Weekends of Seoul Searching

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Accomodations, Advice, Korea, Restaurant, Review, Seoul

My trips to Seoul have always been at ease.  My first experience felt familiar right away. There was no reluctance despite hand signals or key words at times because everything is planned out to be user friendly.  Airport Buses promptly drop you in central locations while maps can easily navigate you around neighbourhoods on foot or rail. Food choices are abundant.  No matter where you decide to eat, whether it be by the hip street food scene, fancy food halls, typical Korean BBQ joints or a classier hanjeongsik (multicourse banquet), everything is served efficiently and tastes with a zest.  There is a myriad of attractions to cater to each one’s interest.  The city boasts of a number of palaces of which each complex is an instant Cardio workout to cover (wear your most comfortable shoes :)). Shoppers can also head to the Meccas of Nandaemun or Dongdaemun for interesting finds. Museums, Gardens, Amusement Parks even Day Trips to nearby unimaginable landscapes are feasible.  Seoul offers a list of possibilities that will keep us coming for more.  PS. The 5Year Multiple Entry they granted us definitely has its recall :))

Seoul is another good option for those long weekend breaks.  A few days in this City is enough to cover much ground.  Here are some tips to help you set your weekend itineraries.  Whichever you decide, Seoul will be an enjoyable holiday.

Accommodations

Lotte Hotel Seoul

9419_14053009350019639554Photo by Booking.com
Linked to Euljiro 1-ga Subway Station (Line 2) and Lotte Department Store, this 5 star hotel is located within the Myeongdong area, which has numerous shopping and entertainment options. A 10-minute walk from the hotel leads to Namdaemun Gate and Namdaemun traditional market.
We stayed in the Ladies Floor https://www.businesstraveller.com/news/2008/11/06/lotte-hotel-seoul-creates-ladies-floor/ and it was such a delight! The additional amenities provided in our rooms as well as the treats in their lounge made us feel, Oh so pampered! The rooms in the Ladies Floor were located in the new wing.  Interiors were more contemporary compared to the rooms in the Old Wing.  Our overall stay was a 4/5 in terms of comfort, service and unbeatable location!
Drinks at the Pierre Gagnaire  35F of Lotte Hotel’s Old Wing.  http://www.korea-hotels.net/top10s/10-best-pubs-bars-seoul.htm

My friend also recommended this.  Would love to consider this for our next visit to Seoul: http://www.lottehotel.com/l7/myeongdong/en/overview/intro.asp

Photos from Booking.com and Agoda

Hotel Ibis Styles Ambassador Seoul Myeongdong

This hotel is a more reasonable option when in Seoul.  Open since February 2015, Ibis Styles Seoul Myeongdong offers stylish accommodation just a 2-minute walk from Myeongdong Subway Station (Line No.4).  It is fitted with modern décor and colourful accents.  Newer features like  Japanese  Style Electronic / Hands Free Toilet and Rain Showers make up for the smaller rooms.

Its older sister, Hotel Ibis Ambassador is right across Lotte Hotel Seoul. Although in a more central location within Myeongdong, we found the hotel old, impersonal and too busy.  Thus we opted to try this new one out.

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The Ibis Styles Hotel is a 5-minute walk from the lively Myeongdong Shopping District, while Namsan Tower is a 15-minute walk away.
We enjoyed our cocktails with amazing views of the city from the Roof Top Bar.

Food Scene

Gogung was highly recommended to us for its Pajeon (Korean Pancake) and Bibimbap.  It is a good choice when in Insadong, after working up the appetite from all the walking around the palace grounds.  Everything was flavourful! It is located in the basement of the Ssamji-gil building.
Maple Tree is a Premium Korean BBQ Restaurant.  I swear, this is always the best meal for me.  Meats are selected and grilled to perfection.  Wrapped in Lettuce Leaves, condiments and spices — Nom nom nom.  Ambiance and Service is great too.   I am always happy with my bill here as I come out more than satisfied.  Reserve ahead because the place gets filled up.  #Myeongdong
Saved the best for last ! #seouleats #GalbiJjim#koreanbeefstew 👏👏👏 the ribs were so tender and the soup was so tasty! One cup of 🍚 each with this wasn’t enough 😫 #GangnamMyeonok is a local secret which is THE place for galbijjim 👍#seoulhangover — at Myeong Dong Street, Seoul.
O’sulloc is a tea salon in Seoul that pays homage to Korean green tea from Jeju Island.  It has an extensive menu of different teas – both hot and iced – and an assortment of green tea desserts.  Mama is in Green Tea heaven @adikatigbak ❤️#GreenTeaLatte #GreenTeaTiramisu#GreenTeaAffogato 🌿🌿🌿 — at O’sulloc Tea House.

Palaces

The city boasts of five main Joseon-dynasty palaces (14th-19th Century). It is impossible to cover all in a day so I’d recommend choosing just two. Changdeokbokung and Gyeongbokgung for me, are the most impressive, and conveniently located for a short itinerary. Take the subway to Anguk Station (Exit 3) and make your way to Changdeokbokgung Palace. Opt for an English tour or roam by yourself (admission: 3,000 won). The stunning Secret Garden is well worth the visit.  It can only be entered via a tour (5,000 won).

                                                                           Gyeongbokgung Palace
                                                                           Changdeokbokung Palace
The “Biwon” or Secret Garden located behind the Changdeokgung palace was originally constructed for the benefit of the royal family and women of the palace. It’s a magical place just to wonder around. You will find there a lotus pond, several outstanding pavilions, and landscaped lawns, trees, and flowers.

Bukchon Hanok Village

Bukchon Hanok is a village of quaint backstreets where you can easily get lost into the charm for hours. From Changdeokbokgung, wind your way east to this tucked away haven. Some “Hanoks” – traditional houses, are open to the public so be sure to take a peek in their courtyard-style living.

Cheonggyecheon Stream

It’s a wonderful stop to reflect and to simply watch the world go by.  Every November, hundreds of lanterns of all different shapes are displayed in light of the Seoul Lantern Festival.  In winter time, the stream is transformed into a winter wonderland. It is a tranquil place which I always find time to visit.

Myeongdong Cathedral

Myeongdong Cathedral was the first and most important Catholic church in Korea and is an important symbol of Christianity in the country. The official name of Myeongdong Cathedral is Cathedral Church of the Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception.  The elegant cathedral was built in Gothic style.  The floor plan of the church was designed around a Latin cross.

Shopping

Insadong

Insadong, located in the heart of the city, is a tourist attraction in Seoul which represent Korean traditional culture and crafts. Stores located along the main road sell a wide variety of traditional goods and souvenirs such as hanbok (traditional clothing), hanji (traditional paper), traditional teas, pottery, and folk crafts.

A must visit while in Insadong is the Ssamziegil mall. You’ll notice its unique architectural design – with each level forming of a spiral-like stairway as it ascends to the roof. There are over 70 shops including handicraft stores, souvenir shops, art galleries, restaurants, and more.

Myeongdong

Myeongdong is Korea’s trendiest shopping area with shops selling clothes, shoes, handbags, accessories, and cosmetics. Many department stores also have a major presence here. Day or night, young people always crowd into the numerous restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, and night clubs in the area.

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The underground shops along are a joy to visit as well.  Apart from the usual items, they have a few stores selling good silk wear in beautiful prints.

The place is also the best scene to enjoy Korean Street Food.

https://blog.trazy.com/2016/06/05/2016-top-10-street-food-you-must-try-in-myeongdong/

Nandaemun Market

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It is filled with over 1,000 shops, stalls, retailers, street vendors, and has several department stores nearby. Here you can find clothes, shoes, fabrics, tableware, flowers, vegetables, ginseng products, toys, and watches. Under Namdaemun-no (the main street to the north of the market) is an extensive underground arcade.

Although many of Namdaemun’s shops are within the buildings that make up the area, the most colourful aspect of the market is the group of street vendors that setup in the alleys and walkways between the buildings. Wholesalers operate from midnight to 6:00 a.m., and retailers are open from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The place has become a tourist attraction for many foreigners.  Most of the vendors can speak a few words of English or Japanese, but you will generally need an interpreter for any intense bargaining. Because many shops are willing to take non-Korean currency, there is also a thriving black market for money exchanging, with rates generally a little better than those of banks. Should you decide to exchange money this way, take great care not to get ripped off.

Reference:  Life in Korea

Shinsegai

img_3093Just beside the Nandeamun Market is the iconic Shinsegae Department Store. It was the first to introduce the concept of a department store in Korea. Set in its original building, it first opened in 1930 as a branch of Mitsukoshi. It eventually adopted its current name in the 1960s. I love how this place incorporates different luxury brands in its old world architecture. This gallery of designer bags is my favorite spot. But second to its fancy food hall at the basement ❤️ An upscale market of local and foreign hard to find treats.

Dongdaemun

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Korea’s largest wholesale and retail shopping district consists of shopping malls, specialty shops, and manufacturers. Within the ten blocks of the market area, you can find silks, clothes, shoes, sporting goods, plumbing and electrical supplies, electronics, office supplies, toys and just about everything else imaginable.

Traditionally, wholesalers operated from 1:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and retailers were open from 1:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Buyers came from all over Korea to take advantage of the cheap wholesale prices during the wee hours of the morning, creating an unusual nightlife in the area. Now, the area stays open from 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 a.m., allowing shoppers to do their thing almost any time the mood strikes them. (Most stores close on Mondays and holidays.)

Dongdaemun Shopping Town and Dongdaemun Chain Store both exemplify old Dongdaemun Market. They contain many shops selling clothing materials, bedding, dishes and silverware, and other necessary items for starting a new household. Many couples and their parents head here before their wedding to get custom-made clothes, curtains, and bedding materials. Young couples also come here to get traditional and formal clothes for their small children.

0_4200_0_2800_one_seoul__dongdaemun_manchul_011Photo Courtesy of Visit Seoul

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On the other side of Samil Elevated Road, across from Dongdaemun Stadium, are Doosan Tower and Migliore, today’s hottest shopping areas for college students and teens. Here you can find the latest clothing, shoes, bags, coloured wigs, CDs, inexpensive jewelry, and other fashion accessories. Many young designers have opened their own stores here.

Reference:  Life In Korea

IPark Mall

This is a state-of-the-art shopping mall. It is connected to Yongsan Subway Station and the KTX train station. You can find everything here from electronic goods to apparel. The mall itself, covers a giant area and the complex boasts an astonishing 11 floors with a huge variety of shops. The mall also has a food court, a movie theatre and an E-mart, the nation’s biggest discount mall.

i-park-mall-1.jpgPhoto by Korea-Hotels.Net

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We chanced upon this mall on our quest to find toys for the kids.  My hubby was delighted to find these stores as well.  Brought back pleasant childhood memories.

Day Trips from Seoul

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Photo by IamyourGuide.net

Some ideas to consider if you want to venture out of the City.  I am especially interested to visit Nami Island and try their rail bike tour.

https://www.viator.com/Seoul-tours/Day-Trips-and-Excursions/d973-g5

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