Both cities are the capital of two Asian countries and very popular amongst foreigners. It’s one of the most visited countries in Asia, if not the most.
I’ve been to both cities, and both have pros and cons. It’s all about what you’re looking for and what you’re going to do. There are many activities in both cities so if you have the chance to visit both I would highly recommend you do.
Both cities are beautiful for travelers and very friendly towards foreigners. Both cities are also pretty expensive, depending on how much you’re looking to eat out or cook yourself. Generally speaking, the average traveler eats out but if you’re on a tight budget, cooking at home saves a lot more money.
Seoul vs. Tokyo
Today, we’re going to talk about the 8 topics when comparing Seoul vs. Tokyo. There are many differences, and both are great to visit. When I visited both countries, there wasn’t any information about both cities to compare with so that’s what I’ve made for you. Here are the 8 differences when you compare Seoul vs. Tokyo.
1. First Impressions
First impressions are always the most important because people have a confirmation bias about many things. The first thing you notice will be the thing you’re always going to remember, so let’s talk about my first impressions in Seoul and Tokyo.
Seoul is the capital of South Korea, and I’ve been here many times. Normally, I stay at an Airbnb since it’s less expensive, and for a couple of weeks I’m staying, it feels home. Seoul has many great places to visit, and the beauty culture is enormous. So, if you’re into beauty, this would be great to visit if you have the opportunity.
My first impressions of Tokyo were amazing, and I really love the Japanese culture since it’s warm and cozy. There are many street food markets out there, and the food is delicious. What I liked the most about Tokyo is the cultural difference, nothing is too weird, and the people are very friendly.
The weather is great in both countries, especially if you’re going to visit during the summer. It might be very busy on the streets, but the weather in both Seoul and Tokyo is amazing. If you have the chance to visit Seoul during Spring, it’s one of the most beautiful places to visit.
For Tokyo, I recommend visiting during the summer because it was very nice to have great weather when going on vacation. There were times when I visited Tokyo, and the weather didn’t turn out as I expected it to be, so try to visit it during the summer.
However, if you’re going on a business trip, the weather doesn’t really matter. It’s great to have a sunny day, but sometimes rainy days are also very pretty in both Seoul and Tokyo.
Transport in both countries is very easy, and you can use different apps like uber or just call a taxi. There are many taxies in Tokyo and Seoul, and it’s very easy to call them. What I really liked about Seoul is that the taxi chauffeurs are very friendly and won’t try to scam you.
Some other countries that I’ve been to have tried to scam me. When traveling in Seoul, make sure to use Kakao T, which is a taxi app for Korea. The app is very easy to use, and you know the price before getting in the taxi.
Another way of transportation is by trains, and I must say that the train system in Tokyo is insane. I’ve never seen such a great train station in any other country. It’s very advanced, and Tokyo is known to be very clean.
Another plus is that the trains in Tokyo are never late. Not saying that in Seoul, the trains are late but generally speaking, the train system in Tokyo is way more advanced than almost all other countries worldwide.
If you’re looking to shop in Seoul or Tokyo, I would personally choose Seoul if you’re into beauty. However, if you’re more into streetwear and fashion, Tokyo is the best option. As you can see, there are many options to choose from, and it just comes down to personal preference.
Seoul is known for its enormous beauty industry. At almost every block you can find a beauty shop. The skincare industry is also huge in Korea. Everywhere you go, you see billboards with celebrities on their promoting different products.
In Tokyo, there are also many billboards, but the beauty industry isn’t as big Tokyo as in Seoul. When visiting Tokyo, there were many great thrift stores where I bought very affordable clothing. It was very high quality, and I recommend you going there if you’re looking for some streetwear clothing.
Tokyo also has many designer stores, but every country has that, so you can’t really compare it with Seoul. In addition to Seoul, they have way more beauty products, and getting plastic surgery is very normal in Seoul.
The entertainment industry is different in both cities, and it’s really how you look at it since Seoul has Kpop while Tokyo has more anime and mangas. There are many differences, so this one also comes to your personal preference.
When I was visiting Tokyo, the anime culture is huge, and you can find a bookstore almost everywhere. The same goes for Seoul, which has many Kpop stuff. There’s no good or bad to choose from, and you should select the one that you’re the most interested in.
What I do have to say is that the Kpop industry is very focused on beauty which can be a bad thing. Where Tokyo isn’t as much, so it’s really up to you which one you prefer the most.
6. Night Life
The nightlife in both Seoul and Tokyo is amazing. If you like partying, Seoul is the way to go. However, Tokyo is very underrated, and the majority of the parties are similar to the ones in Seoul. What I really like about both cities is that when you’re outside at midnight, it’s still very busy.
I’ve been to both parties, and both were very fun. If you ever have the opportunity to visit one in Seoul or Tokyo, make sure to go. You’ll never forget such an awesome experience, especially if you’re young.
At night you see many travelers and foreigners partying, which is very fun. You’ll get to know a lot of people, even if you’re introverted. It’s very fun to go outside.
If you’re hungry at midnight, you can go outside and grab some food at any grocery store. Tokyo has some 24/7 grocery stores that are almost fully automatic. While Seoul also has those stores, there are often people working there.
The food is amazing in both cities. If you really like spicy food, I would recommend going to Seoul. However, if you really like sushi and ramen, then Tokyo is the way to go. I’ve tried many different foods, and every time I think about Tokyo, I really crave sushi.
Sushi in Tokyo is one of the best in the world, but it can be a bit expensive; if you have the budget make sure to try some high-end sushi in Japan. The experience is very different from general sushi restaurants in New York.
Street food markets are very popular since many foreigners go there to grab a quick snack. If you’ve never tried street food in Seoul or Tokyo, make sure to do so. It’s delicious, and the prices are very affordable.
Both languages are very different, and both are pretty hard to learn if you’ve never heard about it. However, these days both Seoul and Tokyo have decent English-speaking people, so you don’t need to worry about that.
If you’re currently learning Japanese or Korean, you already have a head start. Visiting both cities will be very easy for you to communicate.
When I didn’t know how to explain something, I used Google Translate or Deepl to explain what I needed or was looking for.
It’s very easy, but most of the people I met spoke English, so there’s no need for such apps. Make sure to learn some basic words before visiting Korea because that will help a lot.
The Pros & Cons of Seoul
- Everything is very convenient, you can find almost everything next door, and it’s very affordable. You can even pay for people to throw away the trash and recycle it. If you’re hungry, just order it from an app, and it will be delivered within 15 minutes.
- Skincare is huge in Korea, which makes getting products very easy. In countries overseas, the products are more expensive than in Korea.
- Kpop, if you’re into Korean pop music, Seoul is the place to visit, especially if you’re a huge fan of BTS or any other group.
- Very crowded, Seoul is very crowded everywhere you go it’s very busy and difficult to find some quiet places where you can rest.
- Air quality isn’t the best in Seoul. That’s one of the reasons why you see many people wearing masks everywhere they go.
The Pros & Cons of Tokyo
- Convenience stores, Tokyo has almost everything a couple of feet away from you. Almost everything can be bought from a convenience machine. Even pizzas, burgers, and other foods are instantly available.
- Public transportation is very good, and everyone is always on time. There’s almost no reason to be late since trains and busses are always exactly on time.
- Great culture to learn Japanese, many people are friendly and willing to talk to you.
- Everything is individual. Tokyo has many restaurants where you can eat alone, which can be very lonely.
- If you don’t try to get out there, you’ll probably feel very lonely since there isn’t much to do alone.
- Getting a job is very hard in Tokyo since the majority of people in Tokyo work an extreme amount of hours each week.
Seoul vs. Tokyo: Which is Right For You?
Now that we’ve compared both cities, it’s up to you which one you’re going to choose. If you’re into Kpop, skincare, and plastic surgery, then Seoul is your best choice. However, if you’re more into anime, manage, and tech, then Tokyo is probably more appealing to you.
In addition to both countries, you should visit both if you have the opportunity it’s really great to travel to as many countries as possible. There’s no country that can be compared with each other since both countries are very different.
Both have different cultures, so it’s great to visit both. If you still don’t know which country to visit, then you should probably read this article again and weigh the pros and cons with each other.
Now that you’ve come to the end of this article, you probably know the differences between Seoul vs. Tokyo. I’ve been to both cities, and both are great visits. The food in Seoul is amazing, especially the Kimchi Jjigae, so make sure to try that if you’re going to Korea.
If you’re going to visit Tokyo in Japan, I highly recommend you trying out some sushi. Sushi is very popular worldwide and will probably be like this for many years to come. What I really liked about Tokyo is the individual activities, you don’t really feel lonely when traveling here and almost everyone is very friendly.