Friday, 6 February 2015

Top 10 Out of 20 Things To Do in Seoul, Korea

When my friend told me that South Korea is one country you would like to revisit often, I didn't believe her at first. But when I went there last year, I have proven it true. So much so that even when I stayed in  the US for a couple of months, it was still Seoul that my heart was raring to go back to.

For me the main reason why South Korea is one of the world's top travel destinations is its HANDS-ON TOURISM! Seoul is a city which is "alive" and Koreans make sure you see, taste, hear, smell, touch and feel its "heartbeat" which are all the unique and beautiful aspects of their culture. Even if they struggle with English, Koreans will make you feel you're more than just a guest, you're one of them. Everything will grow on you until the whole experience becomes unforgetable. That’s what makes the country endearing to tourists. And the best thing is it's reasonably and surprisingly affordable!

For first time visitors, here are list of what to do:

1. Visit the Palaces  –   Koreans honor their royal past by restoring and preserving the palaces and royal residences of the Joseon Dynasty. They are open to public with reenactments of ceremonies and rituals to boot, like the Changing of the Guards (at Gyeongbokgung) or royal wedding (in Unhyeongung).


Changing of the Guards in Gyeongbokgung Palace

2. Wear a Hanbok – It’s fun looking like a Korean in “hanbok”, traditional dress which is still worn during special occasions. Best place to rent out a hanbok with wigs and accessories are at photo studios, MBC location studio in Yongin (the costumes are replicas of the costumes donned by stars of period dramas), in Unhyeongung royal residence (costume though is simple), and for free have an appointment at the Seoul Tourism Office in M Plaza Myeongdong.


In Unhyeongung royal residence


3. Stay in a Hanok – It’s their traditional house with “ondol” or heated floors. That is where Koreans got their tradition of sleeping, eating and sitting on the floor. 


Living/Dining area of Manaedang Hanok


4. See the Bukchon roofscape – Bukchon Hanok Village is an old district in Seoul north side of the Han River near the palaces where you see streets with centuries-old houses. There are observatory spots there where you’ll see the uniquely sculpted roofs of the houses which makes for a dramatic picture. 



5. Eat kimchi and street foods – Seoul is a gastronomical feast! They have more yummy side dishes than main courses, kimchi is one of them. Whether at home, restos, cafes, convenience stores plus or in the streets, Korean foods are healthy and served clean (street stalls are covered in plastic), fresh, colorful in cute to intricate presentations. 



6. Be love-locked – Atop the Namsan Tower you can see the breathtaking view of Seoul and make a promise with someone by locking friendship/love locks onto the fence or christmas tree-like sculptures. Go there late in the afternoon and stay till night for sunlit and moonlit views of the city.



7. Watch K-pop live – Boy and girl bands are global hits because they are very entertaining, you’ll want to see them perform live. Some kpop shows though require fan club memberships or advance registration to be a live audience. But for tourists the easiest way is to line up early on Thursday nights at the 2nd floor of CJ E&M Center in Sangsam to watch the MNet Countdown. Another way is if you could chance upon promo/launch tours of shows and artists in malls or cinemas.



Long line for a K Pop show

 8. Look fashionable – Korean fashion is trending because it is highly wearable, cute, fun and contagious. Koreans can wear anything and make it look expensive yet casually elegant. So when you go out in the streets, try to be “in”. Even the ajummas and ajussis (middle-aged or old women and men) wear their best anywhere, their bags always looking new and tidy. It’s also the best time to try their globally talked about makeup and beauty brands.

Fans wait in line for Music Core show inside MBC Studio

9. Watch a K-drama filming – The progress of South Korea is attributed to Korean dramas because they have shown the best of their culture. Dozens of kdramas and movies are being shown yearly so there’s a big chance you can see filming somewhere. Or just call the big networks like MBC, KBS and SBS for studio tours.


One of the period sets at the MBC Dramia outdoor studio

10. Look for stars – The best place to starwatch is in Gangnam and Apgujeong where most celebrities frequent. It is also Seoul’s rich and famous district.


In Apgujeong, the Rodeo Drive of Seoul

There's so much to do in South Korea!  Planning your itinerary to go there is never a problem. For the 11 - 20 top things to do in Seoul, Korea please click here

About the author: Lyn Danao has been writing all her life for magazines and television shows. At present she loves to travel and enjoys “storytelling” as her profession. She has been to Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, USA, Thailand et cetera. You may get in touch with her at lyndanao@yahoo.com or at 09163333180. She can also tour you in South Korea.

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