Seoul, Korea is a no stranger city to the entire world. Its quirky dance and catchy song gather all K-pop fans all around the world. A visit to this city is a must if you are a fan of K-pop. But if you are not fancy with all K-pop craze like me, a visit to this city still worth it.
During my visit to Seoul last time, there are things that capture my attention and which are unique and trademark to Seoul. In this post, I will highlight all the things that made ‘Seoul’ so you can experience your trips to the fullest.
Mark Kurlansky, ‘Choice Cuts’ (2002) once said “Food is a central activity of mankind and one of the single most significant trademarks of a culture.” Hence, understanding Korean food is the first step into understanding Korea itself.
We know Korean food usually spicy and flavorful. At first, when I try Korean food, I despise it. Really. The food tastes bizarre and too spicy for me to handle. But upon trying a few more times and different Korean food, I grow my liking towards Korean food. Here are my top picks of food you must try when you are in Seoul.
This is like the most Korean food you can get. Every time you hear the word Kimchi; your mind will immediately be reminded to Korea. Kimchi usually is made from fermented cabbage or radish. And because it is fermented, the taste will usually be sour and a bit spicy.
This dish is eaten as a side dish. So, Korean normally would add Kimchi with their main course to add a kick to the overall taste.
Bibimbap typically comprises rice that is topped with minced beef, a variety of vegetables and topped with a fried egg. To properly eat this dish, first mix all the ingredients together with gochujang (a special Korean chili paste) based on your preferences. Mixed them well before you enjoy Bibimbap.
The most common food you will find if you stroll down the street at Seoul. These rice cakes are sold everywhere in Seoul and you will not have a difficult time to find and try this.
Also, sometimes spell as Gimbap and known as Korean Sushi. Kimbap and sushi is a two different dishes that people commonly mistook for. Two mains different between these two is; the rice and the filling. Rice in Sushi will always be seasoned with vinegar first while Kimbap typically cut with sesame oil and sweetener. And secondly, as for the fillings, Sushi will mostly be filled with raw fish while Kimbap is filled with cooked or preserve foods.
- Korean Fried Chicken
No, it’s not the same as Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). Korean Fried Chicken or KFC are gaining its popularity and insanely being craved lately. Why? Because it’s delicious. The tenderness and the taste mix really well. Nowadays, there are tons of different taste and variety of KFC you can try.
ii) Main Attractions
- Gyeongbokgung Palace
If you are keen to learn more about Korean culture and architecture, a visit to Gyeongbokgung is a must. This palace is the grandest and beautiful palace compared to any other palace in Seoul. And because of this, most tourists will definitely flock to this place.
When you drop your visit here, usually there will be an event happening every hour from 10 am to 4 pm called Royal Grand Changing Ceremony or the Gwanghuamun Gate Guard On—Duty Performance. You could also wear their costumes for free if you want to. But please take note that this place close on Tuesday.
- Namsan Seoul Tower
This is another a must place to visit if you are in Seoul. At Mount Namsan, this tower has been a symbol of Seoul since 1980. From the top, you can witness the whole Seoul lays upon your eyes. A cable car is also available. You can enjoy various performances and exhibitions here.
It has been a norm for a couple who visit Namsan Seoul Tower to buy a lock, write of their names and throw away the keys. This tradition is called ‘Love Lock’. This is to symbolize their love has been locked away forever. So, don’t be surprised when you go up here and you see tons of padlocks are locks along the Namsan Seoul Tower.
- Nami Island
Ah! The ‘Winter Sonata’. Honestly, when I first arrive at Nami Island, I know nothing about Winter Sonata. Only when I arrive here, then I only knew about the internationally famous Korean Drama, Winter Sonata. My intentions of coming here are because many people talks about it and I do not want to miss it out. Over here I see a lot of drama reference of Winter Sonata on display all around the small island. And since I did not watch the drama, I knew nothing about all the references. There are also a few statues over here and there scattered around the island. A few souvenirs shops and restaurants are also available here for you to buy souvenirs and to refill your thirst and hunger.
- Cheonggyecheon Stream
This 11km streams start from Cheongye Plaza and passes under 22 total bridges before flowing into Hangang River. They did an impressive job to keep this stream clear and clean although this stream passes through the hectic city of Seoul with thousands of people in it. Something that needs to be learned by lots of other major cities especially in my city (Kuala Lumpur).
The views are very relaxing and one of the favorite leisure spots for the locals in the evening.
iii) Shopping Places
Myeongdong is packed with fashion and skin care products. This alone made Myeondong as the most prominent shopping district in Seoul. If you are looking for Korean cosmetic brands like Skin Food, Laneige, Nature Republic, Missha, and others, this place is the one you need to go. All their top skin care products are superb in quality with a very low price. No wonder all Korean skins are flawless.
On that day while I’m walking down at Myeongdong street, I stumbled upon a person wearing a costumed cat. He promotes their Cat Café in Myeongdong. As a feline lover, I can’t say no to this. And the visit to the café is worth it. Their cleanliness, friendliness of the staff and tons of cat’s breed really impress me. Some cat breeds that I’m able to spot is; Exotic Persians, Norwegian Forest, Siamese, American Shorthair, etc. If you are a cat person like me, please do not forget to stop here.
Dongdaemun is known for its largest wholesale and retail shopping district. This area boasts several 26 shopping malls, 30,000 specialty shops, and around 50,000 manufacturers. The clothing and fabric are the most updated fashion trends in Korea. Opening from 10 am to 5 am except for Monday and public holiday, you can literally shop all night long.
And if you need a rest from the heavy shopping session, you can feed your eyes with thousands of the white rose garden at Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP). A total of 22,550 LED roses light up when nightfall creating an impressive wave of white roses. The number of roses on display corresponds to the number of days since South Korea had a liberation.
Insadong is the Seoul attractions for Korean traditional culture and crafts. All items in Insadong mostly specialize in a wide variety of goods that can only be purchased in Korea like their traditional clothing, Hanbok.
Plus, Insadong also holds about 100 galleries and you can see every example of traditional Korean fine art from paintings to sculptures.