I discovered Seoul in a short 24-hour connection flight on the way from Australia to Tel Aviv, during which I was able to visit the Myeongdong Night Market– which I will tell you more about in a second. After a few minutes from the moment I set foot in the market for the first time, it was obvious to me: I am coming back here- as soon as possible.
So, as promised, exactly a year later I returned, and this time for a whole week- which only made me fall in love with the city more and dream about the next time!
Seoul is the capital of South Korea. It combines new with old, technology with tradition, skyscrapers with Buddhist temples. Although many of the locals you meet do not speak English, it is not difficult to travel around the city thanks to its excellent public transport system, especially the subways system, which is considered the best in the world.
Seoul has a variety of local, Asian and Western restaurants. For carnivores, you must try one of many Korean BBQ restaurants that there are in Seoul: in the center of the table, there is a hot plate next to a selection of meats you can roast, accompanied by countless Korean salads, rice, and other side dishes. Just take a piece of meat, dip it in one of the sauces, wrap in lettuce, and you have one of the most delicious bites ever.
Another Korean dish I particularly liked was the Bingsu– a dessert based on ice-cream carvings in a snowy texture that comes in various flavors, accompanied by sauces and delicious additions (mango bingsu, brownies bingsu, strawberries bingsu, etc.).
I stayed at Aloft Hotel Myeongdong, a beautiful, cozy hotel in the heart of the trendy Myeongdong neighborhood. Honestly, only thinking about this place makes my heart skip a beat.
The hotel belongs to the Marriott Group and its rooms are modern, equipped with advanced technologies (as you would expect in Seoul), and have a magnificent view of the city’s colorful streets. I slept in “Breeze King Suite”- one of several luxurious suites on the highest floors of the hotel (19th in my case) with a comfortable bed, a spacious living room and an amazing bathtub overlooking the view. This hotel is ideal for a trip to Seoul, and after 7 nights I completely felt that it had become “home away from home” for me.
So, as I think you’ve realized by now, I’m a bit addicted to Myeongdong. The neighborhood is filled with pedestrian malls with cosmetics shops, clothing stores, restaurants, and cafes.
Starting in the afternoon, you can find all over the neighborhood lots of street food markets that include meats, seafood, a variety of local dishes, natural juices, desserts and more.
The streets are lively all day, and at night they fill up completely with locals and tourists who come to enjoy the cool atmosphere, the stores that open late and the excellent food.
For cosmetic lovers, Korean cosmetics are considered the best in the world and contain unique ingredients and innovative technologies that should make your skin smooth, young and tight. Myeongdong is one of the best places to buy makeup, masks, creams, and soaps since it has at least one (if not more) branch of any successful Korean cosmetics chain.
From my personal experience, I can recommend a unique facial soap I bought with a gel texture, which when applied to the face it becomes foamy within a few seconds. This soap cleansed my face better than any other soap I’ve ever tried. In addition, I bought water-based face cream, it has a watery texture and it’s not oily at all. It’s hard to describe in words how unique it is!
WARNING – When you return home, you WILL regret any cosmetic product you did not buy in Seoul.
Other areas worth a visit:
- Hongdae Neighborhood– a student area known for its unique indie style, young and liberated atmosphere, that attracts young artists who demonstrate their talents in spectacular street performances every evening. The neighborhood is full of cheap little boutiques and stores of the large chains, making it an excellent shopping destination. It is recommended to visit Hongdae in the evening and especially on the weekend, so you will see many street performances that distinguish Seoul from any other destination I’ve been to.
- Yeouido Hangana Park– a beautiful park on the banks of the Han River, with stunning views of Seoul’s skyline. On weekends there are live shows and food trucks with a wide variety of Asian and Western dishes of excellent quality and cheap prices. Both locals and tourists come to the area to enjoy the sunset and the special atmosphere. So, do yourself a favor- spend one evening on a “picnic” of street food (in my case – a steak with potatoes) on the banks of the river, with live music playing in the background.
- Dongdaemun Market– a beautiful and lively area especially late at night, where we drove after watching the sunset at Yeouido Hangana Park. The central complex is the Dongdaemun Design Plaza- a large, futuristic building with an exceptional architecture, illuminated by colorful lights on the night and surrounded by food stands and art.
Besides, you’ll find a lot of shopping malls of different styles in the neighborhood, many of which reminded me more of indoor markets.
Personally, I usually don’t find any interest in clothing markets, but I must point out that the products in the markets in Korea are so special and high quality (as long as it has the “Made in Korea” label) that I have found a lot of cool pieces in those shopping centers.
- Gyeongbokgung Palace– An impressive palace in the heart of Seoul, built in 1395. The complex has several traditional and colorful buildings that belong to the palace and are worth a visit. It is recommended to arrive shortly before the start of the ceremony of replacing the royal guard, which takes place in front of the palace. The soldiers are dressed in colorful ceremonial clothes and at the end of the exchange, you can take pictures with them.
- Bukchon Hanok Village– An ancient district with authentic rustic atmosphere, traditional wooden houses, and narrow alleys with spectacular views of the city. The houses in the quarter have unique tiled roofs and colorful decorations, and some have small shops, workshops, Korean tea houses and restaurants.
- Ewha Woman’s University– a young student shopping area with 2 main streets filled with shops and small boutiques. I bought three amazing coats and a pair of shoes that got me a lot of compliments. Oh, and they cost $12. For all the fashionistas reading this- do not miss!
- Common Ground– A complex of boutique shops and trendy restaurants built from blue-painted containers. The blue buildings are particularly photogenic and attract bloggers, artists, and photographers from around the world. Most of the stores belong to young designers, and the place has a cool hipster vibe.
Some other cool places in Seoul:
So, these are my recommendations for the beautiful Seoul, if you have any more questions do not hesitate to contact me, and I will be happy to help!