Hipster coffee shops, delicious street food and 24 hour shopping – Seoul really is a metropolitan dream. From glimmering skyscrapers to urban green oases, it’s difficult to find something that Seoul doesn’t have to offer. Once a neglected corner of Asia’s tourist market, Seoul is finally giving bigger, bolder Tokyo a run for its money and proving that sometimes the best gems are those that need a little polishing.
Street food is notoriously good in Seoul and a trip wouldn’t be complete without trying a plethora of local delicacies from the friendly stall owners shouting their wares on every corner. For a special dining experience, few restaurants trump Jaha Son Mandu, located in the beautiful hilly neighbourhood of Jongo-gu. The restaurant provides an equal feast for the stomach and the eyes. The highlight of the menu is the Jaha Son Mandu’s signature mandu, stuffed with cucumbers and mushrooms, it’s the perfect meal to enjoy on a summer evening. Relax in awe of the view and enjoy a glass of bokbunjaju – a local wild mountain raspberry liquor.
To truly immerse yourself in the customs and culture of this fascinating city, stay in a traditional hanok building for a uniquely South Korean experience. Sat next to the lotus pond in the small pavilion, at Rakkojae Seoul it’s easy to forget about the buzzing city just outside of the building’s walls. This small hotel has all the elegance of Korea's rich history and offers introductions into the city’s best loved customs. Eat a traditional meal, take part in a tea ceremony and even try making your own kimchi. For those seeking a more indulgent way to relax, there is a quaint yellow mud sauna, heated only by firewood.
Oozing with history, The Gwangjang Market was the first permanent market in Seoul and has been in operation for just over a century. Whilst maintaining important Korean traditions, the market is the place to see the juxtaposition of the old and the new in emerging Seoul. Stroll through the pathways and find everything from traditional bridal shops to modern day vintage shopping and beyond. From fresh fruit to traditional meat dishes, be sure to stop into one of the many Korean pancakes shops for a favourite local snack.