Welcome to part 2 of my Seoul travel guide! I’m going to share the sights we saw across 11 days in Seoul. We tried to jam pack our days but we still didn’t manage to see everything! I’ll see if you can guess where our favourite place was…
DAY 1: Travelling and exploring Mapo neighbourhood (마포구)
If you read part 1 you would already know we stayed in an Airbnb apartment located pretty much at the foot of Mapo bridge overlooking the Han River. Our neighbourhood was full of corner stores, noraebangs (노래방, Korean karaoke rooms) and your typical McDonalds, bank and school…It seemed like a pleasant neighbourhood and had great amenities! It was also a great transport link to the rest of Seoul.
Myeongdong is probably one of the most popular shopping regions in Seoul and it’s no surprise as to why! It’s loaded with restaurants, cosmetics shops, a kakao friends store and plenty of street food stands. The sights and smells of Myeongdong simply cannot be missed – it was definitely a firm favourite!
Itaewon could be described as quite an indie hot spot for tourists, so is a well known spot for those from all around the globe. It was such an interesting place, we ended up being interviewed twice, but that’s to come in part 3…Hongdae is known for its “urban arts” and is street performer central. The diversity and open mindedness of this area of Seoul was so amazing to see and so refreshing! The people here were so talented and so incredible.
My favourite traditional Korean dish soon became bibimbap, a mixture of rice, vegetables and fried egg and is still easily the tastiest thing I have ever eaten. The food in Korea is outstanding for the price – we would get 5-6 small starter bowls including kimchi, dried anchovies, tofu, soup etc that the hosts would refill for you, jug after jug of water alongside our mains, mostly on average for a total of 10,000 ₩ which is roughly £7. Wow. I’ll post more of Hongdae later on, it was a regular go to of ours…
DAY 4 : Cheonggyecheon (청계천)
Cheonggyecheon is home to the famous cheonggyecheon stream that runs through downtown Seoul. This “urban renewal project” is a beautiful break between the skyscrapers and busy roads. We chose to visit on a Sunday and have a picnic, which was absolute bliss!
The surrounding streets of Cheonggyecheon were like veins through the city, leading you to new and exciting places. It led us around the Jogno district which was full of more treasures.
We accidentally ended up in Yeouido because it was a random day of seeing where we ended up. We crossed the river and entered what seemed like the Canary Wharf of Seoul – it’s business galore! We then travelled back the other way to Hongdae yet again for more shopping, food and street performances. We also couldn’t miss the opportunity to visit a puppy cafe. We visited Sang Sang puppy cafe, but apparently it’s permanently closed now 🙁 We met an American soldier who was deployed on base in Seoul with the army. We went for dinner and had a wander before heading our separate ways – strangers aren’t all bad just as long as you go with your gut and stay safe.
You’ve probably heard of Gangnam because of the how kpop has highlighted it. That’s not all it has to offer – but we did go so we could see K-Star road and the entertainment buildings. We even saw JYP himself! The subway station is like a shrine to Got7, it’s definitely heaven for any kpop fan out there.
We also ended up getting a bit lost, and found ourselves amongst skyscrapers of plastic surgery clinics. Cosmetic surgery is quite a daunting reality in Korea, when it’s so different to life here in England. We often saw posters advertising surgery and often saw young girls fresh out of operations with bandages over their faces – it’s not so unusual out there.
DAY 7: Bukchon & Dongdaemun (북촌한옥마을 & 동대문디자인플라자)
Bukchon Hanok Village is home to alleys of incredible Korean history. Hanoks are traditional Korean houses that are beautifully located near the mountains of Seoul.
We followed a map supplied by tour guides and found a viewing room that someone had converted inside their home which gave us an unforgettable view. Here we tried tteokbokki for the first time (spicy rice cakes) as we explored. Dongdaemun Design Plaza is a huge structure home to art galleries, shops and eateries. It’s also home to the popular Seoul Fashion Week. This day is definitely in my top 3 days which showed such a wondrous side to Korea.
Insadong is a maze for pockets of artsy shops and souvenir stores. It’s definitely a location I would recommend, the friendly hussle and bussle and tasty treats left a great impression! If you get a chance, try the poop bread. I say no more.
I won’t insert more Myeongdong pictures and Hongdae will be coming soon!
If you hadn’t guessed it already – Hongdae was our favourite spot for lively evenings! As we were regulars, we soon came to know the local performers who we would watch most nights, we managed to meet Maxxam who were super friendly! It was so nice to just travel there as and when we wanted. Our spontaneous selves even ended up getting our first tattoos done courtesy of Tachi in an underground parlour! I truly can keep the memory with me forever.
Namsan tower is (no pun intended) the peak of Seoul. Visiting the observatory was one of the first things we knew we had to do – but we didn’t time it great! The pollution became extremely thick around halfway through our trip, so visibility was very limited even at lower heights. Some days we couldn’t see halfway across the river from our apartment window, so we knew Namsan tower couldn’t offer us the views we were after on the day we went.
However, we still took the cable car from the centre at the top of Myeongdong to the bottom of the tower. We took full advantage of our subway cards and headed back towards Garosugil. This area is host to upscale boutiques and modern stores. We obviously know Hongdae was our spot for the evening!
DAY 11: Chilling and Mapo bridge
Our long awaited trip was coming to an end…and we had well and truly ran ourselves dry. All the exploring from the morning till the night had hit us a bit by this point. We decided to grab some food from the local shops and chill in the apartment as we packed. However, since the day we arrived we had one thing left to do. Walk over Mapo bridge.
This late night trip was extremely poignant and raw, if you know about this bridge then you’ll understand why – but if you haven’t heard about it before, I urge you to read my instagram post about it which is evidence that even places that appear so joyous have their deeper, darker sides. https://www.instagram.com/p/BY3S6ydA2fK/?hl=en&taken-by=emilygabriellax
And in somewhat of a nutshell – that was my Seoul itinerary! I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to go and share this experience. I’m sure my friends and family are sick of hearing about it, but it really is somewhere I wish everyone could see!
If you have any questions at all – please don’t hesitate to let me know, I’d love to have a chat 🙂
Stay tuned for the 3rd and finally part, 10 things learnt/experienced in Seoul
Until next time,