnyemun or Namdaemun Gate (Subway line 1, Seoul station).

If you’ve watched Squid Game, then the Dalgona candy needs no introduction. It is widely available across Seoul and so very yummy. It’s essentially a very crunchy cookie made from sugar and baking soda. Eating it is something of a tradition, where one eats around a shape in the middle (a heart, for example) with the aim of keeping it intact. If you succeed, some places will even let you eat it for free.

Where to find it:

This delicious snack is everywhere – simply look for the carts in parks and at the busiest markets.

Spice things up with tteokbokki

Image of hot and spicy tteokbokki Image of hot and spicy tteokbokki

No matter how you choose to eat it, tteokbokki is a must-have in Seoul.

Kids and adults alike can frequently be seen tucking into these spicy rice cakes, flavoured with hot red pepper paste. Some people opt for them stir-fried in an old-style tteokbokki recipe, which involves wok-frying them in oil and topping with red pepper flakes. You can also opt for extras in the pot such as ham, seaweed or cellophane noodles.

Where to find it:

Mukshidonna Tteokbokki in Samcheong-dong is one of the most famous places in Seoul for tteokbokki. (Subway line 3, Anguk station).

How many legs does your jjukkumi have?

Image of spicy octopus, also known as jjukkumi Image of spicy octopus, also known as jjukkumi

Spicy octopus is a must; in Seoul it's called jjukkumi.

If spicy food is your thing, and you don't mind your snacks with lots of legs, jjukkumi is a popular Korean food you mustn't miss. Jjukkumi is a stir-fried dish of very small octopus, made extra tasty with Korean gochujang (red pepper paste). To scoff your jjukkumi like a local, order it with fried rice and tuck in.

Where to find it:

This super-spicy Korean food can be found at Cheonho-dong (Subway line 5, Cheonho station).

Get piggy with some traditional jokbal

Image of jokbal, a tender pork dish Image of jokbal, a tender pork dish

Share a plate of jokbal with some friends while in Seoul.

Jokbal is hugely popular in Korea. It's basically pig’s feet, cooked for a long time in soy sauce and spices. Recipes vary throughout the city but this tender, meaty dish has been a Korean favourite for years and is usually shared between several people, with a selection of side dishes.

Where to find it:

Jokbal Street in Gongdeok (Subway line 5, Gongdeok station) has some of the most famous jokbal in Seoul.

Eat some sausage with a sundae twist

Image of bloody sausage dish called Sundae Image of bloody sausage dish called Sundae

Sundae is a must for the adventurous foodie.

This is not the sundae you know and love. This Korean blood sausage dish consists of coagulated pig’s blood, glass noodles and barley, all stuffed in a skin made from pig or cow intestines. The street food version of sundae (pronounced ‘soon-dae’) is usually served with a side of lung or liver. It's not as bad as it sounds – it’s actually pretty well loved in Korea.

Where to find it:

Sillim-dong’s “Sundae Town” will give you a huge portion (Subway line 2, Sillim station).

 

Things to note while travelling in South Korea

  • Different regions in South Korea hold different coronavirus regulations (which are updated often), so regularly check the Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare website for the latest updates.
  • The Greater Seoul area is under the toughest social distancing restrictions at Level 4 while the rest of the country is at Level 3. Refer to the latest social distancing system in South Korea here.
  • Masks are compulsory for everyone, including those who have been vaccinated.
  • Restaurants and cafes are open for dining until 10pm. After which, only takeouts and deliveries are allowed.
  • South Korea’s version of contact tracing is implemented by way of Electronic Entry Logs. Entry log records are required at most places you visit, so travellers will need to present a personal QR code, which can be generated by using Kakao Talk or NAVER on your mobile phone.

 

When in Seoul, make a beeline for all the interesting dishes you can find – it’s probably been a while since you’ve enjoyed some authentic Korean food in Korea itself. Now’s your chance to treat your tastebuds to some cultural delicacies that aren’t so easy to find in Singapore!

 

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Best Time to visit

The spring and autumn months of March-May and September-October are the best times to visit Seoul. It's less humid and generally warm and sunny.

Transportation

Seoul has nine major subway lines and a network of buses running all over the city and beyond. The cheapest way to use public transport is to use T-money or Cashbee cards, which can be bought from stations and convenience stores.

Currency

Korean Won (KRW). Street money changers can be found every 20 to 30 metres in Myeongdong. Competition is high so you'll get a good deal.

You can also change money in banks, but they are only open from 9am-5pm.

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