The world is not done with the Korean craze just yet.
This Korean city is fascinating to say the least. There are so many things to see, so much to do, lots to eat, and many to fall in love with. Think of the palace visits, day trips to surrounding islands, street snacks and authentic Korean samgyetang, crazy cosmetics shopping and bargain-scouting at the universities, Lotte World, and K-pop.
We can only say that if you haven’t been to Seoul, you are missing out, and you need to understand what tickles the world. Fans of the city, do you also agree with these 24 Reasons to Love Seoul?
#1 GAROSU-GIL, A BEAUTIFUL TREE-LINED STREET WITH MANY NICHE BOUTIQUES, CHIC CAFES, AND FANCY RESTAURANTS
Located between Sinsa-dong and Apgujeong, Garosu-gil – which means “tree-lined street” in Korean – is fast becoming the hippest area in Seoul. It is a paradise where you can find niche boutiques, chic cafes, fancy restaurants and trendy hair salons; and every shopfront is a photo spot.
Be charmed by the whole charisma of this area where every soul is well-dressed; entice your senses with the unique offerings of arts, fashion and food; spend a day here and you will want to go back to Seoul again and again.
Gyeongbok-gung was the main royal palace of the Joseon Dynasty. Take a walk through the ancient fortress, and learn about how the Korean royalty lived and breathed their culture.
#3 SAMGYETANG – THE WORLD’S FAMOUS KOREAN GINSENG CHICKEN SOUP
No one leaves Seoul without a piping hot bowl of ginseng chicken soup, or better known as samgyetang. The most famous Korean Ginseng Chicken restaurant in Seoul is Tosokchon – certainly a must-visit when you are in the city. We would suggest coming here for lunch before visiting Gyeongbokgung palace, which is just located 5 minutes away.
5, Jahamun-ro 5-gil
Tel: +82 2 737 7444
Nearest Station: Gyeongbokgung Station (Exit 2)
#4 VISIT TO NORYANGJIN FISHERIES WHOLESALE MARKET
Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market – often compared to Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market – is certainly one of the must-visit places when you are in Seoul. There are many stalls in the market where you can buy fresh sashimi, lobsters, crabs, prawns, live octopus, and a whole lot of other seafood which you probably have not seen before. After purchasing the seafood (make sure to bargain), go to the back of the market to find a restaurant to cook them for you in your preferred style(s).
#5 BUKCHON HANOK VILLAGE – A CHARMING TRADITIONAL VILLAGE
A traditional village located just a stone’s throw away from Gyeongbok-gung, Bukchon Hanok Village is a charming enclave of old and new. ‘Hanok’ refers to the traditional houses that date back to the Joseon Dynasty. Today, the village is filled with teahouses, guesthouses and cultural centres.
#6 HAVE DESSERTS AT PASSION 5
If you ask for only one dessert spot in Seoul, it will be Passion 5. They have five different categories of dining all under one roof – gelato corner, bakery take-out station, patisserie and café, chocolatier and a full-fledged restaurant. Everything on display is so pretty that you are so going to have a hard time deciding on just one.
Passion 5 is also listed as one of our 10 favourite cafes in Seoul.
272, Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Tel: +82 2 2071 9507
Nearest Station: Hangangjin
Situated in the central of the capital city, Myeong-dong is a concentrated area that bustles with life all the way till 11pm. Besides the regular street snacks, coffee joints, random apparel boutiques and lifestyle services parlours, Myeong-dong houses all the local beauty brands – Think Etude House, The Face Shop, Tony Moly, Innisfree, Holika Holika, Aritaum (for Laneige) etc - and is the to-go pad for cosmetic shopping in Seoul.
There are restaurants and local eateries along every street in Seoul, each specialising in their respective dishes. Here’s a guide on the 17 restaurants, eateries and cafes to dine at in Seoul.
#8 LOTTE WORLD – INDOOR THEME PARK, OUTDOOR AMUSEMENT PARK, HOTEL, SHOPPING MALLS UNDER ONE ROOF
A major recreation centre in Seoul, Lotte World is one fascinating place to be at. With an indoor theme park that’s the world’s largest, and outdoor amusement park, a luxury hotel, many belts of shopping malls, sport facilities, movie theatres, and a Korean folk museum. It is massive, and you can easily spend a day here. Lotte World opens all year round, even through winter.
#9 N-SEOUL TOWER AT NANSAM PARK FOR THE BEST VIEW OF SEOUL
N Seoul Tower at Nansam Park offers a bird’s eye view of Seoul. If you are planning to head there, we suggest to make a reservation for lunch at N-Grill steak restaurant – a revolving restaurant located at the top of N Seoul Tower which offers a terrific and value-for-money set lunch.
#10 EXPLORE SAMCHEONG-DONG, A QUAINT AND CHARMING AREA WITH LOTS OF ART GALLERIES, CAFES AND BOUTIQUES
Just a stone’s throw away from Gyeongbokgung is the quaint area of Samcheong-dong, where you can find several art galleries, cafes, eateries and boutiques. The National Folk Museum of Korea is also located within this neighbourhood.
#11 KOREAN BBQ PARTY ALL DAY EVERY DAY
No trip to Seoul is complete without a round of meat feast. Or many rounds, for that matter. Because it is ultra satisfying and a very quintessential Korean thing to do, and we really would not mind BBQ-ed pork belly every day if it wasn’t so fattening!
#12 MIDNIGHT SHOPPING AT DONGDAEMUN
Going to Dongdaemun – the fashion centre of Seoul – was quite an experience for me. For some reason, I have always pictured the wholesale fashion centre to be messy and disorganised – like Bangkok’s Platinum Mall, or Taipei’s Wufenpu. Instead, Dongdaenum turned out to be an area with endless trendy shopping malls with nicely decorated shops displaying arrays and arrays of the latest fashion pieces.
#13 HONGDAE – A HIPSTER NEIGHBOURHOOD IN SEOUL
We’d love to think of Hongdae as the most happening area of Seoul. In the day, you can shop your fill with all the indie boutiques and cosmetic shops; when night falls, the whole area transform to a party of street basking, bars and random dancing. If you are lucky to be there during the right period, there are occasional flea markets too.
#14 EWHA WOMEN UNIVERSITY SHOPPING
This is a shoppers’ heaven. Ladies, listen up – a massive range of fashion awaits. You can find all sorts of styles and price points here, alongside bars, restaurants, stationery shops and cosmetic boutiques. This is also the place where you scout for the best bargains; even the Korean students get dressed up here!
#15 CRAZY COSMETICS SHOPPING – YOU NAME IT, SEOUL HAS IT
Seoul is synonymous with everything beauty-related – cosmetics, skincare, eyelash extension, facial reconstruction, plastic surgery… you name it, and I am pretty sure they have it. While not everyone is game to go under the knife, we are still vain deep within us, and wherever possible, we want to look our best. Without cosmetic procedures, we can still have fun at Seoul with the endless streets and alleys of beauty offerings. Think your favourite brands like Etude House, Innisfree, Laneige, Tony Moly and The Face Shop. Well, and many more, of course.
#16 EAT YOUR WAY THROUGH SEOUL’S BEST STREET SNACKS
Well, well. What can we say? Eat your way through Seoul, of course! There will surely be something that entice – French fries dog, tornado chips, BBQ squid, meat skewers, spicy rice cakes… and the list goes on. Just remember to not wear skinny jeans.
Strolling along the streets of Seoul means feasting on Korean Street Snacks non-stop. Here are 15 Korean Street Snacks That You Must Try When in Korea.
#17 VISIT SEOUL DURING THE CHERRY BLOSSOMS PERIOD
But of course, if you are lucky enough to be at Seoul during the cherry blossoms period, you’d learn of the sheer beauty that those pretty pink flowers have to show you. Every bit stunning, and they are memories that will forever be etched in your heart.
#18 DINE AT A POJANGMACHA (ROADSIDE TENT)
Or otherwise known as roadside tents. We love to eat at a pojangmacha – small tented restaurants on wheels, or roadside street stalls – where locals go for snacks and drinks after work. You can easily find one to have Samgyeopsal, Ddeokbokki and wash it down with soju. If you are going to Namdaemun Market, there is a stretch of pojangmachas at the entrance of the market.
#19 DAY TRIP TO NAMI ISLAND
Plan an escapade to Nami Island and embrace the Korean culture and nature. Nami Island is home to several art galleries, as well as the Song Museum. There are also indoor and outdoor stages for performances, and the most iconic of all is the Metasequoia Path – one of the main filming locations for Korean Broadcasting System.
Plenty of tourists traverse the dazzling urban cityscapes that Seoul has to offer. However, a great deal of adventure lies beyond the nation’s capital, and within the rustic and beautiful countrysides of South Korea. Here are 3 adventures that you must experience in Korea.
#20 K-POP FEVER
Because what is a trip to Seoul without dancing to Girls’ Generation and G-dragon’s tracks on the streets, right? Everywhere you go, regardless of time, someone somewhere will blast K-pop songs and that is when you heck the world, tap your feet and start shaking your bombom!
#21 GANGNAM IS MORE THAN JUST OPPA GANGNAM STYLE
Psy’s Oppa Gangnam Style took the world by storm, and we are pretty certain everyone knows about Gangnam by now. Gangnam-gu – which literally means “South of the River” – is one of the twenty five gu which makes up the city of Seoul. Make a stop at Gangnam Station – the busiest station in the whole of Seoul. There, you can find hip restaurants, bars and eateries.
There are many one-pot goodness in the world – different varieties and all that – but there is nothing that has wow-ed us as much as Mukshidonna Tteokbokki Restaurant did.
We are going to have you read on, and you have to, because if you go to Seoul and you miss this, you are really missing out in life. Mukshidonna Tteokbokki Restaurant is completely our idea of comfort, and it is so affordably priced that you can eat it often.
#23 KYUNGRIDAN-GIL – A LOVELY NEIGHBOURHOOD FILLED WITH COSY CAFES AND CUTE SHOPS
Quite possibly our new favourite area in Seoul (besides Garosu-gil), Kyungridan is a up-and-coming neighbourhood filled with quaint and cosy cafes and lifestyle shops. You have to spend a day to explore this neighbourhood.
#24 GWANGJANG MARKET
Gwangjang Market is one of the largest and oldest traditional markets in South Korea. You can find many stalls selling vegetables, meat, fish, clothing, textile and kitchenware. But the highlight here is definitely the food stalls selling all kinds of Korean food. Gwangjang Market is famous for the Bindaetteok (or Mung Bean pancakes), make sure you try it when you are there.
Fans of Running Man might find Gwangjang Market very familiar (watch episode 186).
For more recommendations, read our curated food and travel guides on the best things to do, eat and see in Seoul.