Archived Q&A and Reviews
Seoul, Korea with two young ones?
Greetings, wonderful BPN community! My husband and I are thinking of visiting relatives in Seoul, South Korea this April for ten days to two weeks. I looked in the archives and did not find much information for Korea. We're thinking of renting an apartment or house for our stay. Does anyone have recent information about good rental agencies, convenient neighborhoods to stay with two young children (2.5 and 5 years old), fun things to do with the kids, etc. Advice on flights/airlines would also help (we're considering direct flights on either United or Singapore Airlines). Any and all advice would be much appreciated from recent visitors to Korea. Thanks in advance! bschi
I went to Korea back with a then 3 year old and again when he was 4 (my kid is 5 now). We flew direct both times. I would definitely recommend Singapore Air over United. Singapore is much roomier and has the video consoles at every seat, with a pretty good selection of kids movies, music and games - though my kid just liked playing with the remote control and the buttons far more than watching the movies. (Bring headphones from home though - the ones they give you are way too big for a kid). When we flew United, it was a really small aircraft - more like what you'd expect on a domestic flight. Tight spaces and no individual screens - though our experience may have been an anomaly.
Seoul has a good subway system and it's convenient to get around. That being said, though, I would try to limit my stay to somewhere that's walking distance to a subway stop, since the bus system is pretty complex. Apujung, Myeong Dong, Gang Nam, Yeouido, Bang Bae are the nicer parts of town.
We spent time at Lotte World, Everland; went to Pusan on the train; the country side on the bus. We also did the touristy things like the NamSan tower, the presidential home, NamDaeMun, Itaewon, the folk village.
One thing I found especially stressful going to Korea with a kid is that most parts of Seoul, especially, is very crowded and it's not unusual for people to bump and push into you. So, I preferred to avoid trying to push around a stroller and be freed up to keep eyes/hands on my kid whenever we're out.
Lastly, my kid got really sick the first time from the jet lag and being in a foreign country and having to meet lots of family all at once. I would plan on doing some slow activities for the first couple of days so that your kids have a chance to adjust to the time and environment.
And we stayed with family, so I have no advice on renting homes. Hope you have a great trip. dmom
Re: Car seat laws in Korea, Hong Kong, China
There are no laws in South Korea regarding car seats. Many women simply hold their babies on their laps and older children either sit with their parents or by themselves. Although there are campaigns for seat belt use and, I think, the law is that the driver must wear a seatbelt, these are not used widely either.
If you will be driving your own car (one that you rent or borrow) then it will be worth taking a car seat with you and placing it in the car. But, if you will be depending on public transportation, then take the seat for the plane ride and leave it in the hotel the rest of the time. It will be too much of a pain to lug it around all over the place. When our daughter was 6 months, we went to Korea and we did not bring her car seat. When she was 2.5 years, we brought her car seat with us to Korea and it gave me some peace of mind (we were borrowing a family members' car the entire time we were there).
Just use your judgement. If you will be staying in Seoul, do take advantage of the wonderful subway system. It will take you anywhere you need to go. And, the buses there are quite convenient. Taxies are cheap and, generally, fast, but you're taking more of a risk. People drive pretty crazily. We rode in taxis without incident, but I preferred the subway. Plus, when she was a toddler, our daughter loved the subway.
Hope this helps. Happy travels! Hilary