Annyeonghaseyo! Man, it is much easier to copy and paste hello in Korean than it was for me to say it in real life when I was there.
So in March, I headed to Seoul for the first time ever in my life. I’ve never been to South Korea before, and honestly, I’ve never felt a strong urge to go as I was not a huge fan of kpop and kbeauty back then. After this trip, let me just say I wished that I had visited that lovely country earlier!
We spent a total of 5 days there and that was, in my opinion, sufficient to explore the more well-known tourist attractions with a bit of time to spare. Arriving on Tuesday morning, we checked into the Oriens Hotel & Residences which is just a stone’s throw away from Chungmuro station (one train stop away from Myeongdong) with access to both the light blue and orange metro lines.
Side note, if you have booked the hotel and are taking the metro to Chungmuro station, simply take exit number 4 and keep walking straight till you arrive at a police station. Then, you simple turn left and walk all the way in and you will reach the carpark entrance of the hotel which you can take a lift up to the main lobby. This is probably easier than trying to find the main entrance of the hotel which faces a highway (I think). I really did enjoy the hotel as the room was spacious and clean. We also had a small kitchen complete with appliances and cutlery!
Seoul has a lovely mixture of olden and traditional architecture right alongside modern buildings. I thought this combination was lovely as I got to experience what it felt like in the olden days without losing touch to the modern world.
Some of the sights that we visited included the Gyeongbokgong Palace, which is massive and extremely spacious. There is the option of renting a Hanbok (traditional Korean dress) and taking pictures all around the palace, if you would like. I think I saw a stall where rental was going for 5000 Won (about SGD 8) which is pretty affordable for a unique experience!
The Cheonggyecheon Stream was definitely one of the highlights for me. Located right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city, this stream is really tranquil and peaceful, a great way to relax without having to jostle the crowds.
The Jogyesa Temple was a place we stopped by as well. This temple is nestled right in the middle of modern buildings, so we had a little trouble finding it. Honestly, it did not have much of the traditional temple vibe from the outside in my opinion as there were many people and little cranes (that are used to hang up the colourful lanterns as shown in the picture. I think you can write a wish on it and then pass it to them to hang it up but I am not too sure).
We also visited the Myeongdong Cathedral which is located at the edge of the street. This place was so peaceful and the atmosphere was further boosted as the sun was setting, casting a perfect warm orange hue to the surroundings! There was a church service going on when we were there, so we decided not to go in. However, the view of the outside alone was worth the walk in my opinion.
If you like dumplings, you have to try out Myeongdong Kyoja. This is located in one of the streets of Myeongdong and they only serve 5 food items (talk about being specialised). We noticed the michelin star sticker and thought that we had to try it. And we were right. No regrets. I had the Kalguksu (chopped noodle) soup and dumplings. Turns out, this place is highly recommended on many food blogs and websites! Guess we got lucky!