top 10 seoul is my attempt to squeeze most of my three days worth of seoul experience in one single post.
i will start off with some trivia:
* seoul is a 25 million people metropolis. population-wise, it’s second only to tokyo. so, it turns out i visited the 2 most populated cities on earth during the same trip.
* its very cool incheon was rated for 7 years in a row the best airport worldwide.
* english is rarely used for signage and the metro is a bit difficult to navigate at times due to odd local rules. the internet helped a lot!
* south korea is the country that uses most plastic surgery in the world.
* seoul has 25 administrative districts called gu. they has sub-divisions: dong.
* the new and exciting stuff coming from korea is k-pop, cosmetics, soap operas and cinema.
10. myeong dong is great for shopping and for people watching. super crowded, be warned!
9. korean barbeque is a staple of local cuisine that should not be missed! find a restaurant that looks good. go in, leave your shoes by the door and you will be shown to your table. kneel and struggle to find your best position. order. your ordered kind of meat will be sizzling on the grill in the middle of the table. you will also be presented with a series of side dishes. they will certainly include kimchi, the famous korean fermented cabbage. enjoy your food and drinks!
8. apgjeong is one of gangam’s dong. we visited this crazy shopping district on a saturday afternoon so the place was really crowded. everybody was shopping and carrying a drink of either ice coffee or sprite lemonade.
7. cheongdam is another one of the gangam’s dong. it’s the high end shopping area.
among my favourites was 10 corso como, the sister of the milanese concept store owned by carla sozzani. she is the twin sister of franca sozzani, the current editor in chief of vogue italia. the store has a wonderful selection of international fashion, design, books and a cafe. in may 2013, it served as background for the first 30 seconds of psy’s most recent video, gentleman.
6. insa dong is a usually very crowded shopping area.
i remember it for its dozens of korean cosmetics stores and for one very special dumpling place i loved.
5. gallery alley in pyeongchang-dong. on bukhan mountain right outside of the city, there is an area full of galleries and art auction houses. we spent half a day there, but if you are not in a hurry, you should make a day of the whole thing.
i loved gana art center and total museum of contemporary art. beside the many galleries, there are plenty of cafes and restaurants, most of them with terraces overlooking the valley. so it doesn’t need to be all art and no chilling out. enjoy!
4. chicken noodle soup. all steps as indicated for the barbeque, only this time the main character is a big pot of boiling soup in the middle of the table. you add an entire chicken cut with scissors and wait for another 15-20 minutes. you eat the meat with various side dishes. you drink and you speak and you laugh loudly, just like everybody else. when the meat is gone, noodles will be added to the soup. eat some more and go home happy!
3. korean cosmetics. since i have already wrote a post on that, i think i’m at the point where i can rest my case and just dream of all the items i didn’t buy.
2. buckchon in samcheong dong. it’s a wonderful maze of streets peppered with art galleries, cute shops and restaurants. you can easily spend a day there, checking out the mainly korean art and making the best of what the area has to offer.
i also liked hakgojae gallery and kumho museum of art.
one of my regrets is not being able to be a member of the very cool hyundai design library and chill in their little cafe. sigh!
i went to seoul to get a taste of a city i thought i wouldn’t want to visit on its own. but i realized i missed a lot and now i dream that my future holds at least a couple of weeks in seoul. here’s to hoping!
if you consider visiting, click here for much more up to date info.
photo credits: little aesthete, google search