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November 24, 2008

SEOUL's Best 100 - Daylight in Seoul (#1-8)


I admit that I'm a super collector of travel brochures...basically any kind of travel brochures. And I got this "Seoul's Best 100" during my trip to Korea. I have more, brochures which shows particularly on one destination by region, I have a bag full of these... The Seoul Metropolitan Government really had dumped a lot of $$ to print these brochures and maps, and out of the many brochures, I like this the most.

SEOUL'S BEST 100...Things that every visitor to Seoul should do, see, eat and buy...
I surfed the website for this and found that the brochure is actually more well organized than the webpages. Maps and clear instructions included too! There are basically 7 categories of the -to do, -to see, -to eat and -to buy which sum up making it the 100-best of Seoul. I miss Korea so muchy...and by sharing information with all readers is the only way to satisfy my affection towards Hanguk. =)

First chapter, Things to see - Day Tours -
1. Gyeongbokgung (Palace) (been there!)
Gyeongbokgung was established in 1395 as the residence for the founder of the dynasty. The most representative remaining example of Joseon Dynasty architecture, it is the culmination of the finest techniques of the age. Inside the grounds stand the National Museum of Korea, the nation's largest, and the National Folk Museum.








National Museum of Korea (http://www.museum.go.kr/)
Located inside Gyeongbokgung, this is Korea's biggest museum housing 135,000 artifacts of ancient Korea. (been there!)

National Folk Museum (http://www.nfm.go.kr/)
The National Folk Museum located inside Gyeongbokgung houses 4,300 relics from the prehistoric age to the modern times related to the life, culture, lifestyle, clothing and food of Koreans. Near the National Folk Museum are the Traditional Craftwork Museum and the Kumho Museum of Art. (been there!)





How to go?
Gyeongbokgung Station (Line3, Exit5) 10min walk

My thoughts on Gyeongbokgung...
Certainly a must-go place if you visit Seoul. Although it might be a little boring for people who doesn't like history or museum or statues, but by understanding the historical background of one country is the best way to perceive their lifestyle and culture. There was a shop where you can rent the Hanbok and take photo. Can't remember the price but am really regret because I should wear the traditional one that time. Luckily I still able to wear once during the Korean Festival Week in university.



2. Changdeokgung (Palace)
Changdeokgung, well known for its Secret Garden (Hu Won), is the best preserved of Seoul's major palaces, and has been designated as a world heritage site by UNESCO. To protect the cultural properties, only guided tours are permitted (thus I missed visiting this one). Royal Guards Changing Ceremony is reenacted here every afternoon except Mondays.





How to go?
Anguk Station (Line3, Exit3) 5min walk


3. Deoksugung (Palace)
Located across from City Hall in central Seoul, Deoksugung was the residence of King Gojong (1896-1919). Interesting structures inside the palace include the Royal Museum, which houses approximately 5,800 relics used in the Royal Court. It is the first renaissance-style building in Korea. Royal Guards Changing Ceremony is also reenacted here every afternoon except Mondays. (missed this one as well...)





How to go?
City Hall Station (Line1/2, Exit2/12) 2min walk


4. Itaewon (been there!)
Designated as Tourist Zone, Itaewon is one of the most popular shopping and dining areas for foreign tourists. More foreigners are seen here than Koreans, and English is widely spoken. It is the home of Korea's mosque - the spiritual home of Korea's Muslim population. During the day, Itaewon is a popular shopping area where clothing, shoes, antiques and fur and leather products sell at relatively cheap prices, and a variety of foreign restaurants serve foods of countries all around the world. After dark, the area heats up, as many pubs fill up and nightclubs throw open their doors. A certain amount of risque entertainment is also available here.







How to go?
Itaewon Station (Line6, Exit1) 2min walk

My thoughts on Itaewon...
As per described, it is a place full of foreigners instead of Koreans. Shops selling sports items can be found along the streets. We spent less than an hour there because there's nothing much that we were interested to buy or see. What we opted for was cheaper range of Korean handmade souvenirs and processed food such as Red Ginseng sweets and seaweed (we went to Namdaemun Market then...). Itaewon is more like a shopping place for the teens and youngsters who are looking for clothes and fashionable goods.



5. Insadong (been there!)
This entire area is a virtual living museum. This area's alleys are lined with traditional and modern buildings, home to art theaters, antiques, handicraft shops, traditional restaurants and tea shops. Insadong festival is held featuring ancient art exhibitions, masquerades and poterry making. This area is closed to cars on Sundays.













How to go?
Jonggak Station (Line1, Exit3) 5min walk
Jongno 3-ga Station (Line1) 5min walk
Anguk Station (Line3, Exit6) 5min walk

My thoughts on Insadong...
One of our favourite places to look for arts and craft. Visited a few art galleries and even met one of the Korea's top fashion designer!! (according to our Korean friends) But that should be valid because I nearly got pushed out of the crowd while I was trying to enter a shop, when all of a sudden people on the street started to run and yell, and squeezed towards the shop. I though only artists attract their fans on the street, but fashion designers also have lots of fans in Korea... maybe in Japan too?? Scroll back to the 4th photo under "Insadong" -- yeap, that's him signing autograph for his fans; and his bodyguard standing beside. During night time, we became the spectators for a mini concert at the roadside organized by a group of street singers (10th photo with the speech bubble)! Wonderful~wonderful~



6. Daehangno
Daehangno, originally a university campus site, is filled with an avant-garde atmosphere. Numerous mini theathers and concert halls make the area a focus for drama and concerts. Daehangno also offers various kinds of food and attractions including trendy bars, restaurants, stylish cafes and street performances. Amateur singers, dance performers and artists who sketch your portrait can be found at Marronnier Plaza.





How to go?
Hyehwa Station (Line4, Exit3)


7. Sinchon & Ewha Womans University Vicinity (been there!)
Every new trend originates here! As the home to three universities, Ewha, Sogang and Yonsei, Sinchon is Seoul's student quarter. It is an area popular among both foreigners and Koreans. This district is packed with coffee shops, eateries, hip bars, rock cafes, all types of nightclubs and movie theaters. The area fronting Ewha Womans University - the world's largest women's university - is a famous shopping haunt for young females. This area is jammed with beauty shops and boutiques selling apparel and fashion accessories (jewelry, purses and shoes).















Where to eat - The Street of Food Festivals


How to go?
Ewha Womans Univ. Station (Line2, Exit2/3)

My thoughts on Sinchon...
We departed to Yonsei University early in the morning per the research program schedule. Spent almost the whole day in Yonsei and by the time our program ended, it was already night. It was a precious lesson that we learned (the first timers in overseas) for not checking on the weather forecast before leaving "home" in the morning. The first 2 days were quite warm and so many of us thought that we might just leave our coats and wear only jackets to the university. Weather was still warm in daytime but temperature suddenly dropped to 2deg Celcius in the evening!! That's the time when we need to walk a 15min to the subway station to take a train back to our backpackers' house… Imagine that you're walking down the street wearing only long sleeve inside with an additional jacket outside, whereas the wind kept blowing….then you'll understand the meaning of SHIVERING + FROZEN. Sinchon is indeed a very great place for nightlife and fashion, and you feel as if you're walking in Tokyo when you're there… Pubs, bars, restaurants, themed shops, you name it…one word -- IN. To what extend? Well, Yonsei University itself has a "Global Lounge" in the campus, its own branded coffee (like Starbucks), and the students have after class concerts in the afternoon right inside the Global Lounge!! Besides that they also have an in-house restaurant that served really really delicious Bulgogi~



8. Myeongdong (been there!)
It is said that Korean fashion starts in Myeongdong. This pedestrian-friendly area in the heart of the city is loaded with department stores, shopping malls and mid-market apparel shops - particularly casual and sports wear retailers. Fast food, western and traditional restaurants abound as well. Myeongdong also houses bank headquarters and security houses; three five-star hotels and city hall are within walking distance. The Myeongdong festival is held in April and September. The festival begins with a colourful opening parade followed by Miss Myeongdong Beauty Pageant, a folk play, a traditional wedding ceremony, street fashion shows and makeup shows.














How to go?
Myeongdong Station (Line4, Exit6)

My thoughts on Myeongdong...
Shopping! Shopping! Shopping! That's where I spent almost all my money in Korea...aawww.... I bought blouses, wool gloves, shawl, socks, hair pins, accessories, decorative ornaments, photo frames, handbags, purse…. I'm broke in a day! From street stalls to 4-storey departmental stores, I would say 3 days also not enough for me do to shopping… In Myeongdong there are quite a number of foreigners too, especially Japanese. You will find that all the street stalls label the price of their goods in both Korean won and Japanese yen. There were a lot of Japanese visiting Myeongdong during the weekends particularly do to shopping. The area is really too big and we almost lost in the middle of nowhere, luckily we were able to find the "i" kiosk (tourist information kiosk) and then asked for direction. It wasn't that unlucky at all because after that I found the recommended shop for Sam-kye-tang (Ginseng chicken soup)!!

4 comments:

hi there...

since u've been "there"...mebbe u could give a little of your own insight and wht u experienced while u were there(sight?smell? feeling?)

:p i dunno....juz my 2 cents...

Hmm... if you read through you should find my insights under photos -- "My thoughts on ..."

Hello Princess Cheryl! :)

Looking forward to reading the rest of your 'Best 100' picks.

We had Samgyetang too. :) We missed out on historical Seoul during our trip. But you know what that means, we'll have to go back to Seoul again to see the Palaces! I hope. ;)

Rooster: great! when you're going again, hope that I'll be joining too. =)

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