Your 24-hour itinerary in Seoul
Everyone has a different goal when traveling. Are you looking to discover the quirks and hidden spots of Seoul, party like crazy or travel on the cheap without cutting the fun? Do you need to cover all the main attractions, events and activities as a newcomer or a friend who's visiting for the first time? Or, are you seeking to be inspired by art and culture or simply focused on finding good food that the city can offer? Here are 6 itineraries for 24 hours in Seoul featuring a little bit of everything, from history and culture to nature, food, alcohol, relaxation and party. No need for planning stress or the fear of missing out—just enjoy the ride that fits your style and budget.
Keep calm and embrace your inner child, the era of "kidults" has arrived.
Immature, childlike, geeky, creepy, weird and, best of all, ‘infected with Peter Pan Syndrome’—these are just some of the negative connotations that gave kidults a bad name. But all of the so-called "kidults" we've met in Seoul through this special edition were living a life where they'd understand what they love and choose to pursue them—a very much an adult's life. In the pursuit of happiness, many of them predicted that more and more people will begin to appreciate kidult culture, and catering to this growth will be further diversification of cultural content. This edition will introduce kidult forms of art, places run by devoted kidults as well as cafés and shops that will cater to the needs of kidults. A novice, you say? Take a day off to explore these kidult hide-outs in Seoul to see if you can grow younger by getting involved.
Hang at the market, they're kicking off new season.
Yummy "artisan" snacks even non-hipster would love, fresh veggies and fruits, pretty crafty things and a nice stroll in a warm weather—these things aren't exactly available at most Korean markets and marts, but they're found in abundance at these outdoor markets kicking off new season. Head yourselves to these spots for some summer market fun and catch some free shows, too.
A city-vaca, within reach
Find these near-home spots and you'll be submerged in vacation mode. Soak up the fresh mountain air while gazing on the peaks of Inwangsan, Bugaksan and the Seoul Fortress Wall in the distance. After all, getaways are not about the mile marker but about the experience of being in nature, no?
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.
Best to do this season
Dressing back to the Joseon Dynasty – Hanbok rentals
Hanbok — to wear one usually means you are headed to an extremely formal event. Well, that’s how it used to be. More and more, hanbok-wearing crowds in Seoul are becoming a common sight, especially in the trending Bukchon and Seochon areas of Northern Seoul, with the palaces providing a fitting atmosphere allowing young couples and groups of friends alike feel comfortable enough to adorn themselves with the traditional attire. Interestingly enough, while many have assumed that this is merely a passing trend, being out and about in a more traditional or modern hanbok seems to be only growing in popularity. Among over 80 hanbok rental shops in the Jongno-gu district, Time Out has picked out a selection for all you traditional, modern and postmodern souls.
Makgeolli, come for me.
Traditionally made with rice, barley or wheat and naturally fermented (and sometimes flavored with nuts or fruits), makgeolli is known to be the oldest alcoholic drink in Korea. Fragrant and refreshing, this milky drink which pairs beautifully with many Korean dishes makes for an especially great choice for large gatherings during holidays. And of course, what you get at a convenient store represents only a fraction of the diverse types you can try and explore in Seoul. Whether in a traditional setting or with a modern twist, these makgeolli bars will offer an array of delectable and invigorating sips.
A journey to the '70s Seoul on Jungnimmalli-gil
The deteriorated elevated-road near Seoul Station, which has been keeping its presence in the center of the city for 45 years, will be soon eliminated. What we’ll see instead is a 10.3-meter wide and 1.24-km long elevated-park, decorated with trees and shrubs. There will be book cafés, libraries, as well as 5 walking-courses: Jungnimmalli-dong Course, Sogong-dong Course, Myeongdong Coursem Namsan Course and Human-dong Course. Among them, Jungnimmalli-gil is an old 2.5km path connecting Jungnim-dong and Malli-dong. From an over-100-year-old cathedral to Korea’s first residential complex and a 45-year-old seolleongtang (ox bone soup) joint, this old neighborhood which seems to finally awaking from a long sleep has unique and one-of-a-kind offerings.
Read everywhere, Seoul
In Seoul, paper is popular this season. It is in large part due to these marvelous bookstores, libraries as well as book bars and cafés providing unique atmosphere and materials ranging from poetry to fashion magazines and LGBTQ books. Here’s our list of places for your autumn reading.
Our Northern Neighbor
My grandfather has only once discussed the passing of his parents in the Korean War to his children and grandchildren—when I came back to Korea after 17 years. A kind but stoic man, he welled up with tears as he rushed through the story: He was only 13 years old when his parents told him to pack and run away and that they would catch up soon. A few minutes from his house, he looked back to see that his home, with his parents in it, had been lit on fire. In his own way, by telling me this anecdote, my grandfather wanted me to know the significance of this place he believed I should consider home. My story isn’t particularly unique; many South Koreans can relay similar tales of their parents and their parents’ parents. Seoul is a blooming, blossoming city but the color of our capital is made even brighter when contrasted to the war only a short drive from here (an armistice agreement was signed in 1953, but the two Koreas are technically still at war). The cuisine, culture and stories of that some might consider brother or enemy still hold so much relevance here in Seoul. Our histories are inescapably intertwined and they are, to say the least, our neighbors. By Hahna Yoon
Best of Seoul
Six international cuisine picks in Seoul
Food means something more than just subsistence or even taste. Licking your fingers after a taco might mean memories of drunken nights with friends back home and pad thai spices can recall summer adventures in Bangkok. If you are what you eat, then access to different world cuisines means more than craving tastes with your body, it’s an acknowledgment that we’re globalized people in a globalized world, whether you’re Korean or not. Yes, Korean food is in Seoul is amazing and we love it without forgetting the rest of who we are too.
The best cheap eats in Seoul
Here at Time Out Seoul, we love to eat well (obviously) and we love to eat out. But as much as we appreciate wining and dining, we’re beyond grateful for the vast array of cheap eats available in Seoul. From kimbaps that keep us satiated and satisfied when it’s been too long since our last paycheck to some of the best bánh mi and Moroccan in the country, these cheap eats keep us eating (while allowing us to pay our rent at the same time).
Time Out Seoul editor's guide to hotels
Can’t choose what hotel to stay at? Having travelled and written on various hotels around the globe, editor of Time Out Seoul Lee Dong-mi gives expert advice to those in need. Experience what it feels like to sleep at a boutique hotel or a six-star luxurious hotel.