Seoul Tourism Ideas
We know that many of you are taking advantage of the Optional Add-On Activities and Tours, but we also know that many of you are already in Korea! Yay!
Below are a few things you may (or may not) be interested in checking out and some quick links to the Official Korea Tourism Website or the Official Seoul Tourism Website for more information (click on the name), just in case you’re looking for some ideas…enjoy your time there and see you soon!
FOOD (not included in the Optional Add-On Walking Food Tours)
Fish Market: The most well known fish market in Seoul is called “Noryangjin Fish Market” (노량진 수산 시장 — noryangjin soosan shijang). There are directions listed towards the bottom of the page.
Live Octopus: For the more adventurous, you should be able to try this at the Noryangjin fish market. Please make sure to coat it well in sesame oil so it doesn’t get stuck in your throats!
Meat Market: The meat market is called “Majang Meat Market” (마장 축산물 시장 — majang chooksanmul shijang), and they have fresh meat from BOTH overseas and Korea. This is mainly worth going to if you eat the “Korean Beef” (한우 — han woo), which is incredibly tender (think butter…). By Korean standards, this meat is pricey, but will be significantly cheaper at the market than at a restaurant. But be forewarned — if you think that you won’t respond well to possibly seeing meat that still looks like the animal, this may not be the place to go…they can still try the hanwoo beef at a restaurant. Often, the market vendors have a working relationship with a “restaurant” above or nearby, where you pay a small “sitting fee” for the restaurant to provide side dishes and cook the meat you just purchased at the market.
Tosokchon (토속촌 – restaurant name): VERY famous samgyetang (chicken ginseng soup) restaurant where Korean presidents supposedly eat during their term. It’s really close to Gyeongbokgung Palace, so if you’re interested, you could do both in one shot.
SIGHTSEEING / NEIGHBORHOODS
Namsan/Seoul Tower (sightseeing — included in the Seoul City Tour 1): Accessible either by walking or by cable car — great views from the top, and apparently bathrooms that overlook Seoul. There is also a tradition for couples (or maybe special friends…hehe…) to bring a lock (like a padlock) on which they write messages or their names, to clip to the fences (or anything) atop the tower: Click here to see what we mean!
National Museum of Korea: Almost certainly the most comprehensive museum in Korea, since their collection includes all the best preserved items from around the country (most of the museums outside of Seoul aren’t really worth visiting)….although full disclosure, many cultural artifacts were either destroyed during the Korean War or taken out of the country.
The War Memorial of Korea (Exhibition Hall): Worth visiting if you’re at all interested in the geopolitics of East Asia, especially since the war between North & South Korea technically never ended…and also helpful in contextualizing and understanding modern Korean history.
Insadong (area — included in the Seoul City Tour 2): This is a very touristy area, but is kind of like “old Seoul” — limited vehicular traffic and lots of more traditional looking cafes and restaurants. In addition to over priced souvenirs (better deals at Namdaemun Market), they also sell antiques, traditional goods, and traditional Korean instruments here. Also, there is often some kind of street performance happening in this area, and plenty of galleries and tea houses.
Dongdaemun (shopping area): Great for shopping, although not as cheap as it used to be, but still cheap by some (NY, for example) standards. You can literally get almost anything…and if items aren’t labeled with price tags and you pay with cash, you can sometimes negotiate down.
Myeongdong (shopping area — see Shopping Near the Lotte Hotel): Another shopping area, mostly for women — great for make up and trinkets. At night, carts open in the streets that sell food, cell phone accessories, socks, and weird things like those animal hats for adults.
Namdaemun (shopping area/market — see Shopping Near the Lotte Hotel, Mino Glasses): Have bad eyes? If so, you can get glasses super cheap pretty much anywhere in Korea, but especially at Namdaemun. If you need special lenses, like transition bifocals, it may take up to 4 days or so because they have to special order the lenses, but otherwise, it usually takes 45 minutes to an hour. You can either bring their own prescription, they can grab the prescriptions and measurements from their current glasses, or they can do a free eye exam. At night, this place turns into a market where you can buy almost anything…souvenirs, pots & pans, traditional Korean clothes, food, etc… Also a great place to get Korean utensils (chopsticks & spoon sets).
Gangnam (area): Great place to drink…and for nightlife…
Itaewon (area): This is the “international” area…formerly the “US GI area,” and now an “it” place to hang out. If you get sick of Korean food during your trip, this is also a pretty safe place to go to have the variety of options that are not regularly available is most Korean neighborhoods (Taco Bell, for example). There are also a ton of bars, lounges, and clubs here and you will hear English everywhere.
Hongdae (area): DAYTIME – Home to many smaller, modern art galleries; NIGHT – Bars, clubs, and street shopping.