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24 Hours In Asia's Most Trending City Of 2018 - Seoul

Tripoto

Seoul has been gaining traction in the past few years for being the appex of the Korean cultural wave. A fascinating blend of tradition and modernity, Seoul is now attracting travellers more than ever. Whether you want to experience the Korean pop culture in the city’s many attractions or get away from the crowds within the city, this bustling capital city of South Korea has experiences that no other city can offer you. From skyscrapers to brimming markets and unique places, Seoul has something for everyone.

While 24 hours is clearly not enough time to witness the magic of Seoul, being a city that offers 24x7 experiences making it one of the cities where you can truly make the best of your visit even in that limited period of time. Here’s how you can have an adventure of a lifetime with just 24 hours in Seoul!

Morning- Get a feel of the Korean culture and history

Have your breakfast at these Instagram worthy cafes!

Start your day right by visiting some of the best cafes in Seoul for a delicious breakfast. Café culture is extremely popular in the city and hence you cannot make a wrong choice on this one. Walk into any café that catches your fancy. From cat themed cafes to garden cafes and places where you can get your sketches made within a minute, there are numerous options to explore on every street. Indulge in the fluffiest pancakes that you have ever seen or order some of the fanciest coffees you can imagine. While some of the best cafes can be found in Garosu-gil, I would recommend checking out the cafes near Gyeongbokgung Palace to make a quick start to your first stop in the city.

Nearest subway station: Accessible via the Gyeongbokgung subway station

Experience the Korean culture at Gyeongbokgung Palace

There cannot be a better place to start your tour of this city than at Gyeongbokgung Palace. Built in the 14th century, it has served as the first palace of the Joseon dynasty. An important landmark depicting the culture of the city, it has a fascinating history. After multiple invasions in the past, the palace has been restored to its former glory. Explore its extensive grounds and catch the Royal Guard changing ceremony or the Gwanghwamun gate Guard-on-Duty performance that happens at the start of every hour (except Tuesdays). You can even try out the gatekeeper costumes available at the Sumunjangcheong Building, behind the Gwanghwamun Gate absolutely free! Spend an hour exploring this space and if you have some time left, then you can either do an art walk in some of the galleries around the area or visit the National Folk Museum of Korea and the National Palace Museum of Korea located nearby.

Open hours: 9:00-6:00 all days except Tuesday. Entry fee of 3000 ₩ (approx.₹192.50). If you are dressed in Korean traditional dress, Hanbok, your entry is free!

Nearest subway station: Accessible via the Gyeongbokgung subway station

Travel back in time at the Bukchon Hanok Village

A short walk away from the Gyeonbokgung palace, lies the beautiful Bukchon Hanok Village. With its origins dating back to over 600 years, it is one of the prettiest neighbourhoods in the city. Filled with old traditional houses called as hanoks, they house a mix of residential and commercial properties. What makes this place unique is that, people still live in a lot of these houses and have refurbished them while maintaining the old-world charm. You can take a photo walk in its lanes or try your hand at making traditional Korean art and ornaments at the Bukchon Traditional Crafts Centre. The image of modern skyscrapers in the background of these traditional houses is quite an unforgettable watch.

Nearest subway station: Accessible via Line 3 on the subway (exit at Anguk Station).

Get mesmerised in the vibrant Changdeokgung Palace

Head east towards the Changdeokgung palace. Though this is not the oldest or the biggest of the palaces but its one of the prettiest royal residences which was used as a principal palace for over 270 years by 13 different kings over a period of time. One of the highlights of this palace is the Secret Garden which covers around 80 acres of land and is filled with more than 56000 species of plants and trees. With an impressive landscape filled with fountains and a colourful display, it is nothing short of spectacular. It is one of the most popular attractions during fall or spring as thousands of trees start blooming.

Open hours: 9 am-6 pm

Entry fees: The palace ground entry costs 300 ₩ (approx.₹20), while an entry and tour of the secret garden costs 3,000 ₩ (approx. ₹192.50)

Nearest subway station: Accessible via Anguk Station (Line 3) and Jongno 3-ga Station (Line 1)

Lunchtime

Stop for a not-so-quick lunch at one of the street food markets!

(c) Tonger

Photo of Bukchon Hanok Village, 계동길 Gahoe-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea by Tripoto

If all the walking has made you hungry already, head close to your next destination for some finger licking street food. If there is one thing that you can never have enough for in this city, it’s their street food. While there are popular street food markets in Myeongdong and Gwangjang, to save some time head over to the food market at Insadong. Try out the famous Korean barbeque or the dumplings. One of the must try dishes while in Seoul is the Chimaek which is basically a combination of chicken and beer on the go. For deserts, attempt finishing the 32 cm long twist ice cream which will cost you only approx. 2000 ₩ (approx. ₹128)

Nearest subway station: Accessible via Anguk Station on Line 3 (exit 6) or from Jonggak Station on Line 1 (exit 3).

Afternoon- Visit the best of shopping destinations in the city!

Indulge in some retail therapy at Insadong!

Whether or not you are the kind of traveller who likes to shop-till-you-drop vacation, Insadong is the perfect place to hang out for everything from shopping for souvenirs, art and craft to watching street performances. The best time to visit this is during weekdays to avoid the crowds, however if you travel on a weekend then it’s a great place to explore it as well, as motor vehicles are prohibited here then. Insadong also has some of the cutest tea shops where you can taste some of the best teas in the world.

Nearest subway station: Accessible via Anguk Station on Line 3 (exit 6) or from Jonggak Station on Line 1 (exit 3).

Go crazy at the Namdaemun market

The next couple of stops are going to be all about food and shopping. Take a subway to reach to the Namdaemun market and make your way via the Seoul station to the Namdaemun gate. This is a 14th century gate and was declared as the first treasure of Korea. Moving further, you will come across hundreds of commercial shops. As a traveller, I rarely shop on my holidays except maybe buying a few fridge magnets or souvenirs. However, even for someone like me, this jam-packed market is a must do.

Tip: On the way to this market, you can also walk across the Seoullu 7017 which is a sky garden with more than 20,000 plants and offers you unmatched views of the city with cars whizzing by below it.

Nearest subway station: Accessible via Anguk Station on Line 3 (exit 6) or from Jonggak Station on Line 1 (exit 3).

Check out the latest trends at Myeongdong or Dongdaemun

(c) Ken Eckert

Photo of Namdaemun Market, Namdaemunsijang 4-gil, Hoehyeon-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea by Tripoto

A short walk away from this market are the two most important shopping districts of Seoul. Myeongdong is a paradise for cosmetic lovers. Trust me when I say you can get everything you can dream of and more at wholesale and retail prices (Think 1+1 on brands!!!). If this doesn’t catch your fancy, then walk towards Dongdaemun market. This isn’t like any typical market that you might have seen. With over 30,000 shops, 10 city blocks and 26 malls, you will need a map to know where to head first to get the maximum out of your visit. (This map is easily available at various locations including the station).

Nearest subway station: Accessible via Myeongdong station or Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station on Line 2 and 5 and Dongdaemun Station on Line 1, exit 7 and 8.

Evening- Enjoy the sunset views

Get an incomparable view from the N Seoul Tower

(c) Jirka Matousek

Photo of Myeong-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea by Tripoto

A short walk away from these markets in the Namsan Park which has the N Seoul Tower. At 672m, this tower offers spectacular views of the city. Choose between a climb of about 20-30 mins or take a cable car ride to the top (8500 ₩ for a round trip, approx. ₹545). You can see these views from the Palgakjeong or pay a bit extra to go upto the observatory deck (10,000 ₩, approx. ₹641). You can even reserve a table at their rooftop restaurant to enjoy an early dinner.

Open hours: 10:00-23:00 on weekdays/Sunday. On Saturdays it is open till midnight.

Nearest subway station: Hoehyeon Subway Station on Line 4 for walking up to the tower and Myeong-dong Subway Station on Line 4, Exit 3 for the cable car ride.

Do people watching at Gyeongui Line Forest Park

A good way to gauge the vibe of any city is by observing people in their natural environment. Created when the Gyeongui railway line went partially underground, this forest park is a great place for family hangouts and a popular space for the locals. In summer nights you can see musicians performing in the park while a lot of picnickers grab a beer and enjoy the night views

Nearest subway station: Accessible via Hongdae station

Night- Get ready to party like never before

Go club hopping at Hongdae

Seoul is known for its parties which last till the wee hours of morning. Just adjacent to the Gyeongui Line forest park, lies this popular hub for the Korean youth. From underground parties to indie music scenes, bars, restaurants and shops this place has everything you can ever imagine. Some of the popular places here are Venue and Free Bird. End your visit on a high while exploring the different options of entertainment here.

Open: Most places stay open till 5 a.m.

Nearest subway station: Accessible via University Station on Line 2, exit 8 or 9

How to reach Seoul

Multiple operators fly to Seoul from all the major Indian airports. Asiana Airlines is one of the cheapest and most convenient option from New Delhi with round trip fares approx. starting at Rs. 39,000 onwards.

Getting around Seoul

Google maps is not functional in Seoul, and as for the subway map, Kakao Metro app is very helpful. Trains are operational from 5:30 am till midnight. So, if you are partying or shopping till night, taxis are also a good option to get around. They are surprisingly cheaper than a lot of other countries and will charge you a base fare of 3000 ₩ (approx. ₹192.50) for 2km and so on. It is a good option to buy a Tmoney card at one of the many kiosks around the city. This can be used to travel across the city for multiple journeys across various forms of transportation and the unused balance can be redeemed before you return. You can download the subway map and get the complete details here. (http://english.visitseoul.net/essential-Info-article/Getting-Around_/211)

Visa for Seoul

Indians can easily get a temporary tourist visa for 90 days by applying to the Embassy of Korea. VFS global manages the visa services for Korea in India. You can get the details for application here(http://www.vfsglobal.com/korea/india/)

Tips for travelling to Seoul

If you manage to catch a little extra time, then you can catch the city’s spectacular morning views from Bukhansan or Inwangsan.

Get free samples like never seen before from the Lotte Mart in Seoul station.

Sit down for a quick break doing what the Koreans love best- taking a quick relaxing dip for your feet in the Cheong-gye-cheon stream.

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