I don’t like people.
I’m not kidding. My introverted percentage is always more than 90% no matter how many times I take MBTI tests. So, I always do my best to avoid people whenever I travel. That’s also why I prefer to travel solo, or with just one companion. For introverts in Seoul, life is rough. Whenever you go out and try to enjoy nature BAM! 10,000 people. And so, this is how to avoid people in Seoul.
Introvert Travel Tips
1. Avoid People by Waking up Super Early
I am not a morning person and find it hard to get out of bed. But I’ll do it to avoid people. When traveling to a popular destination, I always manage to wake up before dawn and depart before sunrise (at 5 AM).
It’s always best to take the first subway, train, or bus. Normally, only senior citizens and hikers manage to wake up and get out of the house that early. Even if there are people, they are not as noisy as the afternoon crowds. As a general rule, tired people are quiet people.
2. Avoid People by Going on a Weekday
This is my privilege as a student without any regular coursework. I can easily avoid weekends when people are out. The flexibility has allowed me to enjoy all of Seoul’s hottest spots outside of peak hours.
However, if you work normal hours there is still some hope. Although you can’t avoid people completely going out after work is still better than going out on the weekends. Plus, if you are a regular worker in Seoul, you are entitled to one day off per month. Most places will let you use your days off as half days which is a great opportunity if you want to avoid the city without crowds.
I need to disclaim, though, that the first two tips don’t work if you want to avoid the Korean elderly. Either you avoid crowds, or you avoid old people. You can’t have both. I swear that they are all early birds. I could arrive at 6 AM at Seokchon Lake, only to be greeted by a pack of bright-eyed ajumahs wearing bright-colored jackets, ready to exercise.
3. Avoid People by Stalking Instagram and Google
For flowers and autumn leaves, the timing is the most important thing. You want to hit locations on the very first day, or maybe the second. Three days or more into the season and locations are packed.
Plus, I don’t want to wake up at 5AM only to find that the cherry blossom has turned green, or the autumn foliage hasn’t even peaked yet.
That’s why I always stalk the hashtags of my destinations on Instagram. The most important thing to note is: it has to be in Korean. Koreans are avid social media users and tend to update everything in real-time. By the time foreign influencers catch wind, it’s too late. So, we can always check the updated condition through the ‘recent’ tabs and read the captions.
However, if you want to avoid people altogether, you can also lookup trends so that you know which neighborhoods to avoid. You can also check Google to find when peak hours are for a destination or a specific café.
Avoid People by Watching the Weather
Another great tip to avoid people is by watching the weather and doing things that don’t quite make sense for the season.
First day of beautiful spring weather? What an amazing day to go to a movie theater! It’s raining? Time to pack a picnic and head over to the Han River! It’s surprising how much fun you can have when you are prepared to do activities in bad weather.
Cherry Blossom Viewing ALONE
Admittedly, for cherry blossom and autumn foliage, I usually go to several places in one day. Only the first few places I go are not crowded. But, doing everything in one day is a great way to conserve energy if you find crowded places draining. Plus, the perks of starting your journey early is to get to as many places as you can!
Did you go to the cherry blossom viewing at Seokchon Lake this year? It was ridiculously crowded!
This destination is one of the most popular destinations for cherry blossoms in Korea. I visited it on a Sunday, in the evening (4 pm). OH. GOD. I felt so dizzy because of the large crowd. It was as if the pandemic does not exist anymore!
Forget about good photos. In some spots, I couldn’t walk because so many people flooded the area!
However, I started my journey to this place around 5:30 AM in the morning last year. I took the first train and reached Seokcho Lake around 6:30 AM. I went even before the first Muslim prayer (done before sunrise), so the train was quite empty. I could sit comfortably for 1-hour journey.
Since the pandemic hit Korea, the government had barricaded the area around the lake to prevent crowds. But they open it until 9 AM to allow the local residents to exercise. The lake is a popular running trail among the locals, so even at 6 AM, there were a number of people exercising.
Still, it was not a crowd so I could take photos comfortably! This year was just on a whole other level. Post-pandemic, don’t go to Seokcho!
Arguably the most famous cherry blossom festival in Seoul, it always attracts a large crowd.
Before the pandemic, I visited this place during the cherry blossom peak and it was packed. The Yeouido Hangang Park is a hot spot for picnics and during cherry blossom time, the crowd seemed to quadruple.
Last year, however, the government decided to barricade the main cherry blossom street beside the National Assembly Building, so we could not get in. I gained a pass as a Global Seoul Mate, but my schedule to visit was very late. The organizer miscalculated the blossom period, so it was canceled.
This year, the road opened again, so I decided to try going extra early. I departed from my place around 7:30 AM (they open the road at 8 AM ).
Unfortunately, even from Yeouinaru Station, I can already see some people walking toward the National Assembly Building. It was a Sunday morning, so perhaps that’s why people already visit the street at 8 AM.
The crowd was not too large, although I could still enjoy the cherry blossom and take photos without being too photo-bombed.
Jinhae Cherry Blossom
Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival is always on the front page of cherry blossom’s promotional events. Located near Changwon, Jinhae’s cherry blossom season offers some amazing spots to enjoy the pink trees, especially in Gyeonghwa Station and Yeojwacheon Stream.
Of course! It also invites a massive crowd.
I went there at 4 pm on a Sunday. It was like a war!! I could barely walk without bumping into people, let alone take photos without anyone near me. So, my partner and I decided to return to Gyeonghwa Station at 6 AM the next day. Look at the difference in pictures!
SOLO Autumn Spots
I went to these famous spots in Deoksugung’s walkway at 7 AM and Asan’s Gingko Street at 5 AM (for Seoul). This is the best time for introverts or photographers who want to take pictures without people. The results were amazing!
Honestly, there are so many different types of trees that change colors seasonally in Korea. You don’t need to go to one specific area to see yellow and red leaves. The mountains are full of them! If there is an area in Seoul that is too crowded and you want to avoid people, just leave.
Real alone time in Seoul is actually impossible. If you really don’t want to be around any other humans, you need to go to the countryside. Or, even better, a nature preserve in the middle of nowhere! Click Here to read all about Sucheon Bay National Park.