By Kirsty Lim.
Heading to Seoul in May was probably one of the best decisions my girlfriends and I made when it came to travelling. It was Spring then and the city was painted pink with the abundance of cherry blossoms everywhere. The weather was cooling too and the sun wasn’t too harsh on us! There was, however, a downside that accompanied such lovely weather – the throngs of tourists.
Seoul is well known for its Korean dramas and Korean pop (more affectionately known as K-POP) that have been taking over the world by storm in the past few years. However, there’s so much more to Seoul than just that. With majestic palaces, traditional villages, food markets, and shopping streets, you could say that this trip made me Seoul happy!
First up on our itinerary was to head to Myeongdong district. The popular district is lined with independent shops, street food carts, and performances. We headed there at night, where it was at its most crowded and bustling. The atmosphere was electric and we were wowed by the array of neon lights and the aroma coming from the food carts. A must-visit in Myeongdong is definitely the eatery Myeongdong Kyoja, and that was where we gobbled down dumpling after dumpling till we turned into one.
The bustling streets of Myeongdong at night.
A market in Seoul worth mentioning is the Gwangjang Market, the oldest market in the city. There, we tried out many authentic Korean cuisines, such as tteokbokki (rice cake), bindaetteok (mung bean pancakes), and gimbap (rice rolls). We got to bask in the traditional Korean culture and charm in this local market that showed a side of Seoul that can’t be found in the more modern parts of the city. There is also a vast selection of vendors selling textiles, fabrics, and trinkets.
Two ajummas tending to a food store at Gwangjang Market.
One of Seoul’s hidden treasures has got to be Ihwa Mural Village. It is a hillside (yes, unfortunately, we had to climb up) village that offers panoramic and expansive views of the city and its skyline. But most importantly, the best part of the village was the array of murals that decorated its alleys. We stopped often to admire the views of the city as well as to take photos of the murals. What I liked most about the village was that it was filled with small art galleries and independent coffee shops, giving off a cosy and quaint vibe!
A picture of us posing with one of the murals at Ihwa Mural Village.
And of course, no trip in Seoul would be complete without a trip to a theme park. Seoul is home to two famous theme parks, Lotte World and Everland. We were lucky to have had the luxury of time (and money) to head to both and it was great. Personally, I preferred Everland as I felt that there were more attractions and a safari world where I got up close personal with some wildlife animals! Lotte World has its merits as well, boasting an indoor area with parades, performances and over 20 rides. All four of us had a whale of a time at both theme parks and left with our adrenaline still racing.
A shot of the magnificent castle at Lotte World.
If there was to be a city that perfectly combined both tradition and modernity, it would be Seoul. This is a city that has captured my heart!