If you’re looking for a Seoul Free Walking Tour with enthusiastic local guides who take you out for lunch, chat with you excitingly like a long-lost friend and eagerly help you take photos while ensuring you’ve got the best pose, READ ON! 😋
What is SeoulMate?
SeoulMate consists of college students in Seoul who take visitors on well-designed tours for free. “We offer international tourists the opportunities to not only experience Seoul and its culture but also befriend Korean youngsters”, wrote SeoulMate on their website.
During my trip to Seoul last year, I booked a tour with SeoulMate to explore the lesser-known Jongno area. The tour went so well that I felt determined to recommend them to anyone looking for authentic experiences in Seoul.
Below are 7 reasons why you should book a Seoul Free Walking Tour with SeoulMate next time you visit this bustling city 😀.
7 reasons to book a Seoul Free Walking Tour with SeoulMate
Just google “Seoul free walking tour” and you’ll find dozens of options from established tour companies as well as volunteer local groups. While many of them provide great tours, there are 7 reasons why a Seoul free walking tour with SeoulMate is your perfect choice.
1. SeoulMate offers cool & offbeat tours you can find nowhere else
Most Seoul free walking tours take you to as many major attractions as possible with little time spent at each place. There can be 15+ attractions squeezed into a 3-hour walking tour, in which you simply walk by some and then hurriedly catch up with the group before even remembering what they are about.
Unlike most free tours out there, SeoulMate tours allow you to explore fewer attractions so that you get to know more deeply about each place. In addition, SeoulMate designs each tour with a specific theme, making it easy for people with different interests to select the most suitable one.
Take a look at some of their offbeat Seoul tours below. Aren’t you thrilled to book immediately?
2. If you want to know the best local places to eat, ask SeoulMate
There’s no better way to discover culinary hidden gems in a foreign city than asking a local.
During my Seoul free walking tour with SeoulMate, the guides took us to the Gwangjang market in Jongno – one of the best alternative Seoul attractions for curious travellers. We then had lunch at an eatery right inside the market as the guides recommended.
From the outside, the place looked like any other eatery you might find anywhere else in Seoul. When we came inside, however, I realized the place was nowhere near as touristy as those I had found on the main streets. Had it not been for SeoulMate’s recommendation, foreign travelers like me would never have known of such a place.
When it came to ordering food, the menu was in English but the staff mostly spoke Korean. The tour guides then showed us how to call for attention from the waiters in Korean and how to properly pronounce the names of Korean food. So interesting!
We ordered a bottle of rice wine and some other traditional Korean dishes such as kimbap (one of the best I’d ever had), kimchi, raw beef with egg yolk, and Korean pancakes with half seafood and half beef toppings. A good meal does not necessarily cost an arm and a leg, as each of us only had to pay 8000 won (around US$ 6.5).
3. SeoulMate guides love taking photos for and with you!
Much as I love solo traveling, I often end up with very few photos of myself during the trip. Of course, I can always ask passers-by for help, but not all of those photos look the way I want them to be.
SeoulMate helped me solve this problem as their guides all LOVE taking photos. We also took many group photos, as the guides wanted us to preserve good memories of Seoul even after we left.
4. More tour guides for fewer tourists
How other free walking tours are like
I’ve joined dozens of free tours around the world before. For most of them, one tour guide can be in charge of up to 30 tourists. It’s therefore impossible for the guide to make adjustments to the tour or stop midway to answer specific questions about certain attractions.
During one such free tour in Europe, the tour guide talked non-stop while hurrying tourists to the next destination on the list. At each attraction, he briefly introduced some general information before continuing the tour by politely asking “Any more questions?”. That left an awkward silence because people only remembered 50% of what he’d said 🙁
What was worse, many people including myself still left a 5-star review on TripAdvisor for the tour, because we thought it was fair to reciprocate after benefiting from a free service.
How a Seoul free walking tour with SeoulMate is different
That was a long story, but it made my point. Now you’ll understand how great a Seoul free walking tour with Seoul-Mate is.
On the tour I took with SeoulMate, there were 5 guides and 3 tourists! Needless to say, we all had plenty of chances to talk about lots of things. I believe not only do the tourists learn from the tour guides but the opposite is also true. It was mutual communication at its best, rather than us tourists passively listening and following suit.
5. No pushing to book paid tours afterward
Typically, most free tours are organized by travel companies with the aim of introducing their paid tours.
I have been on one such free tour before in which the tour guide constantly advertised how great their pub crawl was and tried to sign people up. While it’s normally not mandatory to proceed with a paid tour afterward, such irrelevant and repetitive persuasion could be quite annoying.
Since all of SeoulMate’s tours are free of charge, there is zero pressure to book a paid tour after taking their free tour.
6. Discover fascinating local insights you won’t find in typical guidebooks
During my tour with SeoulMate, we visited the Jongmyo Shrine – a UNESCO World Heritage – and learned about Korean history and rituals at that time.
The tour guides not only told us various stories behind these sacred rituals but also discussed matters such as how young people nowadays perceived history and why traditional customs had gradually disappeared in modern Korean society.
To be honest, I would never find such stimulating insights like these in typical travel guidebooks. Even if I did, I still would not have the chance to ask questions, discuss further or put forward counterarguments as when I joined a Seoul free walking tour with SeoulMate.
Jongmyo is the oldest and most authentic of the Confucian royal shrines to have been preserved… Ritual ceremonies linking music, song and dance still take place there, perpetuating a tradition that goes back to the 14th century.According to UNESCO
7. SeoulMate’s tour guides are young, passionate, energetic & super FUN
If you like fun (who doesn’t?!), free walking tours with SeoulMate are perfect for you.
Their tour guides were all good-natured and open-minded college students, so it was easy for me to chat with them about our personal lives. They willingly shared with me what major they were taking at university, what they wanted to do after graduation, and why they wanted to work in those fields.
One guide told me how she’d met her boyfriend and explained to me the dating culture in Korea. We then laughed our heads off as another guide told us about his funny incidents when he first moved to Seoul. It was lots of FUN!
Seoul Free Walking Tour with SeoulMate
Are you persuaded to book a Seoul free walking tour with SeoulMate right now?
Next time you visit Seoul, don’t forget to check out the tour schedule from SeoulMate’s website. Taking a Seoul free walking tour with them is a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture. You’ll be able to discover hidden gems not found in travel guidebooks, as well as enjoy mouth-watering Korean food the way locals do.
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