– “Hello, this is my first month in South Korea.”
– “OMW have you been to Seoul yet?”
Whenever someone mentions Seoul in a conversation, there is the recognizable “AH Seoul!!!” followed by a content smile and eyes full of treasured memories and longing.
Needless to say, I was anxious to experience this super city. So, on our first little holiday of the year, I packed a bar of soap and a set of clean underwear and went on a ‘seoulo’ mission to Seoul.
I stayed in Hongdae which is famous for it’s artsy vibe. I stayed in the cutest guesthouse – Zzzip Guesthouse. In their living room, which is covered in Polaroid pictures of every previous guest, you will find hot filter coffee and good company available 24/7…need I say more? I even met 3 fellow South Africans! Book your bed at a really affordable price here.
With soooo much to do in this crowded city, it’s simply impossible to get to everything in one single weekend. However, I gave it my best shot. Here is a list of the things I did on my Seoulo mission in Seoul.
What to do in Seoul if you only have a weekend
- Hongdae Main Street
This street was magical. Slap bam in the middle of Hongdae this crowded by night street is infected with street dance groups, singers and artists and vendors, street food stalls and even art exhibitions. You just need to give in to the energy and get deliciously ill with them. I was in heaven! I never expected Koreans to be such great dancers!!
2. The Palaces
There are five main palaces: Gyeongbok Palace, Changdeok Palace, Gyeonghui Palace, Deoksu Palace and Changgyeong Palace. These were the five royal palaces from the Chosun Dynasty and they are breathtakingly beautiful!! It was so beautiful, I couldn’t get enough of all the fine handcrafted detail on all the buildings. Admission was really cheap as well. Definitely a Seoul MUST SEE.
3. Namsan Seoul Tower
THIS experience was just so much more magical than any photo can testify. The Namsan Seoul Tower is the highest viewpoint in Seoul and from the 360 angle you can see the entire city around you (view more data here) . The best time to go is around sunset, because then you get to see the incredible view both in daylight and night time AND you get to see the beautiful Korean red sunset. There is also lots to do at the tower. I bought the biggest box of popcorn they had and it was true bliss. There were several fine dining restaurants (book in advance!!) and loooooots of sweets! Think Sweets From Heaven, literally in heaven. There are frequent special packages available, so keep an eye on the website. Getting to the tower can be super easy or require a little effort. All depends if you’re taking the bus or climbing it. I decided to climb it and it was totally worth it making my way through nature to get to the top. For details on bus routes and ticket prices, visit this website: Namsan Seoul Tower. Dress warm and enjoy!
4. Animal Cafés
This is perhaps one of the most interesting things I’ve discovered in Korea thus far. You can have your coffee with real cats, dogs, sheep, raccoons or even owls (Daejeon City) and they are scattered all over the country. In Seoul, I went to a cat, sheep and raccoon one, respectively. Here is a link to the direction I followed to get to the raccoon cafe. It was amazing! For more on the Sheep Cafe, follow this link. See my post on Animal Cafés here: Animal Cafés.
5. Hello cute coffee shops!
Seoul is the gold mine of cute coffee shops! All you
need to do is take a stroll through the city and let them find you. One of the best ones that I found in Hongdae was this beautiful sacred, plant bedazzled tea heaven that I can’t remember the name of, but it is located at the end of Hongdae Street. They have candy floss lattes which is basically a foodgasm disguised as a latte wrapped in candy floss. I had their unique tea that is served on a candle with the tea flavor in a separate cup. It was like medicine to my soul. I wanted to sit there all day long…
One thing is certain, in Korea you will never go hungry. They LOVE to eat! If you come to Korea, the streetfood is something you can’t miss out on. In fact, you would actually have to make an effort to miss out on it, cause it’s everywhere! Just go out at night to any busy part of the city and you with be tempted by the most delicious streetfood!
In Hongdae I had a chicken skewer. I can’t eat spicy food, so I just told the vendor “no sauce” and he understood. Otherwise, you can just wait until he is about to dip your food and then scream “no, no, no, no!”. In Daejeon, I had the best thing ever! I would lie if I said I knew exactly what it was, but I think it was some kind of octopus cut up into pieces and grilled on a skewer. It was so tangy and yummy and omw I want more! Eggbread is another popular option. It’s sweet bread with an egg in the middle. I’m gluten intolerant, so I can’t tell first hand, but aparantly this is something eggstraordinary.
7. The National Museum of Contemporary Art
Art is in my drug and in this city, I was on a constant high. The National Museum of Contemporary Art was an interesting experience with some really great and some really horrible work. However, I did the free tour of the museum which was mostly student work. Along with the free admission option, there is also always an art show of an established artist going on. This you have to pay for. I really regret that I didn’t, but I was just so afraid of not having enough money for the weekend. I’ve heard that these charged exhibitions are amazing. Definitely going back there! Here are some of the works I saw at the museum.
Schedule some time in your weekend to just wander and get lost. I would suggest to do this more towards the end of your weekend, because then you would feel a little more relaxed the idea of getting lost. Just walk in a random direction, jump on any random bus and let the journey lead you. Here is some photos of the things I’ve found on such wanders in Seoul. Actually, most of the things listed above I found on some kind of unplanned trail. And it’s magical.
There are still sooooo many things that I need to go back for! Here is my Seoul Bucket List (so far):
- Underground Fish Market
- Stroll along the Han River
- Trick-Eye Museum in Hongdae
- Go dance in one of the major clubs
- Underground shopping!
- Ice skate outdoors in the center of the city
…and this is only just what I can think of now!!
Seoul, you were like candy to my seoul. I will be back for more.