14 Places to visit in Seoul (Autumn)

Thankfully, our flight from Jeju to Gimpo airport was uneventful, unlike our flight from Singapore to Jeju. It was almost evening by the time we settled in our accommodation at Ever8 Residence (serviced apartments). So we had Nene Chicken for dinner and slept early for our early morning trip to Nami Island the next day.

We had a week in Seoul, but we didn’t plan much for it. And because of baby EX’s early bedtime, we did not enjoy the nightlife of Seoul. That’s a shame, because it’s a city that is more happening at night. In the morning, only certain bakeries and coffee shops are open for our early wake up time.

Even though we didn’t plan much, we still managed to squeeze in quite a few places into our Seoul itinerary. Will briefly mention a few of them below, with some having dedicated write ups. Jump to your preferred attractions:


Outside of the City


Nami Island

Being such a beautiful place, I wrote quite a few articles about Nami Island:

You can find all these posts on this page: travel.joogostyle.com/tag/nami-island.


Gangchon Rail Bike

Being on Nami island made us want to spend more time there, but we were rushing for our reservation of Gangchon rail bike. It’s near to Nami Island and hence we planned Nami Island and rail bike on the same day. Was contemplating whether to go for the bike with a baby…and woah! It was so awesome! Beautiful scenery and the themed tunnels so haps – lights, music and all. Even did up a video for this ride, see “Gangchon Rail Bike Review” for it! :)


Children’s Day


Children’s Grand Park

If you have kids in tow, I highly recommend Children’s Grand Park (“Grand Park”) for a day. If Grand Park is not for you or if it’s raining, you can go to the nearby Children’s Museum (more on it below). The park is free but not the museum.

We had planned to go to the Grand Park and museum, but we only managed to cover only the park in one day. It’s huge. You can refer to this Children’s Grand Park Map as you explore.

Not only is the Grand Park huge for the kids to run around, there are many attractions to explore too. One can find “mini” zoo, amusement park, figurines to pose for photos, and playgrounds. With Singapore Zoo being awesome, I thought we would be unfazed by the Grand Park’s zoo. Alas, it was fascinating for Baby EX and us because we had super close up views of animals such as leopard and lion.

After visiting the wild and domesticated animals, and appreciating the plants at the botanic gardens, Baby EX had limited time left for the playgrounds. Children can choose to play in a playground with or without sand.

Just a note for those who are looking for lunch. No food option was available in the vicinity, except for snacks and cup noodles from the convenience store located at the entrance of the park. I had my quick lunch there after my visit to the hair salon and before I joined hubby and baby EX. It’s self service with hot water. Yummy to eat spicy hot ramen in the cold weather.

Otherwise, you can bring and eat your own food in a designated area at the museum, however cup noodles is not allowed for children’s safety reasons. Hence, I would recommend you to bring your own lunch if you intend to stay the whole day in this area.

For those visiting in cool autumn, a walk in the park would also be beautiful as the orange bloom of the trees coloured the park.

Details:

  • Hours (subject to weather):
    • Park: 5:00AM – 10:00PM
    • Zoo and Botanic Gardens: 10:00AM – 5:00PM (Gardens open 1:00PM on Monday)
  • Fees: Free
  • Subway: Children’s Grand Park Station (Seoul Subway Line 7), Exit 1.
  • Website: www.sisul.or.kr/global/main/en/sub/park.jsp

Seoul Children’s Museum

Spanning across four levels, there are various play sections catering to sensory play, space, art, nature, imagination, physical, science and culture. Look out for special exhibits and workshops too. The huge interactive and educational museum has loads of activities to keep your children busy for at least half a day.

Details:

  • Hours: 10:00AM – 6:00PM (Last Admission 5:00PM; *Closed on Monday, New Year, Lunar New Year, Chuseok)
  • Fees: ₩4,000 (S$4.90) for adults, children above 36 months. (Free for single parent (present certificate).)
  • Subway: Children’s Grand Park Station (Seoul Subway Line 7), Exit 1.
  • Website: seoulchildrensmuseum.org/eng/main.do

I think the children park and museum are great places for the kids to spend their day in Seoul. Otherwise, I don’t think Seoul is a children’s friendly place or rather, not stroller friendly. To add on, not a wheelchair friendly city. More about this in my travelogue, coming soon.


Cultural Day


Gyeongbokgung Palace

Explore four palaces and one shrine in Seoul within three months using an adult combination ticket for ₩10,000 (S$12.20). Places include: Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace (Secret Garden included), Changgyeonggung Palace, Deoksugung Palace and Jongmyo Shrine.

At Gyeongbokgung, enjoy parades or ceremonies by the royal guards everyday except Tuesday. All parades are free and open to public.

Changing of the Royal Guard Ceremony

To get in the palace for FREE, wear hanboks! :) You can rent hanbok in advance via klook: Seohwa Hanbok Rental or Hanboknam Hanbok Rental with Hairstyling. And also engage a photographer to capture you in beautiful hanbok. Rent your hanbok and have your Gyeongbokgung hanbok photoshoot with HAB KOREA or Hanbok That Day.

For more on Gyeongbokgung, its parades and surroundings like Anguk dong, head over to this detailed post: “Gyeongbokgung Palace, Bukchon Village and Tongin Market in a Day” I’ve also included useful tips and information about Changedeokgung and its secret garden.

Details:

  • Hours: Closed on Tuesday. 9:00AM to 5:00PM – 6:30PM (varies according to month, last admission 4:00PM – 5:30PM)
  • Website: www.royalpalace.go.kr:8080/html/eng_gbg/main/main.jsp
  • Nearest Station: 3 minutes’ walk from Gyeongbokgung Station (line 3, exit 5). 7 minutes’ walk from Gwanghwamun Station (line 5, exit 2).
  • Fees:
    • Free: 6 years old and under, 65 years old and above
    • Individual Ticket: 19 – 64 years old, ₩3,000 (S$3.70); 7 – 18 years old, ₩1,500 (S$1.90). Group discount available.
    • Combination Ticket: Adults ₩10,000 (S$12.20); Youth ₩5,000 (S$6.10). Admission for five different places within three month. (Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace – Secret Garden* included, Changgyeonggung Palace, Deoksugung Palace and Jongmyo Shrine).

Tongin Market

Dating back to 1941, Tongin market is famous for Yeopjeon Dosirak (Yeopjeon Lunchbox). What’s interesting about this market is the use of Yeopjeon (brass coins) currency to purchase food. You have to exchange cash for them first.

The food was generally nice and experience novel. However, there were not as many food stalls as expected and the food are also more or less the same. For more on Tongin Market and how to buy its food, head over to this detailed post: “Gyeongbokgung Palace, Bukchon Village and Tongin Market in a Day” or “What to Eat in Seoul?“.


Bukchon Hanok Village

Korean traditional house is called hanok and dates back to the Joseon Dynasty. So as the name suggests Buckhon Hanok Village is home to hundreds of such traditional houses. With so much crowd, the village is surprisingly still a residential area.

If you are not a fan of crowds and cliche tourist spots, you might want to just hang around Seochon Village. This is where Tongin Market and ginseng chicken soup of Tosokchon Samgyetang are located in. Compared to the more famous Bukchon, Seochon Village is less clustered while having bigger hanoks (traditional Korean houses). You will also find boutique shops, cafes and art galleries blending in here.

For more on how to get to Bukchon Hanok Village via Samcheongdong (nice place) and our experience at the village, head over to this detailed post: “Gyeongbokgung Palace, Bukchon Village and Tongin Market in a Day” I’ve also included useful tips and information about a similar Hanok Village, Seochon Village.

Details:


City Life (Shop and Eat)


Myeongdong (Shop and Eat)

Vibrant Myeongdong is a popular spot for shopaholics and beauty gurus. Brimming with cosmetics shops, fashion boutiques, and high end department stores, you can easily shop until you drop. And when you want to rest your feet or fill your tummy before shopping for more, you have no lack of choices in restaurants and cafes. Come late afternoon, street food stalls start setting up shop for Myeongdong night market.

And if you want to take a break from all the shopping and eating, book your tickets for NANTA show in Myeongdong NANTA theatre. Enjoy the 90-minute show of slapstick comedy and acrobatic feats of pots and pans to produce Korean folk music.

You know the luxury smell wafting in the air as you walked among the beauty counters of department stores? Or the branded bags and shoes shining proud as they are displayed on pedestals? There was none of this in the duty free floors of the spanking Lotte department store.

The place was transformed into a crowded supermarket. Seeing the crowd, I assumed there was some promotion going on. I searched out my favourite brands, Laneige and Innisfree, and checked the price tags. Same as elsewhere in Seoul, and with fewer promotions too. Furthermore, there is limited product range here as compared to stand-alone stores.

By the way, we were at Lotte for its nursing room. I must say, the room is super impressive, with sleeping cots available too. In Myeondgong, the only place you can find diaper changing stations is in major department stores. Oh their food hall feels like the ones found in Japan’s department stores.

So after changing and feeding Baby EX, it’s time to venture back into the streets for my beauty products. I was preparing to sweep my haul here, only to be disappointed. Perhaps because of the natural crowd Myeongdong attracts, it seemed like I could find better promotions in other outlets outside of this area. Moreover, products were often sold out in Myeongdong.

For example, I wanted to get a few Innisfree products in this relatively big outlet, but certain products were sold out. I was told by the sales that I can find them in a nearby smaller outlet down the road. But the point is, I want to consolidate my buys for further discounts! You might want to try your shopping in other parts of Seoul first. As for Laneige, I went to the pretty flagship store of Laneige at Ewha after Myeongdong to get all my haul. Pleasant shopping experience with small or no crowd!

Oh, but the flagship store of Olive & Young in Myeongdong is a good place to find all other beauty necessities. This is like the Korean version of Japanese drugstore. It sells all kinds of stuff, from cosmetics to toiletries to yummy snacks.

To power up for a day of shopping, we started our day with bowls of piping hot porridge at MiGaBon 味加本 (미가본). As for our late lunch or early dinner, we had noodles and dumplings at Myeongdong Kyoja. For more on the restaurants, head over to “What to Eat in Seoul?“.


Itaewon

Itaewon is known for its diverse culture and international cuisine, vibrant nightlife and the many foreigners found in this area. Stepping out of Itaewon train station, we could sense its different vibes compared to the rest of Seoul. Less of the Korea flavour. We headed to Itaewon for two purposes. One was to make our own perfume and another was to visit Line Friends Flagship Store. In July 2019, they opened another flagship store in Gangnam.

We did side-track and settled our lunch in Itaewon too, Original Pancake House. Munch on the delicious pancakes if you want to take a break from Korean food! Our full review at: “What to Eat in Seoul, South Korea?

Line Friends has a special place in hubby’s and my heart, hence we made it a point to visit the flagship store wherever we go, like previously in Harajuku Tokyo. Line messaging APP and stickers accompanied us through our mushy dating years, so yeah. :P

Five minutes from the train station, the Line Store at Itaewon is huge. Full of photo pit stops to take photos for your Instagram, even the toilet is nicely decorated. Tired from all the posing for photos, head to the the cafe for the usual of themed cafes — pretty but average tasting food. The store has a wide range of merchandise, including stuff and clothing for children. However, certain items found at Olive & Young were not available in this store.

Details (Line Friends Itaewon)

  • Hours: 11:00AM – 11:00PM, Daily
  • Add: 1-3, 200, Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
  • Tel: +82 2-790-0901
  • Store listing: store.linefriends.co.kr/others/stores (you need to google translate the page).

Seoul Experiences: Hair Salon (Hongdae) & Perfume Making (Itaewon)

Since we had a week in Seoul, we had time to try out off the beaten track activities. I had a perm and haircut in a hair salon located in Hair & Joy (Hongdae). Then, hubby and I had fun making our own perfume at GN Perfume (Itaewon Branch). Perfume making in Korea is definitely cheaper than in Singapore.

Both of our activities were sponsored by Trazy, and that meant you can easily book them via Trazy (links below). Read below for my extensive write up about my experiences:


EWHA Woman’s University

Our accommodation, Ever8 serviced residence, is in the neighbourhood of Ewha Woman’s University (“EWHA”). However, it took almost a week in Seoul before we visited the university on our last day. Sadly, our visit was cut short due to the rare thunderstorm rain. Downpour came ten minutes after we stepped foot unto the university grounds. It stopped shortly after we left the premises.

Nevertheless, we managed to take a few photos on the beautiful campus grounds. Near the main gate (straight road from EWHA’s subway station), we found the architecture that we often saw in photos, somewhat an underpass. We didn’t walk the whole stretch because it’s a long walk! The structure is huge and larger than how it appears on photo! The rain clouds loomed above.

We went back up and exited the “underpass”. Then we ventured elsewhere, trekked a little further uphill again on a well-manicured slope (photo below). A leisurely stroll through the picturesque garden would calm the soul, if not for the people coming up the path towards us. Ewha is indeed a popular tourist spot. Took a few more photos before the raindrops started splattering and we scuttled to find shelter in nearby shops. Ended up in Line Friends store near the university. More of Line Friends/BT21 store.

It’s a pity we only touched the “surface” of EWHA and left. To get more out of your EWHA experience, get a campus map from Ewha Welcome Center and explore the “Free Tour Zone”. Do inform the center before entering the campus compounds.

Otherwise, there are two campus tours to join, both guided by an EWHA student. Welcome tour brings you around the main attractions of the university at 2:00PM, weekdays. Themed tours such as history tour is held in May and architecture tour in November. All English tours are held on Thursday, while Chinese is on Friday. Individuals can register on-site, depending on schedule.

Around EWHA is a popular shopping district, also known as Ewha Woman’s University Fashion Street. Here, you can find affordable food, fashion, and beauty buys. Trendy clothes for the young and price tags that go easy on students’ wallets. There are also many hair salons here to choose from!

Details (EWHA Welcome Center)

  • Hours: 9:30AM – 5:00PM, Daily except Sunday
  • Add: (Main Gate) 34-5 Daehyeon-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul, South Korea
  • Tel: +82 2-3277-3277
  • Website: Information on Tours of EWHA

BoxQuare

Situated in front of Sinchon Railway Station, Sinchon Boxquare is a 3-storey mall built out of shipping containers. The shops are mainly operated by former illegal street vendors near Ewha Woman’s University and budding young entrepreneurs. As we roamed the mall, we also came across small offices, art studios and even a photo booth that looked like an art installation.

Of the 60 shops that occupy the first and second floors, about half of them are F&B outlets. Here, one can find affordable yet delicious and unique varieties as start ups dip their toes in the fiercely competitive food industry. From French wine to Japanese cuisine, enjoy the food in front of marvelous rooftop views. On Thursdays, you even get to enjoy live music from street musicians.

For food, all snacks on first floor cost below 4,000won (S$). Grab some Topokki, spicy stir-fried rice cakes, or Cupbap, a rice bowl mixed with vegetables and meat. If you are looking for more, popular choices on the second floor include waffle burger (4,000 won) of Food of Lock, or French wine and finger food from France Gourmet, a wine café.

Details

  • Hours: 11:00AM – 9:00PM, Daily except Monday and PH
  • Add: 22-5 Sinchonnyeok-ro, Daehyeon-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul, South Korea (서울특별시 서대문구 대현동 신촌역로 22-5)
  • Nearest Station: Sinchon (Blue, Exit 1)
  • Website: www.instagram.com/sinchon_boxquare

Seoul Station: Seoullo 7017

Seoul Train Station (right)

The inner-city highway or overpass near Seoul train station was constructed in 1970 to ease traffic congestion in Seoul. In 2017, this highway was re-purposed into a pedestrian walkway that doubles up as a public park featuring lush greenery and amenities. With 8 entrances to enter the walkway, you can embark on 17 walking trails to explore the area. This overpass is named Seoullo 7017 because of the years 1970 and 2017, and it being 17m high.

While we walked this walkway, there were (volunteer?) guides who seemed excited to share about Seoullo 7017 with us. But too bad we didn’t know the Korean language. Come to think of it, it’s a smart way of urban revitalisation, providing green space in the city while preserving history. The whole landscape looked meticulously curated and thought out. However, other than the view from the walkway, I didn’t think it’s worth it for time-starved tourists to make a trip down here.

Refer to Seoullo 7017 English Brochure for amenities on the walkway and the attractions around.

Details


That’s all! Let me know of other interesting places of Seoul. Would love to add them into this list. For more Korea travel tips, refer to our itinerary for our South Korea trip (Jeju and Seoul).

Note that the prices and timings of all the above are subjected to changes.


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