Seoul is more than just K-pop and K-dramas. The soulful city lures you in with its royal palaces, serene nature hangouts and tasty Korean bites.
It’s official! Besides Germany, you can now fly to South Korea and head back to Singapore quarantine-free under the Vaccinated Travel Lane from November 15. And the heart (or shall we say soul?) of the country has to be its capital. While you count down the days to your vacay, check out our handy guide on all the things to do, see and eat in Seoul. Bookmark it first and thank us later.
10 best things to do in Seoul
1. Enjoy peak views of the city
If you’re a Korean drama junkie, you probably don’t need an introduction to N Seoul Tower. Also known as Namsan Tower, this iconic landmark is pretty hard to miss. Rising 236.7 metres high on Namsan Mountain, the observatory deck boasts sweeping 360-degree views of the city. Lovebirds, seal your relationship by writing your names on a padlock and locking it on the railing at the base of the tower. Oh, and getting to the top of the attraction is easy, too. Either trek your way up or take the cable car to get there in a jiffy.
2. Try strawberry picking
Ever noticed the juiciest strawberries in supermarkets are imported from South Korea? Get up close and personal with these ruby beauties in Yangpyeong. A 40-minute train ride from Seoul, the city blooms with strawberry farms. So sign up for a fun strawberry-picking session! Some farms even allow you to have a hand in turning your harvest into fresh jam.
3. Street food galore!
If you’re like us and find yourself hankering for tasty Korean food after binging on K-dramas, Seoul is where it’s at. From tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes) and hotteok (Korean sweet pancakes) to gyeran-ppang (egg bread) and baked cheese scallops, the options are endless. Eat your way through the city at places like Gwangjang Market, Namdaemun Market and Tongin Traditional Market.
4. Shop for cult K-beauty brands
Sure, we can get Korean beauty products online but doing it in Seoul is a whole different experience you can’t miss. For the ultimate shopping experience, Myeong-dong is the place to be. It’s lined with malls and beauty stores, so you don’t have to run from pillar to post. If you have time on your hands, check out stores like Too Cool For School, Innisfree’s flagship store and Lotte Department Store. For something in the vein of Sephora, there’s Olive Young, which houses popular beauty buys alongside offbeat brands.
5. Let’s go palace-hopping
Be transported to the Joseon Dynasty by visiting the storied palaces in Seoul. There are five to pick from, including the popular Gyeongbokgung Palace and Changdeokgung Palace. The former is the city’s largest palace while the latter holds Unesco World Heritage status and is home to a gorgeous secret garden. Pro tip: enjoy free admission to all five royal palaces when you wear a hanbok, the traditional Korean attire.
6. Escape to Nami Island
Break free from the hustle and bustle of city life with a quick day trip to Nami Island. The moon-shaped island is right out of a fairytale with its lush surroundings, cute critters and riverside trail. Stroll along the walking paths and immerse yourself in nature. Our favourite routes are Central Korean Pine Tree Lane and Metasequoia Lane.
7. Time stands still at Bukchon Hanok Village
Singapore has shophouses and South Korea has hanoks. At Bukchon Hanok Village, there are over 900 traditional Korean houses for you to spend hours exploring through the alleys. (Just be mindful of the people living there.) As you gallivant around the hilly neighbourhood, spot the hanok roof tiles juxtapositioned against the skyscrapers from afar. It’s a surreal view of the old and new.
8. Hit up the coolest mall
Made entirely out of shipping containers, Common Ground is the world’s largest container shopping mall complex. After taking in the sights of this architectural marvel, head inside for a fun shopping experience. The place is littered with stores selling everything from clothing to beauty and footwear. After all that walking, head up to the terrace where you’ll be welcomed by cafes and restaurants.
9. Spot charming street murals
Initially set for demolition, Ihwa Mural Village got a new lease of life when the government stepped in. Now it’s an art enclave with small museums, galleries and over 60 vibrant street murals. As you traverse the alleyways and backstreets for beautiful wall paintings, try to keep your noise level down as it’s still a residential neighbourhood. Did we mention the village is located at the top of Mount Naksan? Scenic views, here we come!
10. Follow the stream…
Cheonggyecheon is a 10km-long stream in downtown Seoul, starting from Cheonggye Plaza. The place serves as a quick nature getaway amidst the concrete buildings. Kill two birds with one stone by following the waters through iconic attractions like Dongdaemun Market, Jongmyo Shrine and Gyeongbokgung Palace. If you visit at night, the starting point is illuminated with colourful lights, making it a relaxing stroll.
So, who’s stoked to explore the heart of South Korea in Seoul?