K-dramas, BTS, Blackpink and seriously spicy cuisine are just some of the things that come to mind when people think of Seoul, but that hardly scratches the surface of this exciting city. Our local guide, Kim Ga-young uncovers the best spots in the city that go beyond the usual touristy destinations.
Seoul is rapidly changing and constantly chasing the latest trends – the phrase “palli, palli” (faster, faster) reflects the pace at which it runs. SMTown Studio is the perfect place to experience Korean pop culture. From vocal training to song recording and music-video production, you can live out your K-Pop dreams here. Just remember you need to book your spot at least two weeks in advance.
Besides street snacks sold in areas like Myeongdong, Seoul has plenty of superb restaurants. I like Jungsik’s New Korean cuisine (below), which merges Korean and Western styles of cooking. Awarded two Michelin Stars this year, it offers a five-course lunch and nine-course dinner. For something traditional, try Halmaejip, which serves gamjatang (spicy pork-bone and potato soup).
Recently, the term TGIF (thank God it’s Friday or bul-geum) has become popular. Clubs near Hongik University often offer free entry on the last Friday of the month, like Club Cocoon (above). For quirky fun, head to Tae Hwa Bowling Center for music, beer and a game of glow-in-the-dark bowling.
At weekends, locals like to head to the 19km-long Bugak Skyway, which runs along the north-east ridge of Bugaksan Mountain. It leads to a pavilion from which you can enjoy panoramic views of the city. For both scenery and culture, head to Namsangol Hanok Village (below), where you can take part in a traditional tea ceremony, wear a hanbok (a traditional Korean outfit) and learn Korean etiquette in a hanok (a traditional Korean house). For something more contemporary, check out Ssamziegil, an arts and crafts speciality mall on Insadong Street where you can find a wide collection of Korean handicrafts and designer goods. There are also many art galleries, traditional teahouses and restaurants lining the street.
PHOTOS: SUPPLIED, CLUB COCOON, SMTOWN STUDIO, VISIT KOREA
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.