Good morning everyone!
Seoul has a lot to offer. One reason as to why I liked Seoul so much more than Tokyo was that Seoul has different districts that differ widely in what kind of things you can do there. Whether you like shopping, culture or history: Seoul got it all, and most is even for free! (except the shopping, but even there you will get tons of freebies!) Even living there for 5 months I wasn’t able to see it all – however, I was very blessed with Korean friends who tried to give me an amazing and unique experience to enjoy their country and took me to various places throughout my stay. If you ever wonder where to go in Seoul, here are my personal top ten favorites to visit in Seoul:
#1 Ihwa Mural Village (+ Naksan Park)
This was actually one of the very last places I got to visit while living in Korea. A friend who knew that I loved photography took me there because you have an amazing view over the Eastern part of the city from the Naksan hill and can have a slow walk down to get to Ihwa Mural Village where a whole district is plastered with amazing drawings and illusions on walls and stairs.
#2 Namsan (+ Seoul Tower)
Runner up is the „Southern Hill“ Namsan which is very famous for its great view over Seoul, especially at night. It is a very popular dating spot (that I wasn’t aware of) where lovers leave a lock and throw away the keys (which I forced my boyfriend to do, but we kept the key as a memory) If you want to spare some extra money you can go up Seoul Tower – but I personally found it extremely overpriced when you already have a great view from the mountain itself and didn’t go up the tower. Special tip: Don’t ever go on the weekend or a public holiday, especially not in the evening and especially not when it’s great weather. You will regret it as you have to wait ages at the cable car and will be on an overcrowded mountain – nothing much romantic about this. I went in the daytime when it was slightly raining and it was great! You can either take the cable car for about 8€ or hike up the hill (which I don’t recommend – there are A LOT of stairs. We only descended the stairs and it still took us 30 minutes down so think very very hard before you make that decision.)
#3 Hongdae & Ehwa University District (Hello Kitty Café)
Hongdae has been one of my very favorite districts. What I love about it, is that it is so versatile: You can do some amazing shopping with lots of unique pieces, go to fancy noraebang (karaoke), have a night out with your friends and hit the bars, sip a coffee in a relaxed café or listen to a lot of free concerts happening in that area. Plus: There is an adorable Hello Kitty Café and even a physical Paula’s Choice store 🙂
Ehwa on the other hand is just amazing for really cheap shopping – it’s close to the most famous women’s university in Seoul so if you are searching for real good deals – you should look there. Doesn’t matter if you look for sweaters, shoes or jackets, Ehwa got it all in small stores in all the small parallel streets. Bargaining is a given – if the item is over 10,000 Won (~8€) which is the standard price for almost everything there – I got some amazing handbags that all cost me a mere 10,000 Won.
#4 The Han River
If you have enough from shopping or Seoul gets too hectic for you, a stroll along the Han River is something you really should do while in Seoul. You can rent bikes and ride along both sides of the river with your friends or just have a relaxed walk and sit down with some chicken like all the locals. (if it’s not winter…) Coming from Berlin, I found the huge Han River very impressive, it’s a lot bigger than our biggest river here in Germany (and even that impressed me.)
#5 Anguk Station (Insadong & Bukchon Hanok Village)
A little bit more touristy but def. a must-visit for anyone at least a tiny bit interested in Korean culture. Insadong near Anguk Station is a little district that sells a lot of traditional wood work, Korean herbs etc. and is a great place to get souvenirs! You should also try Korean tea there which tastes fabulous.
Right on the opposite side of the station lies Bukchon Hanok Village, a traditional district in Seoul that was saved from extinction. You can walk along traditional Korean houses and some are even open for visitors – I got a little tour plus traditional Korean tea at the end of the tour on the veranda of the house for 10,000Won which was really lovely.
#6 Shopping in Myeongdong
If you’re interested in Korean skincare (which is very very likely if you’re a reader of this blog :D) Myeongdong is the place to shop. Almost all major and lesser known brands have at least one store there (and some popular ones have like….5.) If you’re up for some bulk buying this is the place to be. They always have 1+1, 2+1, 10+10 etc. special deals, especially on sheet masks! I bought almost all my sheet masks there before I left 😀
#7 Seodaemun Prison Hall
A place full of painful history. The Seodaemun Prison was used by the Japanese occupation/Colonial period to house anti-colonial activists but had also been used by the Korean government after that period. The history of Korea and the prison is displayed inside with different and very interesting exhibitions in Korean, Japanese and English (although… some of the information varies greatly, depending in which language it was conducted.. so take everything with a grain of salt.)
#8 Gangnam Underground Shopping Center
I am personally not a huge fan of Gangnam – I’m not a nightclub person so Gangnam was never meant to be with me. I’ve been there only a few times to visit a friend who lived in Gangnam. The only thing I thoroughly enjoyed was the Gangnam Underground Shopping Center – that thing is HUGE. You can find almost everything there but mainly clothing. Be careful and compare prices though, as you can find the same article for different prices sometimes. Don’t be shy to bargain!
#9 Changdeokgung Palace
This was the first place I went to visit when I arrived in Seoul – I think it has a special spot in my heart because of that. I didn’t plan to visit this palace but stumbled upon it and decided to go inside – I really loved this palace! It is quite big/wide and there is a lot to see. Very famous is the park that belongs to Changdeokgung palace but unfortunately we arrived to late to do a tour. If you want to take a break and see how the royal family lived in old times in Korea, this is def. worth a visit.
#10 The National Museum of Korea – or any other museum, for what it’s worth.
Ah, museums. I am not the biggest fan of museums in general but Korean museums are great! They are highly modern and the best thing is – most of them are free! No matter if you’re interested in history, art or the science, there exists a museum just for you. I visited the National Museum of Korea which takes you to an amazing trip through history and art in not only Korea, but also China and Japan. Plus, the nearby park and pavillon is lovely to just sit back, relax and get a bit more educated 😉
There you have my personal favorites from Seoul! Seoul is a really versatile city that has a lot more to offer than just sheet masks and kimchi! I hope you enjoyed this and mabye it’ll be helpful with your next trip 🙂
Disclaimer: Some pictures in this post were taken by myself, the others were taken from tourist organizations inside Korea.
Have a wonderful weekend!