A bustling metropolis of South Korea and, in fact, the 16th largest in the globe. One that rose from a Kingdom that has enriched it with so many traditions and culture. The home of world renown quality skin care brands, K-Pop, and gastronomical pleasures that are to die for. Indeed, Seoul may be thousands of years old like any other world cities. However, it is the kind of city that makes travelers, specially metropolis lovers, drool because of guilty pleasures, from cultural walks to nightlife, leaving them asking for more.
We went to Seoul for our annual company trip which lasted for four days. Said days are definitely jam-packed with activities and memories sure to be ingrained in our hearts for a very long time. I would even say that this has been a trip of a lifetime for me and my friends. The trip tested us in so many ways one could possibly imagine and gave us the rare opportunity to know each and everyone on a deeper perspective and a much personal level.
Winter in Seoul
We hoped for snow, and Seoul didn’t disappoint at all. On our first day, we already experienced snow at the airport and almost half of the day, everything is lightly dusted with white magic.
It soon became a love-hate relationship with the cold weather.
However, despite the excitement brought by snow, it soon became a love-hate relationship with the cold weather. Coming from a tropical country, it became difficult for us to adjust to South Korea’s cold climate. We had to drink several cups of hot coffee throughout the trip, find warmth in stores’ heaters, and rely on hot packs to warm our hands just to survive the unforgiving cold winds while touring. But no matter how cold the temperature was, nothing warmed us better than being with the company of great friends who can crack the wittiest jokes in a split second, and be crazy in the middle of the street.
The Soul of South Korea
Seoul is the centre of the Republic of Korea, or commonly known as South Korea. If you are looking for an ultimate metropolis experience in Asia, it is definitely easy to put this busy city on top of the list. There are lots of things one can do in this soulful city.
Visit Royal Palaces
Seoul takes pride of their well-preserved palaces where the Korean Imperial household has once lived a glorious life as rulers of the country. The most notable palaces in Seoul are known as the Five Grand Palaces and we were lucky to have visited two of them: Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung.
‘Wanna walk like a Korean Royal Prince or Princess? There are shops near the palaces where you can rent hanbok for a reasonable price. Hanbok, literally translated as Korean clothing, is the country’s traditional outfit. It is characterized by colourful lines and accents and is worn as formal or semi-formal wear during traditional celebrations and festivals.
Stroll in their Traditional Villages
Like any other cities, Seoul also has traditional Hanok villages. We were able to visit Bukchon Hanok Village which is located between Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung Palace. The Bukchon Hanok Village dates back to the Joseon Dynasty and is now one of the popular tourist destinations in Seoul.(Read: Bukchon Hanok Village)
Fill your Tummy
Korean food has been featured in social media, news, and entertainment websites. Looking at the videos alone will make you crave bibimbap and bingsu, but trust me when I say that indulging in them is totally a different discussion. Also, there’s a variety of street food that you must try and the space in your tummy will never be enough to feast on all of them.
Shop, shop, shop
I told myself that shopping will not be my priority in Seoul. I may buy a skin care product or two but that’s pretty much it. However, the good buys in Seoul’s shopping streets made it so impossible to not shell out and spend all my pocket money on them. Well, most of my money was spent on men’s moisturizer (a man needs to take care of his skin as well). Looking at my cabinet now, I think I have skin care products to last for the next 3 – 6 months. Seoul has several shopping districts like Myeong Dong and Hongdae which I will blog about in detail on my next posts.
Marvel at the Seoul Skyline
Get a 360° view of the whole city from N Seoul Tower. The tower is one of South Korea’s most notable modern landmarks, which is located at the Namsam Mountain in Central Seoul. One of the highest towers in the Orient, N Seoul Tower is standing proud at 236.7meters and is 480 meters above sea level.
Seoul’s skyline as seen from the N Seoul Tower.
Go to Gangnam
K-pop fans shouldn’t miss visiting Gangnam district, the home of SM Town. It is around 30 minutes away from Central Seoul if you’ll take the train, but for K-pop lovers, the trip must be worth it. The SM Town tower has several exhibits featuring the famous K-pop stars and other big celebrities. Souvenir shops selling K-pop collectibles are also available, likewise with a coffee shop. Legend says that sometimes K-pop stars pop in the place and if you’re lucky, you might just have the chance to see them.
We are definitely grateful for the four days that we spent in Seoul. It was productive and fun, but the truth is, four days were never enough for someone to fully experience what this city has to offer. What we had is a just a preview of what’s in South Korea’s Seoul, but there’s definitely more to it than what we have experienced.
There’s something about its busy streets, aromatic food markets, crowded shopping streets, and breathtaking sceneries that are truly worth reminiscing. And for the first time, I wanted to go back to a city I have been to, roam around this memorable metropolis, and experience Seoul once again.
PS: Stay tuned for more blog posts from our trip to Korea. 🙂