Seoul, the capital of South Korea, is arguably one of the most popular destinations for young Filipinos. One reason could be because of the growing popularity of “K-pop” and “k-drama” in the Philippines. Coupled with that, the city is packed with countless sites to visit– from old heritage temples to modern shopping districts, Seoul is a city that has a little bit of everything from old to new. But with a variety of places to visit in a matter of days, it can be difficult to fit many activities in one trip. But lucky for you, we’ve curated a list of the best places to stay, shop, eat and visit in Seoul so you can get the most out of your stay! South Korea Guide (2018 Blog Series) • South Korea Day Trip: Nami Island, Petite France and Morning Calm Garden! • Trout Festival at the Winter Wonderland in Pyeongchang, South Korea • Winter Korea: Here is what it’s like to go skiing in South Korea! https://flic.kr/p/22NJFyN Seoul is a big city, so it can be tough to navigate around with its numerous branching roads and confusing signs. https://flic.kr/p/24cUZLi For tourists, there are two major districts that most visitors would choose to shop in, Myeongdong and Hongdae, which are both major shopping districts in Seoul. However while Myeongdong is bigger and busier, the best place to shop is in Hongdae in my opinion. WHERE TO SHOP: HONGDAE & MYEONGDONG https://flic.kr/p/Hr4SjG What I like about Hongdae is the live singing and dancing performances that happen every night. https://flic.kr/p/Hr4QEQ And most importantly, Hongdae is less populated with tourists, making it easier for you to immerse yourself in the local culture. https://flic.kr/p/FUKBeK Compared to Myeongdong, Hongdae is more popular with the younger crowd. You will find trendier shops that carry new the latest in technology and fashion. https://flic.kr/p/25yQRpP But where Myeongdong stands out the most is the wide variety and large volume of shops that sell food, tech and of course, clothes. WHERE TO EAT: TONGIN TRADITIONAL MARKET https://flic.kr/p/24uckbG Without a doubt, the best place to eat if you want to experience local flavors and culture is in Tongin Tradition Market. https://flic.kr/p/24ucpkU Tongin Market dates way back to June 1941 when Korea was under the Japanese rule; the market was initially set up by Japanese residents. https://flic.kr/p/FUKn26 There are 75 stores, restaurants and groceries in Tongin. Staying true to their tradition, the market still uses its own currency which you’ll need to buy to purchase their local products. https://flic.kr/p/22P1itJ This traditional market sells a variety of unusual Korean street foods, most of which I haven’t even seen or let alone taste before. It’s the perfect place to start your food trip! https://flic.kr/p/24ucmBh The food is surprisingly cheap, most dishes costing around 1-2 coins per serving. https://flic.kr/p/25yR6Mr A must try is the spicy, crunchy, and tasty Tteokbokki. The market itself is a short walk away from Gyeongbuk Palace, so it’s the ideal place to stop for lunch after your visit. MUST VISIT (DAY): GYEONGBUKGUN PALACE https://flic.kr/p/22P1qeC Gyeongbokgung Palace, also known as the Northern Palace, is one of the most iconic sights to visit in all of Korea. https://flic.kr/p/Hr4LTm The Royal Palace was the primary home of the Joseon Dynasty, which ruled Korea from 1392 and 1897. https://flic.kr/p/24cUNNB This former seat of power is probably Korea’s most famous palace to date thanks to its convenient location and beautiful architecture. https://flic.kr/p/22P1kAE The Gyeongbokgung royal palace, which means “palace greatly blessed by Heaven,” was built in the geographical city center of Seoul, strategically surrounded by vast mountains. Be sure not to miss the ceremonial Changing of the Guard ceremony that takes place every hour from 11:00 am to 03:00 pm. https://flic.kr/p/24cUMAM English tours are available about three times daily for visitors who wants to learn more about the palace’s history. https://flic.kr/p/25yRcFF Tip: Allot at least an hour or two to fully explore the palace grounds, pavilions, and halls. MUST VISIT (AFTERNOON): NAMSAN SEOUL TOWER https://flic.kr/p/24uciWY Another popular destination for tourists is the N tower, also known as the Namsan Seoul Tower. https://flic.kr/p/25v6Sy7 Located on top of a mountain on the outskirts of Seoul, N tower is the first tower-type tourism spot in Korea. https://flic.kr/p/22P15pC Being the 2nd highest point in Seoul, the observation allows you to view the entire city and surrounding areas. https://flic.kr/p/25yR16M But what really brings people to the N tower is the iconic symbol of love in Korea. https://flic.kr/p/22P16nj A very popular place for lovers and couples, the love locks in the N towers is a place where couples lock their “padlock of love” onto the railing in hopes that their love will last forever. https://flic.kr/p/25yQVEH The ‘padlocks of love,’ are locked all over the railings and fences at the base of N Seoul Tower. https://flic.kr/p/24cUqWR It is said that each of the padlocks hanging at the base of N Seoul Tower has its own different love story to tell. It’s the perfect place to bring your special someone. MUST VISIT (NIGHT): DONGDAEMUN https://flic.kr/p/24uc631 In Dongdaemun you can visit two famous spots; one of which is the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (or DDP), which is known for its amazing architecture that makes it look like a futuristic airport rather than a mall. https://flic.kr/p/22NZYNs The DDP is a major urban landmark and a centerpiece of South Korea’s fashion hub. At the back of the building sits a light installation which is best to visit at night. https://flic.kr/p/25v6QP5 The 20,000 light up flower garden started as a special temporary exhibition, but it became so popular that it’s now been made a permanent fixture. WHERE TO STAY: HONGDAE https://flic.kr/p/24ucwzd There are many affordable hotels in Seoul, but we chose to stay in Seoul sweet style guest house in Hongdae. https://flic.kr/p/25v7g5Q Conveniently located just a 5-minute walk away from the shopping district, the guest house is perfect if you prefer accessibility and modern comforts. https://flic.kr/p/24cV2Ne They also have this awesome roof deck with a beautiful view of the city! Overall, Seoul is a very fashionable, hip and trendy country. It’s no wonder a significant number of Filipinos go there every year to experience the “soul” of the nation. Packed with so many sites and establishments such as old temples, local restaurants, and high-end shopping districts, Seoul is definitely a city with so much to offer that you might not know where to start. So if you want to visit most of Seoul’s major attractions but aren’t keen on traveling the city by taxi or train, then joining a free and easy bus tour is the way to go. Note: I highly suggest that you join an English tour package. Not only is it hassle-free, but you also save time, effort, and money. Not to mention that it’s hard to get around Korea without knowing the local language. South Korea Guide (2018 Blog Series) • South Korea Day Trip: Nami Island, Petite France and Morning Calm Garden! • Trout Festival at the Winter Wonderland in Pyeongchang, South Korea • Winter Korea: Here is what it’s like to go skiing in South Korea! JUAN WORLD PHILIPPINES 34i Le Grand Tower 2, Eastwood City, Quezon City Facebook: @juanworldphilippines Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.juanworld.ph Contact: (+632) 636 0739, +63 917 529 2200 Live an Awesome Life,
Disclosure: Our tour in Korea was courtesy of Juan World Philippines & Starway Korea. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights.