South Korea is one of the friendliest places you can bring your kids. There are a number of amusement parks to choose from, including Everland Resort and Lotte World in Seoul. Life-size figures and murals of Pororo, Tayo Bus and Pinkfong are found everywhere.
Most importantly, the comfort of a traveling family is considered throughout Seoul. There are elevators in most subway stations. Seven-year-old children and younger can travel for free, just use the bigger turnstiles to fit in.
There are designated seats saved for pregnant women or parents with strollers on trains and buses. They also do not assume that mothers are the only ones capable of changing diapers. Male restrooms feature Koala Kare changing stations for fathers who are out with their children.
The most challenging part of traveling with kids in South Korea is the food. Some popular traditional meals are spicy but you will get by if you just memorize this phrase: “Maepge hajimaseyo,” which translates to “Please, don’t make it spicy” and point at your child. This is especially useful if you want the auntie serving your kalguksu, or hand-cut noodles, to skip the chili.
Most bibimbap and barbecue places can make jumeokbap, which are hand-rolled rice balls that are very popular among kids. The plainest ones are just a mix of rice, sesame oil, sesame seeds and seaweeds. Gimbap in tourist places also offer varieties filled with cheese (pronounced as jisu).
Fried chicken is a crowd favorite. You can easily spot them on the streets, traditional markets, or kiosks in residential areas.
There’s plenty of fast food, and not just the Western brands, should your child become too fussy about the food. However, burger prices are almost three times the prices in the Philippines.
Fruits, desserts and ice cream are everywhere.
The most overlooked activity to do in Seoul is shopping for kids. There are plenty of clothing brands for kids found in malls all over the city. But nothing comes close to Namdaemun Market as a haven for children’s fashion.
Namdaemun is a 10-minute walk from the tourist-favorite Myeongdong. The closest subway station is Hoeyeon. It is a vast marketplace that offers everything, including household items, electronics and clothing. Just download the app Naver Map for directions. Locals mostly shop there.
It’s easy to get lost in Namdaemun. If you do get lost, try to get to an intersection within the market. You’ll find tourist information workers in red uniforms. They most likely know how to speak English and will easily point you where you want to go.
Children’s clothing is found at Gate 4 and they call it Kid’s Wear Shopping Street. Building names on the street have English translations; some don’t, but their signages are often colorful, giving you a clue that you are in the right spot.
Burdeng, Porky and Paint Town are just some of the buildings we spotted, but the street is literally just for children’s wear. The buildings are shopping centers, housing several sellers on different floors. It’s like Divisoria’s 168 Shopping Mall, only the aisles are more spacious, the displays are better presented and it’s not crowded.
Shops open at different times, but some start operating at 9 a.m. and usually close at 9 p.m.
Fashion trends for kids
You also don’t need to bring your kids with you. Shopkeepers can give advice on the sizes based on the child’s age. They will provide a clear book filled with pictures of the clothes on child models. The pictures show how clothes will look when they are worn. The clear book will also show other items they have that are not on display. Pretty much how you’d do online shopping, except you get to touch and feel the item in person.
Shops sell diverse styles of clothing, including streetwear and formal wear. For boys, clothes style are miniature copies of idol wear, such as oversized shirts, capris and bucket hats.
Girls’ clothes lean toward the conservative side, but the options are fun and plenty. They also follow adult street style.
We noticed that the current favorites are the tweed coordinates that Shin Ha-ri (played by Kim Se-jeong) preferred in the K-drama “Business Proposal.” We also heard sellers pushing the boleros to their customers. Prices start at P1,000.
You can also find mini shoulder bags inspired by designer brands to match the dresses. They start at P1,500, which is comparable or even cheaper to what you can find here.
Ballet dresses, hair accessories, shoes and travel trolleys are also abundant.
Do not be shy to ask for discounts. Shops are likely to give them to you if you are reasonable and nice.