Seoul vs. Bangkok: Asia is so diverse!..

Guards in Korea

My 3 days stay in Seoul this May – it’s dozens of photos and parallels with my favorite Bangkok. What do these cities have in common and what makes them unique? Here is a personal look at the capital of South Korea of a Russian, living in Thailand!

North Korean plastic surgeons are rivals to their Thai colleagues and  considered to be the best in Asia – they work wonders with women’s faces! That’s why plastic surgery clinics ads meet you as soon as you arrive at Incheon Airport. I haven’t seen any Thai beauty clinics ads in Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport yet!


Limousine buses from airport to different parts of Seoul are luxury ones! Ticket price depends on your destination, but not higher than 15$. Before starting off the driver utters words of greetings and bows low to his passengers. Wow! You feel like a special guest! There are no problems with getting from Suvarnabhumi airport to Bangkok either, but with the lack of welcome rituals.


Seoul landscapes are hilly, while Bangkok is mostly as flat as a sole.


Dwelling houses climb up the hills and look like slums from afar. But at closer look they turn to be nice solid buildings, only a bit too crowded, like birds’ nests. There are definitely more slums in Bangkok, but, on the other hand, there are no winters here, and Bangkokians don’t have to be too concerned about warm homes.


They are so cozy, these curve lanes of Seoul…


Seoul is full of nice architecture. In my opinion, it’s what Bangkok lacks. There are many grandeur skyscrapers and beautiful luxury condos there too, but the majority is 2-5 storey shabby faceless houses.


These Seoul buildings make you stop and stare at them!


Here is another one, proud of its style and exclusivity!


Bangkok will never be home to the masterpieces of late Zaha Hadid. Seoul is among those lucky cities which to have Hadid’s architecture. Dongdaemun Design Plaza – a huge fantastic construction with a square around hosts designer shops, studios, exhibitions, workshops – anything about art and design.


Broken lines of Zaha Hadid’s stairs



Shining corridors leading to nowhere – it’s all Zaha!


Seoul is spacious, its wide avenues and streets are full of air and light. The city is painted in watercolors. Bangkok is narrower and piles up; it’s spicy and brightly colored with oil paint


Pedestrians are comfortable in Seoul – wide pavements, underground passages from the metro, polite drivers at traffic lights. Public transportation stations look great! Bangkok is far behind in this matter…


Frogs to hold you on: a bus stop of Seoul


Seoul policemen: all as one are handsome and as shapely as their Thai counterparts! Though their motorcycles look cooler than Bangkok cops’ motorbikes…


Seoul is very green. There are grassplots with wildflowers here and there. Bangkok is also green, with many parks – Thais are skilful landscapers


Awesome landscape designs of Seoul


Flowers, in multi-colored selections, are planted along the roads. It’s what you can hardly see in Bangkok!


Both Seoul and Bangkok florists are superb in growing a great diversity of curious flowers!


Children are our flowers too. I often met these private day-care mini-groups in Seoul metro. No doubt there are the same infant schools in Bangkok too, but our logistics have never matched


What I really missed while staying in Seoul – Thai smiles and an enveloping relaxation. The farther to the North, the less people smile – looks like this view is true. Hotel staff, sales girls, waiters – it was beyond their powers to squeeze out a smile. And reminded me of my compatriots a lot! But at any difficulty, especially during my wanderings around the metro, those tough unsmiling Koreans always lent me a helping hand… People of big hearts, indeed! Exactly like Bangkokians !


Seoul Metro is a real Quest for the unprepared. It’s a huge net of lines and junctions. Bangkok Underground and BTS are much easier, but with no aesthetic charge. Many stations of Seoul Metro have really museum exhibits – replicas of historical artifacts, like in this photo, or panels, mosaics, bas-reliefs… A cultural place, in a word!


National architecture of Korea is horizontal; it stretches parallel to the ground, with huge open areas in front of the palaces. The colors are deep and dark, Earth’s colors. This all is exact opposite to Bangkok temples and palaces profiles with their sharp, as spindles, blazing stupas in the tiny yards… And they all are stunning!


When you visit Seoul palaces, you can rent a national dress for a woman – honbok, and a man’s national suit, to feel the atmosphere of ancient times with your skin!


There are no any kings in the palaces of Seoul, that’s why you, wearing your honbok, can freely look through the window at the ceremonial throne room; Bangkok Palace windows are not available for such funs – for obvious reasons…


Honboks are beautiful! The girls wearing them are adorable, they are like butterflies or flowers.. And by the way – yes, they always smile when posing for camera!


Foreigners rent honboks too. But look funny in them in my mind… Just imagine a Korean or Thai girl wearing our Russian kokoshnik! By the way there are much fewer Europeans in Seoul, than in Bangkok!


Back to Seoul Metro: Gadget Mania knows no borders!


Senior citizens of Seoul look very active. I saw many aged couples, in clothes and shoes suitable for long walks. In Bangkok I don’t see such couples – maybe due to high temperatures they choose indoor activities.


Two girlfriends – with trendy hairstyles, in perfect fit and mood – coming back from a long walk. Aged people are everywhere in Seoul, making this city’s environment cozier and whole!


Shopping in Seoul is ok. I bought a dress of European cut at last, which is very hard to find in Bangkok. There are a lot of shops selling Korean cosmetics in Seoul; looks like it’s a strategic commodity of the country! Amazing: Koreans go to Thailand to buy Thai cosmetics while the latest trend among Thai girls is to have a trip to Seoul for Korean means of beauty! More sales girls from these shops speak Thai language for better communication with their customers from Thailand!


Seoul street fashion didn’t meet my expectations! I thought Korean ladies would be more stylish, like, say, Japanese women. But they all were in baggy, monochrome colors clothes… I can’t say that I am a big fan of the way Thai ladies dress, but, at least, you are never bored looking at their outfit!


Black&White, practical color! I felt that they all wouldn’t mind wearing a uniform, one for all! I think I can understand why Kim Jong Un’s regime is so long-lasting:  uniformity is in Korean’s blood…


The lady on the left stands out from many with her clothes’ fashion and colors


Maybe she is wearing her moms’ clothes, which were in fashion 25 years ago?


Socks with sandals/flip-flops. It’s hygienic, of course, but – hey, Thai girls! – you are wonderful in your sexy dresses and high heels!


A bit of spirituality here. When you meditate, either the beach of Gulf of Thailand or designer couch of Dongdaemun Plaza – both are great!


Korean Monks and Nuns wear the same clothes. Unlike Thai monks they don’t walk along the street gathering the donations. They stand in the crowded places with the box for money, tapping a rhythm on a wooden ball.


Back to material world. Potatoes are sold in Seoul streets – just the way they are sold in Russia! Thais don’t eat it much though.


Korean beef in pulgogi – barbeque – was heavenly! When surrounded by 10 – ten! – side dishes, it became never-to-be-forgotten. Though learned too little about Korean cuisine, I’ve become its fan and eager to discover Korean restaurants of Bangkok and Pattaya


It’s time to tell the harsh truth: Koreans can drink a lot. Thais are unable to compete with them here. That is why you can find a Hangover Soup in Seoul, not in Bangkok! Though any soup is a good remedy for hangover, but probably Dried Pollack – is a magic “reviving” ingredient?


Seoul babushkas kept on burning! They were pounding the drums for an hour in front of a large audience, and it was really cool! Seoul is an open-air concert hall, when the weather allows; Bangkok is no worse – there are always plenty of places to go and things to see and listen to.


These ladies’ singing impressed me a lot. The voices were so deep and loud, and the song – so long and full of life that I wished to have a drink and maybe dance a little… Thai folk songs don’t provide such effect!


Classical music in the departures hall of Incheon airport – it was a great surprise for many! People stop, listen to it a bit and head to their Gates 101 – 132, enlightened… Suvarnabhumi airport of Bangkok could adopt this great idea of saying good-bye to its passengers… I was leaving Korea to the sounds of violins – thank you, Seoul!

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About Me

Hi. I am Elena. Welcome to! In 2010 I quit my job as a university lecturer in Russia and moved to the Land of Smiles. This blog is a combination of useful information and amazing stories about Thailand with my “non-package tour” experiences. Hope you’ll like it here!


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