OMG darlings, it’s hard to believe that just a month ago I was exploring the streets of Seoul. As I reflect back on my time, I’m overwhelmed with gratefulness at the truly one of a kind special trip this was for myself and family. We did so many amazing things, that it’s impossible to share them all but I thought I’d share my Top 10 Places to Visit in Seoul.
Top 10 Places to Visit in Seoul
Jewelry Making Class with Dani
On our first full day in Seoul we took a ring making class with Dani, a local jewelry maker located in Gangnam, Seoul. Before I get to the jewelry making part, I have to say that we immediately fell in love with Dani. She’s one of the sweetest, most beautiful young ladies you will ever meet!
We booked our class at least a month in advance via DM on Instagram. Dani was not only very accommodating for our large group, but also very receptive to our questions which made the booking process so much easier. The class is 69,000 won or around $54 USD which includes the class, materials, and jewelry. Despite us being a group of 11, she happily invited us into her small studio space. Since her studio accommodates up to 5-6 students per class, we split into two groups. Dani specializes in making silver jewelry from a clay mold, which I found to be very unique and interesting. She’s an amazing teacher and patiently walked us through each step. She demonstrated the technique then allowed each student to complete the step before moving on.
We had students of all skill levels and she was able to ensure that everyone got what they wanted. In fact, I think the best part of the process was being able to have full creative freedom with our rings. It was so fun to watch everyone pick out their gems and create their own unique masterpiece. It was also very neat to see our rings turn from clay to silver and to watch our art come to life. The fact that we got to create something so special together and take our unique piece of Seoul home with us is something we’ll treasure forever! Babes you definitely cannot miss this one of a kind experience if you ever find yourself in Seoul!!
Souffle Pancakes at Picniq
After a quick tour of Xia’s university, she wanted to take us to one of her favorite cafes in the area. Picniq is a popular cafe located in Hongdae and bordering on the Sinchon area along the forest path. Picniq is not only aesthetically pleasing but their souffle pancakes are DE-LISH!! Carol and I shared their fruit souffle pancakes and they were truly special. I also had an orange-ade which is a sparkling water with crushed orange and a simple syrup. Ade is a popular drink in Korea that comes in lots of different fruit flavors. I definitely recommend trying out this one at Picniq if you’re looking for a refreshing and moderately sweet drink!
If you are into visiting historical sites and want to feel like you’re in a period piece K-Drama, then I really recommend visiting the Gyeongbokgung Palace. It’s located in the Jongno district (Central Seoul), north of Gwanghwamun Square. This palace is exquisite! Built in 1395 it was the main palace of the Joseon dynasty. When you first enter the compound it seems as if there’s only a courtyard with a “throne room”, but as you continue walking through, you begin to realize that it’s a very complex compound with multiple buildings, gardens, and courtyards. Babes, I might not know much about Korean history or architecture, but the amount of intricate details and colors in the exterior and interior of the buildings is amazing! I loved how colorful the buildings were, with so many details of flowers and unique patterns. I also love that as you wander around you begin to see the immaculately kept trees and plants that surround the palace. You’ll also see people wearing “hanbok” or traditional Korean clothes which adds to the vibes of the palace and the overall experience. This is a definite must visit if you find yourself in Seoul!
Changdeokgung Palace’s Secret Garden
One of our last activities was visiting the secret garden at the Changdeokgung Palace and let me tell you babes, the gardens are absolutely exquisite! Be aware that general admission doesn’t include access to the secret garden. To visit the gardens you must book a private tour for 5,000 won or $4 USD in advance. We learned this a little late and when we went to book there were no more English tours. Fortunately, thanks to Carol’s big brain, we decided to book the Korean tour instead. We may not have understood our tour guide but it didn’t take away from getting a chance to see the spectacular garden. On the day of the tour we met with the group and walked through the gardens for about 2 hours. It was hilarious as we were the only group that clearly didn’t speak Korean. Nonetheless the tour was amazing and the gardens were so beautiful. I would advise wearing comfortable shoes as there are quite a few hills on the tour with lots of walking, but so WORTH IT!
Namsan Seoul Tower
After seeing the Seoul Tower in one of my fave K-Dramas, I knew I had to visit. Seoul Tower or Namsan Tower is both a radio wave tower and observation tower located on Nam Mountain in central Seoul. It’s a popular destination for foreigners and Koreans as it overlooks the city and is a popular date night spot. To get to the tower we took a bus that drops you off at the base and then we took an elevator to get to the observation deck, get some fortunes, and put locks on the railings. Apparently a lot of couples come to the tower to put locks on the designated areas, which I think is very sweet. While we didn’t participate in the lock aspect of the tower, the view of the city lights at night was breathtaking. Seoul is such a beautiful city and you can literally see the whole city. Not to mention, I loved living out my K-Drama dreams!
Piercings in Yeonam-Dong
If you’ve been following me for a while now, then you know that Carol and I always get our ears pierced together. So naturally, we wanted to get our fourth piercing to commemorate such a special trip. As fate would have it, we found a cute little piercing store a few doors down from our AirBnB in the Yeonam-Dong area. They offered needle piercings with a wide range of earrings that come in 18K gold or silver. Babes this shop had so many cute earrings to select from that even I had a hard time deciding what to get. In the end I decided on some small gold-diamond studs. The amazing part was the price! For comparison, my last few piercings have cost somewhere in $200-300 ranges but for both piercings and jewelry it was about 100,000 won or $79 USD! Also out of all my piercings, the piercer at this shop hands down had the most gentle touch! I swear I didn’t even feel the needle go in. Literally zero pain and I was done in two minutes. While you’re getting pierced they give you a little stuffed animal to hold, which I thought was adorable! It’s been almost a month since my piercing and I have had no problems. If you’re looking for a special way to commemorate your trip AND want to save money, I would definitely consider getting a piercing in Seoul. BTW, apparently tattoos are also much cheaper in Seoul so that’s another thing to consider.
If you know anything about Korea then you know that they’re known for their many cafes and bakeries. Well darlings, I fell in love with a cute little bakery in Yeonam-Dong called Butter Bakery! It was a 4-minute walk from my AirBnB so I loved popping in every m0rning for a light breakfast. They had the most delicious flavor pairings ever in a ciabatta or a pretzel. The olive pretzel and whole-wheat fig cream pastry were to die for! It was such a treat to just wake up, walk down to the bakery, and get a yummy pastry to start my day. Pastries and desserts in Korea are very sweet, so it was really nice that this particular bakery sold moderately to non-sweet pastries. They had such an amazing variety of pastries and I just wish I could have another pastry from this wonderful bakery. Next time I visit Seoul I will definitely be visiting the bakery again!
One of our final nights in Seoul we decided to split up for dinner, as some of us were craving KBBQ, and some of us wanted to try something new. While wandering in the Yeonnam-dong area, we found ourselves at Mibbedong, a restaurant that specializes in Japanese cuisine. When I tell you I am still thinking about this restaurant a month later, I am not joking. This was one of the best dinners I had while on my vacation — the food was just that bomb! I had a zeitaku-don or an over the top rice bowl loaded up with a ton of seafood. It had things like row, uni, salmon, tuna, crab, etc. and was some of the freshest seafood I’ve ever had. Served with soy sauce, it was so simple yet elegantly delicious. When you finish about half of your bowl you can pour a broth over the top, which turns the rice bowl into a soup. It really is the best of both worlds as there’s nothing I love more than fish and soup. It felt as if I had two meals in one and each were so unique and different from the other. This place is definitely a must try if you find yourself in Yeonam-dong (which if you’re visiting Seoul, I highly recommend spending a day in this area as it has tons of shopping and great restaurants).
An absolute staple of Seoul is Gwangjang market, a street market. Known as one of Korea’s oldest street markets, the market has many vendors selling a wide variety of Korean food. From tteokbokki to mung bean pancake, or even Korean corn dogs, this market has something for everybody. If you’re a foodie or curious to try traditional Korean foods, then this place is for you. The ambiance of the market and the happiness that you see from vendors sharing their culture and cuisine with foreigners is one that you can’t miss. We arrived to the market a little late in the day, so the next time I find myself in Seoul I definitely want to explore this market even more and try some Korean foods I didn’t have a chance to try.
For my final recommendation, the Ikseondong Hanok Village is a must see! If you’re looking to not only get in a historical site but also do a bit of shopping and eating, then this is definitely the place for you! Hanok Villages’ are old villages that have been converted into shops. Utilizing traditional buildings, the village maintains that historical-feel of Korea’s past and encourages you to want to explore the area more.
When I visited this area, one thing I really wanted to do was visit a cafe. Some of the most “insta-famous” cafes are located in this village. While I ended up not visiting the ones that I saw on Instagram, I did find one that I fell in love with. It was a cafe that was popular for its bingsu or Korean shaved ice. Darlings, this place was definitely worth trying as the cafe had a beautiful courtyard with areas to sit on tatami mats without shoes, but also had a cute interior. I had the grapefruit bingsu and it was so deliciously refreshing for summer! I loved how the portion they gave was sharable and the presentation of the shaved ice was stunning! I’m not sure how to share the name of the cafe with you since it didn’t have an English name, but the location had a flower logo and it’s name translated to “This Flower”. Honestly, there are so many lovely cafes in the area that I’m sure it’s hard to go wrong. The Ikseondong Hanok village should definitely be on your Seoul bucket list!
Tips before you travel to Seoul:
- Check with your cell phone carrier to see what the fee is to have coverage when traveling abroad. I know Verizon charges about $10 per day to have coverage so we opted to buy a SIM card on Klook.com instead. For about $25, we got 10 days of unlimited voice and data coverage. If you’re going to go this route, you’ll need to make sure that your cell phone is not locked by your carrier. You can verify this with your cell phone carrier by letting them know you’ll be traveling internationally and you want to use a SIM card. They were able to do this over the phone.
- Buy a T Money card in advance! Using public transportation in Seoul is basically a necessity. To do that, you’ll need a T Money card that is essentially a transportation card. You can add whatever amount of money to the card to cover your subway and bus costs. The transportation system is pretty amazing there too, very reminiscent of New York with lots of commuters riding city buses and subways. Luckily we had Xia to help us navigate the subway and bus system. Her knowledge of the subway system really allowed our large group to get around without too much stress. When we bought our SIM card, it actually came with a free T Money card – all we had to do was add the money to the card. Since we ordered our SIM card and T Money card in advance, we were able to conveniently pick them up from the airport. I should note that around the time we were traveling, many stores that typically sold T Money cards were sold out so we were happy to have ordered it in advance.
Overall, Seoul was truly a dream destination rich in culture, great food and plenty of shopping. As Americans, the dollar is very strong in Seoul so we enjoyed the benefits of eating great food and shopping for a lot less than U.S. prices. That’s a great perk to consider when traveling abroad. I hope you enjoyed reading about our top 10 places to visit in Seoul. Hopefully you’ll get to embark on your very own adventure in Seoul one day!