Korea’s one of those countries that you know you want to visit, even if the thought hasn’t crossed your mind. With an insanely delicious culinary landscape, picturesque sceneries, a bustling beauty scene and several adrenaline-pumping themed parks, a trip down to Korea will certainly prove to be fun for everyone. More importantly, Korea is home to all your favourite K-pop stars and drama serials. Expect to see posters of Korean superstars and their endorsement deals plastered everywhere (yes we are referring to all you Song Joong Ki fans out there), and even walk the very grounds of filming locations.
It sure doesn’t take much to convince me that it’s high time for me to experience some Korean culture. And there’s no better place to soak up everything than exploring the capital of this country, Seoul. Here’s a list of the top 10 things you have to do in Seoul for all first-timers looking to ride the K-wave.
Things To Do:
1. Gyeongbokgung Palace
Those who are familiar with Korean period dramas like ‘Jewel In The Palace’ will appreciate this majestic and historical building that’s also known as the Northern Palace. Bask in its rich and colourful past, and have a go at donning some traditional Korean costumes for a truly immersive experience that’ll literally send you back in time.
If you’re planning to stock up on some of Korea’s most renowned cosmetic products, then this place is perfect for you. Dubbed as ‘beauty street’, lanes of dedicated skincare product brands are readily available for you to shop for the entire day.
The busy streets are also filled with vendors peddling street food, making it really convenient for you to recharge and fuel yourself for a full day of shopping therapy.
3. Common Ground
There is certainly nothing common about this shopping and lifestyle area built out of blue shipping containers. This overwhelming hipster location is home to some 56 lifestyle brands ranging from eateries to indie fashion, and even more Instagrammable spots that’ll help you up your grid game.
Don’t just take our word for it. A quick search on Instagram will yield numerous artsy-fartsy shots highlighting the location’s minimalist and trendy vibe.
4. Underground Shopping
The ability to shop should not be dependent on the flippant weather, and the good people in Korea have found a way to circumvent the changing seasons. Underground shopping malls like COEX Mall and Yeongdeungpo Underground Mall are located well below the surface, allowing shoppers to roam freely with a peace of mind. No more getting caught in an unexpected thunderstorm. The only thing you’ll be caught up in is the plethora of sales and promotions.
5. Dongdaemun Design Plaza
It might just look like a blob of metal from the outside, but the Dongdaemun Design Plaza is not only an educational place filled with exhibits and art pieces, this sleek and modern building also boasts some fine architectural detail that’ll certainly make for excellent photos.
The expansive space and clean details make it a great alternative picnic spot as well.
Things to eat:
6. Sannakji (Live Octopus)
A dish that sounds as squeamish as live octopus deserves a video:
Video credits | Munchies
Live octopuses are being prepared upon order, and the moving tentacles are a testament to their freshness. Those who dare to conquer this wriggly dish can expect the strangest sensation of having your food move in your mouth. You’ll just have to try it for yourself!
7. Honey Butter Chips
Yes, this might be a packet of potato chips. But I think it warrants a place on this list if its surging popularity led to the creation of an app that alerts users when stores are restocking a fresh batch of this sweet buttery goodness. Each bite is an addictive crunch filled with sweet-savoury goodness, and you’ll be joining in the honey butter craze in no time.
Served in a traditional metallic lunch box, a typical dosirak consist of rice, spam slices, fried egg and kimchi. To enjoy it, you’ll have to close the lid and shake it vigorously to make sure that the contents get well incorporated. It’s a bit of an exercise, but the end results are well worth the elbow grease.
9. Korean BBQ
These bbq spots are a common sight when you’re walking the streets of Korea. Could you get this in Singapore? Yes. But will it taste as good as the real deal? Probably not. Savour each slice of marinated meat with some onion and Korean chilli paste, and wrap it all up in a piece of lettuce. Do it like the locals and wash it all down with a shot of soju.
10. Samgyetang (Ginseng Chicken Soup)
There’s a lot of Korean dishes you have to try when in Seoul. But if there’s one thing you have to try, this bowl of nutritious and warming chicken ginseng soup is the answer. Typically served with a whole chicken stuffed with glutinous rice and plenty of nutritious herbs in its cavity, the result is a flavourful broth and a hearty dish that’s equal parts comforting and delicious.
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