Day 1: History & Hongdae
Gyeongbokgung is not my favorite palace and I'm far from championing touristy travels. However, I do believe that one should touch off with a little bit of history and it's definitely worth it to stroll around for an hour or so, especially if the weather is good!
Deoksugung on the other hand is rather pretty and quaint. A Changing of the Royal Guards ceremony happens here if you trouble yourself to look up a schedule in advance.
On most summer days, there's an event going on in front of City Hall. Those are fun but it also feels nice grab a takeout coffee, sit on the grass and enjoy the sun.
At this point, I'd head over to the Hongdae neighborhood. Usually, in student neighborhoods, it's not difficult to find a sticker picture store and trust us, they're more fun than selfie sticks and selfies.
Sometimes it's hard to know where to take your friends, especially if they've never been exposed to Korean food. Come to Chawongga and order a little bit of everything, mix and match to see what your friends like.
Sure your friends want to see Seoul and have Korean food, but sometimes, all they want to do is sit down and have a drink with you at a cool bar. For that, Sangsu-ri hits the spot.
And since you can't end it at just one drink, try another. Robin's Square is my personal favorite and they make drinks to impress any world traveller, I promise.
Day 2: Art & night views
If I had to pick one museum to take my visiting friends, it would be the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. The museum is a great introduction to what's happening now in the Korean art scene and the surrounding neighborhood is beautiful.
Whenever I come here, I always make sure to send photos to my dear friend in New York who loves Korean street food. I wish I could send her the smells too, to fully allure her into coming for a visit. Popularized nowadays because of Anthony Bourdain, you need to try the binddatteok and maekgeolli.
Every time I climb up Naksan Park and around Seoul Fortress with my friends, I guarantee them that the walk is worth it. (And it is!) Before the security guards came, it was nice to sit up on the fortress and watch the sunset but now sitting on the wall is prohibited.
PS. This is also my favorite date place.
While these Ihwa Village murals are fun to see during the day, it's somehow more exciting to find them in the shadows of the night. This village feels like film noir in the flesh. (Fans of Wong Kar Wai fans must try.)
I believe in ending every night with at least one drink, especially if you're on vacation. And Jazz Story, while they don't have the best drinks per se, has the best ambiance to follow up to the little walking adventure you've had.
Day 3: Shopping & baseball
No one loves the spicy, full flavors of Korean food more than I. But for me, three full days of it can literally be a little hard to swallow. At this point, I like to take a break at the Baker's Table and have some Westernized brunch food at one of my favorite bakeries and bread stores. Breakfast portions are huge and great for sharing.
Right across the street from the Baker's Table is also one of my favorite artsy cafes - Take Out Drawing. Doubling as a residency, they have great coffee and interesting art works on the walls.
When I think of shopping in this neighborhood, I always think of my sophisticated Swedish friend, Sofia and her ability pick out the cutest outfit. She called Garosu-gil one of her favorite places in all of Asia to shop and last time, she was in Seoul, we spent a whole day here. I've taken to bringing other friends and doing the same.
Ah, it's a full sensory experience that combines cooking into the picture. Bring your friends, teach them how to cut the meat and cook it (so you don't have to do it). Serve them soju too if you dare.
Although baseball is an American game, it's so much more fun to watch it in Korea. I didn't believe it myself until I went for the first time. I think it has something to do with the fact you can bring alcohol and buy it there for cheap. Fried chicken as well as other snacks are here too.
AND even if you don't like cheap beer and fried food, it is really interesting to see how the people know the synchronized dances and everything!