5 Things To Do In Seoul
#Unfiltered opinions after first trip to Seoul.
Before going to Seoul I was frantically asking around on where to go and Googling a lot on “Best Things To Do”. While there are the usual suspects for shopping and food, I am now able to list out places that are really worth your time to visit. A few things that I noticed about Seoul:
– The houses are similar to Japan, tiny but well built and occassionally you will stumbled upon Wallpaper-worthy residential buildings and unique stores in cute neighbourhoods
– The subway map is as complicated as any huge metropolitan cities but it is easy to navigate and very efficient. We loved the very adorable “Ringtone” that blasts through the station sound system whenever a train is about to arrive
– The city is not as clean as Japan, but again, no where on Earth can beat Japan for their cleanliness and recycling
– 99% of the cafes are “hipster” with great ambiance, you can never finish your list of must-go cafes. On another note the coffee quality is pretty average
Here’re are my personal top 5 things to do in Seoul:
1. Soak in Hongdae
The epicenter of urban culture in Seoul – indie shops, graffiti, nightlife and bars – Hongdae is a popular district where you will feel young all over again. Due to the close proximity of all the must-go places, you can spend time going from shop to shop, cafe to cafe without much walking in this concentrated hot spot.
Flower cafe Blüte – 12, Wausan-ro 14-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Sheep cafe, 486 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul
National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) > Leeum Samsung Museum of Art. While Leeum is more prestigious, located near a hill surrounded by foreign embassay, MMCA has larger exhibitions and more affordable entry fee. That being said, allocate at least 3 hours to comb through all the galleries and even the surrounding neighborhood!
Leeum, 60-16 Itaewon-ro 55-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
MMCA 30 Samcheong-ro, Sogyeok-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul
3. Architecturally Speaking…
No trip to Seoul should be made without a visit to Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP), the majestic neo-futuristic landmark designed by the late Zaha Hadid. The best time to go is from late afternoon to evening when you can see DDP being breath-taking in both day and night time.
Dongdaemun Design Plaza 281 Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul
Sulwhasoo flagship 650, Sinsadong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
Even if you are not a skincare junkie, you can’t miss the Gangnam flagship store of Sulwhasoo, designed by renowned Shanghai architect duo Neri & Hu. The super chic flagship exudes an air of class and refined luxury, you feel expensive just walking in to the 5 storey building.
Common Ground 17-1 Jayang-dong, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul
Common ground has all the elements of hipster – “pop-up” and “container”. Get there to take an #OOTD or simply for food and shopping.
Hyundai Card Music Library, click here for the address
Another container-style shop to visit: Music Library at Itaewon. Record stores are a rare sighting in some parts of Asia (especially in Singapore) and to know there’s a members-only library for 10,000+ records, you have to see it with your own eyes.
Ewha Womans University 52 Ewhayeodae-gil, Seodaemun-gu, 서울특별시 South Korea
You might find it weird to visit a University while on vacation but there are tourists flocking over to Ewha Womans University just to see the building designed by Dominique Perrault. The campus sinks deep into the ground with a luscious roof garden at the top. The pictures simply does not do this piece of art any justice.
4. Local food
Besides the typical Korean fare like Bibimbap, BBQ, ginseng chicken soup and Kimchi, my personal favourite must be Bonjuk, a chain store for Korean porridge, and Isaac toast. Both are ideal local breakfast. A lot of the restaurants in Seoul offer western and hipster cuisine, to really try authentic Korean food, head to restaurants where the menu and staff don’t utter a word of English.
Noryangjin fish market, 674 Nodeul-ro, Dongjak-gu, Seoul
Noryangjin is where you buy fresh seafood off the vendors, bring the live seafood to a restaurant upstairs and let them cook it for you on the spot whatever style you like. Tip: you cannot bargain for lower price with the vendors but you can ask for higher quantity in the same price.
5. Urban Planning.
Cheonggyecheon stream is an 11 km long stream flowing through downtown Seoul that has been restored as part of an urban renewal project. The stream has became a tourist attraction as well as recreation space for the locals, a place of zen amidst the concrete jungle. Be in awed by the construction and urban planning as you walk alongside the river on a good sunny day.