Getting Lost in Seoul

It’s inevitable.

You will get lost while traveling in Seoul.

Not only is Seoul one of the largest (and coolest) cities in the world, it has some of the weirdest city planning I’ve seen. Then there is the subway and its maps.

But first the city planning.

All the districts have a different feel or layout. Gangnam-gu is pretty straightforward with large highway-like streets and smaller streets branching out. Mapo-gu has this laid back feel with a simple, almost residential layout. Jung-gu and Jongmo-gu are a crazy implosion of a maze where you will lose your sense of direction real fast.

I constantly get lost in Jung-gu and Jongmo-gu. Everything is nonsensical. You take three lefts and somehow end up on the far right side. It’s very Alice in Wonderland. And don’t use businesses as your breadcrumbs….there are about 7 Dunkin’ Donuts, 9 Paris Baguettes, 6 Starbucks and 5 Skinfoods within  a 20-block radius. So, you have to rely on maps in the subways and on tourist markers.

But…you need to pay attention.

None of the maps face the same way, and their sense of distance between landmarks isn’t the same.

A tourist map in Myeong-dong. Note the compass. 

In the subway, two maps, spitting distance from each other, show two different views.

Subway maps in the Secho (line 2) station. 

You just need to pay attention to landmarks instead of directions. But until you get a handle on the maps and city layouts….be prepared to get lost — a lot.


— Sara


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