TL;DR – Who does it better?
Most people know that Japan is nicknamed as the ‘Land of the rising sun’ but did you know that Korea is also sometimes referred to as the ‘Land of the calming sun’? There often seems to be a misconception that both countries are similar because of its somewhat close proximity to each other but these two magnificent nations are distinctively different and abundantly blessed with stunning scenery, exquisite cuisine, sophisticated musical genres and deep cultural history.
Which should you holiday to next?
1. Fresh Fish & Seafood Market
You can take the concept of ‘from sea to table’ literally right here at these markets. Japanese people often enjoy their sashimi with a small dab of wasabi and soy sauce, while Koreans enjoy their hwe with some spicy red pepper sauce and miso.
Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo
Tsukiji Fish Market is the world’s busiest and largest wholesale fish market with more than 60,000 employees. It has been a huge hit with the locals and tourists who make the special pre-dawn (pilgrimage) trip to witness the iconic tuna auction and tuna dissection demonstration. Tsukiji Market is divided into two separate zones which consists of the wet market and the restaurants & shops. The market is filled with finger-food stands, rows of seafood restaurants, and vendors selling goods from luxury-grade kelp to value-priced kitchenware. This is THE place to fulfill your ultimate sashimi cravings, cause raw fish can’t get any fresher than from Tsukiji!
5 Chome-2-1, Tsukiji, Chuo,
Tokyo 104-0045, Japan
(Hop on the Oedo Subway Line and alight at Tsukiji Shijo Station.)
Noryangjin Fish Market, Seoul
The Noryangjin Fish Market in Seoul has early morning seafood auctions as well. If you’re a huge fan of seafood, you’ll definitely want to walk around the market to purchase the items for your next meal. You can purchase the seafood of your choice and have it skilfully prepared for you at one of the restaurants upstairs. Noryangjin is exceptionally well-known for serving the controversial dish of live octopus tentacles, which are cut up into tiny pieces while the creature is still moving and most commonly served with a side of salt and sesame oil.
674 Nodeul-ro, Noryangjin 1(il)-dong,
Dongjak-gu, 서울특별시 South Korea
[Take Subway Line 1 to Noryangjin Station (Exit 1)]
2. Observation Towers
If you’re not afraid of heights and enjoy the exhilarating feeling of being high above the ground, then make your way up to these magnificent landmarks and soak up the panoramic view of the cities.
Tokyo Sky Tree, Tokyo
The Tokyo Sky Tree located near the Oshiage train station, provides tourists and locals with an unobstructed 360-degree aerial view of Tokyo city and beyond. It has a luxurious Japanese-fusion restaurant located right at the top of the tower called Sky Restaurant 634. If you are lucky and the skies are clear, you might even get to dine with the breathtaking view of Mount Fuji in the distance or be dazzled by the lights all throughout the Tokyo city skyline at night!
1 Chome-1-2 Oshiage, Sumida,
Tokyo 131-0045, Japan
(If you are going by train, get on the TOBU Skytree Line and alight at Tokyo Skytree Station.)
N Seoul Tower, Seoul
The N Seoul Tower or known as Namsan Tower is an observation and communication perched on top of Namsan Mountain. It is highly accessible by a number of methods – by your own transport (park & ride service), cable car, Seoul City Tour Bus and the Namsan Sunhwan Shuttle Bus. The tower is like a one-stop mall with a good variety of restaurants (from Korean noodles to French fine dining and even American-style burgers), souvenir shops and an observatory for tourist to marvel at the gorgeous Seoul City skyline.
105 Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan 2(i)ga-dong,
Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
[Park at the carpark & hop on the Namsan Sunhwan Shuttle Bus (No. 02, 03 & 05) or cable car to get to the tower]
3. Shopping Streets
If you enjoy shopping, street food and crowds, then these two major shopping districts are definitely a must-visit on your travel checklist!
Harajuku is the epicentre of unorthodox teenage street fashion, the hub of all things ‘kawaii’ and the main inspiration for Gwen Stefani’s hit song ‘Harajuku Girls’. If you’re into cosplay, wanna shop till you drop at Daiso or just want to get lost in the crowd walking through Takeshita Dori street, then you should definitely visit this iconic location which is just a stop away from Shibuya station. Don’t forget to try Harajuku’s famous crepes and the ever-so-popular Pablo Cheese Tart!
Takeshita Street, シャンゼール原宿１号館 1 Chome-13-17
Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan
(Get onto the Yamanote Line and alight at JR Harajuku Station)
Myeongdong is one of Seoul’s premier, major shopping districts that is popular with both locals and tourists alike. There are a good mix of retail shops, shopping centers and street carts selling everything from casual clothes to high fashion, major cosmetic brands such as Etude House, The Face Shop, Holika Holika, entertainment places, restaurants and many more offering products at competitive prices.
Myeong-dong, Chungmuro 2(i)-ga, Seoul, South Korea
(Hop on the Seoul Subway Line 4 and alight at Myeongdong Station – Exit 5, 6, 7 & 8)
4. Gardens & Parks
Every once in a while on your travels, it is good to get away from the concrete jungle and shopping malls to take a stroll through the lush greenery. Admire the beautiful cherry blossoms at both parks in Spring, you’ll definitely be able to get a number of Insta-worthy shots!
Yoyogi Park, Tokyo
Yoyogi Park is one of the largest parks in Tokyo and is located in the Shibuya district. You can take a stroll through during Spring time and admire the gorgeous sea of pink cherry blossoms surrounding the park or perhaps you might even like to have a picnic with friends and catch one of the many free concerts held at the park. The park is located next to Tokyo’s most notable and largest Shinto shrine built in honour of the late Emperor Meiji and Empress Shōken in 1926, called the Meiji Shrine or Meiji Jingu.
Shibuya, Tokyo 151-0052, Japan
(Take the JR Yamanote line train and alight at Harajuku station. Exit the station, turn right and walk about 200 meters)
Olympic Park, Seoul
The legendary Olympic Park was built for the purpose of 1988 Olympics in Seoul and has now become a place where residents or tourists come to exercise and relax. The prominent park features over 200 sculptures created by international and national artists and it is divided to several zones like the cultural art park, historical experience park, leisure sports park and an eco-park. Did you know that the Olympic Park is so huge that it takes people approximately 3 hours to completely cover all the attractions? If you ever get exhausted while exploring the park, you can hop on the free shuttle train (Hodori Train) located right next to the Peace Square.
424 Olympic-ro, Bangi-dong,
Songpa-gu, Seoul, South Korea
(Take the Seoul Subway Line 5 and alight at Olympic Park Station, Exit 3)
5. Electronics & IT
If you happen to be an anime-manga fanatic or if you are on the lookout for the latest electronic gadgets, then these two locations would definitely be your ‘go-to’ spots!
The Akihabara district is known as the mecca for electronics and all things anime, it is the wonderland of every otaku (people who are obsessed with manga and anime) boy and girl. The bright, dazzling neon signboards have the magical ability to pique your curiosity and lure you into this fascinatingly, mysterious world of its own. With the abundance of gaming shops, electronic stores, manga shops and maid and butler cafes available, you’ll never run out of things to do in Akihabara.
Tokyo 110-0006, Japan
[You can hop on any one of these lines (JR Yamanote Line, JR Keihin-Tohoku Line, JR Sobu Line, the Tsukuba Express and the Hibiya Subway Line) to get to Akihabara Station.]
The Yongsan district (also known as “Dragon Hill”) is the electronic and digital part of Seoul where the enormous Yongsan Electronics Wholesale Market is located. The Yongsan Electronics Market is home to over 20 buildings that house approximately 5,000 stores selling a variety of digital appliances, computers, peripherals and more. If you happen to be in the area over the weekend, there is the Yongsan Flea Market that specialises in selling used, second-hand electronics and accessories at a good bargain.
Seoul, South Korea
[You can take the subway Line 1 and get off at Yongsan station. Exit 3.]