Seoul is the super cute South Korean capital that’s home to 10 million people. It’s a quirky, colourful dreamworld where couples wear the same outfits and nobody says no to a selfie… extra points for a peace sign hand gesture. I adored this place, and after spending ten days here I’m something of a self-proclaimed expert, so here’s my city guide to seeing the best of Seoul:
Where to go:
Hongdae – Seoul’s answer to Shoreditch. It’s a university area so it’s full of young people and has a really good nightlife with loads of unusual bars, as well as cool places to eat and countless clothing boutiques. It’s adorable and most things are open 24 hours here including shops and cafes.
Itaewon – Another nightlife and entertainment hotspot that’s not as hip as Hongdae but can still go all night. A lot more Western style bars here and also some seedy ones. Watch out for ‘Hooker Hill’ – exactly what it says on the tin.
Gangnam – Worth going just to say you’ve been, even though there wasn’t much to do in our price range other than check out the various Gangnam Style tributes. It has several extravagant nightclubs, but being the richest district in all of Korea these are pricey.
Myeong-Dong – A shopping district that specialises in cosmetic and beauty products. Heaven for make-up lovers!
What to do:
Climb Mount Namsan – The highest peak in the city and home to the N Seoul Tower – which honestly isn’t that impressive – but the views of Seoul from the mountain make up for it. You can take the cable cars but the climb isn’t too difficult, plus it’s free and gives you more time to take in your surroundings and get plenty of photos.
Sing in a noraebang – Korean karaoke rooms you can rent by the hour, equipped with stand up mics, disco lights and tambourines. My idea of a perfect evening, even if Jordan wasn’t too enthusiastic!
Visit Gyeongbokgung Palace – Centuries old royal palace of the Joseon dynasty. My favourite attraction in Seoul! The palace itself is so beautiful and made even better on a clear day when Bugaksan mountain is visible to the North.
Collect free samples at Myeong-Dong – As I mentioned earlier, Myeong-Dong consists of street after street of beauty shops. These all offer amazing buy one get one free deals, as well as free samples just for looking in their store. Here’s the freebies I collected on a quick whizz round:
I’m a sap for anything kitsch, so Korean beauty products are right up my street. Just look how cute!
Have a coffee at a dog cafe – Seoul has a range of different animal cafes, but who doesn’t love dogs the best? The dog cafe in Hongdae has all kinds of pups big and small just waiting for your cuddles!
Explore Bukchon Hanok Village – a traditional Korean village preserved perfectly despite being smack bang in the middle of Seoul. People still live in the hanoks today, and some are guesthouses that you can stay in for an authentic Korean experience.
Food and Drink:
Korean BBQ – Obviously!! Korean BBQ is as good as everyone says and more than lives up to the hype. Most BBQ places don’t speak English but it doesn’t really matter, you just choose your meat and are brought an array of sides as standard. We actually didn’t know what most of them were, but it’s all delicious and super healthy!
Taco 66, Hongdae – Not very Korean, but an amazing little place at the end of our road that we couldn’t resist going back to. It’s really cheap – about £3.50 for a meal and £1.50 for a beer – and does the best burrito I’ve ever had!
Myeong-Dong street food – everyone recommended Dongdaemun night market for street food, but Myeong-Dong had the best we found by far! The options are endless here – I went for dumplings followed by a 32cm ice cream…
Zen Bar, Hongdae – A ginormous pub with pool tables, beer pong, darts, Jenga, table football…basically any bar game you can think of. It’s very lively and full of students – we had one of the best nights out of our trip in here!
Fat Albert’s, Itaewon – A western style bar with the cheapest beer we found in Itaewon. It’s about £1.80 for 500ml, and Korean beer is a lot stronger than what we’re used to at home! This place is right on the main street and always packed.
10 days seemed like a long time to spend in one city at first, but there’s so much to do in Seoul that it ended up being just right. It’s a great place to experience all that’s weird and wonderful about Korean culture, and the locals are so friendly and helpful to foreigners. South Korea isn’t a country I ever saw myself visiting but it blew my expectations away, and I’d love to go back one day and see some more of it. If anyone has any other recommendations for Korea, let me know in the comments below!