SOUTH KOREA – 4 Days in Seoul: What to Do, See, Eat (+ GIVEAWAY!)

My trip to South Korea with my high school friend, Mon, involved 11 days of touring Seoul (with day trips to Paju, Anyang, and Gapyeong), Danyang, Busan, and Jeju. Our first stop was in Seoul which is the country’s capital and largest city. I loved exploring Seoul because the tourist destinations are accessible via subway which granted us a hassle-free experience to shop until the wee hours, eat street food and other delicacies, and immerse in Korean culture.

(You may also download this post for offline reading and for obtaining travel directions by foot, car, or bicycle to the points of interest mentioned below through GPSmyCity app. To view this in the GPSmyCity app, please follow this link on your iPhone or iPad.)

Read my post here to view our complete itinerary with a list of directions, expenses, and tips.

WHAT TO DO AND SEE:

A. Myeongdong:

1. Shop for cosmetics.

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If you want to achieve Korean porcelain skin, head to Myeongdong to hoard cosmetics and skincare products. It is also one of the main shopping districts in Seoul so expect to see stores that sell clothes, shoes, and accessories, as well as restaurants, cafes, and street food.

  • Location: Myeongdong 2-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul

2. Pray at the Myeongdong Cathedral.

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Myeongdong Cathedral is the Church for Archdiocese of Seoul that is built in Gothic architecture. They offer English mass every Sunday at 9:00 AM as well as English confession before the English mass on Sunday.

  • Location: 74, Myeongdong-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
  • Admission Fees: Free
  • Visit their website here.

3. Feast your eyes on the Cookin’ Nanta show at Nanta Theatre.

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Cookin’ Nanta is a comedic musical cooking performance about chefs preparing cuisines for a wedding banquet within a time limit. The music consists of traditional Korean rhythm while the actors use kitchen utensils to produce coordinated sounds. They interact with the audience which makes it even more entertaining. It also has theatres in Hongdae, Chungjeongno, and Jeju.

  • Location: Unesco Building 3F, 50-14, Myeong Dong 2 Ga, Jung Gu, Seoul
  • Operating Hours: Monday to Friday, Sunday and Holiday at 17:00, 20:00
    Saturday at 14:00, 17:00, 20:00
  • Ticket Prices: Premium – KRW 70,000, VIP – KRW 60,000, S – KRW 50,000, A – KRW 40,000
  • For more info, visit their website here or follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

B. N Seoul Tower:

1. Hike up to the tower.

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N Seoul Tower is a famous landmark in the city that stands 236.7 meters and sits on the Namsan Mountain making it the world’s 10th tallest tower. There are three ways to get to the tower: 1. hiking, 2. cable car, 3. bus. We chose the healthiest option which is hiking because we could not find the bus and the cable car queue was too long. I do suggest hiking because the experience is more rewarding and the tower and the view are worth the sweat.

  • Location: 105, Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
  • Visit their website here.

2. View the city from the observation deck.

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The city lights are one of my favorite views so it was a perfect timing when we caught sight of the 360-degree panorama of Seoul during nighttime from the observatory deck of the tower.

  • Operating Hours: Sunday to Friday at 10:00 to 23:00 and Saturday at 10:00
  • Admission Fees: KRW 10,000 for adults, and KRW 8,000 for children and seniors

3. Lock your love.

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To symbolize eternal love with a loved one, you may attach a padlock with your names on it to the fence at the rooftop deck of the tower.

4. Come back down via cable car.

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The cable car runs from the base of Namsan Mountain up to the tower and vice versa for a faster transit.

  • Operating Hours: 10:00-23:00 (Closed on Monday from 9:00 to 14:00)
  • Fare: Individuals (round-trip ticket): KRW 8,500 for adults, and KRW 5,500 for children and seniors
    Individuals (one-way ticket): KRW 6,000 for adults, and KRW 3,500 for children and seniors
    Groups (round-trip ticket): KRW 7,000 for adults, and KRW 4,500 for children and seniors
    Groups (one-way ticket): KRW 5,000 for adults, and KRW 3,000 for children and seniors

C. Ewha Womans University:

1. Shop for affordable and girlish fashion pieces.

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Majority of the stores in the vicinity of Ewha sell low-cost items that scream of femininity because the target audience is young women and students.

2. Lounge at the stairway.

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The university was the first educational institute for women in Seoul. Its massive stairway is an ideal spot to hang out with friends after school, do a group project, read a book, study for a test, or sit back to wrap the stressful week up. That is, if I was studying here.

  • Location: 52, Ewhayeodae-gil, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul
  • If you are interested to study here like I do, visit their website here.

D. Hongdae:

  1. Check out the street art.

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Hongdae, also known as Hongik University Street, is popular for its hip and eccentric hangouts that fit different personalities of the youth. One of the reasons is that Hongik University is recognized for its College of Fine Arts. Its shopping area also suit my taste the most because the clothes are inexpensive yet trendy and chic.

  • Location: Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul

2. Visit a themed-cafe.

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Hongdae is a themed-cafe haven so we decided to visit a sheep cafe because it is quite uncommon (in comparison to a cat or dog cafe). Thanks Nature is a cafe where you can eat waffles, drink coffee, and play with two fluffy sheep named as Bocksil and Mongsil!

  • Location: 486 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
  • Operating Hours: Daily from 11:00 to 23:00
  • Like them on Facebook for more info.

E. Gyeongbokgung Palace and Changdeokgung Palace: Go back to the past.

We purchased the integrated palace ticket that allows admission to Changdeokgung Palace (including Secret Garden), Changgyeonggung Palace, Deoksugung Palace, Gyeongbokgung Palace, and Jongmyo Shrine, but we ran out of time so we were able to go to Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung only. The palaces are fairly similar in appearance (or so I’ve heard) so Gyeongbokgung Palace will suffice in my opinion.

1. Gyeongbokgung

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Gyeongbokgung is the largest palace among the five palaces (Changdeokgung, Deoksugung, Changgyeonggung, Gyeonghuigung). It was the first palace built during the Joseon Period in 1395. You may also visit the two museums nearby which are the National Palace Museum where the articles about the royal families are seen, and the National Folk Museum where the Korean livelihood are learned.

  • Location: 161, Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
  • Operating Hours (Closed on Tuesdays): January-February 09:00-17:00 / March-May 09:00-18:00
    June-August 09:00-18:30 / September-October 09:00-18:00
    November-December 09:00-17:00
  • Admission Fees: Adults (ages 19-64) – KRW 3,000/ Group (over 10) – KRW 2,400
    Children (ages 7-18) – KRW 1,500/ Group (over 10) – KRW 1,200
  • Integrated Palace Ticket (Changdeokgung Palace (including Secret Garden), Changgyeonggung Palace, Deoksugung Palace, Gyeongbokgung Palace and Jongmyo Shrine: KRW 10,000 which may be used within a month
  • Visit their website here.

2. Changdeokgung

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Changdeokgung Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage site built in 1405 after Gyeongbokgung Palace. It was considered as the residence of kings during the Joseon Dynasty. Citizens burned it down in 1592 and was later restored in 1611 by Gwanghaegun.

  • Location: 99, Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
  • Operating Hours (Closed on Mondays): Feb-Mar, Sep-Oct 09:00-18:00
    Jun-Aug 09:00-18:30
    Nov-Jan 09:00-17:30
  • Admission Fees (Koreans): Adults (ages 25-64) – KRW 3,000 / Group (over 10) – KRW 2,400
    Children and Teenagers (ages 24 and under) – Free
  • Admission Fees (Foreigners): Adults (ages 19-64) – Regular KRW 3,000/ Secret Garden – KRW 5,000
    Children and Teenagers (ages 18 and under): Regular KRW 1,500/ Secret Garden KRW 2,500
    Group (over 10): 20% discount offered for regular tickets only
  • Integrated Palace Ticket (Changdeokgung Palace (including Secret Garden), Changgyeonggung Palace, Deoksugung Palace, Gyeongbokgung Palace and Jongmyo Shrine:KRW  10,000 which may be used within a month
  • Visit their website here.

F. Bukchon Hanok Village:

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Take a stroll at Bukchon Hanok Village to see what Korean traditional houses look like. It is a district between Gyeongbokgung Palace and Changdeokgung Palace where the royal families and noblemen resided during the Joseon Period. The houses, also known as hanok, let you learn and experience Korean culture firsthand because they also serve as cultural centers, guesthouses, restaurants, and tea houses.

  • Location: 37, Gyedong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
  • Operating Hours: 24/7
  • Admission Fees: Free
  • Visit their website here.

G. Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP):

1. Admire the futuristic architecture by Zaha Hadid.

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The exterior of Dongdaemun Design Plaza elicits a sense of futurism due to its 40,000 aluminum sheets. You can find the Seoul Fortress, Igansumun Water Gate, Dongdaemun History Hall, the Dongdaemun Excavation Site, Dongdaemun Sports Memorial Hall, Event Hall, and Design Gallery here. You may also shop for extremely cheap clothes until the early hours of the morning at the following nearby malls:

  • DOOTA (Closed on Sunday 23:00-Monday 19:00): 10:30-5:00 AM
  • Migliore (Closed on Mondays): 10:30-5:30 AM
  • hello apM: 10:30-5:00 AM
  • Lotte Fitin: 11:00-24:00

2. Watch the LED roses bloom.

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The garden composing of 25,550 LED roses is a commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Korean Independence Day. 25,550 is derived from the total of 365 days multiplied by 70.

  • Location: 281, Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul
  • Operating Hours (Closed every Monday): Art Hall 10:00-21:00
    Museum 10:00-19:00 (Wed, Fri 10:00-21:00)
    Design Shop 10:00-21:00 (Weekends 10:00-22:00)
    LED Rose Garden 19:00-00:00 (until February 2016)
  • Visit their website here.

H. Dragon Hill Spa: Relax at a jjimjilbang.

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Posing here like a wuss because I failed at cracking an egg on my head

Jjimjilbang is a gender-segregated public bathhouse where rooms with varied temperatures have walls of woods, minerals, crystals, stones, and metals. Locals in general go here for health purposes and to unwind, making it an essential part of Korean culture. Yongsan Dragon Hill Spa is one of the popular bathhouses that offers sauna, an open-air bath, a seawater bath, a salt room, a swimming pool, and a health center.

  • Location: 40, Hangang-daero 21na-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
  • Operating Hours: 24/7
  • Admission Fees: Daytime (05:00-20:00) – KRW 12,000 for adults and KRW 6,000 for children
    Nighttime (20:00-05:00), Weekends, and Holidays – KRW 14,000 for adults and KRW 6,000 for children
  • Visit their website here.

I. Sieoso Hotel: Sleep and experience hanbok for free.

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Sieoso Hotel is a budget hostel conveniently located a few minutes away from different tourist attractions and is a walking distance from the subway and Myeongdong. The rooms are clean and come with a flat screen TV, refrigerator, desk, and safe. Other facilities include cafeteria where you can have your scrumptious complimentary breakfast, rooftop garden, free Wi-Fi, luggage storage, housekeeping, laundry service, and airport transfer. They offer hanbok experience for free as well as package tours. We enjoyed our stay because the service was commendable, and Mrs. Han and the rest of the staff were accommodating.

  • Location: 320, Euljiro 3-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul
  • Price per night (Double Occupancy): We paid PHP 1736/ KRW 43,410/ USD 38.
  • Visit their website here for inquiries and reservations or e-mail them at reservation@sieoso.com.

WHAT TO EAT:

Click or hover your mouse over each photo to read the descriptions.

 

Among these destinations, my favorites are Hongdae, Dongdaemun Design Plaza, and Nanta Theater. There are still places that I want to go to if ever I come back such as Itaewon and Gangnam. Which place would you choose to go Seoul-searching? 🙂

Read the other posts in my South Korea blog series to know what to do, see, and eat in each destination.

 

GIVEAWAY! (Closed)

Explore like a local with GPSmyCity! Through this app, you can have your own personal tour guide at the palm of your hands. It provides walking tours that are classified into categories such as museums, nightlife, markets, etc., which serve as a guide to attractions and hidden gems. Feel free to also create a custom tour based on your own pace. The best part about it is you can use it offline! The full version costs 4.99 USD at the Apple Store and Google Play but luckily, Iris in Wanderland has partnered with GPSmyCity to give 20 lucky readers FREE promotional codes for a GPS Self-Guided walk app in the city of their choice!

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HOW TO WIN?

Leave a comment below stating the city of your choice from the list here and why. Winners will be chosen randomly.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS:

1. The contest is open from February 19, 2016 at 12 AM (GMT+8:00) to March 19, 2016 at 11:59 PM (GMT+8:00). Winners will be announced on March 20, 2016.

2. Please note that each promo code is tied to a certain city and once the promo code is issued, it expires after 28 days if not used by then.

3. The promo codes can be used on both iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Android devices.

Join now and lose yourself without getting lost! 🙂

3 thoughts on “SOUTH KOREA – 4 Days in Seoul: What to Do, See, Eat (+ GIVEAWAY!)

  1. I will be travelling with my family to Singapore by end of 2016. This will be my parent’s first time to travel abroad and I want it to be a memorable one for them. Having a self-guided app for Singapore would be a great help to explore the city. 🙂

    Like

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