Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Walking in Seoul: A Short and Rough Guide


Walking in Seoul definitely requires some serious willpower. Some parts of the city are really steep and hilly, with a small distance away from any restaurants/cafés (well not like I could read them to begin with but still) so here is what we roughly planned for our first walking day the beautiful city of Seoul! Which also didn't break my backs or legs.

1. Gwanghwamun Square and Gyeongbokgung Palace 

Definitely do the these twin sights together! We got off Gwanghwanmun Square/Geyongbokgung station and wandered up and down the square for some photos and scurried along to the main entrance of the old palace where the grounds are sparse and wide, great for photos in the autumn.

There's also The National Folk Museum on the grounds but we didn't venture in as there was enough for us to take in on the palace grounds, especially the little dwindling paths littered all over in between the palacial chambers. I loved how it was filled with not only tourists, but also school children who were wearing traditional hanbok!


2. Bukchon Traditional Village and Samcheong-dong

Happy to report that this is my favourite part of Seoul albeit the hilly and windy streets that surrounds these traditional wooden houses atop a hill. We walked to Bukchon after the palace, and it was really easy to navigate our way there as it's just adjacent to the palace grounds.

Bukchon is a tourist hotspot with several lookout points, and we just followed the small crowds of visitors and walked at a leisurely pace (before I got too hungry and hangry, that is) to the different parts of Bukchon :) It's an absolutely quaint and rarefied bit of traditional Korean architecture, where local residents still live under these roofs. There's also a bunch of museums there, where you can try on the hanbok and walk around for photos! Unfortunately this was the point where I got too hungry so we made our way to Samcheong-dong.

Nestled next to it is Samcheong-dong: made up of intertwining independent shops, cafés, restaurants, small eateries and a popular hangout for the adolescent and youth (like so many other areas in Seoul). I loved this the best, it reverberated with vibes of stillness but gives off a stylish attitude and just the right amount of je ne sais quoi. You can also find loads of independent jewelers and makers, perfect for picking up a good-quality and handmade items! My love for this city is real, guys.

I also had the best and biggest bowl of dumplings I've ever had in my life. Ugh. I beamed with joy - unfortunately the shop was in Korean but it was just through one of the alleyways at Samcheong-dong.

3. Insadong 

We made our way to Insadong, a neighborhood connected to many small alleys leading to modern galleries, old tea houses and used to house the largest market for antiques and artworks in Korea. It's famous as a traditional street for visitors, and has both modern and historical façades for shopping. I also loved Insadong for its easygoing vibe, where you can see everyone huddling over street food, souvenirs or a piece of the city!

Definitely check out the O'solluc tea house, which has an upstairs tea café and dessert – sadly I could not partake in this as I was still full from the dumplings, remember? But the tea shop stocks fresh tea leaves and smells absolutely divine as you walk in! Move aside, Twinings!

And we also headed to the Ssamziegil shopping 'mall', which spirals up across many levels with many cute stores, especially with art and accessories with one of my favorite brands, Jam Studio. At the top level, they also have a 'love lock' walkway made out of plastic wallets instead of locks most probably due to weighting issues (not like Paris!) where you can pop your names down in all ~eternity~.

4. Cheonggyecheon 

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll have seen me lusting over the modern city river stream amidst this concrete jungle. Another one of my favourite spots we discovered, just next to and not far from Insadong was Cheonggyecheong, a 7 mile-long public recreational space in downtown Soeul. It was part of a urban renewal project. Imagine the Garden Bridge in London but for a stream. Despite being in the heart of the city, it's a tranquil place and the restoration put in natural landscape to give a bit of fresh air downtown for Seoulites.

You can start anywhere and make your way to the stream from Dongdaemun, Sindap, or even Gwanghwamun. We ended our afternoon stroll here and took the metro back to our apartment, popped into a 7-11 (they're everywhere and they have the best snacks and ice cream) and found these cute Line milk sachets!

Thus concludes my sage advice for anyone dropping by Seoul in the near future. I thought it'd be nice to share these photos with small tips if y'all are heading East anytime soon. Matt and I loved our time in Seoul so much we're dying to go back sometime soon! I personally love the city, the culture and the food!

Let's talk - plans for Christmas travels? Been to Asia before? Hit me up son!
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