Retro Seoul: The city from 1950 to today
Look anywhere in Seoul and you’ll see the retro trend in full swing, from music to fashion, subway ads to signboards. Old-typography is everywhere, and music videos are full of references to classic K-pop of generations past. Sometimes it misses the mark, but sometimes it’s the perfect combination of old and new (IU’s collab with Kim Chang-wan last year? Nailed it). It’s only natural that we stop to take a look back—after all, Korea has come so far and changed so much in the last 60 years. So why those decades, and why now? Maybe it's because they're so recent but so different, and because they hearken back to a simpler time. During this fall holiday season of Chuseok, when the entire family gets together in one room, you start to feel the layers of time collecting in one place. Those years from the ‘50s up through the ‘90s are special because they’re part of Korea’s living memory—however distant they may seem, these years can still be remembered by our parents and grandparents. Now is the perfect time for a little break from the present—it's our chance to put on some rose-tinted glasses and indulge in a little retro-tourism through old Seoul.
The best of Seoul
The ultimate Korean BBQ restaurant guide
Korea's swarming with good BBQ places on every street, but the places we found? These are the best cuts of beef paired with the best side dishes. This is the ultimate best of best Korean BBQ restaurant list. Prepare to be amazed, prepare to get beef…
Seoul bakery and bread guide
Looking for an honest crust? Genuine connoisseur loafers can only take so much of the grocery store, square, pre-sliced kind before they have to break out and find a decent bakery. For the freshest and most filling baked products in town, head to our pick of Seoul’s best bread and best places for bread-heads…
Seoul shopping guide
On the hunt for a new look? Searching high and low for the perfect birthday gift? Or maybe you're in the mood to just window shop and picture those gorgeous home accessories strewn around your dream home. Whatever it is, shopping is one of contemporary society's oldest pasttimes, and Seoul has all the commercial activity befitting a modern metropolis.
The biggest club nights in Seoul
Whoever said that size doesn't matter definitely was not referring to clubs. There's nothing worse than being stuck in a small, expensive club when you're stuck with a whole bunch of overheated strangers. Seoul's mega clubs are a must see experience. Usually packed with posh Seoulites dressed to the nines and ready to party, here, the parties are guaranteed to keep you up all night long. Places like Octagon and The A are large enough that each corner and level of the club has a different feel, not to mention that they keep a steady flow of big name DJs all the time. Size matters but there's more to these clubs than just their immensity, go see for yourself.
Top Seoul attractions
Light spills into the courtyard of Gyeongbokgung Palace, and despite the shadows of boggling tourists,you are reminded of the grandeur of the place. Known as the 'Northern Palace', Gyeongbokgung is the largest and most well known of the five palaces. Although you run the risk of lacking originality with a visit to such a common destination, one mustn't forget that the 1395 edifice is also one of the most representative of the Joseon Dynasty. Especially on a clear blue day, looking at the sky reflected around Gyeonghoeru Pavilion, you can be reminded of why certain popular destinations remain as such.
Known primarily as Seoul's 24 hour shopping district, Dongdaemun boasts home to all night shopping, the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) and some of the cheapest street eats in town. At the market, you can expect to find anything from accessories to souvenirs to various kinds of clothing. However, don't be fooled by the market's reputation - expect to haggle and haggle hard if you're shopping on a budget. There are attractions to see during the day - a photo opt in front of the Dongdaemun Gate (Heunginjimun), DDP events and exhibitions as well as stores quietly opening shop. Visit before the sun goes down if you must, but the district's lights are bright and tell better stories in the dark.
City Hall Plaza
If you should ever happen to catch the plaza outside City Hall without an event, take note of how green that oval space is and how distinctly that grass stands out. Facing both the former City Hall (now the Seoul Metropolitan Library) and the New City Hall, a quick look here can often highlight what's going on in the country. The Hi Seoul Festival takes place every autumn when Korea peaks with creative energy while an ice skating rink opens in the winter for cold Seoulites seeking activity. And on a hot and humid summer day, the floor fountain dances with flashes of water. City Hall Plaza serves as a metaphor for Seoul as a whole, showing that the city is ever-changing and new again every season.
Nanji Hangang Park
For Seoulites and tourists who need a space to breathe after hustling in the concrete city, Nanji Hangang Park offers all the necessities of wildlife without having to go too far. Conveniently located right next to the Han River, the park is a place for the athletically minded. The amenities include fully equipped camping grounds, a music fountain, a baseball field, a swimming pool and designated space for extreme sports. It's a good medium for those looking for a challenge without wanting a hassle. Oh, and there's no shame if you want to go and just enjoy a barbecue behind a sunset.
National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul
Built in 2013 as an annex building of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) Gwacheon main location, the Seoul branch is located on the historic site of the former Defense Security Command offices. In addition, the Joseon-era former Office for Royal Genealogy is a traditional building with wooden pillars and graceful tiled roofs, which looks a little out of place next to the museum's modern buildings made of red bricks and mortar. Wedged in between the old and contemporary architecture are scultpure parks, which are also utilized as outdoor exhibition spaces. The museum has eight exhibition halls in total as well as a video library, movie theater, and a food court, so if you have the energy, you can very likely spend the entire day at the musuem. But if you do get tired of looking at art for any reason, popular attractions Gyeongbokgung (Gyeongbok Palace), Bukchon Hanok Village, Samcheong-dong, and Insadong are all just around the corner.
Seoul Arts Center
The first national multi-complex cultural center set on the outskirts of Gangnam, Seoul Arts Center has an enduring history dating back to 1988. Comprised of a 2,533-seat concert hall, 600-seat chamber music hall, 2200 seat opera theater, and six exhibition halls, the venue is a strong supporter of both the musical and visual arts worlds alike. Keep in mind that younger audiences (ages 7–24) with a taste for orchestra can apply to win free and discounted tickets to rehearsals as well as last minute shows, so feel free to stop by without an occasion or a pre-purchased ticket in hand.
Seoul's best hotels
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.
The best 5 star business hotels in Seoul
Those that travel often for business know that while they may seem glamorous at first, business trips often get tiresome and really, it's the hotel that can make or break that experience. These 5 star business hotels give you everything that you could possibly want out of a great business hotel - close proximity to main attractions, good location and excellent service that can cater to all of your needs. Inside the hotel are often facilities that you want out of everyday life such as good, clean food and a gym, while meeting halls are often located within these hotels making it incredibly convenient.
Upscale business hotels in Seoul
These days in Seoul, it seems like a new hotel pops up every day. Take your search online and you’ll find overwhelming numbers: Agoda has 546, Expedia has 733, and booking.com has 971 results. Naturally, the problem is that it’s not easy to pick just one. With so many accommodations rated 4 to 5 stars, you can‘t simply rely on “star power.” Brand name is another point of reference that travelers use, but following that is the slippery slope of high prices. Many of the hotels built recently in Seoul fall into the category of “upscale business hotel.” In other words, they may not be exactly luxurious but they are still quite nice. You can expect accommodations like quality mattress and equally impressive breakfasts. Not average love motel mattresses, either you’ll generally find that upscale business hotels are priced up to 150,000 won per night. The first of its kind to come into the Korean market was the Marriott. The Courtyard by Marriott Seoul Times Square first opened in 2009 with 283 suites, a spacious lobby with a contemporary interior, and a young, dedicated staff. Take note of the open kitchen and modern décor in the Marriott‘s MoMo café for affordable fine dining. On May 1st of this year, Four Points by Sheraton Seoul, Namsan joined the ranks of Korea’s business chains. A convenient stone’s throw away is the transportation hub of Seoul Station. True to its mission, Four Points has several conference rooms, but solo professionals looking for a more casual worki
The best romantic hotels in Seoul
Movie, dinner, talk, repeat. There comes a point in every relationship when you really feel like you're doing the same thing all the time… and no matter how much chemistry you have, and how much you really love each other, it honestly gets a bit boring. So how about spicing things up with some nights at a hotel? If you have kids, get a babysitter. If you're working, turn off your phones. Come to these romantic hotels, slip on something comfortable, and enjoy the view, the city and each other's company.