Sold on Seoul – why this South Korean hotspot should be at the top of your travel bucket list
For a while now, Japan has held dominion over Australians seeking an exciting and enriching Asian escape. No shade at all to the land of the rising sun, but we’ve caught wind of another holiday destination that is well worth your attention – we’re talking Seoul, South Korea! From the delectable food offering through to the breathtaking vistas and killer cultural scene, this city is a diamond just waiting for you to discover it – not to mention you can get there in just over nine hours. Getting curious? To celebrate the fact that they now do flights directly to South Korea, we’ve teamed up with Gold Coast Airport to bring you the best bits of Seoul. Be warned – this list will incite some serious wanderlust and have you wanting to hop on the next available plane (which you can find here, by the way).
One of the best things about travelling is all of the incredible food you get to eat, and Seoul really delivers on this experience. South Korea has a number of dishes that it is famous for and that you might have already tried elsewhere – but trust us when we say this is cuisine worth hopping on a plane for. Exploring the vibrant street-food scene is a must for both authentic flavour and vibes – Gwangjang Market is a super-legit haunt that delights tourists and locals alike, the Noryangjin Fish Market is a frenetic must-do for seafood lovers, and Tongin Market is a smaller lunch-box style experience. Less market and more scattered stalls, Myeong-dong is the place to try eats like chestnuts, silk worms, sikhye, kimbab and fish cakes.
If you’re hanging out to try the best of the best famous Korean dishes, we have some suggestions on where to source them. Korean fried chicken and beer is an absolute staple that is done well in plenty of spots, but if you only have room for one round, head to Hanchu (you can spot local celebs there too). Korean barbecue is another must-eat, so make tracks to Yeontabal BBQ Restaurant to sizzle the choicest morsels. Gogung is the place to go for the most mind-blowing bibimbap, and Imun Seolnongtang (the oldest restaurant in South Korea) should be top of your list for traditional dishes to try. Feeling overwhelmed? Book a food tour based on what you’re keen to try or where you are based.
The culture club
Authentic South Korean culture is not hard to come by at all – here are just a couple of highlights to seek out. Seoul Grand Park is packed with things to see and do – highlights include the Seoul Grand Park Zoo and National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. The Insadong district boasts the Kyung-in Museum of Fine Arts and the quirky Alive Trick-eye Museum, while wandering through the open-air amphitheatre of Nori Madang is bound to yield some wild entertainment.
Down in history
If you’re a bit of a nerd for heritage, Seoul is probably going to poach your heart. Most of the historic centre of the city can be explored within a day. You can visit one (or all) of the five major palaces, with the two major sites of Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung Palace both within 500 metres of each other. Between these sites you will find Bukchon Hanok Village and the Samcheong-dong area, boasting hundreds of traditional Korean houses from the Joseon Dynasty. The 14th-century Jogyesa Temple is small but stunning, and the Jongmyo Shrine is home to one of the oldest worship ceremonies carried in the world. These are just a few of the notable names – there are temples, churches and shrines aplenty for you to explore.
Fancy a bit of a boogie and a beverage? The nightlife in Seoul is next-level fun but also offers something for everyone – oh, and these guys like to party seven days a week. Hongdae is where the cool kids and younger crowd hang out, so if you’re after a Valley-style rager and a little bit of everything, check it out. Itaewon is a mixed bag with venues for all ages – from sophisticated cocktail bars to grungy hip-hop clubs, you’ll find it here. The famous Gangnam district is for those feelin’ fancy – all of the beautiful people here are into bottle service and high-class revelry. Wherever you end up, make sure you seek out some noraebang (karaoke) – it’s a quintessential Korean experience!
The whole city of Seoul is full of highly Instagrammable spots, but there are some must-do destinations to scope if you want to create that sweet, sweet content. Hapjeong is an under-the-radar location bursting with cool things to snap (including a sky of coloured umbrellas), the Ihwa Mural Village will provide you with eye-popping backdrops aplenty, Cafe Yeonnam-dong 239-20 will make you literally look like you’re in a 2D world, and Mapo-Gu’s Zapangi boasts a pink vending-machine door (need we say more?). Whether you’re a happy snapper or not, the view from the N Seoul Tower at night is something you have to see with your own eyes – don’t miss it.
For the curious
There are some weird and wonderful things you can only do in South Korea – here are just a handful of suggestions that will make for great stories when you get home. The DMZ (Demilitiarised Zone) is absolutely a standout – this highly informative and somewhat haunting experience will give you a glimpse at one of the world’s most closed-off countries. Themed cafes come in many forms in Seoul – we’re talking live raccoons, meerkats and even sheep that have spots dedicated to them (and yep, you can pat them). The Charlie Brown cafe is super cute for any Peanuts fan, while the poop cafe will no doubt make you giggle. Yongma Land is a very snap-worthy abandoned theme park, while the Love Museum comes through with hot’n’heavy NSFW action. Keep it weird, Seoul!
Want to take a time out and spend some time in nature? We’ve got you. Namsan Park has loads of great hiking trails that offer breathtaking panoramic views of the city. A little further out from Seoul you can scope Seoraksan National Park, a wonderland of perfect views, clear mountain streams and eye-popping flora and fauna. Cheonggyecheon Stream is more of an urban slice of nature, offering up a beautiful strip of shady trees, art, and history. South Korea is also renowned for its cherry blossom season, so be sure to check dates before you book if you don’t want to miss it.
Has all of this got you itching to plan your next holiday? You’re in serious luck – the Gold Coast Airport has just started offering flights to Seoul! This is not a drill – just killer prices and amazing deals to connect you straight to South Korea. To scope what’s on offer and book your next getaway, head to Webjet for more information – you can thank us later.