I apologize in advance as I don't have very many pictures from this trip for the amount of time I was there but I did want to put up the pictures that I do have for some things to remember. I was in Seoul for two weeks minus the three days I was in Hong Kong this past holiday season to really just go somewhere, see some family, and consider it a third home. I've been making trips to the motherland triennially since I was a kid but this time around, I think I finally got a better grasp of the city than all the times I've been previously because I was actually paying attention.
We stayed at my grandma's most nights and the Park Hyatt a few other nights so we remained pretty central in Gangnam throughout our stay. We made frequent trips to the main malls in Gangnam including the Hyundai Department store in Apgujeong-dong, the Lotte Department Store on Namdaemun-ro, the COEX Mall, and a few others I can't remember at the moment. A lot of times we just hit these department stores for the lower level food halls because it houses pretty much anything you could be craving from your more traditional go-to Korean dishes to wonderful conveyer belt sushi to some fine Italian pasta and then there's your selection of crispy cream puffs, cheesecakes, rice cakes, ice cream, bubble tea, and the list goes on.
Below is the view of the city from the Park Hyatt where you can get a good look at the Trade Tower, one of the tallest buildings in South Korea that rises to a total of 842 feet.
The image below that is the view from a high rise in Gangnam. That insanely tall building you see at a distance is the newly built Lotte World Tower rising at a whopping1821 feet. That's taller than New York's Freedom Tower!
One of the afternoons we explored Insadong, located northwest of Gangnam, where we played tourist and popped in and out of all the souvenir shops. At one point, we stopped for tea at a Hanok teahouse we spotted in one of the corner streets called Dawon to wind down from all the walking. Insadong for the most part is your tourist friendly neighborhood where you'll find your small Korean knickknacks, pottery, pouches, paper, accessories and more.
On another day we visited a place called Mingles, a hip European-inspired Korean restaurant located in Cheongdam-dong, one of our favorite areas in the city where there's a set seven course tasting menu that changes every few weeks. Every course was so thoughtfully presented and beautifully ordained but we weren't so keen on the actual taste of the food. I don't know if we chose the wrong week. It was experimental for sure and every piece a work of art but we had to go get second lunch afterwards.
Located in Cheongdam-dong is one of my favorite markets -- the SSG food market located in the Chaum building. There's also a cool concept store in the building called My Boon where you can find a decent selection of designer labels like McQueen, Christopher Kane, some Dries and Givenchy as well as a wonderful bakery called Menagerie that houses some of the most mouth watering things.
On New Year's Day we had a family feast at my uncle's in Yongin, approximately thirty minutes down south of Seoul. Korean food is healthy I tell you. Do you see all those veggies?
Not pictured is the Tteokguk which is thinly sliced rice cake in a broth usually garnished with cooked egg, marinated meat and dried seaweed. It's a traditional Korean dish that's eaten on New Year's Day that's apparently believed to grant you good luck for the year and gain a new year of age.
The rest of our New Year's day was spent in Samcheong-dong, one of my new favorite areas in Seoul. The neighborhood is full of restored Hanok, traditional style houses of Korea that you don't see as often anymore. It makes for lovely pictures; you really feel like you're in Korea. Upon wandering the area a bit, we settled for some shaved ice at BingBingBing and then dinner afterwards at Soseonjae, a traditional Korean restaurant where we had some pretty good authentic Korean.
Something I can't forget to leave out is grabbing street food at night. We walked through Dongdaemun Market one night, and Namdaemun Market another swooping around for a couple things: Ddukbokki (rice cake and fish cake in sweet red chili sauce), Hottuk (honey filled korean pancakes), Bungeoppang (red bean filled toasted waffles), Bboki (traditional Korean candy made of caramelized sugar and baking soda) and in doing so ran into a few new others I hadn't known about before like the tornado potato, the french fry corn dog, egg bread, and a croissant version of the Bungeoppang. Besides the food, there are also shops here that sell clothes, home goods, and other imported things sold at lower price points that may be to your interest.
I'm sure there are so many other things I'm forgetting right now but this is what I have at the moment. That was Seoul in two weeks. In a nutshell. Good night.
Park Hyatt, 606 Teheran-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, 06174
Hyundai Department Store, 159-7 Samseong-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
COEX Mall, 513 Yeongdong-daero, Samseong-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
Garosugil Road, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
Cheongdam Fashion Street, Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
My Boon, 4-1 Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
Apgujeong Rodeo Street, Apgujeong-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
Platform Place, Itaewon-ro 268, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Beaker, Itaewon-ro 241, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Itaewon Shopping Street, Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
CDG, 739-1 Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Lotte Department Store, 81 Namdaemun-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul
Myeong-dong Shopping Street, Jung-gu, Seoul
Insadong Street, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Samcheong-dong Road, Samcheong-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul