In the winter of 2018, we stayed in Seoul for one week. We had a few things planned that week in Seoul, including some unique things like attending an esports event. Read on to find out about the best things to do in Seoul!
N Seoul Tower
The N Seoul Tower was the first sight we visited. The tower is located on the Namsan Mountain. There’s a cable car which takes you up the mountain, but when we got there the line was very long and we prefer to walk anyway. The hike up the mountain isn’t hard or long at all and is very popular with locals. We visited on a Sunday afternoon and there were lots of people walking with their families and/or dogs and even running up the mountain. At the top of the mountain, there are a few observation decks with stunning views over the city. We didn’t go up the tower as we were cold and tired. We decided to call it a day.
Gyeongbokgung used to be a royal palace. The palace has burned down twice, in the late 16th century and in the 20th century. Since 1989, the palace has gradually been restored to its original state. To date, it’s still not entirely finished. The palace grounds are huge, and the buildings are very beautiful and full of details. Gyeongbokgung is absolutely a must visit in Seoul!
KRW 3000 (adult)
Daily: 9:00-17:00/18:00 (depending on the time of the year)
Bukchon Hanok Village
Bukchon Hanok Village is a traditional Korean neighborhood and is close to Gyeongbokgung, which makes it easy to combine a visit to both places. The neighborhood is full of traditional Korean houses and it’s very nice to walk through the narrow streets. You’ll also see many people in traditional Korean clothing: Hanok.
As part of an urban renewal project completed in 2005 the Cheonggycheon stream, which was almost completely left dry, was restored. Cheonggycheon is a very popular place to stroll around with both tourists and locals. Even though you’re in the middle of a bustling city, walking along the stream is very calming. We actually knew this place from a scene in the Netflix series Sense 8.
Shopping in Seoul
Seoul is an amazing city for shopping. There are so many huge malls with lots of smaller boutique stores in them or just many regular stores. Many of our nights were spent at malls. We mostly went to the IFC Mall Yeouido as this one was the closest to our hotel. There is a huge variety of shops and restaurants in the IFC Mall and went there almost every evening to eat and wander around the shops.
On our first night, we went to the Lotte Young Plaza Shopping Complex. This mall is pretty huge and even connected to more malls. There were many nice street style shops and we loved looking around here. We didn’t buy anything at this place, but Mika did see a sweater and shoes here which she bought later somewhere else. The mall was perfect for inspiration.
If you’re into shopping and going to Seoul, make sure to check out Dongdaemun. Dongdaemun is considered a shopping paradise, but we didn’t have time to go there anymore, unfortunately.
Neighborhoods of Seoul
Besides visiting the sights, we also wandered around some of the neighborhoods of Seoul. Just like Tokyo, Seoul doesn’t really have one city center, but there are multiple neighborhoods, each with its own identity and its own center with lots of (clothing) shops and restaurants. Just get out and explore!
Just outside the city center of Seoul, you’ll find the abandoned theme park Yongma Land. As we had never been to an abandoned theme park before, we were dying to go! Our main reason for our visit to Yongma Land was to take some amazing and unique photos. Taking photos is one of the main things to do there, as the rides obviously don’t work anymore. Read all the information about our visit to Yongma Land and how to get there in our dedicated blog post.
Esports are huge in Korea and there is always lots going on in the field of esports in Seoul. We were dying to see the esports buzz for ourselves and went looking if there was an esports event we could attend while we were in Seoul. Luckily for us, the League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) Spring 2018 league was going on at our time of visit and we got tickets for match 44 of the league. Read everything about gathering information and getting tickets for esports matches in Seoul in our dedicated blog post.
Seoul is home to many cute and Instagrammable cafes and, as Mika really loves them, we decided to check a few out. Of course, we didn’t have time to see all the Instagrammable cafes Seoul has to offer, so we saved a few for our next visit. Read about the Instagrammable cafes in Seoul we visited and the ones we still want to visit in our dedicated blog post.
Getting around Seoul
In general, any place in Seoul is easily accessible by metro and Seoul’s Metropolitan Subway system isn’t difficult to figure out at all. Buying tickets, getting on the right train and transits are all very straight forward. We usually use Google Maps to get to a place, but Google Maps is a bit weird in Korea. You’re able to search for places in Maps and get directions to that place. Even the public transport directions in Google Maps are good. However, you can’t search for places on the map itself or click on anything, which is something we often use to explore the area on the map. There’s a Korean navigation app called Naver, which works much better. We used a combination of both Google Maps and Naver to get around in Seoul. We didn’t use the bus, so we don’t have any experience with that. Taxi’s in Korea are not that expensive either.
Have you ever been to Seoul? Let us know in the comments below!
Be sure to check out more of our visual experiences on Instagram!