Ever wish you knew the inside scoop before visiting a new destination? Now you can! We’ve reached out to our favorite locals and tour guides from all over the world for their insider tips. In the City Insider Q&A, they’ll let you in on the spots that should be on your must-see and do list!
Occupation: Head of Food Tours at O’ngo Food Communications and Chief Marketing Officer
Born in: Daegu, South Korea
Lives in: Seoul, South Korea
Short bio: Daniel Gray is a Korean adoptee that returned to Korea in 2005 in order to search for his birth mother and to learn about Korean culture. He started a restaurant review blog in 2007, www.seouleats.com, that became a local and international hit. He and his blog have both been featured in the New York Times, Monocle Magazine, The Kimchi Chronicles, Bizarre Foods, Rudy Maxa, Olive Magazine, Euronews and many more publications and media. He works at O’ngo Food Communications (www.ongofood.com), a culinary tourism company that offers Korean cooking classes and restaurant tours to travelers. Their food tours and cooking classes are ranked as one of the top attractions in Seoul according to Tripadvisor. Daniel is an accomplished writer and is the food columnist for Seoul Magazine and Walkerhill Magazine. He has contributed to Time Out Seoul, The Seoul Book of Everything, and wrote, “The Illustrated, “How to Eat” Korean Food Comic.” He is currently writing, Say Kimchi! Korean Food Comic.
Ready to explore? Here’s Seoul, South Korea according to Daniel Gray:
Favorite World Heritage Site: Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple in Gyeongju
Best way to the airport: The Airport Limousine
Best way from the airport: The AREX direct train
Best way to get to/from train station: Taxi
Best way to get to/from port: Taxi
Favorite 5* hotel: Sheraton D-Cube City
Favorite Budget hotel: 126 Mansion
Favorite fine dining restaurant: Jungsikdang
Favorite casual restaurant: Pub of the Blue Star
Favorite café: Take Out Drawing
Best museum: The War Museum
Most popular local food: Tteokbokki! (Spicy Rice Cake Noodles)
Local fruit: Chamwei (It’s a yellow-skinned melon with white stripes. You should eat the seeds because that’s the only sweet part).
Local drink: Makgeolli: Cloudy Rice Beer
Movies filmed there: Bourne Legacy, Old Boy, The Man from Nowhere, JSA
TV shows filmed there: Kimchi Chronicles, Winter Sonata, Rooftop Prince, Bizarre Foods,
Best souvenirs locals can buy: Metal Chopsticks and Long Spoons, Korean Hanboks (traditional dresses), Cell phone covers and accessories
Recommended reading for your city: Korea Unmasked in Search of the Country, the Society and the People by Won-bok Rhie; Seoul Selections Guides: Seoul; Seoul Selections Guides: Korea; Time Out: Seoul
10 Places Visitors must see:
- Hongdae Sang Sang Madang (Design Square)
- Gyeongbukgung Palace
- JSA (Joint Security Area) at the DMZ
- Kwangjang Market
- Namsan Tower
- Noryangjin Fish Market
- Olympic Park by Jamsil
- Insadong Antique Street
- Dragon Hill Spa: Jimjilbang
- Garusugil: Tree Lined Street
Best place to volunteer: Feed Your Seoul: Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen.
Biggest tourist trap: The DMZ 3rd Tunnel
Best travel tip: Rent a cell phone (iPhones available) or a 3G hotspot from the airport. They are cheap and essential for getting around.