Seoul city guide
Anyang haseyo/hi and welcome to the svansk feat ourmenu guide to seoul, the korean uber metropolis. seoul, the second largest metropolitan area in the world and home to 25 million people, is relatively unknown as a travel destination but there are a multitude of reasons why foreigners should come and visit this great city; the people, the food, the culture and the differing atmosphere of the various city areas. this city guide will feature svansk's top 10 seoulian favorites when it comes to shopping, nightlife, culture and city areas.
description: garosugil means tree-lined street and the name is quite fitting to the area with a long street lined with ginko trees. it has a laid-back, trendy feel to it with several art galleries, restaurants, shops and cafes. this is where the beautiful seoulian women (usually with the help of plastic surgery) come and have drinks and people-watch.
by day: browse the shops lining the street and the back streets, offering a great variety of clothing both for frauen und herren.
by night: enjoy a nice korean or western meal on one of the many restaurants in the area, later have drinks on one of the many lounge bars in the areas, social club is one of the good ones.
metro station: sinsa, exit 8
10 corso como
description: 10 corso como probably offers the best retail experience in town. the italian based retailer has stores in milan, tokyo and seoul and collects some of the best brands in the world. the bookshop and cafe is also worth visiting.
metro station: apgujeong, exit 2 (walk towards galleria, the massive luxury dept.store)
description: the bukchon area is one of the oldest parts of seoul and is nestled along the hills overlooking the skyscrapers of modern seoul. small quaint shopping and residential streets offers its visitors a glimpse of tradtional korea.
by day: visit the countless art galleries, shops, cafes and stores or just stroll along the small streets, don't worry about getting lost, that's how you find the good stuff.
by night: visit one of the tea houses or traditional restaurants and soak in the chilled atmosphere, a favorite spot for korean couples to go on dates.
metro station: anguk, exit 1
description: blinking lights, karaoke houses, bars, clubs, young hip koreans times 20, street food and more, that's hongdae for you. an over-sized student area that transform into entertainment mecca during the weekend.
by day: enjoy the young atmosphere and do some shopping, the prices here are usually wallet-friendly. visit the dog cafe where you can cuddle with 20+ dogs while enjoying a cup of coffee.
by night: it's during night that this area really comes alive with countless bars and clubs catering to all music tastes. have a bbq feast here before going out with plenty of soju (famous rice wine). clubs worth going to here are mansion and nb2.
metro station: hongik university, exit 9
description: dongdaemun is home to a number of massive wholesale and retail shopping malls which are scattered over a large area. the commerce almost never ends and it's a good place to go for good-priced korean clothing (if you are a big fellow, a european L or XL it could be difficult to find your size)
by day: the shopping malls are open from around 10 in the morning to late at the night and the quality and price level varies from mall to mall. doota (doota.com) is definitely the best mall offering the most stylish korean clothing.
by night: there are heaps of good korean restaurant in the area, usually found on the backstreets, where you can get a good meal before going out shopping. the wholesale markets open around 12 at night and here you can get sizable discounts but you have to buy in bulk though. they're worth a visit to see the frantic pace of the trading.
metro station: dongdaemun history and culture park, exit 14
description: if seoul has an upper east side then gangnam is definitely it. the rich and famous live on the south-east banks of the han river and the area is home to the most luxurious hotels, bars, restaurants, stores and also the best clubs.
by day: close to gangam station and apgujeong station you can find everything from h&m to prada and big department stores. bring your credit cards and shop us out of the recession.
by night: nighttime in gangnam is nothing for beginners, the clubs are massive and offers an incredible sensory experience, fire, fake snow, glitter and go-go dancers all contribute to the madness. the clubs to go to are: ellui, 88, eden, heaven, hollic and octagon. 88 is a personal favorite and a great "after club" to round of the night/morning.
metro station: gangnam, sinsa
description: feeling like you need some fresh air and want to get some perspective on seoul? then han river park is a great choice. located just by the river, the park stretches for miles and a great way to discover it is to rent bikes with one of the many bike rental stations, and then cruise along the river. a perfect recipe for a hangover.
metro station: yeouinaru
description: when you think of itaewon a lot of things come to mind, you can compare it to las vegas, it attracts the scum of the earth but at the same time it's a lot of fun. itaewon is the most foreigner populated area and the proximity to the american military base makes it very american with all the fast food chains represented. but there are also several high quality foreign restaurants and small bars located just behind the main street and hamilton hotel.
by day: during summer time the hamilton hotel opens up its rooftop pool and bar and it's a great way to escape the pressing heat and be sure to arrive early so you're able to get a seat. itaewon doesn't have that good shopping if you're not looking for cheap knock-offs or hooker boots made out of crocodile skin. the war memorial located close by is also worth a visit, a massive museum that has several exhibitions on the korean war.
by night: itaewon's nightlife is famous for being quite seedy during night and the most fun clubs are located on the "homo hill", this is the city's gay area and always packed with guys and girls looking for a good party.
metro station: itaewon
description: the korean kitchen is probably one of the best in the world and there are always new exciting dishes to try out. the famous korean bbq is svank's favorite and is usually reasonably priced and it's also a great way to start of the night with lots of beer and soju accompanying the feast. you will always get a bowl of kimchi (fermented coal) with every meal and it actually tastes better than it sounds. usually svansk has no idea what he orders since it's hard to know when you can't understand korean, but 9 out of 10 times it's a win, make sure not to order pig brains though, that's not a win.
description: as you probably know south korea is still in war with the angry little man in the north. you are not allowed to go and see him, even though you might like to, but you can go on a short day's trip to the demilitarized zone (dmz) where you can visit the border and take photos with korean soldiers. there are several tours to go on and make sure to book far in advance, they fill up quickly.
There you go, a small guide to the amazing city of seoul. svansk is completely hooked and can guarantee a good time when visiting. the kindness of the koreans is extraordinary and they will be more than happy to help you as a foreigner (if they speak inglese of course). let me know if you need any additional advice or if you have any kewl tips on what to do in seoul.
Marc Ryning / Svansk