Expat Dating Diaries: My Best First Date in Seoul

Best First Date in Seoul JimJilBang Korea First Date ThatGirlCartier Dragon Hill Spa

My Best First Date in Seoul

Over a year ago I wrote an article about the best summer date spots in Seoul.  My most enjoyable first date in Seoul, however, was pretty unconventional.  Our romance was short-lived and never got very serious.  It was before I ever fell in love.  It was before I ever truly had my heart broken, too.  There were disappointments down the line, of course, but he and I actually still talk to this day.  Maybe it has something to do with my best (and longest) first date in Seoul!

Where Do I Begin?

A friend and I had planned on going to the Doosan Bears game at Jamsil Stadium.  She had come up from Dongtan and had no intention of joining me on a first date in Seoul.  This military man and I had been chatting on and off on tinder for a few weeks.  This was before having written about the 7 Worst Guys an Expat Can Date.  I was avoiding seriously dating at the time.  Since boys were already on their way to the game, so we figured we could all hang out.  While sitting in the stands some overly aggressive foreigners started waving at us and one of them even shouted out, “Kate!”  We still can’t figure out who they were, but they didn’t end up being the guys from Tinder.  Because of that encounter, we almost bailed on the meet up.  I’m so glad we didn’t!

First Date in Seoul Key # 1: Common Interests

I love going to watch live sports, so meeting up at a baseball game was perfect for me.  At a baseball game you’ve got the hoopla of the game, the crowds, and the walk up songs.  At a baseball game first date in Seoul you’ve got the bonus of cheerleaders, and announcer, and BYOB.  If conversation gets boring, get well into the game.  If the conversation is riveting, it’s just the Korean league.  The field is smaller, the players are slower, and unless watching pop-fly after pop-fly being caught is your thing – it’s pretty repetitive.  Not a ball fan?  Find something else with an element of distraction or an easy out.  If you’re meeting someone for the first time you don’t want to get sucked into a massive time commitment (read: waste of time).  If you’re having a good time, however, laissez les bon temps rouler!

First Date in Seoul Key # 2: Perfect Sunset

Could the sunset pictured above be any more perfect for your first date in Seoul?  I don’t think I’ve ever seen one quite as extraordinary since!  We got to canoodle for a bit as the game wrapped up and the sun went to sleep.  Red sky at night, sailor’s delight, right?  Well our weather the next day was pretty darn perfect as we strolled hand in hand along the stream, but that comes later…

First Date in Seoul JimJilBang Seoul First Date ThatGirlCartier Dragon Hill Spa

First Date in Seoul Key # 3: Multiple Dates in One

Did you think my perfect first date in Seoul would lead you to a bathhouse crossed with Korean Dave & Buster’s?  Well, we’re here!  We had been out in Itaewon for dinner and needed somewhere to go before curfew hit.  My date was actually with his boss who was totally down to check out Dragon Hill Spa.  If you’ve never been to a Korean bath house/ sauna/ jimjilbang, read up on the most luxurious one in Busan! (Privilege check: this probably is best suited to cisgender straight couples.  Being on a first date in the actual baths together could prove risky!  I’ll let you use your imagination…)  Here are my reasons why a jimjilbang is an awesome first date in Seoul.

JimJilBang Seoul First Date ThatGirlCartier Dragon Hill Spa

First Date in Seoul Key # 4: Clean up Your Act!

With 9 different baths in the female sauna area, you’ll be super fresh, clean, and relaxed for the rest of your date.  We separated for about 30 minutes and reacquainted fresh-faced, squeaky clean, and in pajamas!  If a guy can’t handle me without makeup then I know it’s not going to last, but PJ’s is a whole ‘nother…ballgame!

First Date in Seoul Key # 5: Plenty to Explore

After a quick scrub and some relaxing in the tub, we all met up in the lobby.  I used to live in Jamsil (south of the Han River in Seoul), so sometimes we’d crash at Dragon Hill if it was tough getting a taxi home.  Since it’s open 24 hours, it’s also the perfect hideout if you want to socialize past curfew.  Since the boys were new to Korea, we explored the many different saunas in the huge building.  Are you a hot or cold sauna kind of person?

First Date in Seoul

There is a restaurant and a snack bar.  Grab a snack of some ramyeon (cup noodles), bingsu – a Korean dessert which is like flavoured “snow” (shaved ice), or a beer to keep you going!

I love getting a little competitive on first dates.  Playing plenty of arcade games was a great way to get to know how my date handled victory and defeat!  We shared a sneaky little first kiss in the singing room where he sang me his absolute favorite song (and where we screamed Alanis Morisette’s “You Oughta Know”).

First Date in Seoul

Ready to catch some Zzz’s?  Head into the indoor (or outdoor if you’re keen on being mosquito breakfast) cinema or any of the sleeping rooms around the jimjilbang.  Sleeping together on the first date in Seoul means something a little different here!  The best part?  In the morning, we got to soak one more time before heading to breakfast in Itaewon.

Dongdaemun!

A post shared by Kate 🛫 Travel Blogger (@torontoseoulcialite) on

You know you’re on a good date when you don’t stop to check your phone or take pictures along the way.  Back in the winter of 2016 I took this snap of Chonggyecheon – a stream in Seoul.  It was nice ticking this one off my Seoul bucket list.  You can walk from Dongdaemun through Namdaemun and up to the palace by following the stream.  Who knew just a few months later we’d be walking and talking hand in hand under a noticeably warmer, blue summer sky?

Have you ever been on a truly unconventional first date in Seoul or anywhere else? 

Tell me all about it in the comments below!

The Nail Bar Korea (더네일바 already in Gyeongnidan 경리단길) has opened up a second location in Hannam, Seoul. That Girl Cartier went to scope it out...nail'd it! Where to get gel nails done in Seoul, South Korea (Itaewon & Hannam)

Nail’d it: The Nail Bar (더네일바) Hannam

The Nail Bar Korea Hannam

(더네일바/이태원네일/젤네일)

The Nail Bar Korea has opened their second location, this one in Hannam-dong.  Finding the location wasn’t exactly simple for our taxi driver, but after a quick call we were swept away to a ritzy new complex.  Head down the stairs and you’ll find The Nail Bar Korea right across from a new pasta place I’m obviously now dying to try!

The Nail Bar Korea: Atmosphere

I’ve never been to their Gyeongnidan 경리단길 location, so I can’t comment on size difference too much.  I’m pretty sure I’ve passed it and it was quite small in comparison to this sprawling space.  I was totally overwhelmed by the large white space with gold accents and en entire wall of nail polish.  I came in with an idea of the gel nails I wanted to get, but once I was hit with the wall I became pretty indecisive.

The Nail Bar Korea: Experience

Upon arrival we were greeted and asked if we’d like water or coffee (see iced Americani above).  There was a big screen playing old school Whitney, Mariah, and TLC as well as plenty of Katy Perry and Ariana Grande.  The owners two adorable pitbulls Butter and Gamja had free reign of the place, too.  Perfect for a dog lover like myself, but just be aware there are a couple of cuddly, furry members on staff!  My nail designer had spent about 9 months in Australia and spoke perfect English.  We talked about life in Seoul, workouts, and different restaurants.  She asked me about style and shape every step of the way.  She made sure my sensitive skin was comfortable.  The took my busted cuticles and made them soft.  She took my claw-like talons and gave my tips a much daintier look.  This definitely wasn’t an express manicure, however.  I expected to be in the chair for about 45 minutes.  I left after about 2 hours!

The Nail Bar Korea: Price

This is where I was actually a little shocked.  I had been speaking with my nail designer on KakaoTalk the day before our appointments.  She sent me their menus and I expected to pay about KRW 50,000 for my manicure.  My friend was told that if she wanted a 3rd colour it would cost an extra KRW 10,000 so she opted just for 2 colours (a pale pink with one nail on each hand in a sparkly colour).  My nail design included 2 colours and my technician didn’t mention anything about extra costs (for having a design nor for having matte nails).  I anticipated there would be a bit of a top up, but since she didn’t say anything I was a little sticker-shocked when it came to paying our tabs.  My friend’s pretty pink came to KRW 50,000 (we were told there was a cash discount – nope).  Mine came to a whopping KRW 80,000.  That’s a pretty penny on a teacher’s salary.  I couldn’t believe she didn’t mention there would be a KRW 30,000 increase on what I had been quoted.  Make SURE to be clear when discussing your style so that you’re not forking over 40% more than expected…

Contact: The Nail Bar Korea

Make appointments over the phone or via KakaoTalk!

Phone: 02-7948549 (Gyeongnidan) // 010-650-28549 (Hannam)

카카오톡 // KakaoTalk: thenailbar

Facebook: www.facebook.com/thenailbarkorea

Getting to The Nail Bar Korea (Hannam location)

Gyeongnidan Location: 경리단길 서울 이태원동 658 번지 1층 ☎ 02-7948549

Hannam Location: 한남동이태원로55나길 6/ITAEWON-RO 55NA GIL 6  📲 010-650-28549