4 Things To Definitely Do In Seoul

I’m fresh from a trip to Seoul and off the bat I can think of 4 things that I really enjoyed doing. If I had another chance to a trip there, these are the things I would explore again.

As always, I scoured the net for everything Seoul before my trip so I can make most of my time. My wife and I traveled with our 2 year old boy so that was a major factor in deciding where we went. But this list actually appealed more to me (these being family friendly is just a plus).

1. Insadong

Before the trip, I had the opportunity to speak to Mr. Bruce Winton, General Manager of Marriott Manila. Mr. Winton was the Resident Manager of Marriott Seoul for 2 years, so I thought he may have some insight on what places in Seoul were outstanding. His answer? Insadong. That’s from an Expat’s view.

We also were able to meet two high school students in Seoul enrolled in a Goodwill program for Hi Seoul hostel. I asked them both which place in Seoul do they enjoy the most. Both of them answered (yes, you guessed right) Insadong.

Insadong is a street with a string of stores selling wares you probably won’t find anywhere else. Handcrafted jewelry, souvenirs made by artists, silk screen shirts made on the fly, and galleries upon galleries of art.

photo by jar concengco

One of the structures along the Insadong strip you’ll find:

photography by jar concengco

A popular spot in the heart of Insadong is Ssamzie-Gil. It’s an establishment 4 stories high. Once you get through all the shops, you can enjoy some soft serve ice cream on the roof garden:

photo by jar concengco

Also, on the basement level, there are places where you can do some crafts such as candle-making, bottle decorating, cake decorating, and woodworking.  Here is one woman decorating her own bottle:

photo by jar concengco

Here is a girl doing some pottery. If you’re with your kids, this place can take up your whole day if you wanted to:

photo by jar concengco

There are many interesting alleyways in Insadong such as this:

photo by jar concengco

One alleyway you mustn’t miss in Insadong is this one which houses the Kyung-In Art Gallery. It’s free to go inside and you can rest your feet in its beautiful garden and enjoy a nice cup of tea or coffee.

photo by jar concengco

This sculpture will greet you at the entrance of the Kyung-In Museum:

photo by jar concengco

Some of the artwork that is being showcased at the time:

photo by jar concengco

My wife ordered this – an iced citrus tea. So refreshing!

photo by jar concengco

To get there:

Line 3, Anguk station, Exit 6.

2. Noryangjin Fish Market

Noryangjin Fish Market is one of the largest seafood markets in Korea. Located just south of the Han river, it’s pretty easy to get to through train. If you watch Bizarre Foods or Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, you might remember their trip here when they ate octopus tentacles so fresh that they were still moving! But more on that later. First, take a look at the colorful bounty of seafood they have. Most of which were still alive:

noryangjin_fish_market_01 noryangjin_fish_market_05noryangjin_fish_market_04

These are giant! I don’t know its exact name, but they look like mussels:

noryangjin_fish_market_03 noryangjin_fish_market_02

Once you’ve chosen something you’d like to eat, they can prepare it for you sashimi-style right then and there. At a restaurant nearby, they can cook the bones for you for a nice fish broth with seaweed.


Not really sure exactly what type of fish this was, but it had a clean taste with a chewiness. Might have been skate:


I had to try the octopus. Look at the photo below really good, and you’ll see the tentacles still moving.


Chew these tentacles thoroughly! I heard that if you swallow them without chewing them enough, the tentacles can be strong and sticky enough to choke your throat. Bon appetit!


To get there:

Take Line 1 and get off Noryangjin Station Exit 1. Walk 100m over the bridge.

3. Cheonggyecheon Stream

This stream (tongue-twister, I know) was such a great stop. It runs right through through the Metropolis. I see it like a reminder to all the city dwellers to stop and take nature in. Cheesy. But it’s true. That’s how I felt at least. There were grandmas just perched on the rocks having a Joy Luck Club conversation, a woman in Louboutin heels cautiously stepping on the stone steps to cross the stream, a businessman in a suit sitting down to take a video of ducks swimming by. That was the atmosphere. I thought to myself, “This city really wants their citizens to always be happy.”

photo by jar concengco photo by jar concengco cheonggyecheon_stream01 cheonggyecheon_stream03cheonggyecheon_stream02 cheonggyecheon_stream04

To get there:

We took Line 2 and got off Euljiro-4 and started walking along the Cheonggyecheon towards Doota mall.

4. Bukchon Village

Seoul is a great example of a modern city that juxtaposes itself with the traditional. Bukchon Village makes you forget you’re in a metropolis. In no time, you’ll be surrounded by hanoks (traditional housing) and imagining all the history that took place here.


bukchon_village06 bukchon_village05

It’s quaint. It’s pretty hilly too so you should be wearing good, comfortable shoes. You don’t want to miss the view from above.


One house had an eggplant growing in a pot outside their door.


Jane from the Hi Seoul Goodwill program a friend who showed us around Bukchon.


To get there:

Take Line 3 and get off Anguk, Exit 2 and walk for about 300m.

Have you been to Seoul? Would these places make your list?

Here’s a video of our trip including highlights that weren’t part of this list:

If you liked this blogpost, please check out this post on the restaurants I chose to eat at in Seoul.

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7 Responses to “4 Things To Definitely Do In Seoul”
  1. TriciaVM says:

    Hey Jar! Great timing—am on my way to Seoul end of October! Including some of these in my itinerary..Cheers!

  2. Jasbir Kaur says:

    An excellent write up about Seoul. I am going there in early December. Would you recommend me to stay at Ibis Ambassador Hotel? Was the room comfortable and close to restaurants? Or would you recommend that I stay in Insadong. I am not a shopaholic but would like to buy one or two souvenirs.

    • Hi Jasbir, thank you. Ibis is a bit like a budget hotel right smack in Myeongdong. I think they opened up a new branch in Insadong area.

      Rooms were comfortable and big enough. No bellboys though and no room service. If you’re ok with that, then Ibis can work for you. Every night we got to shop around Myeongdong. If you’re not there for shopping, the street food is fantastic. Plus, many restaurants around to choose from.

  3. Jiyeon Jeon says:

    Wow. I am the person who is in charge of the Youth Goodwill Guide (Free Seoul Tour Guide)
    We are very glad that you had with us! 🙂
    We hope we can support you next time again ! Take Care & Come again Seoul !^^*

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] If you’ve missed it, check out my blog about the 4 Things To Definitely Do in Seoul. […]

  2. […] I photographed the General Manager of Marriott Manila, Mr. Bruce Winton for People Asia Magazine’s Dec.-Jan. 2014 issue. The shoot happened before I left for Seoul late last year. It so happened Mr. Winton managed Marriott Seoul for a couple of years. So I was lucky to get some tips before leaving for my vacation to Seoul. […]

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