This week I was fortunate enough to have some family members visit me in Korea! I took the night bus up to Seoul to meet them and stayed there for 3 nights.
This was my first time visiting Seoul and I had no idea what to expect. I hope you are ready for a longer post this time!
My first thought upon arriving in Seoul was that it was completely different to Busan in so many ways. The overall vibe of the city felt very different and I could immediately see the attraction of the city. During our first day there we tried to do as much as possible.
We took a morning stroll down the restored stream; The Cheonggyecheon. This has been something that I have always wanted to do since I was very young. The Cheonggyecheon is iconic and is often shown in K-dramas or variety shows!
We entered the stream from the midway point and as we crossed the road we noticed that there, on the side of the street, was a piece of the Berlin Wall! The city of Berlin gifted Seoul 3 pieces of the Berlin Wall, benches, streetlamps and trees. The gifts were given as a symbol of reunification. If you are near the area, look out for these!
From there we took the stairs down into the main river walkway. Here there are loads of opportunities for some cool looking photos! Be careful on the rocks though! They are often slippery, especially during winter. At night the stream lights up so I suggest trying to visit both during the day time and at night.
[photo 4 + 5] After walking the length of the river we came to the entrance to the river! Here there is a lot to see so please take your time walking around the area! The Candle Fountain is spectacular and worth going at night time to see. There is also the Along Palseokdam wishing wells and carved into the ground is a birds-eye view of the river before it was restored.
[photo 6] Once we exited the entrance area we noticed that we were in Gwanghwamun Square! The Square leads from the entrance to the Cheonggyecheon down to Gyeongbokgung Palace! In the middle of the Square sits the statue of King Sejong (the inventor of the Korean language)
We could not get a good look at the statue as there was an event happening in front of the statue during that day. Gwanghwamun Square is also a great place to find cultural events.
[photo 7 + 8] Before entering the palace you will notice some royal guards outside. If you stick around long enough you will be able to see their Changing of the Guards ceremony.
Upon entering we realised how big the palace actually is. The main courtyard is free to enter and is defiantly worth checking out. The palace is beautiful and by far one of the most amazing pieces of architecture I’ve seen since coming to Korea.
[photo 9] From there we decided to check out the Namsan Seoul Tower. It was pretty close to Gyeongbokgung Palace, which meant we were able to fit even more into our first day in Seoul.
[photo 10 + 11] In order to get up to the cable car station you have to take the outdoor elevator, which even in itself was fun. Next up is the cable car (or the option of a 40 minute walk up the mountain.) The cable car was relatively cheap, around 8,000won (£5.50) for a return trip, and takes about 10 minutes to get to the top.
The view from the cable car was absolutely stunning and is well worth the 8,000won fee!
Upon reaching the top the first thing you will see is the Love Locks! Again, this is something 14-year-old Emma was dying to see. The Love Locks and the Tower itself have been shown in various K-dramas and always seemed like such a magical idea to me.
[photo 14] The idea of the Love Locks is that you attach a lock to the wall with someone you love and that ensures your love will last forever. It can be done with your significant other, a family member or even a best friend. Either way, it is such a unique way to leave your mark in Korea!
[photo 15] Afterwards we took the elevator up to the top of the Tower and were immediately hit by another breath-taking view. The Tower truly is the best way to see the city. The 360 view allows you to see everything the city has to offer.
The next day was spent slightly differently from the first. After visiting historical/cultural attractions on the first day I was eager to see some of the pop culture side of Seoul. As a fan of KPop and Korean Entertainment in general there was a few places I have been dying to visit.
[photo 16 + 17] Our first stop was the FNC WOW Café. This Café belongs to FNC Entertainment, one of the leading entertainment company in Korea. The Café is decorated with albums from the KPop groups that work under the label and the cakes are named after the groups too!
[photo 18] The best part about the café is their “Idol Lattes.” You can have the face of the member you like the most printed onto the top of your latte with chocolate powder. I’ve never seen anything like it before, it was defiantly a first for me. Of course, I got Soho from SF9.
[photo 19] Afterwards we decided to visit K-Star Road in Apgujeong, Gangnam.
[photo 20] Lining the road are the GangnamDols, massive statues dedicated to the biggest groups in KPop! If you are in the area, try find your favourite group and take a photo with the GangnamDol!
Whilst trying to find our way to the Han River we stumbled upon 2 entertainment company buildings, FNC and SM! As we were walking past we noticed there were crowds of people waiting to catch a glimpse of their favourite idol. I suggest that if you visit these company buildings you remain respectful! Whilst taking a photo of the building I was lucky enough to see Chani from FNC group SF9!
Seoul was definitely not what I expected, having spent the last 5 months in Busan and never visiting anywhere else. The city was busy, and friendly, and modern, but still managed to hold onto elements of traditional culture which I appreciated. Whilst I can see the similarities in both Seoul and Busan, I feel that they are very much different experiences. I would strongly urge you to visit both if you have the time!
My heart will always be in Busan, but Seoul was a wonderful experience and I would love to go back some day!
*The posting was written on 24th January 2018
Recent Traveller Stories
- [Louise's Story] Seoul Neighbourhood Guide: Ewha, Sinchon & Hongdae 20 November 2019
- [Louise's Story] Seoul Neighbourhood Guide: Dongdaemun & Myeongdong 12 November 2019
- [Louise's story] Unexpected cultural differences in Korea 17 October 2019
- [Louise's Story] Tips for making local friends in Korea 26 September 2019
- [Louise's Story] Korean hospitality and the importance of food 03 September 2019