Next, Seoul city bus tour! It was getting dark. We were freezing cold actually. After about 45 minutes in the best, we finally arrived! The beautiful view!! But it was too cold to stay outside the bus for a long time! It was actually a really lovely place to walk but I felt worried that I could not feel my fingers because I was too frozen.The view was beautiful, we could almost see the whole of Seoul but our cameras were unable to capture the view. This is why its best to experience being there yourself.
Best Time To Visit
Best time to visit Seoul is May and from October to November
How To Reach
Book a Package Tour
Namdaemun is the south gate of Seoul. It is also called Sungyemun gate. It is located at Exit A of Namdaemun market. Took us quite some time to navigate and ask around before managing to find our way out of the humongous market and reach Namdaemun! It’s a piece of history buried in the city and modern landscape. A constant reminder to Korean and tourists alike that Korea has a lot of history and been through a lot over the years to be at where it is now.
We were going to take it easy today. Took some time to sleep in. For some reason, I was not able to sleep that well in Jeju even though I was exhausted from all the walking. Lunch at Itaewon, because I miss chicken. If you are looking for halal food, you can find a lot of halal restaurants in Itaewon. Its also where the mosque is. We were the first customers in the restaurant, and it was such a long wait for our food. The owner was nice enough to give us fruit cocktail while waiting for our main food.
Today was supposed to be our shopping day so we were walking around Myeongdong area. Just a tip, if you plan to go to Myeongdong to shop, do not plan to go anywhere else after that. This is mainly because, you will find yourself shopping non stop and before you know it, you will be carrying multiple paper bags. Perhaps we came an expensive country, we found the things in Myeongdong cheap and we could not resist buying a of things such as face masks, bags, clothes, accessories etc. Its like a disneyland for shopaholics.
Don’t tell people you visit Korea w/o visiting its palaces. There are admission fees but you can just walk in without paying because there’s simply too much people for the ushers to manage. Just stick behind a tour group and listen to the guide to know more about the palace.
The best shopping ever!! Okay, so this isn’t really where you’ll find purses (as I discovered the hard way–head for Itaewon), but it is the place to get clothes. And jewelry. And great snacks. And shoes, yes most definitely shoes. Okay, so if you are a clothes shopper, here is the place to go. You’re going to have your nice stores on one hand (more like Myeongdong) and then you’ll have the bargain stores. The bargain stores are the absolute best. They are filled with stall after stall of dresses, scarves, jeans, t-shirts, sweaters, coats, jewelry, hats, headbands, etc. This is technically one of the largest Korean shopping ares. It has 26 shopping malls, 30,000+ specialty stores, and boasts more than 50,000 manufacturers. This means that in the 10 blocks that make up Dongdaemun, you can find just about anything you want. You will even find silk fabrics, office supplies, toys, books stores, food, etc. So you will definitely want to save some money for your visit to this area!! Popular stores include: Doosan Tower/Doota, Migliore, APM • You can tell whether or not it’s a bargain store by looking at the product arrangement and the number of clothes. It looks like a flea market threw up clothing in the cheap stores, the others are more nicely laid out. Tips Bargain!! o I cannot emphasize this enough. Just like Itaewon, this is a bargaining locale. The really nice places no, but any of the mass/wholesale stores are really bargaining locations. If they don’t have prices on the clothes, you’re meant to bargain. o Once again, try to get them to make the first move. When they state a price, you just state what you think it’s really worth. Don’t try to cheat them, but don’t go above what you think is reasonable. If it looks like a $10 shirt and they are asking $60, don’t budge. You may pay $12, but that’s a far cry from $60. My friend and I were looking at a cute overshirt that I would expect to pay maybe $12-$15 max in the US for. The Saleswoman
N Seoul Tower
You can either go to Namsan Tower or 63 City for the best views of the city. While 63 City is amazing, it’s a little out of the way for a brief trip. Plus, Namsan Tower has a little extra to offer. Namsan Tower (aka N Seoul Tower) is located on Mt. Namsan and the walk up to the tower is awesome too. • Namsan Plaza–Here you will find bakeries, music store, convenience stores, a souvenir shop, and ice cream stores. • Korean Restaurant (Hancook) • The Observation Deck–Awesome views! This was perhaps my favorite place on the trip. I got gorgeous pictures of Seoul, and it’s interesting to see how large the city actually is. There is also a prime view of the Han River, an important landmark in Seoul. • Teddy Bear Museum– Okay, I'll be the first to admit I thought this would be a museum of the history of teddy bears (I thought there must have been a factory nearby or something). Instead, it tells the history of Korea in teddy bear displays. They even move when bowing, playing polo, break dancing, etc.. If you have kids, it’s an awesome place for them to take a break and enjoy themselves. Frankly, my friend and I loved it even as college students. Definitely worth the time. • “N Grill” –A revolving restaurant. I cannot attest to this as I am never going to be wealthy enough to match those prices, but it had REALLY great food. Not really the place for kids though I wouldn’t think. This is like a date place, a really expensive date place. • Cable Car–This is really fun to do, and it will get you down to where the taxis are. I’ll tell you how to find it in the Directions section. Tips • Walk up, Ride down. We took there. It’ll drop you off a short ways away from the tower. You’ll pass a university, and head up the mountain in the park. It’ll be one of the stops up the park where most people get off and will be kind of a ledge overlooking the city with other buses sometimes. Usually the driver will tell you when if you ask (don't take the wrong on
Cheongyecheon is significantly prettier in the spring/summer than the winter, but the area is still lovely to walk through. Seoul is known for its unique and sculptured architecture, and this area is a great place to check out some of the more awesome buildings. It has the Cheongyecheon Stream that you can follows stairs to walk alongside, as well as several cute coffee shops and the Korean Tourism Center. It also houses the Culture Street, a cute little street filled with traditional restaurants.
Gangnam is more of a walk around and window shop kind of place. Made famous by the song "Gangnam Style", this district is the home of the rich and famous and the companies they own. Many international companies have their offices here, and many of the famous like to walk around. Kind of Seoul's version of Hollywood. If you have time, head up to Apgu-jeong (a neighboring district where the other rich half like to shop). Gangnam is famous for its shopping, food, and fun places to wander. You can also find COEX nearby with its aquarium, food, theatre, and shopping!
Korean BBQ- Because it is delicious and tradition! Korean BBQ is something people will travel the world around for. You just have to order the meat, and the rest comes with. You can order whatever meat you want, but it will automatically come with everything else including among other things: Kimchi, Lettuce, Garlic, Nuts, Seaweed Soup/Miso Soup, Seaweed, Rice, and different sauces. Tips o Head up to Chungmuro Station for Korean BBQ. There are several different restaurants in that area; it is very well known for its Korean BBQ. Plus, it’s a fun area to wander around if you have some extra time, and it’s not too far from your next stop. o When finding a BBQ, look for signs that picture mostly raw plates of meat. They are usually advertising the meat you will grill. Or look through restaurant windows for the silver monstrosities above the tables. They are long silver pipes that suck up the steam from the grills; unfortunately it gives the impression that you are looking at a Star Trek Cafeteria. You can see pictures online. o Korean BBQs usually only serve Korean BBQ, so if it looks like a noodle place or a seafood place, it’s probably not BBQ. • Timing o Be careful not to stay here past 7:45. It will take you that long to make it to the Ferry Stop, find the ticket booth, get your tickets, and get in line. Otherwise the cost will go up for a later trip. o Plus, the Han river has a wonderful park where the ferry docks, which is amazing to just walk along. So even if you have extra time, you won’t be bored. Extra Information • Directions Chungmuro Station, Exit 2 by Taxi or Subway. This will let you off right at the same exit you’ll need to be at to catch the bus the next day for your tour of Namsan Tower, so it will help to know where that is already anyway. If you take a Taxi, tell him Chungmuro Station (choong+moo+rO yOk). They’ll let you off at one of the exits; if it’s the wrong one, head into the subway and follow the sign
Last Stop: Hangang River Ferry The view is utterly gorgeous, and the trip is a lot of fun. One of the bridges you go under has a huge rainbow fountain that goes off, which is stunning. Plus, it is restful and calming to relax from the rest of the day’s stress; I would have done it every night if I could. It is also one of the best ways to get pictures of the night skyline! Tips • Attend the one at 8:40 p.m. You can go later if you want; however, the later tours may cost as much as $50, so bear that in mind. • Wear wet-worthy clothes or step inside when people start backing up. The ferry goes under the fountain bridge that rains water over everyone out in the open. You can step inside the glass shelter if you want; just watch out for when everyone heads backwards. We enjoyed the cooling water! • NOTE: There won’t really be any taxis around when you get off the ferry, so you’ll probably have to take the subway to your next locale. Go back to the station and head for you hotel’s station or back toward a stop you recognize. There will definitely be taxis at Gangnam, Chungmuro, Insa-dong, etc. It’s safe, the taxis just stay around busier areas instead of this park. Extra Information • DIRECTIONS Taxi DON”T try this without a copy of address in Korean characters! Drivers often won’t recognize the name when you say it without additional help. Just hand them a piece of paper with the address and do your best to say “YOH-ee-DOH” (Yeouido). They should figure it out, if they don’t say “yO-ee-na-rU yOk” (Yeouinaru Station). Subway: Yeouinaru Station (Subway Line 5), Exit 3 (dock is about 5 minutes from the station). o Go straight down to the river; walk to your right along the sidewalk along the waterfront until you see the big TICKET sign lit up. There will be 2+ boats docked there usually; you want the one where the long line is (but the ticket booth is up on shore so get the tickets first.) If you are totally confused, snag someone
Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market
They have a large variety of live seafood! Ranging from stingrays to octopus and other crustaceans. You name it they have it! The fish market is similar to that of Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, other than it being slightly smellier and lacking in the hygiene area as compared to that of Japan. You can purchase the seafood on the spot and bring it up to any restaurants at level 2, where you can have it cooked or not cooked in any ways you desire!
This place was huge! I was just glad that I was in my sports shoes! From afar, it does look like a chinese temple. The signs on the boards are written in chinese characters because hangul actually derived from chinese characters. We wanted to explore the whole palace but it was really too big! I wonder if any of the King’s subjects got lost in the palace. Apparently, this palace has lasted hundreds of years and was once destroyed. To preserve the history and tradition, it was rebuild and now its a tourist attraction. We were scheduled to tour the ‘Secret Garden’ at 2 pm. This garden was sacred and only the king and selected people were allowed to enter it. Even visitors are not allowed to randomly walk around in the Secret Garden by themselves. We were informed that the Secret Garden tour would take up about 1.5 hours and 3 km walk! Since we were already there, I thought we might as well go all the way. I so loved the calmness of the Secret Garden. It was as if the Secret Garden was created to allow the king to rest and enjoy some private time.
대한민국 서울특별시 종로구 Gyeongbokgung - Palace
It's one of my favorite place to go, especially in summer. It's very calm atmosphere there. Gyeongbokgung (경복궁), also known as Gyeongbokgung Palace or Gyeongbok Palace -- is a first royal palace built by Joseon Dynasty. The name means "Palace" (Gung) "Greatly Blessed by Heaven" (Gyeongbok). So when you are in Seoul, you shoud never miss out this palace to visit. It's a must.
Hangang Park- open all year round/different activities for different season/snow sledding and skating in winter, swimming pool, wingsurfing in summer/There are also booths for educational purposes eg booth that has traditional korean games etc quite cool to see little kids playing/can stroll along Hangang river(super different from strolling along Singapore River as Hangang is ALOT ALOT ALOT WIDER)/admission fee of 6000KRW for snow sledding (Ttukseom-Resort Station, exit 2 or 3)
Golden Pond Guesthouse
This guesthouse is simple and clean with everything you need in a single room, there was a washing machine, fridge, stove, cupboard and a toilet with shower area all in a triple room. The room had a double-decker bed and a single bed. It sounds like a spacious and big room, but it's not really the case. Honestly, it was quite cramped and better if you're going with close friends. For me and my friends it was ok, though we had to admit it was a little smaller than expected. But since we were out most of the day and only utilized the washing machine, toilet, cupboard and beds we had nothing much to complain about. We were given two sets of keys for the triple room, so if you do stay, it may be a little inconvenient. The best thing about this place is the proximity to the MRT station, only about 5 minutes walk through a street with lots of shops and food. There are alot of food ships around the area as this is close to SKKU (Sungkyunkwan University), so if you're hungry in the middle of the night, I also found a 24-hour eatery with pretty decent Ramen. The only downside is that you have to book this place earlier and if you get there and want to change your room type due to last minute changes, the lady boss isn't very flexible. After booking, you are required to pay a certain percentage of your whole stay and it's non-refundable. But overall, great place, considering the amount of food and shops in the area and if you're just going to use the guesthouse to rest after a long day, it is very convenient!
대한민국 서울특별시 서대문구 대현동 Ewha Womans University
Decided to visit Ewha women university after our school-ly tour! We did not enter the university, but the whole area around the university was a shopping heaven! Strongly recommend all to visit this area. There are so many shops that sell cosmetics, clothing, accessories, food and also hair salons! We had kimchi fried rice and kimbap for our lunch and we went into Juno Hair Salon for a Korean haircut. The service was very different from a hair salon in Singapore. The stylist will ask you for a hairstyle that you like and even recommend a suitable hairstyle according to your face shape.
Since we had nothing much to do today, we decided to spend the rest of the night at Mouse Rabbit. The place was pretty crowded but we somehow managed to find a place to sit on the second level. We went ahead to make our order. It was also a nice place to chill and there was free wifi. No wonder everyone never budge from their seats. We finally decided to order drinks. Remember, we ordered dessert before this so we do not really have drinks. How to get to Mouse Rabbit: First you need to get to Line 2 (Green Line) Subway station. Take the train to Konkuk University. Then take Exit 2. Walk straight and turn left. After turning left, walk a bit more until you’ve reach a street light. Turn into the alley. The building is pretty big and its in white. *Please do not take photos of Yesung as he is currently serving the army. There are usually ELFs around to help keep a lookout as well so you do not want to get yourself into trouble with ELFs. :) MoBit Address : MouseRabbit, 5-14, Hwayang-dong, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul, Korea
Du Sel Brilliant
Beautiful potted plants and flowers greeted us at the entrance! I fell in love with the ambience of the cafe immediately. The cafe actually has a basement to it. Yes, its 2 levels! We went down to the basement and there was no one there! Its really a pretty cafe! Actually the bestie has been wanting to visit this cafe. Also, we have heard great reviews about this place so here we are! What was also nice about this place is that you will receive a stalk of rose when you order your food! The bestie was so happy about that and yes she carried that stalk of rose with her the WHOLE day.
Yeouido Park Centre
We took a short walk after that to Yeuido Station and chanced upon Yeuido Park. The park was so tranquil. It feels like a heavenly spot to have a short lunch during the working hour. A place to relax and soak in the sun. What’s more, the park overlooks Hangang River too!
aka N-Seoul Tower- Seoul’s Eiffel tower, can see the whole Seoul from the observatory/Admission fee of 10,000KRW up to the observatory/Favourite place for Korean couples to ‘lock’ up their love/Bring your own lock or unwanted handphone cover there to save money cos one lock can cost up to 15000krw (need to take a bus from Heoyeon Station, cost around 850KRW)
Hongik University Seoul Korea
Stepping into the university, we saw a huge stadium for students to exercise. Pretty and colourful trees were all around the school! Would be wonderful to have such a nice environment to see everytime I go to school. It will liven my mood for the day I guess? We took our time to stroll and explore the school grounds. Walking on, we decided to enter one of the building to have a feel of what their classrooms are like- we entered the IT building. To my horror/disappointment, the internal of the school varies hugely from that of the exterior. It gave off a very solemn and depressing feel. Probably due to the colour scheme that is being used too. It looks exactly like a scene out of a Korean horror movie. Like the saying goes, never judge a book by its cover. Now, I’m having second thoughts of studying in a university there.
----------Paradise for encountering artists out of tune with the world I have been in South Korea for a while, then I decided to travel around Seongsu-dong after one lazy afternoon. So I took the camera and made appointment with Aaron at the metro station, who was my necessary “Korean Interpreter”
Itaewon Street is a designated area in the city where all the artisans and vendors come out to sell their wares. There are actually more than 2,400 shops (most really tiny) on the 1.4 km (4/5 mile) stretch. Originally, this area was where the military families stayed, so it largely caters to foreigners. Some businesses are high-end art galleries, others sell hand-made carvings. This is where you are going to want to grab all those knickknacks souvenirs for your loved ones back home. The Itaewon area is actually much larger, but Itaewon Street itself isn’t too long. Cars cannot drive on the street; it is foot traffic alone. Taxi drivers will dump you out at one end, and you just walk and wander your way down to the other, grab a taxi and head to the next destination. Tips • BARGAIN! Itaewon is bargaining central. Someday I’ll write about the tactics I learned while there (I was a total newbie), but the key is to stand firm. Examine the good and determine how much you think it’s worth. Try to undercut them, and they’ll refuse. Give in too soon, and you’ll pay through the nose. Just try to guess what you think it would be worth in the U.S. Odds are, it’ll be a similar price there. They mostly do it for the fun of the conversation and because some tourists aren’t willing to take the effort and lost a ton in the process. But they don’t enjoy that half as much as when they get a good argument out of it. You can almost always talk them down a couple thousand won, sometimes even more. Extra Information • Note that it usually closes down on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays each month.
Most touristy places in the city aren’t going to open up this early, so this is a good time to wander around and grab some breakfast if you’re an early riser. We actually ate in the Myeongdong subway station at a Duncan Donuts. Myeongdong opens up pretty early because it caters to tourist shoppers. Traditionally considered a shopping central for all fashionistas, I honestly prefer other places for bargain shopping (note that this is where the upper crusts shop as well), but it's kind of a must do if you want to tell others you went to Seoul. Tips • Note the closest subway station when you arrive and use that as your marker. If you can’t find it later, head down the first one you come too. You can always follow the English signs to get back to Myeongdong Station there, and some are actually connected by long hallways. • Myeongdong has an entire underground shopping center as well in the subway station below. I found an awesome Music store there where I picked up my KPOP souvenirs. It will seem expensive, but those things just cost a fortune in Korea. I spent $50 on those two easy, and that was with a discount since they liked me. • Don’t get too far off the main street. It’s hard to explain Myeongdong, but it was described to me as a Spider web. Indeed, it seems to have about a billion side streets running in any direction and it is easy to lose your subway landmark. • A very popular location is Lotte’s Myeongdong Plaza and the store next door. This is where Zara and other familiar brands are located. • Don’t forget to check out the buildings that aren’t stores. There is an awesome old bank, beautiful cathedral, and cool architecture located there that makes for great pics. Directions: o Taxi: Hand them a paper with the address. It’s easier to grab the subway though. o Subway: Take Seoul Subway Line 4 to Myeongdong Station (Exit 5, 6, 7, 8)–my recommendation Take Seoul Subway Line 2 to Euljiro Il-ga Station (Exit 5)
Just north of Gwanhu dong is the Bukchon gallery district. The main road is lined with coaches carrying visitors, but they are not here to witness a burgeoning art scene, they are visiting the Deoksugung Palace. If they crossed the road, they had found less orthodox treasures. One is a new building for the Kukje Gallery designed by young, New York based architects So Il. The concrete shell is draped in chain mail, like an armored version of Do Ho Suh’s fabric structures at the Leemum.
War Memorial of Korea
Such a pity that the monument was under renovation and maintenance, but we managed to find a nice place to sit and relax. We saw the bronze statue of the Korean warriors too. After that, we went to Garusogil area for some shopping, dinner and hit the sacks! The shopping wasn’t that fabulous at Garusogil, unless you are on a no budget like of shopping spree. Otherwise, the products and clothes that they have to offer there are quite upscale. Won’t really recommend going there for shopping.
This place is a genius for all foodie! YOU CAN FIND ALL SORT OF FOOD THERE. Shopping at Lotte Mart(The one at Seoul Station)- The biggest department store in Seoul/grab all your ramen, kimchi, peppero, banana milk/cute korean wok(the one you see in drama) back home. Remember to bring your own shopping bag because they don’t offer plastic bag.
Sungnyemun Gate (Namdaemun Gate)
Any reference to Seoul would remain incomplete without the mention of its diversified cultural heritage and treasures. As you'd probably know, most original Korean artifacts were either destroyed or burned by the Japanese and the Chinese. Few that are left survive to tell the tale of Korea's long-lost and stark history. Sungnyemun or "the Gate of Exalted Ceremonies," which was built by the King Taejo during the Chosun dynasty, stood tall as the front gate of the capital. The locals still refer to it as the symbol of Seoul. Imagine how distressing it must've been for them to see the gate burn in front of their eyes.
Gwanghwamun Square is both amazing and one of the most important things to see while in Seoul. You don’t have time to visit every major palace and museum in Seoul, but this palace both palaces and museums in one spot. The Square itself is fascinating; because this is such an important place politically and culturally, the streets are lined with different political protests. When I was there, you saw a long row of cages marked with signs protesting North Korea’s treatment of its citizens. It is quite literally a square, in the center is a long grassy strip with two large, very famous statues. Then at one end you will find Gyeongbokgung Palace. Tips 1. Plan Your Time Wisely o Arrive about 8:30 a.m. You can explore the Square and take a couple of pictures there before heading up to the palace when it opens at 9:00 a.m. If you are there for the opening, you usually can watch the changing of the guards, involving the traditional ceremony and guards in traditional dress. o You can’t see everything; if you try, you’ll never have time to do anything else. So, carefully choose which palace buildings you visit. o Don’t bother with a guided tour! The signs are in English and there are maps in many languages (including English), which is all you really need. Just grab a map and brochure, and set off on your own. o If you get hungry, pick up an ice cream or some other snack (including fruit) at their stands to tide you over (It’s pretty cheap, I promise). 2. The Blue House At the back of the palace grounds, there will be a large gate (#28 on the map). Outside the gate lies the Korean Presidential Residence with a Blue Roof (Their version of the White House). Lot’s of people stop by to take pictures of it (and watch the guards). Extra Information • Price (One ticket covers entrance to all the palace buildings and museums, but keep the stub to show at the museum gates) Group (10+) = 2,400 Won Adults (19+) = 3,000 Won Children (7-18) = 1,500 W
Dragon Hill Spa
So amidst the 48 hours of stepping around every must-see place at Seoul, we rested for the night at Dragon Hill Spa. And we had the luxury of charcoal sauna and oakwood fragrances encircling a very comfortable bed.. all wrapped in a package of just $12 a night!! It was so close and accessible to all the sparkling spots within the city yet enclosed relaxation within its walls, exclusive from the hustle bustle of the city. And to top it all, we had the most amazing experience of the "jjimjilbang"- the unique Korean sauna and the exciting Korean sauna etiquetes!
Itaewon (ee+tA+won) is the next destination anyway, and Itaewon Street has dozens of wonderful tea shops and eating locations. Try grabbing some cold noodles and visit a tea store during your visit to this area. It will make a great traditional Korean lunch for adults, but there are also Western dishes for children. You will have the opportunity to pick between more expensive meals and cheaper shops. Or if you want to just browse the food stalls along the street, that’s great too! Tips. • Save room for tea and a treat later. After lunch, you may want to try one of the many deserts sold in the area. The spun chocolate is particularly amazing! Extra Information Directions o Recommended: Catch a taxi on the side of the street heading towards the Gyeongbokgung Palace when facing the Gwanghwamun Square. Tell them you want to go to Itaewon Street or if that doesn’t work hand them this: “(이태원 관광특구)” That is the name. Since Itaewon Street is a nearby designated tourism area, most taxi drivers in the area know what you are talking about. o Subway Station: Itaewon Station (Subway Line 6)–I think there was only 1 exit (?)
Bosingak is a large bell pavilion on Jongno in Seoul, South Korea. The program of bell ringing ceremony takes place at noon daily (except Tuesdays) and gives locals and international visitors the experience of ringing the bell 12 times. The program is run regularly and foreigners can also participate in the special program without the need to register. Foreign visitors can come before 11:40 a.m. and apply on-site at Bosingak Belfry, where participants will be able to experience a bit of Korean culture through the ceremony. The bell was named Bosingak Bell in 1895 during the 32nd year of King Gojong. The belfry was originally called Jongnu (bell pavilion). A special program called ‘Showing Love for Cultural Assets’ is held on the second and fourth Saturday of the every month. The program is available only to student volunteers. It involves cleaning the area around Bosingak Belfry and participating in a history lesson regarding Bosingak Bell and the bell-ringing program. Foreign visitors may participate in the program on Tuesdays but you may need to pre-register. If you want to see the new year's eve bell ringing ceremony then visit in December, bell ringing ceremony take place on December 31, 2014 – January 1, 2015 (23:30 – 00:30), It is recommended to take public transportation as there will be road closures during the event. the bell-ringing ceremony ushers in the New Year by ringing the bell 33 times at the stroke of midnight.
This place has fabulous shopping; I’d recommend you pick up your beauty products and maybe some hair bedazzles here. It has a wonderful bookstore if you want some books to pass the time back home. However, the aquarium is an absolute must. Coex Mall also has about any food you could possible desire: America (Pizza Hut & Cold Stone Creamery!), Japanese, Korean, etc. Tips • Grab some ice cream while you’re here; it’ll help cool you off for the adventures ahead. • Cost: Mall Free; Aquarium cost below: Adults: 19,500 KRW Teen: 16, 500 KRW Child: 14,000 KRW • Hours: o Store: 10:30 a.m.- 10:00 p.m. (varies by store) o Aquarium: 10:00 a.m.- 8:00 p.m., 365 days a year (last entry is at 7:00 p.m.) Directions • Give the address to a taxi (but take the orange or silver taxis, black ones are more expensive). • Subway Line 2, Samseong Station, Exit 5 or 6–> Samseong has an exit that goes straight into Coex Mall, so look for the signs. The exit should be on your left when coming off the trains. See Seoul subway map here.
National Museum of Korea
It’s the national museum, need I say more? The Museum has approximately 15,000 beautiful exhibits from around the world, but it is particularly awesome in the area of Asian history. It has of course all the really important Korean artifacts, including Celadon, Calligraphy, Paintings, and several private collections. But it also has stuff from India, Japan, China, Indonesia, and beyond. There is an entire room of stunning and impressive Buddha statues. There are also several halls of paintings, statues, artifact, and cultural resources. This is definitely a must see (particularly for someone like me who would spend most of their travel time studying history)! Tips • Lockers–If you’ve done any shopping earlier or want to leave your bags somewhere,the museum has rows of lockers available for 100 Won (10 cents). • Skip the guided tour–There are tours available for English, Japanese, and Chinese speakers, but you can figure it all out yourself, and the timing is hard to maneuver. • Try out the tea garden!–There is a lovely little tea garden on one of the upper floors that makes for a great afternoon respite! • Watch your time– We skipped the first couple rooms in the Korean history section. It’s all that early man stuff that is the same in all museums–arrows, rock weapons, etc. The cooler stuff is a little down when Korean culure really developed • Save time for the world history section!–This area has a great deal to offer and shouldn’t be overlooked! Extra Information • Pricing–FREE! • Directions o Taxi: Give the taxi driver the address. o Subway: Seoul Subway Line 4 & Jungang Line. Arrive at Ichon Station and take Exit 2. This will connect directly to the museum entrance. • Operating Hours (they close the ticket booth 1 hour before closing) o Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday: 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. o Wednesday & Saturday: 9:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m. o Sunday, Holidays: 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
We are actually here at Lotte Word to visit the Star Gallery that was featuring SJ. We could not really locate it so we went to the information counter to ask. To our disappointment (again!), we found out that the gallery was closed down! I think our hearts really bruised badly today. There was nothing much to do so we walked around to so some window shopping.
Seoul Bongeunsa Buddhist temple is one of several Buddhist temples located within Seoul. Bongeunsa is also conspicuously set amongst skyscrapers and the busy, modern metropolis. Morning chanting at the temple begins each day at 4:00 am, hours before business begins across the street. is located on the side of Sudosan mountain. Walking through the Seoul Bongeunsa Buddhist temple‘s main gates, you’re greeted by four large wooden sculptures representing the Heavenly Kings. The deities guard the four cardinal directions and the Dharma. Red and green base paint is decorated with colorful and ornate painted flowers, mythical beasts and patterns. Probably the oldest structure at Seoul Bongeunsa Buddhist temple is the stone pagoda located in front of the main hall. The main hall, Daewoongjeon, is of much younger vintage, The stone staircase is engraved with dragons while inside the hall is the Sakyamuni Buddha between statues of the Bhaisagya and Amitabha. My favorite structure at Seoul Bongeunsa Buddhist temple is the Jonggak, a small belfry holding a 3.18-meter tall bronze BELL. Seoul Bongeunsa Buddhist temple plays a major role it organizes the annual Seoul Lotus Lantern Festival , which celebrates the Buddha’s birthday. The Seoul Lotus Lantern Festival typically occurs in late January to early February. Morning chanting begins at 4:00 am. The admission fee is free.
In search of the old city, I headed to Gwanhun dong. This street, lined with shops selling craft goods, appears to be for the visitors, who diligently stock up on dainty tea spots. The buildings are not old unless you count mid 20th century as old, but they are on a more human scale here, a pleasant break from the skyscrapers. I bought some incredibly expensive green tea from a specialist shop (I didn’t realize quite how expensive until, back in London, I found that the cylinder I had bought contained a tiny sachet of leaves). I bought some calligraphy brushes made of goat hair from an old man in a gloomy corner shop. He made me an offer of a Yakult bacteria drink. I’d heard that Sough Koreans are obsessed with well being, so perhaps I looked like my immune system needed a boost.
A few blocks away, and far more institutional, is the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art. This trio of buildings, designed by Rem Koolhaas, Jean Nouvel and Mario Botta, is another dose of European architecture imported for local edification. When I visited, there was a retrospective of the Korean artist Do Ho Suh. His delicate designs made of diaphanous nylon recreate places he has diaphanous nylon recreate place he has lived in New York or Seoul, keeping them alive as physical memories. For some reason, I was forbidden from taking a notebook into the show. ‘No paper,’ said the attendant. Next to her was a placard announcing that you could download the exhibition guide to your phone by scanning the QR code. Another click down the timeline.