Pop Culture & Society
Help a reader out: Seoul recommendations
by | October 19, 2008 | 66 Comments

Reader Sheryl is heading to Seoul soon and wrote in to ask for recommendations on great places to visit. Since it’s been a while since I’ve been to Seoul, I thought I’d open up the question to everyone here. Help a reader out!

She writes:

Any recommendations (sights, food places, random music cafes) for a first time tourist? Despite being a first timer in Seoul, I’m actually looking out for the not-so-tourist places to visit.

I think the biggest plan is trying to get on The Love Letter with Yoon Do Hyun for the measly 5 days I will be there.. hahaha. Historical sites are already all over the internet so I’m trying to find more I suppose not-so-tourist-like places I can visit to kinda see different faces of Seoul. I largely would like to eat some good local food, do some good CD shopping (and random stuff) and hopefully, visit a good open mic session. And oh yeah, stalk the SM Entertainment building.. hahaha.

Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated!

C’mon, I know you know the answers!

66 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. Genie

    You have to go to the 63 building the view up there is amazing, the SM building is in gaang nam which is such a busy area, and usually if you call the station a week or so before you can get tickets usually for tapings, coex is a cool mall, I’m drawing blanks and I just came back from korea 3 weeks ago but I’ll look at my photos and things. Oh there’s a cool jazz cafe in myeong dong.

    You can email me if you want for places [email protected]

  2. Yvette

    I recommend going to the N (Namsan) Tower! It’s huuuge. Really tall. If you look out the windows after you reach the top, you can see A LOT.
    And if you’re in the Ilsan area, you should go to La Festa, a nice place for shopping, eating, and the such. Also check out the Western Dome ๐Ÿ˜€

  3. ktbrods

    I always like just wandering around places (with someone else, to be safe) and eating at random places (street food always tastes the best to me…my mother says it is dirty, I say that’s flavor…)
    If you’re around the Bun-dang area (around Yatap) there is a really great seollungtang restaurant called ๊ฐ๋ฏธ์˜ฅ (Gam-Mee-Ok). I always find CD shopping the best at the litle stores at subway stations (you can always sweet talk deals out of those ajusshi’s…)(Try to never pay full price for anything! Doota is pretty good shopping for accessories…bags and shoes)
    I always like riding the Nam-san cable cars and eating pizza at Pizza Hill (by Walker Hill)…I know its pretty touristy and cliche, but really the views are spectacular…
    The freefall of the won’s exchange rate will be working for you ( I think it’s almost 1300 or 1400 won to a dollar now…)
    I’m very jealous of you, have a great trip and have lots of fun!

    • 3.1 pillowhead

      me too! Last time I was there was almost 10 years ago so I bet lots have changed. This was before my intro to dramas so mainly I just rode the rail around and got lost in the city. The city is great so you’ll find all kinds of interesting places. There was on block that had a lot of little galleries, cafe’s and street venders. I wish I could remember the name. It had a really cute bohemian cafe with an outstanding library of music (back when everything was on disc).

  4. javabeans

    I agree, the pojangmachas (street food) are always the best. It’s fun to just go from cart to cart, picking random things to eat. Shopping at Dongdaemun is a must, if a little overwhelming cuz there’s usually so much to see. But it’s jam-packed with deals if you’re up for lots of browsing. Bargaining is key (everyone expects a little haggle room) but I’m horrible at it so I have no advice on that.

    Oh, my tip also: Eyeglasses are SUPER CHEAP in Korea. I know it’s a random thing to think about, but you can be in and out of an eyeglass shop in thirty minutes with an eye exam and a cheap pair of cool specs costing $10 to $30 (the price mostly varies on the type of lens you get). Good time to stock up. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • 4.1 KDrama Fan

      Hi there.

      Wonder if any of you can name stores you can recommend for glasses.

      Last time I went I checked prices at a couple of stores around a market and the prices seemed expensive so I gave up.

  5. Alison

    ^night shopping at dongdaemun is a must!! although if you are a little claustraphobic, you might get a little intimidated. the places are packed!! but you must go. and javabeans is right about the glasses, i got a pair of really awesome light yellow glasses for $50 (cause i am blind and i need ultra thin lenses). and it was all under 30 minutes!!

  6. Winnie

    I was about to recommend Dongdaemun! It’s a bit crazy, with narrow aisles and people everywhere, but that’s part of the fun. If you like bookstores, Kyobo off of Gwanghwamun station is great, and you can get everything from books to stationary to DVDs to iPods.

    Myeongdong (close to Namsan!) has a lot of shopping too, but if you’re on a budget it’s still a good place to just walk around and people-watch. And there’s a good kalguksu restaurant there. I can’t remember the name, but it is really well-known and you can probably find it in a guidebook. A restaurant like that might not be your thing, but the food IS quality. Order a bowl of kalguksu and some mandu and you’re good to go for the rest of the day (if not into the next morning).

  7. Baedol

    Insa-dong is probably the most touristy place ever, but I STILL recommend that you check it out just because it’s such a great place for weird, original, quirky things to buy (esp. jewelry. omg the jewelry). Another less touristy but still lovely place to visit is Samchung-dong, which might feel a little like Insa-dong but much less touristy and a little more avant-garde/modern. The mishmash of traditional Korean architecture and modern buildings gives the area such a unique atmosphere. Also, food-wise, I swear that the best marinated crab cuisine is in Samchung-dong; it’s a restaurant called Keun giwa-jip(ํฐ ๊ธฐ์™€์ง‘: Large Tiled House) and it’s pretty darn expensive BUT SO WORTH IT. REALLY. SO WORTH IT. The other restaurants near it are really famous (๋ˆˆ๋‚˜๋ฌด์ง‘Noon-namu-jip: Snow Tree House, ๋ถ์ดŒ์นผ๊ตญ์ˆ˜Bookchon Kalguksu) so you might want to check them out too but such popular places tend to be noisy and the food not as good as you expect.

    If you go to either Myung-dong or Insa-dong, make sure to check out the Kkultarae(๊ฟ€ํƒ€๋ž˜: honey thread snacks traditionally made for royalty during the Joseon era); the snacks taste awesome and the guys who make it are HILARIOUS. The area around Myungdong is also nice to just walk around, but nothing really special. The noodle-and-dumpling place there is really famous (Myungdong Kyoja๋ช…๋™๊ต์ž) but again, popular places tend not to live up to the name.

    The area around Namsan is sweet. Just take a walk (literally) AROUND Namsan around sunset, I did that with my boyfriend and it was great, you get the best and prettiest view of Seoul. If you walk from the Myung-dong area around Namsan to the other side, you can take a bus straight to Gangnam ๐Ÿ˜€

    One last place I’d like to recommend is Andongjang์•ˆ๋™์žฅ, the oldest (and best) Chinese restaurant in Korea, about 60-65 years old. And by Chinese restaurant I mean Korean Chinese food (like how Chinese food in America is…American). Get off the metro at Euljiro 3-ga ์„์ง€๋กœ 3๊ฐ€ station and get out at Exit 10, then walk toward Exit 11 until you find a bright red-colored sign with yellow Chinese characters ๅฎ‰ๆฑ่ŽŠ(not sure about the last character…). Their oyster jjambbong is food for the gods, I kid you not.

  8. Izit

    To DO when shopping : Dongdaemun market ( get off at Dongdaemun Stadium station) starting 9pm ’till 5 Am.
    I went there with some friends and we loved it ! It’s lively and very beautiful at night (the view is ugly when it’s daytime, I like buldings only when they are shining like Chrismas trees at night :o)

    If u r a fan of the drama Coffe Prince go to the shop n try the coffee. They are bit more expensive than usual (for exemple a caffรฉ machiato => 7 000 won, a rasperry coffee => 8 000 won,..) but the taste is till great.
    To go there :
    => Hongik University station, exit 5, straight head for 10 minutes, then on your left u should see a big street that goes down the road ; the entry is just on the left of that same street.

    For the CD u should buy Ibady’s album : “Story of Us”. Very good indeed ! =^^=

  9. Izit

    I mean Ibadi (not Ibady). Sorry…

  10. 10 invisibelle

    I haven’t been to Seoul yet, but I just wanted to say I am saving this thread forever and ever. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. 11 theedqueen

    if you’re ever near Yonsei University, it’s always worth a walk around the neighborhood there (Shinchon). Awesome street food and restaurants. Also Ewha Women’s university is right next door and they have tons of shopping for clothes and stuff and I remember seeing a cd store there that had old music like baby vox and stuff, but I didn’t go in. And I actually saw Dominique from Talk with Beauties around Yonsei once, but I didn’t say anything to her since I had no idea what to do.

    And ditto with Javabeans on the glasses thing. I bought a pair of glasses at shop near Yonsei for 30,000won and a free eye exam. I also got my lenses replaced in my old pair of glasses for 15,000won. Best deal I ever got in my life. All my friends got glasses there too, we gave them great business. =D

    Oh, and if you’re a fan of Kim Sam Soon and you’ve been wanting to get the pig there’s an area close to Yonsei where there’s a whole bunch of carnival type game places (along with some bars and karaoke places). You can go in and just ask to buy one of the stuffed animals (I got mine for 20,000 won, on yesasia it’s something like $60?) I think they also have the mukgu dog from My Girl.

    • 11.1 Zaneh

      do you know the name of the eyeglass shop?

  12. 12 Ary

    Cafes are always overpriced in Korea, particularly any drink containing caffeine. I’d say go to Shinchon, Apgujeongdong, and Myungdong for awesome places to shop and eat. Try going to the COEX mall at least once; however, it’s tends to be expensive. Shinchon’s prices should be fine, since their shops and restaurants are catered towards university students. For local food, honestly, just wander around with friends and/or family. You’ll be guaranteed to find some good, local food at a decent price. Get a T-card (transportation card) while you’re there.

    Itaewon is where you’ll find a lot of foreigners and English-speaking folks. When I was there, I actually felt like I was back in the United States! Even the menu in this one bar was written purely in English (with no Korean). I heard Itaewon is a place you should visit for nightlife, but then again, I don’t know for sure, since I’ve never been allowed to be there during the night.

    For artworks – both traditional and modern, you should visit Insadong. But if you’re looking for a district less crowded with tourists, then go to Samchungdong.

    Go to a clean Noraebang (Karaoke) place – a must if you’re going to Korea!

    When you’re bargaining, start off by asking the seller to slash the price in half and work your way from there.

  13. 13 toki

    definitely hit dongdaemun. you can’t beat the shopping if you have a little patience, comfy shoes to walk in, and a BIG bag to carry your loot in while you go from stall to stall. don’t forget to go both upstairs and downstairs in the buildings because there are a lot of stalls. i found the best earrings being made by this little old korean woman upstairs in the big long building that runs alongside chungyechong (the river walkway thing if i remember the name right). i ended up buying about 5 pairs because she would make things for you per your description if she didn’t have exactly what you were looking for.

    i’d also recommend the shopping at namdaemun. they also have buildings that you can go upstairs and downstairs in but they also have an area with street stalls and stores. i found really cute knockoff fendi and gucci makeup bags and purses for dirt cheap. namdaemun has more kitschy stuff and doesn’t focus completely on clothes. for instance, i found my friend’s pomeranian the cutest hanbok! too cute, i just couldn’t resist. they also have stalls for random things like korean actor goods (postcards, pictures, etc), cds, stationary, food, etc.

    i’d also check out some of the big department stores like hyundai and lotte. don’t expect to get your shop on there unless you have bucks to spend but the food areas of both are great. in the downstairs food court of hyundai for example, there was a great soojaebi place that i highly recommend. even the ajummas were eyeing my dinner.

    another thing i’d recommend is going to a really good jajangmien place (the black noodles they everyone eats in the dramas). you have to find a hole in the wall place tho and look for someone making the noodles fresh. there’s one in kangnam on the same street as the best western. i wish i’d remembered the name. i just remember it’s just down the street. if you’re standing in front of the best western with your back to the door, you head to the right and it’s right there. handmade noodles are just not to be missed when you’re in korea. and i remember there being posters with stars’ signatures on the wall even tho the place was tiny and seemed like such a hole in the wall. SO good…

  14. 14 Genie

    You have to go to insadong and eat turkish ice cream there it’s fun my oppas will probably be heckling you to buy the ice cream there they’re super nice

    I keep forgetting, there’s a good dumpling place in insadong and terminal shopping is fun too

    I’m super jealous by the way I miss it there already

  15. 15 deeta

    Definitely the street food stall for some good ol Odeng, spicy rice cake, or if it fits your taste, the blood sausage. I think they’re everywhere. Myungdong, Shinchon, etc. I chanced around some in Kangnam, but I think it should be as good anywhere else. Also ate around Jongno area at night and I thought it was awesome. Lots of people, streetlight, and such, it was pretty fun. Agree abt the hole in the wall thing the poster above mentioned. I’d suggest try to forego completely the desire to eat anything western and just try the most korean place there.

    Someone mentioned about overprice caffeine and it’s so true. I paid for my freaking Ice Latte for close to 5 bucks. Geez.

    As for music stuff, I found that there was few big record stores, but you can find some on dept stores. There’s Hottracks (main one in Kwanghwamun) who sometimes houses fansigning and stuff. You could check out their events at their site.

    I’ll suggest against going to Itaewon because it’s way overrated. Honestly, it wasn’t that good, or any good for that matter. More deals and fashion can be found on Dong/Namdaemun, Myungdong, Shinchon, etc.

    Also, definitely go for some cosmetic shopping around Seoul. There are so many of those and they’re really cheap. I loved stuff from Innisfree, Faceshop, and Missha, but there are tons other. Plus, they give you a bunch of free samples.

    You were talking about the Love Letter. I have no idea how to do that, but I heard you can contact the fanclub of the artist appearing on the show and just go with them.

    My favourite tourist attraction is Cheonggyecheon, the stream that lies across North Seoul. Dunno about the weather now, but I went there in the summer and I loved it a lot.

  16. 16 Sue

    sorry all i can recommend is dongdaemoon for shopping, haha. but i’ll be MAD jealous if you get to be in the audience for ydh’s loveletter!

  17. 17 tarayqen

    my sister went to korea 2 months ago and i was so jealous and now i am again… i am keeping a copy of all their suggestions coz i defintely want to go there by next year…she went mostly with a tourist guide and to jeju island…. im saving saving and saving … i am revisiting goong and just finished the episode where they went to the bear museum…. anyone knows where that is… being a koreanovela addict i definitely would want to visit the different locations and be a tourist hehehehehe!!!! and if anyone can tell me how to go on tours in different agency’s like sm or be on shows please do so coz that would defintely top the icing on the cake (and if i ever see won bin, dbsk, shinhwa, big bang etal…….) let us know what happens and enjoy

  18. 18 poppy

    hey I would also recomend you go see the performance show, NANTA, it is a non verbal show set in a kitchen, this show is hilarious, and you don’t have to worry about understanding korean, as it is all in the facial expresions, dancing, percussion beats of the cooking instruments etc. highly recommend you go see. The theatre is near city hall.
    Another non verbal performance i would recommend you go see is “the ballerina who loved a b-boy (or was it “the b-boy who loved a ballerina” sorry I forget)
    Koreans are fantastic dancers, which i came to realise when i was there, i had never experienced b-boy dancing before, the dancers are fantastic, the storyline of this show is’nt that great, but that doesn’t matter as really you will be entertained just by the talent of the dancing, very lively with flips and tricks.
    If you go to a tourist info centre they can book tickets for you, around 50,000 won……..but worth it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. 19 cbcnamja

    If you’re a Coffee Prince fan, go check out the cafe and Han Kyul’s rooftop house at Seoul Animation Center. I had it marked on Google Map and Google Earth. If you don’t have Google Earth, here’s a link where you can also see it:

    Once you’re at panoramio, type “coffee prince” in the find tag text box. Then click on the photos and it will show the map. You will probably have to click the “+” to zoom in for a good view.

  20. 20 jippo

    As I did not thoroughly read the entries above, I apologize if this is a repeat, but Hongdae is a must. Lots of smaller art galleries, think Insadong, but more out of the box/contemporary stuff. There is always a street performance going on, Club Day (or is it “Club Night), which is like a marathon clubbing event, oh, and it leads into the Sinchon/Ewha/Yonsei area.

    Daehango, the theater district is pretty neat, too. Definitely check out the “Cookin” show, good eats all around there, and it is also a college area.

    Oh, and I always spend quite a bit of time in Kyobo bookstore, the one off of the Gwanghwamun station. Pretty well-stocked in English-lang. stuff, if you are missing your Vogue mag.

  21. 21 len

    Kosney!.. i love shopping there for random stuff like diaries and the indie music collection of pastel music.

    also love the food stalls along Myung Dong.. shud try the red bean fish pancakes.. dragon beard.. and the morning toast near Dunkin Donuts.. they’re really Yummyyy!!

    as for the rest.. u can pretty much look the post above..
    haiz wish had this thread before i went to Korea.. T3T

  22. 22 Rykki

    When are you going?

  23. 23 Yin


    Coex Mall- there might be some celebrities performing =)
    The world cup stadium.

    and check out like Chosun palaces, which i totally missed out when i visited Korea. *siigh*

  24. 24 Serena

    – Definately get a few pairs of glasses. Bring in your old glasses and they can make new ones off of those or get u a new exam. It’s helpful to have someone who can speak Korean with you there tho. At the Namdaemum night market there’s a WHOLE street of just eye glass places and a lot of them are open through the night, which is the best time to go cause they have time to talk to you.

    – I got my hair permed in Sinchon which is an awesome place to walk around at night. It’s where Yonsei University is located so lots of young people walk around here at night. You can also get some awesome all you can eat bbq here for cheap and f u have tie stop by Minto’s coffee shop, all you can drink teas that tastes amazing for one price.

    – Hongik University is also another hot spot for young people at night. It’s where all the clubs and such are located. If you’re there on the last friday of the month it’s club night and u can get into a set of clubs for one price. One of my favorite clubs was club Catchlight, they always had some performance going on there which is awesome.

    – Ewha Woman’s University is an awesome place for shopping.

    Those were some of the lesser touristy things. You can check out my blog, I was in Korea this past summer and I wrote a few things in there.

    PS here is a subway website that’s super handy. All of the places I mentioned subway stops.


    • 24.1 Mic DBernardo

      Thanks for all the recommendations. What’s the URL of your blog? I’m planning to go to Korea this year, and also need some suggestions on where to go, where to stay (what part of Seoul to stay at), etc… Thanks a bunch!!! ๐Ÿ˜€

  25. 25 teokong

    Thanks guys. Your recommendations and tips come in handy as I’m heading to Seoul (first timer) this December. Looking forward to it.

  26. 26 Katherine

    To cbcnamja – Han Kyul’s rooftop house has been closed. I had went there during end July. According to the staff at the animation centre, it has been closed to public since a few mths back.

    Shopping – i would highly recommend Hongik Area (the original Coffee Prince cafe and MBC Tiramisu Concept Cafe are there), DongDaeMum and Ewha Girls University.

    Sight seeing – Namsan Tower & Han Sung’s house in Coffee Prince. The house is on top of a hill. Advise to take a taxi up. It’s totally worth it. The scenery is breath-taking.

  27. 27 mzpakipot

    I just have to say, thank you for this post. I’m going to Korea this january for a 3 day trip. There are so many good places you all recommended, hope i can find my way around—thanks yall!! ^^

  28. 28 ashleeeeeee

    -get off dongdaemun station on the subway and manage to get across the street to the super tall buildings on the other side. My favorie mall is Doota, thats the newest one, its one the end of the block. they have the coolest stuff there like clothes, accessories, food, etc.
    – get on subway #6 and get off on a station called NoWon (๋…ธ์›). they have really cool stuff like shops and malls, movie theaters etc.. and theres a karoake place called Star (something like that). asked people around for ๋ณ„๋…ธ๋ž˜๋ฐฉ. its 5 dollars and hour and its AMAZING. they service is awesome,(free ice cream!) and its so nice and pretty, the nicest one ive ever seen.
    – you should so go to Busan(Pusan),theres city like stuff there. its very crowded but exciting! the nightlife its great and nice stores.
    -OMG you have to go see this show called JUMP! its very popular in korea right now. its like a really funny comedy taekwondo show. its HILARIOUS! everyone will love it. even non koreans go to watch that show.. to name a few others, you should watch NANTA, and Marionette.
    okay thats it for now i have to finish my homework! ^^

  29. 29 classic8iron

    My husband and I went to Seoul for the first in April, 2008. We stayed at the Lotte Hotel-New Wing. First, the food court down in the Lotte store was amazing. The hotel was also within walking distance from Myeongdong.

    It you are going to stalk SM Entertainment, hope DBSK would be performing so that you can see them. We happened to be in Seoul when Shinhwa had their 10th Anniversary concert….that experience was AMAZING!!

    Insa-dong was touristy, but I there’s some really nice clothing and craft items there. I’d want to go back there again.

  30. 30 0216

    i think everyone has pretty much covered all the must-see spots….. ๐Ÿ™‚

    but if you’re looking to get CDs…there’s this record store at Myeongdong Subway…the boss is a skinny guy with frizzy hair – he’s really friendly and he speaks some English (and he gives posters away really generously LOL)

    he’s got a good selection of k-pop albums…so do pop by if you’re in the vicinity…

  31. 31 toki

    @tarayqen – the teddy bear museum is located on chejudo island. if you can, stay at the shilla hotel there. if i remember right, the museum is pretty close to there. the shilla is a really great hotel and the cliffstairs to the beach behind the hotel are killer on the thighs but worth it for the view. and if you make it to chejudo, you HAVE to climb mt. halla (a la the drama my name is kim sam soon). if you’re in the mood to feel nostalgic, you can go visit the abbey/nunnery/orphanage that’s featured in the old drama All In. they preserved the building and you can see the famous candlestick and whale rocks right off the cliff from where the abbey building is.

    i just came back from korea in april and i miss it already. i’d kill for some dukbokee right now. i’d also recommend going outside Seoul if you can. a weekend trip to the mountains close to seoul is one good option. i went to seoraksan which is a whole park/mountain area where people go to hike, climb rocks (a little), and see the ginormous metal buddha. we took the cable car to the top of the mountain and then climbed to the top once we got there. the views were amazing and definitely worth the sheer terror of climbing up.

  32. 32 marz

    how bout places to eat soups, stews? jigae and tangs.. stuff like that?
    i love all the places mentioned so far… ๐Ÿ™‚
    i wanna go back really soon and see new stuff…
    aww at han kyul rooftop being closed..^^
    i wanna go the place in que sera sera with the imaginary floating stuff. (that eric went)
    that was nice.

  33. 33 Sheryl

    Thank you so so so much everyone!! You guys have been incredibly helpful and I have noted down all your suggestions (heck, I’m typing them out and filing them away in fact) . I will be leaving in exactly a week’s time and am looking forward to visiting these places!! Let’s hope the plan to stalk the SM building and the audience seat thingie work out *fingers-crossed* Thanks a bundle javabeans for putting this up.. much love everyone! ^_^

  34. 34 jane

    i’m all excited just by reading the suggestions! xP

    4rm what i heard about ydh’s love letter- idk if it’s still like this, but since it’s a popular show for ppl to go to, it’s a 1st come 1st serve basis.

    & of course, the cafes are bound to be expensive. you usually go to pay for the ambience, not the coffee. besides, i don’t think they can set up a nice cafe & sell coffee for cheap. they’ll go out of biz.. even here in cali, the korean cafes are expensive but well worth it.

    there’s a few restaurants in myung dong my cousin (who lives in korea) goes to that’s good & cheap. so not all touristy places are bad. besides, the workers usually speak english &/or jpnese (besides korean) so it’s koo if you can’t speak the native tongue.

  35. 35 heejung

    Oh, and if you can find one of the ahjussis that sell the pressed sugar treats (๋ฝ‘๊ธฐ) GET ONE. they are sooo yummy:3

  36. 36 Angelina

    Hi I have in Korea for the past 2 months (it’s my second time here too)…if you are looking for a whole stretch of street food and night shopping go to Gwanghwahun station (that’s a Kyobo bookstore there as well) and walk all the way down from this station to Chungno-4…also the underground shopping is great too…at the end of the street that’s a CD shop as well which the uncle, too, gives posters generously even if you didn’t buy anything from his shop…

    Gangnam station also has great underground subway shopping…you can find 19K won boots there haha…

    Enjoy your trip!!

  37. 37 Sharon

    Ditto w/ getting glasses in korea. Dongdaemun has good frames but not reliable with scriptx. If you don’t have a scriptx from the states, buy frames in dongdae mun and the go to an E-mart to get your eyes checked and lens made.
    Dongdaemun is absolutely the best place to go for clothes. My sis just came back a week ago with tons of sweaters, scarves, t-shirts and jeans for super cheap. For korean folk art souvenoirs the cheapest place to get it is in Namdaemun. The folks in Insadong buy it there and then mark up the prices.
    If Korean street food is not your thing definitely check out the food courts in the department stores. My favorite is the Lotte Department store in Myung-dong- they have really good soondae.
    Last piece of advice- check out the currency rate each day. Won has been fluctuating daily. My sis was able to get an exchange rate 1500won to 1 dollar while she was there (hence the frenzy of shopping while she was there). Won has gotten a bit stronger but you can still see a fluctuation of 100-200 won everyday…so try to exchange at an optimal time to get the most bang for your buck.

  38. 38 julier

    If you do want to spend a day doing tourist-stuff and visiting the palaces, etc, I highly recommend using the Seoul City Tour bus. It is only around $10 and you can get on and off at places that interest you. It was a great deal. I love Insadong, COEX, Cheong Gye Chong and Myungdong, like others mentioned. Nanta/Cookin is lots of fun too. I have kids, so we loved Everland and Lotte World too. If you get outside of Seoul, I really enjoyed Suwon and the Hwaseong Fortress. I thought it was beautiful. Also, just outside of Seoul, I went hiking at Namhansanseong. The views of Seoul from the mountain are wonderful and it was a great place to soak up local culture. Have a blast.

  39. 39 innocentsteps456

    can you really go the SM building and if you go early you can watch the taping or the artists?

  40. 40 Nokcha

    Shindong Ddobokki Town! for the best ddokbokki. Myungdong, especially if you’re looking for the cheap., the expensive, and the unique, and loads of drama paraphernalia. I would skip Apkujong – too pricey and you can get most of it in the states, but might be fun to check out. Dongdaemun is fun for the experience. Music ?- head to Hongdae. And Namsan is cool. You can visit the Samsoon kissing scene place on the stairs….I think it’s right across the street from the cable car launch place. And when you get to the top, you’ll recoginize the restaurant from Witch Yoo Hee.

    Also, check out O’Sulloc. It’s a cafe specializing in green tea everything. It’s really yummy! There’s one in Gangnam , Jong-no, and Myungdong.

    Also check out the revitalized river, can fgure out how to spell it, near town down. And near by are loads of restaurants famous for ‘nazchi bokkum’ (spicy octopus stirfry)

  41. 41 deeta

    lol, oh right, 0216’s post remind me. if you’re looking for your kpop music fix, go to the record store on myungdong subway station, near exit 7 and 8. i bought some dvds there and when i checked some stores in myungdong area, it was much more expensive. so it was really a deal shopping in that store. the boss is awesome, you can even haggle a little bit and totally yes about the posters, he gave those for freebies.

  42. 42 Anonymous

    I went to Hong dae and watched B-Boys there. (ask tourist information centre to book the place for you, show runs apprx. 1.5-2 hours). Since they knew that I am tourist at the end of the show they invited me to take picture with all casts….:) very enjoyed the experience.

    Another place worth to check out is ice bar at Hong dae. The ticket to enter costs 15,000 won.

    Insadong has the best restaurant ever as I found a good place to have tea (ala Korean) and ribs.

  43. 43 Pam

    Hottracks for shopping CDs: Another and probably less crowded Kyobo bookstore can be found near Kangnam station.
    Apgujeong-dong: Karosu-gil is becoming famous these days. lots of nice yet pricey cafes and an excellent place for jewelry/clothing shopping.
    Insa-dong is a must! I like Samchung-dong as well and it’s close to Insa-dong. Gwanghwamun is also nearby and worth visiting to see the old palace, Kyungbok-Goong.
    Hong Dae or Hong Ik University is famos for its unique artistic atmosphere.

  44. 44 sunny

    Hm, I liked the Dongdaemun markets. It was really fun going to the all night clothes mall when I went to Korea.
    I’m going to Korea at the end of this year and my uncle is going to take me to his workplace; the MBC studio xD If you know anyone who has relatives that work at MBC, SBS and so on, it’s always good to get free passes into the studio to watch performances and shows and such. Someone I know actually got backstage passes to see celebrities

  45. 45 incarnadine

    For general shopping, I agree that Dongdaemoon and Namdaemoon offer the best deals. I know Insadong is touristy but I fell in love with the place — lots of Korean souvenirs and arts & crafts to choose from. Walking around is very nice. If it’s not raining or if the weather isn’t so bad, I strongly recommend that you just take the Seoul Metro to anywhere — it’s cheap, efficient, and extremely foreigner-friendly. Oh, which reminds me, go to the nearest Tourist Information Centre (I think there’s one in the Incheon Airport) and ask for free maps to help you, the maps are very useful and easy to use.

  46. 46 incarnadine

    one more thing — if you are in the mood to hang out in a bar with friends, I highly recommend Crazy W.C. Bar (don’t ask me why it’s named that way, lol) in Kangnam. The place is cozy, not crowded, the drinks are priced reasonably and best of all, the bartenders rock!

  47. 47 incarnadine

    ^sorry, I meant Rodeo Drive in Apkujeong. Hehehe.

  48. 48 Movall

    Oh, so many info.Thank so much, you guys already suggest all the the best tips for Seoul, some I dont know too ๐Ÿ™‚ Save it for my next trip.

    Agree that Insa-dong is a must visit. I love to wander around the area, full of housing arts and antique stores, and admire street performers, and Korean hand craft.
    But to buy traditional Korean souvenir, Nam-dae-mun is the best. The price in Insa-dong sometimes are triple higher than in NDM. You’ll find everything in Nam-dae-mun. Also there are a lot of celebrities’ stuff ^^ Of course it’s wise to make bargain when buying things in NDM.

    To plan for your trip, you might visit Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) http://english.tour2korea.com/index.asp they have tons of useful tourist information. And I must admit their tourist information is one of the best ๐Ÿ™‚

    #38, yes, Suwon’s Hwaseong Fortress is worth visiting if you have time. I love Suwon ^^ Take Seoul Metro line 1 to Suwon, app. 1 to 1,5 hour.

    And travel around Seoul by Metro is the cheapest and most convenient way. I love discover Seoul through their subway net. But be aware of traffic hours, around 7 – 9 am and 16h โ€“ 19h working day, tightly packed crowd like sardines.
    You’ll also find everything in Seoul Metro’s underground shopping.

    Fans of Coffee Prince Shop can easily find their way to CP shop at filming location as well as MBC’s franchise shop at Hong-Dae area. And Han-Sung house is hideaway on Bukaksan mountain. It’s a gallery cafe’ named San-mo-toong-e, take cab there and enjoy the widely, beautiful view around, esp.it’s autumn now.

  49. 49 kooshie

    Wow, I’ve been to Seoul but I’ve never been anywhere other than tourist-sy places that tour guides always take you. I’m definitely saving this thread!

  50. 50 ami

    Wow, I think I went to some of these places but I’m not sure. I remember doota, but it was expensive??? 118000 won for shoes?! Hmm shall save this for next time I go to Korea, I only started liking Korea toward the end. I’m just a odd person and I like shopping but I don’t like spending money~

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