“Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”
– Gustav Flaubert
It’s been a long time coming. I have missed this creative space that is “Lifestyle Monolog” and I thought it is only appropriate to pick up where we left off. After my amazing trip to Thailand in 2017, I was determined to continue my travels from that moment on. Before I catch you up on 2019’s travels, I would love to share with you the best travel experience I have had in a long time, the time I travel to Seoul, South Korea.
Seoul is one of the city that I have always wanting to visit, for the longest time. Perhaps it was all the Korean variety shows I have been watching, or all the Korean food I have been enjoying with my friends here in Melbourne. May 2018, after much spontaneity, I took my little sister from another mother and father, JQ on a 10 days adventure in Seoul city!
Life saving tips:
– Buy your T-Money card, for all your public transportation needs. You can buy them at 7Eleven, in many cute designs, and top them up at any train station
– Download Naver Map. Forget Google Map, it does not work as well as Naver Map. Best thing about Naver Map, it is in English and if you typed in your location and where you want to go, it helps to break down which station you should get on and off, and most importantly, which exit to come out from. Cause in Seoul, if you walked out the wrong exit, you could end up being further away from where you’re wanting to go
– Download Mango Plate app. This is the best foodie app ever! Once you find the area you are wanting to dine in, it gives you a list of hot spots according to the local Seoul residents, who will give their honest opinions on this app
– Take the subway train EVERYWHERE, definitely one of the best subway system I have ever been on. Taxi, unless you speak Korean, forget about it. Convenient, fast and clean, the only thing is exit and entry to some stations requires your expertise in Stair-Master, the steps are no joke
My pick of must-go places are,
With the old traditional houses, Hanok, clustered around the hilly side of town, the area feels more like a village within a city. Many tourists walking around wearing the traditional Korean dresses called, Hanbok, it is not too hard to think that you have just stepped back in time.
In this area of Jong-no, two must see concept stores are GRANHAND Perfumery, for some unique and personalised scent and GENTLE MONSTER, for some really snazzy sunglasses. Actually, any GENTLE MONSTER stores are worth the visit, simply because they have such outrageous interior. I went to another one in Hong-dae area and it is as over the top. Worth it.
2. Ihwa Mural Village
Warning: another hike up and get ready to climb up some serious steps.
As an art enthusiast, I am always excited to see the Arts in all sorts of form. Public art such as, murals are always fun. During our visit, some of the murals have disappeared, however, it was all worth it as we get a different view of Seoul from the top of the hill. As it is a residential area, we get to see how the local elderly relax and enjoyed the ever slightly cool breeze of Seoul’s summer.
3. Namsan Tower & Namsan Folk Village
I do think that the folk village was created to satisfy the tourists, however it is still worth the visit after a hike down from Namsan. The tower is feasible literally from any point in the city, and it is fun to go up to get an overall view of Seoul from up high. But winding down at the folk village in the afternoon, after all the tourists are gone, were quite the highlight. I remember exactly as I sat down in one corner of this space, I told myself, perhaps one day I could live in Seoul for a little while.
4. Dongdaemun Plaza
Only recommended for those of you who enjoys vast modern architectures. It is essentially the place for Seoul Fashion Week and aside from the awesome Kakao Friends store, Dongdaemun Plaza is pretty empty. We spent a good amount of time in the Kakao Friends Store and five minutes walking around the building. We walked around to find great photo spots and onwards we went.
5. Common Ground
The concept is simple, grouped bunch of shipping containers like UNO Stacko and create a cool shopping/foodie complex within them. The area is clearly catered to the young Seoulites, evident from all the cute trinkets sold and the ever so cool streetwear clothing options. Highly recommend visiting DORE DORE cafe and enjoy their Rainbow Cake, highly sugary and addictive.
6. Leeum Samsung Museum & Hannam-dong Neighbourhood
Even if you don’t enjoy Arts the way I do, I would still highly recommend a visit to this private museum. The gallery spaces are divided into two, historical gallery filled with old artefacts and a contemporary side filled with local and international who’s who of the art world. I was pretty gobsmacked by the list of international artists included in their collection, notably Basquiat, Rothko, Kapoor, Richter and Hirst. Entrance are half price for students, including overseas university students as long as you showed your student ID, if not entry fee is around AUD$10, which is so very affordable.
Apart from the Museum itself, the area where it is located, Hannam-dong, are full of cool cafes and shops. I highly recommend a visit to ONE IN A MILLION cafe, their red velvet cake is too good to be missed.
One more area in Seoul I would highly, highly recommended is Iksan-dong. Hot spots such as MADANG CAFE and SEOUL COFFEE are worth the trip. The lack of photographs of this particular area is done deliberately, cause I think Iksan-dong is a part of Seoul that you have to explore without a pre-conceive idea of what it looks like. But if you happened to follow me on Instagram, feel free to scroll and get a little taste of Iksan-dong.
As I am typing this post, I am planning another Seoul trip in 2020, in my mind cause something about this city took a piece of my heart and I could not shake off my holiday blues. Despite my endless Korean food nights with my Korean friends in Melbourne, the feeling of being in Seoul is not something I can replace. A feeling that I definitely can not wait to experience more often, sooner rather than later.
Have you been to Seoul? Share with me your thoughts on comments below 🙂