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Recommendations on travelling (super) light for one week trip in Asia (Seoul, ROK)

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I'm planning a short (just shy of) one-week trip in South Korea. It's almost all personal so no need for suits, laptops and other gear.

This time, I want to travel super light. No check-in luggage - and I'll figure out where I want to stay after I land. I don't want to lug around anything that I'd find to be a chore to drag around all day or have me standing out too obviously as a backpacker or tourist. I'm thinking of a favorite leather daypack that holds a decent amount and has an inside frame.

I'll have two brief business-related meetings. However I am hoping they'll be cool enough to accept me wearing a navy blazer with dress chinos . Packing a suit would kill my light packing plans.

Any advice on packing and traveling light?

Also, for any SF'rs in Seoul -- tips on what to do, where to stay, dine, visit etc would be welcome. I'm going to check out the jjimjilbang spas I read about in the NYT and might take a USO tour to the DMZ (although I've been up there before in my past job). Night market definitely and probably try the live octopus but pass on the GI stew.
post #2 of 13
If you can stand to wear Korean underwear and socks for a week, you don't need to bring those, toiletries the same. I don't travel with anything but a day's worth of either nowadays, Asia has spoiled me. We have more convenience stores in Seoul than in Tokyo, for sure. I think there are 4 or 5 within 100m of my house, and that's not counting local neighborhood supermarkets (which don't carry emergency tighty whities and socks, but do have toiletries)

What is your hotel budget? The best place to stay is the Park Hyatt. You are connected to COEX mall from there as well, so you have a Uniqlo as well as other disposable shopping and eating within arm's reach. In Korea, you can get away with not wearing anything fashionable, nobody will really give you a second look if you're in a tee and jeans.

A week in Korea with just your passport and wallet of yen, easily done.

p.s. sign up for some sort of reasonable roaming rate on your smartphone. I just got my bill today for last month when I went to Japan; my iPhone auto connected to Docomo but never actually got any data packets, but they charged me 10,000Y just for the privilege - and that's at the rate where Docomo or Softbank charge 100Y/minute to roam, but KT or SK Telecom in Korea charge 2,000W/minute for the same... so beware and lock your data reception, or sort that before you leave.
post #3 of 13
Also, don't worry about how you dress for your meetings - nobody has ever called anyone out in Korea on sartorial things, it's a nightmare here. Keep an Asian sensibility to your dress and you're fine. Most foreigners I see here on business are always overdressed.
post #4 of 13
check its a great resource. one week is pretty easy, maybe if you could do laundry once, it'd be even better. Use washable underwear or buy there.

Use multi-purpose shoes. something that can be worn with jeans, slacks and shorts if you can. Shoes are probably the biggest weight/space in luggage. bonus points if you can go sockless in them. Many of the boat-style shoes/oxfords work pretty well, I used my Oak Streets for 2 weeks in Spain and they were great.

My second pair of shoes I brought were New Balance Minimus, which were sockless...I loved these shoes for walking around, really comfortable. Stylewise, they are running shoes. Super light and super packable.

I brought a really thin pair of nike dri-fit running pants to use as pajama bottoms and also were decent for strolling around in the AM to grab some coffee. took up almost no room.

The GoRuck backpacks are pretty minimalistic and hold a lot of stuff. I went with a patagonia Fuego though which is 1/3 the price and was very good with various compartments, loved the backpack.

My main bag though was a Briggs and Riley 235x. They discontinued it but they have ones similar still to it. I had a bunch of space left and it wasn't too heavy. I could have done the entire trip with just one bag but I figured a backpack wouldn't hurt plus I had a laptop to lug around since I did have to do work. It kept everything organized.

You could do well with a duffel type bag like a Filson or some designer bag like a jack spade or the LV type bags. They hold a lot.


post #5 of 13
That's way too thought out, man. Seoul is incredibly urban, anything you need you can buy anywhere, at anytime, and the only things to do really are eating and drinking (or going to the sauna like OP wants to do, in which case he won't need to worry about personal items besides the god-given ones) - to quote the Rutles, all you need is cash.
post #6 of 13
The Ritz is alright, the guest rooms are kinda frumpy inside (stayed there a couple years ago) but it was cheap - like 10,000Y at the time. Now it looks like it's about 20,000Y. The real upside is that there's a good club in the basement of the Ritz, usually some of the hottest women in Seoul in there.

Looks like the Park Hyatt is cheaper to book through Expedia or the Hyatt site itself than this Seoulnavi site, though.
post #7 of 13
Most simple, cheap:

In your bag:

- work outfit, separately (don't even need separate shoes, necessarily, depending on how you roll)
- a couple casual outfits
- personal toiletries like contacts or something

passport, wallet, smartphone (for maps and taking pictures), cash

Love hotels. Don't need to (actually, you can't really) book ahead, so check-in and see if you can stay for the whole time, if not, then stay and then move to another. There's some pretty nice ones and you will be able to tell from the outside of the building whether it's nice or not. They all have PCs with internet, nice bathrooms with toiletries, minibars, etc, and cost like 80,000W-120,000 depending on whether it's a weekday/weekend

subway. taxi after subway stops

anything you see.

up to you, google.

Nicer/more expensive:

-Pack whatever else you want to wear


Proper hotel, book on a discount site. Park Hyatt is the best all-around probably, and then the others are kind of descending. Not much in between love hotel and the Park Hyatt that are really that nice or that good of a deal.

stick to the silver colored taxis, call your destination - no trip will cost more than 1000Y usually, unless you're purposely going far.

Food and drink:
Cleanest food is in the department store upper story restaurant halls. The best food? I don't know, it's all really the same. There are a lot of $100-200/head K-BBQ places in Gangnam though. There are just as many $20/head places too.
post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
xericx and impolyt_one - many many thanks for your advice and tips!

The leather daypack I'll be toting along has a bit less functionality than the GO RUCK pack (which looks sweet by the way) and a bit on the fashionable side. It has an internal frame as well:

And, the boots I'll be bring along will probably be these:

Or, if as a friend recommends, I should bring my old shit kicker boots and have them re-soled for cheap while I wait in Seoul:
383 (they look like these)

I don't carry a Smartphone but my cell phone does have a global roaming feature which will charge me up the ying yang should I activate it. I'm looking forward to some digital silence and seclusion.

Haven't decided whether I'll slum it or splurge on something like the Park Hyatt. Depending on how I feel upon landing at Incheon, I might try the jjimjilbang and decide how I feel the next day.
post #9 of 13
The second boots look better, but the cobbling services here are terrible, I'd never let them attempt a re-sole on any of my shoes. You're better off doing that in Japan or someplace like Vietnam or HK on the cheap. Koreans are good at getting a military-grade spit shine on black dress shoes, that's about it.
post #10 of 13


Originally Posted by impolyt_one View Post
 - to quote the Rutles, all you need is cash.

The Rutles?  Didn't think anyone remembered them.




post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by impolyt_one View Post

The second boots look better, but the cobbling services here are terrible, I'd never let them attempt a re-sole on any of my shoes. You're better off doing that in Japan or someplace like Vietnam or HK on the cheap. Koreans are good at getting a military-grade spit shine on black dress shoes, that's about it.

The quality in Tokyo might be great but the prices are unreal:


If I could get the equivalent "expertise" of the local MISTER MINIT here in Japan but at a fraction of the price, I'd be as happy as a pig in shit ~!
post #12 of 13
Yeah, I guess if they were absolute shit kickers and you didn't really care about the outcome, you could get them to do some sort of faux resole that'd probably ruin the shoes forever, but the Korean shoes thing is a long story... and in short they just don't do a good job/can't do a good job.

Do those Japanese cobblers do a good job? That first one is near my new house and the second store does inset toe plates, which a shoe salesman at Isetan insisted that nobody does in Japan... I want to get a few pairs of my shoes repaired, plus taps installed.
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
I guess I'm going to get them done stateside. Resole America works okay for me but it was much less hassle with an APO address...

A friend lives in Azabu Juban and indicated Spica did a great job on his shoes. And, the second one, Union Works, is a top-end joint that has been in business for over 20 years. Probably someone on this board has had direct experience with them.
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