My good friend Katrina will be heading to South Korea for the Olympics this year, and I’ve been bombarding her with information about Seoul! I lived there for 2 years between late 2012 and early 2015, and it’s one of my favourite cities in the world. I feel homesick for Seoul all the time. Sometimes I miss the little things, like the subway system, or staring confusedly at the grocery store shelves, trying to make sure I was buying the right kind thing. (Really, I miss that!) Sometimes, it’s the big things. Entertainment at all hours. The food. My lifestyle. It’s always nice to look back on that time, and I was inspired to write a Seoul megapost, for anyone heading that way for the Olympics or otherwise. Here are some things to see, do, and eat in the winter*. Of course, this is not a comprehensive list! Do you have a favourite Seoul food or activity that’s not included? Feel free to leave a comment!
I recommend the chain Kimbap Cheonguk– look for this orange sign “김밥천국”. This is comfort food that’s perfect on a cold winter day! The menu will look something like this, and you write the quantities beside the items you want to order. Kimbap (김밥) is always a good, easy, snack. It’s a rice wrap with seaweed on the outside and your choice of ingredients inside – I like tuna! My favourites are other things though: kimchi fried rice (“bokeumbap” – 김치 볶음밥), , donkatsu (breaded pork cutlet – 돈까스), kimchi dumplings (“kimchi mandu” – 김치만두) and hot or cold bi bim bap (rice/veg/egg mix bowl – 비빔밥). When it’s hot you get crispy rice on the bottom of the sizzling bowl – yum!
Quintessential vibrant Seoul. This is a busy shopping area, with big brands, bright lights, and lots of cute, cheap street stalls. You can also try lots of street foods here, and shop underground! Plus, it’s the station for Seoul Tower/Namsan (see below)! Definitely a must-see.
I’ve done this in the winter, and it was gorgeous! You’ll probably want to check for recent info on transportation, but there are amazing hikes in North Seoul that are accessible by public transit. Dobongsan Station is one option, and even visiting the base of the mountains is an experience! Loads of outdoor/hiking stalls, as well as places you can buy snacks (pajeon and majgeolli are common!?!) for your hike!
*I’ve left out foods and activities that are more enjoyable/only available in the summer (e.g. patbingsu and naengmyeon! Riding your bicycle along the Han River! Watching the water/light show at Banpo Bridge!) It’s also pretty Seoul-focused, so I’ve left out trips to places like Busan, Seokcho, and Jeju Island, even though I highly recommend them! Let me know if you have questions about any of these places or sights.
Enjoy Seoul’s wonderful weirdness!!!
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