The 18 best things to do in South Korea
It’s not often that we can witness the marriage of state-of-the-art technology and reserved Confucius values, which makes the best things to do in South Korea very unique. Wherever you go, you’ll feel welcomed by friendly locals, pleasant streets and beckoning street food. There is so much to see and do here, and so many way to appreciate all the country has to offer, whatever your personal tastes. You can saunter through a village of quaint traditional houses, embrace Korea’s flourishing surf culture, or check out the unique DMZ Peace Train Music Festival. There are shops open 24 hours a day, as well as breathtaking natural beauty if that’s more your vibe. Here is your ultimate guide to South Korea. Done something on this list and loved it? Share it with the hashtag #TimeOutDoList and tag @TimeOutEverywhere. Find out more about how Time Out selects the very best things to do all over the world.
The most luxurious 5 star hotels in Seoul
Who doesn't love to be pet and pampered for a while? Let these luxury hotels do the work for you while you enjoy their well decorated, first class rooms. Here, everyone's greeted with a smie and you don't have to open a door if you wish. Dining means meals prepared by world renown chefs. Recreational activities include pristine swimming pools and fitness centers that you thought only Hollywood could dream of. These are the best luxury hotels in Seoul and they're here to serve your every need.
Toothsome Busan: 7 restaurants that should be in your next culinary itinerary
Showcasing an impressive level of diversity and range of skills that the city hadn't seen before, the new wave of Korean, French and Italian restaurants has been taking Busan's food and beverage scene to a whole new level. Many of them incorporate locally-sourced seafood and fresh seasonal vegetables sourced directly from independent, environmentally-friendly farms, to create their authentic culinary concepts. Check out this list of restaurants for your next trip to Busan—they're re surely having both the locals and tourists come back for more.
Headed to Busan? Don’t miss visiting these 6 bars and brewpubs
For those of us living in Seoul, Busan is one of the little seaside getaways that we plan not to miss visiting during warmer and cooler seasons. In addition to all of the outdoor leisure activities and enticing sceneries of cascades and coastal sunrises offered in the port city, what will make your trip even cooler are the bars and brewpubs scattered around the town that make Busan a truly happening place. From the vanguard leading the whisky bar revolution, the secret hiding place of bartenders, to the breweries representing the city worldwide, these are some of the bars you need to have a taste of in Haeundae, Dalmaji Hill, Sujeong-dong and the Kyung-dae area.
서울 최고의 호텔 야외 수영장
서울 안에서 떠나는 도심 바캉스의 최강자는 호텔 수영장이 아닐까? 사람 반, 물 반 되는 워터파크 대신 호텔에서 물놀이도 할 수 있고, 연인끼리 풀파티도 즐길 수 있다. 외국에 온 것 같은 기분 속에서 서울의 여름을 식힐 수 있는 최고의 호텔 야외 수영장을 모았다.
Your 24-hour itinerary in Seoul: The explorer
This course is for those who are eager to delve deeper in exploring this historic and urban city. This 24-hour course won’t be taking you to all the major tourist attractions but, rather, to spots that we might easily pass by without seeing their hidden gem. These small pleasures and quirks that are hidden throughout the city will surely keep you entertained and mesmerized throughout the day.
Seoul rooftop venues you want to spend time at this summer
Some swankier, others pretty chill; some with "interesting" features and others with surprisingly yummy selections of things; some will make you feel as if you're far out of the city, while the other ones will let you appreciate the touristy vibes in their own way. Either way, you might never want to leave once you're on these rooftop spots.
Top 21 outdoor bars in Seoul
There's nothing better than drinking out in the open, on a rooftop or outdoors. Here are the best spots in Seoul for you to enjoy the summer night breeze under the starry sky.
Barley brewery beers are here to show you what 'artisan' really means
There were 4 wine glasses set up on the table. I thought, “Hmm, for a beer tasting?” Soon, the host, Pierre Cohen-Aknine from the beverage importer Kavod, mentioned with a smile: “For the French people, what’s most important about a meal is the quality of time spent with others. So, don’t worry about those glasses; just have fun and enjoy the night.” Growing up in France, Cohen-Aknine was naturally a lot more used to wine. But as he immersed himself in the vast and complex world of beers, he dreamt of bringing a culture for beer comparable to that of wine—a lot of which, for him, is about ‘sharing’ and ‘pairing.’ At the event hosted at Park Hyatt’s Cornerstone, 4 types of pasta and risotto dishes were being prepared for each of the beer—which was quite unusual but certainly exciting. One of the importer’s choices was Barley Brewery. Founded in Italy by Nicola Perra and Isidoro Mascia, it uses a variety of fruits and herbs sourced from the island of Sardinia to create delicate and complex flavors. One of its distinctive ingredients is sapa, a flavor-enhancer made with Cannonau grapes cultivated in Sardinia. All of Barley Brewery’s beers are non-pasteurized and are fermented twice without being filtered. As I tried to imagine the aromas and flavors created by the unique method, beers—bottled in what seem to be wine bottles—arrived and the 4 glasses started being filled up.
Try the most addictive Hamburg steak @ Café Goghi
This “catering co-op” located between Hyoja-dong and Gyeongbokgung Palace has been serving Hamburg steak as their signature dish for 10 years. Trying out both the signature dish and brunch menus is definitely recommended, while the cooking classes offered each month are something you should really check out if you’re keen on learning a few cool techniques. There's also an awesome 13-course Thai dinner happening here this month.
Oh-so-refreshing hotel events and deals for spring
Cherry blossom festivals, a picnic at the park—there's simply a lot to do during spring in Seoul. Take advantage of these hotel events for a fancy, stress-free picnic or springy cocktail deals!
Restaurants around Sungkok Art Museum
One of the reasons besides the great exhibitions to visit Sungkok Art Museum is the venue itself. The museum café and the terrace in front of it have long been the favorite spot for many Seoulites, while walking the compound gardens with a cup of coffee in hand, a bench somewhere in the greenery may invite you for a short sit down. During the warmer seasons, the area is bustling with both young and old crowds, while retaining its calm and relaxing atmosphere at the same time. Discover what this quaint neighborhood can offer — its cafés and restaurants are ones that deserve more attention than they have.
Listings and reviews (42)
Panorama Lounge and Bar
Following suit with Fraser Place Namdaemun, which opened the doors to its panoramic lounge two years ago in July 2013, Fraser Place Central has launched its own lounge. More of a serviced apartment residence as opposed to a hotel, the venue allows for long-term residents to stay in the central part of Seoul without having to find temporary housing. With diplomatic families and families with business in Seoul often finding a sense of home here, the newest addition to the 23rd floor—the Panorama Lounge and Bar— must be a great comfort for Fraser Place Central residents. After all, those with families understand best the difficulty of commuting with children when trying to go to a nice place. The Lounge has bar side seating with top-shelf alcohol and window seats with a 23-story view of the city lights at night. For days when the weather is nice, there’s also outdoor seating that allows patrons to enjoy the pleasant breeze. It’s a nice high-end touch to a quiet neighborhood that barely has any bars in the two-block radius, much less ones worth going to. Expect the service here to be Englishfriendly and visitors to the Lounge to be as diverse as Fraser Place Central itself.
Bistro Normal by Ryunique
Listed on the 2017 Michelin guide, Ryunique is undoubtedly one of the best French fine dining restaurants in Seoul. Headed by chef Ryu Tae-Hwan, Ryunique offers one-of-a-kind menu items that showcase an impressive level of creativity in a refined manner. Bistro Normal by Ryunique located in Sinsa-dong is Ryu's second venture. While the atmosphere of the restaurant is definitely more casual than Ryunique with only five tables, the restaurant is far from typical. Far from “normal”, Chef Ryu’s distinct culinary style and attention to detail were clearly evident in the food, especially in the ten-course dinner tasting menu. The course starts off with the shrimp guacamole wrapped in rice paper as the amuse-bouche, then continues with a tomato salad with cucumber dressing and pumpkin cream soup as the appetizers. For the main entrees, you can choose from a roasted duck that has been aged thirty days, chicken or fish. The combination of ingredients made for a special tasting experience that may as well have been considered fine dining. Whereas Ryunique offers a course-only menu, at least you have the option to order a la carte at Normal. If you were ever curious about Chef Ryu Tae-Hwan’s culinary style but unwilling to spend the extravagant costs, the Bistro Normal by Ryunique may be well worth a visit.
The Westin Chosun Seoul Lounge and Bar
Celebrating its 103rd anniversary this year, The Westin Chosun Seoul is back with a modern classic look, one that extends to the renewed bar. This may come as a surprise to many who are familiar with Seoul’s 5-star hotel scene; unlike its counterparts, such as the Four Seasons’ Charles H. and the JW Marriott’s The Griffin, the Westin Chosun Hotel Lounge and Bar come with a distinct name while being located nonchalantly on the first floor of the hotel. The Lounge & Bar has, however, distinguished itself by offering some of the most creative cocktails in the city. This is largely thanks to the leadership of bartender Kim Dae-wook, who has placed in the top ten in 2012, 2014 and 2016 at ‘World Class Korea,’ the regional version of the internationally-recognized cocktail competition. Kim’s creative cocktail list is now ten years in the making, indicating Kim’s dedication to crafting the best and most unique drinks. While the Milk Tea Cocktail, featured at the 2012 World Class Korea competition, is the bar’s signature drink, there’s another cocktail stands out from the rest: Chai Wallah. By infusing the traditional chai spice with Guatemalan Zacapa Rum, French Cointreau, fresh lime juice and whipped cream, the Chai Wallah offers a surprisingly excellent balance. Do beware of the unsubtle notes of curry in the drink, though. Aside from these cocktails, the bar also offers cocktails representing specific eras from the 1700s to the 21st century. Kim is also behind the moving bar ta
Wild Waves Brewing Co.
As a latecomer to the sour beer trend, Korean breweries and bars hadn’t been the fastest to adopt sour beers even as craft beers themselves became popular. That is until Busan-based Wild Wave Brewing Co. introduced its signature sour beer, ‘Surleim’. A dry-hopped sour ale with a bright yellow appearance, the beer is made with a unique mix of tropical and citrus hops for lighter and refreshing sourness. It’s a must-try for anyone even remotely interested in craft beer—don’t just take it from me, but take it from RateBeer (a resource of consumer-driven beer ratings), on which Surleim was top-ranked among all Korean craft beers in 2016. As its Korean meaning suggests, Surleim will leave you excited and wanting more from Wild Wave Brewing Co. for sure. While Wild Wave used to outsource production, it recently opened its own brewery and brewpub near Songjeong Station, allowing it to craft their beers in-house. When you enter the brewery, you’ll notice a row of about 50 wooden barrels lined up along the wall—making you wonder if you have indeed come to the right place, in a country where barrel-aging of beer is still somewhat of a rarity. These barrels and the unique sour flavors created with them are what separate Wild Wave Brewing Co. from its competitors nationwide. The rest of Wild Wave’s line-up is also worth noting; from Surfing High, made with recipes from Germany’s Cologne region, to pine and tangerine-infused Pineville IPA and omija (magnolia berry)-based Ruby Saison, ther
Aloha Table Cheongdam
Headquartered at Waikīkī Beach, the global dining brand Aloha Table expanded to Korea in 2012. Now with 5 restaurants in the country including the Songdo and Siheung locations, Aloha Table offers casual Hawaiian dishes and drinks in an upbeat setting. Housed in the SB Tower which is filled with several eateries and cafes, the atmosphere of the Cheongdam branch is quite refreshing with large full-wall windows that are opened completely during warmer seasons. The most popular menu items include the Poke Rice Bowl with octopus, avocado and salmon, Kalua Pig Saimin and Huli Huli Chicken. The Poke Rice Bowl with octopus, avocado and salmon serves as an easy lunch menu. They're all easy options found in the middle of the ritzy Cheongdam area. However, don't expect anything authentic or unique about the menu. Hand-drip Kona coffee is also available here, but better options would be found in the city in terms of the price.
Ananti Hilton Busan
Tis' the season for pools and beaches. Especially for those of us living amid the hustle and bustle of Seoul, a heady oasis to retreat to is dearly longed for during the summer days. But as it’s often found to be quite far out of reach, few options remain for those who wish to remain in the peninsula and many end up resorting to an overseas destination. But from mid July, those who’ve been seeking a sleek environment and unrivalled hospitality won't have to look further than our beloved Busan, as the Old East Busan Tourism Complex (OSIRIA) of Gijang County welcomes the new Hilton location. Built right on the seafront, Ananti Hilton Busan showcases two infinity pools, an adult-only (13 years of age or older) pool, a kids’ pool as well as an indoor pool with an enticing view of the coastline offering a peaceful backdrop. As for the accommodation, the fresh watery paradise is equipped with 310 deluxe rooms and suites with the minimum size of 60 square meters. Many of them are sea-facing, offering a picture-perfect scenery of cascades and coastal sunrises, while featured in the mountain-view rooms is a bath with a large window letting in all the natural light. A contemporary getaway filled with sumptuous leisure facilities, the 10-story hotel features 4 restaurants and bars including McQueen's Bar & Grill offering a rooftop seats and an outdoor pool bar where you can sip cocktails and enjoy the sunset while you swim. Ananti Hilton Busan guests are also welcomed at the directly-co
Hamburg steak—I finally realized that there’s actually a lot I can expect in this Japanese Western-style dish, after trying Café Goghi’s version, that is. Perhaps, I’m the only one who’s been out of the loop (I’ve only tried a few brunch menus here before and they were fantastic), but this “catering co-op” located between Hyoja-dong and Gyeongbokgung Palace has been serving Hamburg steak as their signature dish for 10 years. The patty is really juicy, but the star of the plate is the sauce which is made from scratch in the kitchen. If you observe the chefs here for a few minutes, you can tell how delicate the process is: first, stir fry onions, shiitake mushroom, and regular mushroom separately, then mix them all with homemade garlic oil, to which demi-glace sauce is added later. The result is the light brown-colored sauce (as opposed to the usual dark brown version you see at other Japanese Western-style joints) which is subtle yet oh-so-addictive. Café Goghi operates as a homey café and a studio for cooking classes and gourmet lunch box-catering. Trying out both the signature dish and brunch menus is definitely recommended, while the cooking classes offered each month are something you should really check out if you’re keen on learning a few awesome techniques. Check out Café Goghi's Facebook page for their monthly and ad-hoc events.
Take a deep breath. Seoul’s biggest gin selection is here. Ambitious? Sure. Is it needed? Absolutely. Gin & Tonic is such a popular choice and something we might take one or two of during a night out. Yet, in Seoul, we don’t really get a choice for the liquor except for the occasional Monkey 47 and Hendrick's. But, guess what: we can now get more than 70 types of gin — 30 of which have not been available in Korea — and 60,000 varieties of gin & tonic in Seoul in one sitting. That’s right, 60,000. Where at? I’m sorry for those of you who’ve been hoping for one of these on the other side of the city, it’s in Cheongdam (for gin enthusiasts, it’s worth a travel). At this new bar named White Bar, you can really go through the list all night long. While there are also an array of gin cocktails even aside from the large gin & tonic menu, it’s just so easy to go for shots (as it should be) as well. And once you’re here, it’ll also be difficult to refuse all the experimental liquors with a good amount of gimmicks such as Hophead Hop Vodka and Chase English Oak Smoked Vodka, just to name a few. Well, where to start? For a starter, you can go for the gin & tonic made with Beefeater 24 and homemade jasmine tonic water. And of course, the professional bar staff will go through with you the type of gin, homemade tonic water, bitters, herbs, garnish and even the shape of ice and glass. Can it get more delicate? Not yet, at least in Seoul. As an upscale bar with an all-white interior, priva
Even before trying out its menu, you'll wonder how such a location is even possible in reality — if you've managed to find this coffee shop, that is. At this two-story house with large glass windows, located on an alley that appears right before the Sajik Tunnel, however, a 30-minute wait is almost like a norm. Part of it is the seats by the window on the second floor, offering a quaint view looking down old houses situated above the tunnel, where everyone visiting the café wishes to spend time. It's only been a year since owner Yu Yeong-hun who used to operate a photography rental studio and Mun Hye-ran who has learned to become a professional barista opened this place. Yet, its seats have been filled by numerous Instagrammers and bloggers capturing and sharing the scenes at the café. The main menu here is comprised of lattes and cappuccinos. The most popular drinks are the cream cappuccino and Goblin, which has layers of espresso, green tea and whip cream. It was a tad bit too sweet, but the cream cappuccino was delicate and refreshing at the end. Would I return to Sajik Coffee? Judging from its famous view reflecting all of the season's charms, I know will be here as soon as spring arrives.
Right across from Sungkok Art Museum, there sits a great pasta place. While its traditional hanok exterior may have you doubt the Italian culinary skills of its chefs, the oil sauce pasta with grilled mushroom as well as the rose sauce pasta with crab meat are scrumptious and filling. While owner chef Ahn Chung-hun’s creations involving Korean ingredients (seaweed and dried shimp in rose pasta, for example) may be more familiar to the Korean palate, DAN.A is an overall great spot for an Italian meal paired with wine.
The name of this little bar comes from the original title of director Wong Kar-wei’s 1997 film, Happy Together. From the images projected on a wall and a pair of gold fish inside a bowl placed on the counter, to a little pink room hidden inside the bar, its space itself, too, gives off the luscious and sentimental vibes that are apparent in the film. Chungwangsaseol’s colorful melancholy suits a mellow night out, alone or with a friend or a stranger who’d lend you a good ear. A few seats at the bar counter, which are the only available seatings here, offer a quite intimate space for a group of two or three. Taiwanese mango and pineapple flavored beers are often paired with little dishes including the tomato ramen and fried rice, while in terms of liquors, gin is the only available type. Tanqueray 10, Beefeater, Hendrick's and Boodles are the selections that go into the gin and tonics. Boodles Gin which has a subtle note of juniper berries and cilantro is, interestingly, garnished with fresh cilantro. Quite unusual, perhaps, but it certainly makes for a refreshing combination. The Tanqueray 10 gin and tonic with thyme leaves and blueberries is simple yet flavorful. All of the gin and tonics are quite small in size, but have the perfect balance (and also reasonably priced). Situated in the quiet residential area above the “108 stairs” in Human-dong, Chungwangsaseol is not the easiest place to spot. Yet, its uniquely Hong Kongese vibe seems to continually attract equally unique
The popularity of book cafés has been on the gaining traction in Seoul. Many of the large bookstores around the city are providing spaces for cuddling up with a book all day long while some hair saloons have begun to set up small book cafés of their own for the waiting clients. Some hotels have even gotten rid of their lobbies to set up book cafés inside. The funny thing is that Korean’s don’t read all that much, according to statistics (a rise in the number of book cafés in a country that doesn’t read?). Despite everything, it’ll be interesting to see how far this trend will go. The latest star of the industry is definitely Hannam-dong’s BookPark. Once inside, you’ll see that its name is indeed quite fitting: it’s a huge jungle of books formed throughout two floors of the building. Established by Interpark Holdings and operated by the Kaos Foundation, BookPark is specialized in science and art publications. The 2nd floor is where you'd find most of the liberal arts, arts and children’s books, and if you're here for science books you can head straight up to the 3rd floor . Twice a year, The Kaos Foundation holds 10 lectures here, and online recordings are available on the website (this coming spring’s topic will be Life Science). Tables and chairs are scattered throughout the bookstore while little hidden spots are found here as well. There are also cafés and a nice terrace space located at the end section of each floor. For parents with children, the 2nd floor has a de
THINGS WE THINK THIS MONTH: 우리는 어쩌다 휴가를 즐기지 못하는 민족이 되었나
몇 해 전 프랑스 칸으로 영화제 취재를 갔을 때였다. 주최 (칸 출품작의 국내 배급사) 측에서 준비한 숙소에서 주인이 놓아둔 엽서 이야기를 할까 한다. 그 집은 수십 년 째 살아온 가족의 온기가 그대로 묻어 있는 유럽의 가정집이었다. 식탁 위의 엽서에는 ‘해변에서 작은 가게를 운영하고 있고, 열 달을 일한 돈으로 부부의 부모와 함께 두 달 동안 여행을 다녀오기로 했으며, 이 집에서 최대한 즐겁고 행복하게 영화축제를 즐겨주면 좋겠다’는 주인의 메시지가 적혀 있었다. ‘두 달씩이나? 이게 어떻게 가능하지?’ 부러움에 앞서 지구 반 바퀴 너머의 이 집 상황은 상당히 비현실적인 세계로 다가왔다. 우리는 아침부터 현장 취재를 나가, 시차 때문에 밤늦게까지 기사 송고에 매달렸다가 잠에 빠져들곤 했다. 열흘을 보내고 귀국하는 날 아침에야 발코니를 내려가면 곧바로 칸 해변과 연결된다는 것을 알았다. 대한민국 직장인에게 일년에 두 달씩 휴가가 주어진다면 어떤 풍경이 벌어질까. 첫째 거창한 계획을 세웠다 지우길 반복하느라 휴가의 3분의 1을 날려버릴지 모른다. 둘째, 휴가를 보내면서도 회사일을 생각하느라 온전한 휴가를 보낼 수 없을지도 모르고. 셋째, 휴가가 끝나갈 즈음 회사와 접촉하거나 접촉을 시도하며 복귀 워밍업을 할 것이다. 일과 휴가를 선명하게 구분 짓지 못하는 대한민국의 직장인에게 휴가는 ‘출근하지 않는 상태’ 이상이거나 이하일 때가 많다. 우리는 어쩌다 이토록 휴가를 즐기지 못하는 민족이 되었나. 우리는 언제부턴가 매사에 전력질주하도록 세팅됐고, 그런 세팅에 의문을 갖는 건 사치였으며, 그렇기 때문에 단 한 번도 리셋하지 않았다. 익스피디아의 조사에 따르면 한국 직장인이 연평균 15일 이상인 연차 휴가 중 실제로 사용한 일수는 6일에 불과했다. 세계 각국의 직장인 9273명을 대상으로 연차 유급 휴가 일수와 소화 일수를 분석한 결과, 한국 직장인은 조사 대상국 가운데 연차 휴가 소화 일수가 가장 적었다. 한국인 응답자의 67%는 유급 휴가를 모두 쓰는 것에 ‘죄의식’ 까지 느낀다고 답했는데, 그 이유를 상사의 이해를 얻지 못하기 때문이라고 설명했다. 반면 독일과 프랑스, 스페인, 핀란드, 브라질의 직장인 대부분은 30일에 이르는 연차 유급 휴가를 끝까지 다 쓰는 것으로 드러났다. 주어진 휴가의 절반도 쓰지 못하는 것은, 일중독 증후군에 걸린 우리 스스로 때문이기도 하지만, 휴가를 온전히 쓸 수 없게끔 만들어놓은 사회 혹은 회사의 구조 때문이기도 하다. 한국에서 대부분의 휴가는 최고 성수기인 여름철에만 쓸 수 있고, 비싼 바가지 요금과 휴가철 교통지옥을 감내하며 울며 겨자 먹기로 어디든 다녀와야 한다. 국내는 물론 국외로 떠나는 여행도 마찬가지다. 초성수기 기간을 살짝 피해서 휴가를 갈 수 있다면 휴가 비용도 훨씬 줄일 수 있지만, 상사에게 말조차 꺼낼 수 없다. 아마도 “제 정신이냐?”는 표정으로 바라볼 것이기에. 이 글을 읽는 동안 당신에게는 여름휴가 일정을 제출하라는 상사의 지시가 내려올지 모른다. 상사가 고른 날짜를 피해 후배와 조율해가