Must Visit Tourist Places in Seoul, South Korea!
Seoul. One word, one city that brings so many fond memories back to me. I loved that city so much and luckily I got to stay there for over 2 years on and off. I explored Seoul old school style – on foot, in metro and sometimes buses. Everything that happened in those years has remained fresh in my memories. And since I have never talked about my trip and first trip to Seoul in detail on this blog ever before (this being a beauty blog et all), I thought I would tell you a little bit about those days today. Since I was accompanying my husband for a short term assignment of 3 months, I applied and received a Tourist Visa. I will also list the place you must visit in Seoul. So in case you are planning to visit Seoul in the near future, you might find this information useful!
We booked International Flights for our trip to Seoul and the best route turned out to be:
Bangalore -> Hongkong -> Seoul
And we got both of our flights from the same carrier – Cathay Pacific Airways.
The only downside to this carrier is that they allow 23kgs of check-in and 7kgs of hand luggage. Many other carriers offer upto 40 kgs. But we found Cathay Pacific rates to be decent so we went for it (plus that gave us an excuse to shop in Korea!)
Our flight left at 3:15am and we arrived in HongKong in 6 hours. After a halt of 4 hours, we left HongKong for Seoul. It took us three and a half hours to land in Seoul. We arrived in the evening and it took us another 90 minutes taxi ride to arrive at our destination in Bundang-gu (a suburb in the outskirts of Seoul). We were stayed at the SR Hotel in Seohyeon.
We stayed so close to the main market of Seohyeon and the AK Plaza (a mall) that we had no issues with finding restaurants and supermarkets for our stay. We explored only Seohyeon in the first week of our stay while we searched for an apartment for rent in the neighbourhood close to my husband’s office. And we found a spacious one in Jeongja-dong!
We moved to Jeongja-dong and since there were no good markets in the neighbourhood at the time, I used to go to Kim’s Mall in Migeum, emart in Jukjeon or the market in Ori. All of these places are on the yellow subway line (called the Bundang line). Sometimes I went there on foot! These trips to the markets introduced me to Korean brands like Etude House, Nature Republic, The Face Shop, Missha, Innisfree, Laneige, Skinfood etc. All of these brands have their outlets (sometimes more than one) in the same locality. Migeum was my favourite since it was at a walkable distance of 1.2 kms from my apartment and I could get groceries in the area in addition to checking out cosmetics. Migeum also had drugstores – Olive Young and Watsons – which housed various international brands like Maybelline, L’Oreal, NUXE, Catrice Cosmetics, OPI, Majolica Majorca, Canmake, FairyDrops, NYX, Revlon, Elle girl, KATE, Bomb cosmetics, Aveeno, Art Deco, Kiss Me, etc.
Anyway that is sufficient about my daily life in Seoul so let me share all the places I explored in Seoul and would highly recommend to you for your trip to Seoul, South Korea!
1. Seoul Tower
I think no matter how many lattice (or otherwise) towers you visit, each one of them offers something different. My husband has visited the Eiffel Tower so he was not as excited as I to explore this landmark of Seoul. It is the tallest structure in South Korea and offers gorgeous panoramic views of the city. I loved the observatories and I think going there at sunset was the best time for us. We had a great time both at the base of the tower (outdoors) and in the observatory. We went there through the cable car which was an experience itself. If you in Seoul for a short duration, this is something that will always be a cherished memory I think.
2. Chandeokgung palace
There are 5 main palaces in Seoul from the Joseon Dynasty and I have visited all of them. In my opinion if you go to Chandeokgung palace, you can skip the other four. The second one I enjoyed visiting was the Gyeongbokgung palace (because of the changing guard ceremony). Chandeokgung is the largest palace of the 5 and also has a secret garden which we loved exploring as well. My husband is not into history so I took a friend with me. For a sneak peek of the Korean history, do check out the palaces. The Changeokgung palace is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
PS – The secret garden has a separate ticket so at the counter ask for the ticket to Secret garden (guided tour) in addition to the palace ticket.
Insa-dong is a gorgeous locality in Seoul and a must visit for people looking to grab some souvenirs worth buying. You can find antiques, traditional goods, fine art and handcrafted products. There are some cute tea shops and art galleries worth visiting.
Some of my favourite things to buy were gemstones specifically Amethyst jewelry, Mother-of-pearl products like jewelry boxes, key chains etc., Ginseng, silk products like purses, wallets, and Korean handmade paper products like lanterns, fans etc.
I am sure there are many other things you can get in Insa-dong, do visit Ssamzie-gil (a shopping centre which is like world of its own). There are plenty of artists making caricatures in 10 minutes and under!
Gangnam-gu is really famous (thanks to Psy’s song Gangnam Style). It is a business and shopping districts in Seoul. And a must visit place if you are into shopping or eating or just exploring. The Gangnam area is full of shopping complexes, brand outlets, shopping malls, restaurants, pubs, cafés, hotels, cinema halls etc. Basically it is a place for everyone. I loved going to Gangnam. It was the most accessible major shopping joint for me in Seoul since I lived in Jeongja. Jeongja and Gangnam are connected via the Red Line (Sinbundang line). It took me hardly 20 minutes to reach Gangnam. There are also a couple of nice Indian restaurants that I loved. You can find restaurants with cuisines from all over the world. It is a lively place and a must-visit place especially for shopping!
I have already covered Myeong-dong in my Shopping in Seoul blogposts in the past. So there is no way I was going to exclude it from this list. While Gangnam and Myeongdong are very similar for shopping, I think Myeongdong has a bit more of soul than Gangnam. Out of the two, I would choose Myeongdong. It is also crowded most of the time. You can find all sorts of international brands in Myeongdong. Shinsegae Department store houses major luxury brands so if you are into that sort of thing, visit Myeongdong on your trip to Seoul (Korea).
6. Moonlight Rainbow Fountain (Banpo Bridge)
The world’s longest fountain (musical fountain) is worth visiting in Seoul. It is located at one of the bridges built on Han river (connecting North and South parts of Seoul). There are a total of 16 briges like these and each one of them is beautiful but Banpo bridge is definitely one of a kind. The musical fountain and lights are really mesmerizing in the evenings. If you are visiting Seoul in months between April to October, do visit the place for the show. It is really lovely.
7. Han-gang River (+Cruise)
Han river is a beautiful area with plenty of parks, swimming pools and other facilities. I could not resist adding the Hangang River Cruise activity as a part of the must-visit places in Seoul. The river cruise especially the one in the evening is worth taking. When the cruise crosses under the beautifull-lit bridges, it all looks so etheral. Again, one-of-a-kind experience. And the cruise in the evening also stops very close to Banpo bridge. Watching the musical fountain from the cruise itself is even more exciting than watching it sideways from the banks of the Han river. Han river area is fantastic for picnics and camping too!
8. 63 City Building
Another point to get a beautiful view of Seoul, 63 City Building is another tourist attraction which I think is worth visiting in Seoul. The name comes from the fact that building has 63 floors – 3 under the ground and 60 above. The observatory is on the 60th floor while major part of the building is kept for business. If you have time only for one, I would say choose Seoul Tower because it offers views from two points – base of the tower which is the top of the Namsan Hill and the observatory in the tower. Otherwise, the glass elevators of 63 city building are also fun. I loved looking out from the elevator as we reached up from 1st to the 60th floor!
That is it for this post! I will be sharing a list of other places worth visiting in Seoul in my next post. Stay tuned.
*We arrived exactly on the 89th day of our departure via the same route and the same carrier. It was my first and the most special travel experiences of my life. A part of soul still lives in Seoul!