Get the most out of Seoul in just one Day! (Language Vine)

A version of this blog can be found on Language Vine

Get the most out of Seoul in just one Day!

Seoul has enough interesting places to see and experience to keep you busy exploring for a long time. But even if you only have one day, you can certainly get a good grasp of Korean culture, past and present, by choosing the right itinerary. The public transportation system is top notch and the taxis are cheap, making it easy to travel from one side of the city to the other, knocking off the can’t miss sights as you go.

Start your day at 9 am with a tour of the grand Gyeongbokgung. Also referred to as Gyeongbok Palace, it was the largest royal palace of the Joseon Dynasty which ruled Korea from 1392 – 1897. Here you can catch a glimpse of where kings and queens lived, entertained guests and made important decisions.

Next, walk to Insadong, popular destination for both locals and tourists. Insadong offers old Korea, like tea shops, antiques, Buddhist sculptures, ceramics, stationary and calligraphy. You will also find modern Korea, like art galleries, endless opportunities for souvenirs and some great eating. Venture into the alleys in search of traditional cuisine and sample the street food along the main drag. Don’t resist the urge to watch the ggultarae vendors. While this sweet treat is being prepared, they suck you in with their witty banter using English, Korean, Japanese, and whatever other language is represented among the spectators.

From Insadong, walk past Bosingak (traditional belfry and main gathering spot during New Year’s celebrations) to Cheoonggye Square, where Cheonggyecheon originates. Once forgotten and partially covered by concrete and a highway, a popular urban renewal project brought this stream back to life in a major way. A quick stroll will reveal watersides and waterwalls, decorative bridges, art and photo galleries, fountains, murals, statues, live music and a lot of people enjoying nature, rain or shine, in the middle of downtown.

Walk Cheonggyecheon for 20 minutes down to Gwangjang Market. One of the nation’s first traditional markets, it still specializes in silks, textiles and hanboks (traditional Korean dress). But in my opinion, this market is the best place to eat street food. My favorite is bindaetteok, one of the many varieties of fried Korean pancakes. You can also try traditional Korean porridge, mandu dumplings, bibimbap, gimbap tteokbokki and sundae blood sausage.

If you have the time and energy, take a taxi or the subway to the south side of the Han River for a sunset cruise before concluding your night at N Seoul Tower. From Yeouinaru station in Yeouido, walk down to the ferry dock, purchase your tickets and wait for the next boat. The view of the city from the water is excellent, and the breeze brings a welcome relief to the summer heat.

The perfect way to end your day of sightseeing is atop Namsan Mountain, under picturesque N Seoul Tower. Ride the subway to Seoul Station and walk up the steep hill to the cable car, or save time and your legs by taking a taxi. The tower complex has plenty to keep you busy including 360 degree rotating fine dining, casual and food court dining, observatory, art exhibitions and souvenir shops. Or skip it all and simply enjoy the outdoor viewing areas, famous for the locks of love. As a way for couples to wish for eternal happiness, they fasten a pair of locks to the fence and chuck the keys. A tower visit after sundown can be a psychedelic experience. The giant structure alternates colors throughout the night and if you time it right, you might catch a laser show. And when you decide to leave, or they kick you out, I recommend the descent on foot. It’s only about 30 minutes and the viewpoint half way down offers a memorable snapshot of Seoul at night.

If you’ve got anything left, hit up a noraebang and sing your heart out before retiring for the night. Translated, it means singing room. Chances are there are a handful of these karaoke joints within a stones throw of your hotel.

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~ by ripcitytoseoul on August 29, 2010.

One Response to “Get the most out of Seoul in just one Day! (Language Vine)”

  1. […] So that’s that. I wrote, for once. And now, for those of you who might be curious… the article that caught my attention today can be found here… […]

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