Table of Contents
My Favorite 15 Things to do in Seoul – Understand
Seoul is a major Asian metropolis that seems to always look towards the tomorrow. Often described as an in-between of China and Japan, South Korea is busy modernizing and finding its niche. Seoul has precious few historical sights but Koreans have developed a stylish ambiance that it will convince you. Seoul is a major food destination with thousands of little eateries spread around the city.
Koreans are incredibly friendly people but also shy away from English and non-Koreans. A few words of Korean (which is rather easy to learn) will go a long way in town, as English levels vary a lot.
Prices in Seoul are high – think New York City level – but there are plenty of ‘great deals’ left.
My Favorite 15 Things to do in Seoul – Safety
I famously offered $500 to anyone who could prove they were mugged in Busan a while ago. A Seoul police officer recently responded to my question about crime that he has no memory of ANY (!) crime ever recorded in the Hongdae district and that he does not carry a gun. Seoul seems a bit more dangerous than Busan, but it will still take decades of living in the city before becoming a victim of crime. Don’t worry about safety here.
My Favorite 15 Things to do in Seoul – Get Around
Seoul is spread out along the Han River. Taxis are plentiful and they are cheap, as is the metro, but you will spend a lot of time here battling the crowds. There is no UberX, but there are so many city buses it is hard to keep track. I tried all variations and usually stuck to the metro and walking.
Also keep in mind that the airport is a good one hour from the city using the fast buses or the airport train.
My Favorite 15 Things to do in Seoul – Sights
Easily my favorite thing to do in Seoul, this fantastic urban renewal project is a modern oasis. The river walk goes for almost 5 miles and you won’t want to stop – trust me. The lighting at night makes it even more beautiful.
This architectural jewel is a bit more of a show than actual art. Yes the exhibitions are interesting, but the building clearly steals the show. It’s still a great place to see.
Insa-dong is a glorified pedestrian district, but offers great shopping and people watching.
No visit to Seoul is complete without a visit to Gyeongbokgung – the Royal Palace. However, it is no match for places you might have seen in Japan or China; it’s quite a bit barren.
I really liked this traditional Korean village – there is so much to explore along those small alleys that I lost track of time. Take really good walking shoes.
This beautiful temple is close to the Gangnam city center monstrosities, but when you walk in you will forget all that. It’s an oasis of calm and has beautiful views.
The Seoul Museum of Art comes well-rated, but sadly I have not been there yet.
My Favorite 15 Things to do in Seoul – Eat & Drink
Hongdae is the preferred hunting ground for local foodies. However, all of Seoul has an endless array of great eateries from barbecue to hotpot to kimchi stews. Many of the big malls also have surprisingly good food courts (something I’d usually shun in other places).
Anthracite now has two locations in town, but the original one is hands down my favorite. Tucked away in a quite area of Hongdae, it serves some of the city’s best brew in its uber-cool loft. There is a huge upstairs and a lovely outside patio.
This traditional tea house in Insa-dong serves super-delicious matching green tea desserts and organic tea variations.
Coffee Lab spins out well-balanced coffee in a decidedly modern ambiance in several locations all around the city.
If you’ve had your fill of Korean food and need a change, stop by Gusto Taco for some awesome Mexican food.
Super-rich ice cream flavors await you at this Hongdae ice cream and dessert shop. My favorite was the salted caramel although there are more creative flavors, but at KRW 5,000 for the smallest portion, it is not cheap at all.
Those desserts just look too delicious to pass by this shop. Little did I know that the desserts are made for two people – and they mean exactly two. If you show up with three people they won’t serve you! It’s also very expensive, with this dessert set priced at 20,000 KRW.
Cafe Comma continues the theme of coffee and literature that we see nowadays. The space is surprisingly open and modern and it’s a fun place to sit down and ogle passersby.
This piece of Paris bakery art likely makes the best pastries in town. You can see how all the ingredients are made from scratch and literally walk right to the oven. Visit early as it often sells out by 1PM. The lines are long and the prices are high, but it is so delicious.
There is no shortage of good Korean barbecue in Seoul, but this place convinces with authentic atmosphere, though it is just a block from the InterContinental and Novotel in Gangnam.