We had lots of fun during our seven-day holiday in Seoul, and we have listed ten of our favourite things to do below. Enjoy and feel free to ask any questions in the comments section. A great hotel to stay in Seoul would be the Aloft Seoul Myeongong, a new and modern hotel located conveniently near Myeongdong shopping street!
Also read: 10 Great Places to Eat in Seoul!
1. Stroll along Cheonggyecheon Stream
No visit to Seoul would be complete without walking along the Cheonggyecheon Stream. This is an old waterway that was restored in 2005. The stream stretches over 10km, but we only walked along it for a short distance. It passes by many famous landmarks, such as the Seoul Plaza, Insa-dong Street, Changdeokgung Palace and Deoksugung Palace. We saw many folk paintings on the waterway sidewalls, depicting the history and livelihoods of ancient Koreans. We were also impressed with the beautiful landscaping within the waterway. At night, the lights made Cheonggyecheon Stream a pretty sight to behold!
Directions to Cheonggye Plaza
The starting point of Cheonggyecheon Stream is Cheonggye Plaza. The plaza is located outside Exit 5 of Gwanghwamun Station. Check out the Google Maps directions for Cheonggye Plaza.
Also read: 4 Things to Do in Insa-dong, Seoul!
2. Shop at Dongdaemun Market (Zone 1)
Dongdaemun Market consists of two main areas: Zone 1 is mainly for retail shoppers and tourists, while Zone 2 is mainly for wholesalers.
Zone 1 is located near Dongdaemun Station. Over here, the popular malls are Doota (part of Doosan Tower), Hello APM, Good Morning City, Migliore, and Freya Town. All of these malls are located near each other. The malls sell a huge variety of clothes and fashion accessories (mainly for ladies). Raevian preferred to shop at Hello APM and Migliore because she liked the style of the clothes here, and they were more value-for-money.
The malls open through the night (8.30am to 5am), and Raevian shopped until about 2am. Lucky for me, there was free wifi at most of the malls so I could kill time with my iPhone (tip for guys, remember to bring a battery pack, you will need it).
How to get to Zone 1
Take the metro to Dongdaemun History Culture Park station and go out from Exit 14. You will see the major malls like Hello APM, Good Morning City, Migliore, etc.
Also read: 4 Things to Do at Dongdaemun (Seoul)
3. Shop at Ewha Womans University Fashion Street
We did lots of shopping at Ewha Womans University Fashion Street. Along the alleyways, there are loads of street stalls and malls selling clothes, shoes and other fashion accessories. Raevian managed to find many bargains here because the street stalls cater mainly to the female student population, and so the prices were quite affordable.
Surprisingly, there were many male items here too. I managed to get a few stylish bags here at just 10,000 KRW each. This was definitely a nice change from other shopping districts in Seoul which are mainly for female shoppers.
This area is also famous for its great alteration services and numerous hair salons.
Take the metro to Ewha Womans University Station and go out from Exit 2 or 3. Walk towards the main entrance of Ewha Womans University. From here, if you turn into the alleys on the left, you will see lots of street stalls selling affordable fashion goods. If you turn into the alleys on the right, you will see designer shops and malls. We shopped mainly in the left alley.
Also read: 6 Things to do at University Quarter (Seoul)
4. Experience Korean Culture at Gwangjang Market
Gwangjang Market is Korea’s oldest traditional market, established over 100 years ago. Today, it is a popular attraction with over 5000 shops selling a variety of street food, fabrics, Hanbok, clothes, shoes, bags and many more.
Our favourite section was the vibrant food market which had loads of stalls selling delicious Korean food! This is the type of place where you’ll experience cramped, elbow-to-elbow sort of seating; a cultural experience which we simply loved.
Be sure to check out the Bindaetteok, a type of Korean fried pancake made from ground mung beans, lots of meat, and various other vegetables. After that, wash down all the Korean food goodness with a bottle of Makgeolli, a Korean traditional rice liquor.
Directions to Gwangjang Market Food Section
Take the metro to Jongno 5(o)-ga Station (Line 1) and go out from Exit 9. This is the nearest exit to the food zone. Click here for a more detailed breakdown of the various zones within the market.
5. Revel in the Vibrant Nightlife of Hongdae
Hongdae is a super popular nightlife area in Seoul. Some of the best clubs include Cocoon, Club M2, Club Vera and Mama Gorilla. Check out the list of best clubs in Hongdae.
6. Explore the Majestic Palaces
We visited the Gyeongbokgung Palace (also known as Gyeongbok Palace), which is the largest of the “Five Grand Palaces” in Seoul. The palace consists of 3 main attractions: Gyeongbokgung Palace itself, Gwanghwamun Gate, and Gwanghwamun Square.
Built during the Joseon dynasty, Gyeongbokgung Palace was home to the different generations of Joseon Kings. Inside the palace, we found charming Korean ancient architecture and beautiful lakes with the shimmering reflections of the palace buildings glistening off the still waters. The adult admission fee is KRW3,000. Cheongwadae, the residence of the President of Korea, is located beside Gyeongbokgung palace.
The main gate of the palace is the Gwanghwamun Gate. It was an interesting experience to watch the guard changing ceremony here! Click here to see the daily schedule of the ceremony.
Outside the gate is the Gwanghwamun Square, where you will find the imposing King Sejong Statue. King Sejong lived between 1397 and 1450. He is known for his promulgation of the Korean alphabet Hangul (the current writing system of the Korean language), his involvement in various scientific inventions (the celestial globe, the rain gauge, water clocks, the sundial), and his effort to develop a distinct Korean system of medical knowledge. Today, his portrait is printed on the KRW 10,000 note. You will also find the towering Statue of of Admiral Yi Sun-Shin, a legendary naval commander who lived between 1545 and 1598. He was renown for his naval victories against the Japanese navy.
If you like visiting such historical sites, you will be happy to know that the four other grand palaces – Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung, Deoksugung, and Gyeonghuigung – are in Samcheong-dong as well.
Address: 161, Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Korean address: 서울특별시 종로구 사직로 161 (세종로)
Phone Number:+82 2 3700 3900
Opening Hours: Daily 9am – 6pm (Closed on Tuesdays)
Directions to Gyeongbokgung Palace and Gwanghwamun Gate: Alight at Gyeongbokgung Palace Station (Line 3), Exit 5
Directions to Gwanghwamun Square: Alight at Gwanghwamun Station (Line 5), Exit 2
Also read: 5 Things to Do in Samcheong-dong (Seoul)
7. Shop and Eat at Myeong-dong!
Myeong-dong is a popular area in Seoul where you can find large shopping malls, facial mask shops, clothing shops, fashion accessories shops, and more facial masks shops. Other than being a shopping paradise for girls, it is also a place with loads of good food! I am salivating just thinking about all the good food I ate in Myeong-dong.
8. Visit the N Seoul tower
One of the highlights of our trip was visiting the N Seoul Tower! This is a communication tower that provides broadcasting signals for various Korean media stations. It stands at an impressive 236m tall. We took the subway to Myeong-dong station and walked to Namsan Cable Car station at the base of Namsan mountain. From there, we took the cable car up to the base of N Seoul Tower. We did not go up the tower itself because the queue was too long.
The view was awesome! We had wonderful views both from the cable car and the base of the tower. We visited at night so we got to see the beautiful night skyline of Seoul. The whole city was lighted up in a vibrant display of colours.
We also found many “love locks” hanging on the railings and various structures. Suffice to say, this was a romantic area and we spent quite a while here, reveling in the beautiful night view while holding hands.
Directions to N Seoul Tower
From Exit 3 of Myeong-dong Station (Line 4), walk uphill for about 15 minutes along the street on the right side of Pacific Hotel. You will reach the Namsan Cable Car Station. From here, take the cable car up to the base of N Seoul Tower. For admission rates, other ways to reach the tower, opening hours, and more details, check out the links below.
Also read: 8 Fun Things to Do in Itaewon (Seoul)!
9. Visit the Scenic Nami island
Every year, fans of the classic Korean drama “Winter Sonata” will make their pilgrimage to the picturesque Nami Island. Many of the scenes from the popular Korean drama were filmed here, and we found many Winter Sonata tributes on the island.
Words can’t really describe the beauty and serene nature of Nami island. We wandered around and found loads of awesome photo spots. We even found some cute squirrels that got really close to us. This was definitely the highlight of our trip.
10. Explore the Artisan Cafes and Awesome Bistros!
During our trip to Seoul, Evan and I ate so much good food that we probably put on about 2 kg (each) after the trip! After checking out the many eateries, we have selected our 10 favourite restaurants and cafes in Seoul, categorized into 6 locations: Dongdaemun, Gangnam, Itaewon, Myeong-dong, Samcheong-dong and University Quarter. Check it out at the link below!
Read more: 10 Great Places to Eat in Seoul!
This article is part of our completely free and fantastic Ultimate Seoul Travel Guide. Why spend days researching when all your holiday information is simply a click away? 🙂