Eat, see and shop in Seoul

January 16, 2015 2:34 AM

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Two statute of Sejong the Great, the fourth king of Joseon can be seen at Gwanghwamun Square. — January 16, 2015.Whenever Korea is mentioned, the first thing that comes to mind is probably K-pop, followed by kimchi. However, Seoul, the capital city of South Korea with a population of more than 10 million, is also rich in culture, traditions and a haven for avid shoppers.

Needless to say, there are many palaces in Korea. Gyeobukgong Palace is one of the better-known ones. The palace was built in 1395 and is commonly referred to as the “Northern Palace”. It served as the home of kings during the Joseon Dynasty.

The palace is open to public and tickets cost 2,400 won (about RM8) per person. Aside from the palace, visitors can also visit the National Folk Museum of Korea and the National Palace Museum of Korea which are nearby.

Gyeobukgong Palace is a must visit even if you are not interested in ancient history or architecture. The view – the palace is set amid the backdrop of a mountain and the bluest sky you’ll ever see – makes it worth a visit.

How to get there: Take the Metro and get down in Gyeongbokgung Palace Station, (Seoul Subway Line 3), Exit 5.

The ‘Locks of Love’ at the Roof Terrace N-Seoul tower. — January 16, 2015.N-Seoul Tower aka Namsan Tower or Seoul Tower is a communication and observation tower located in Seoul.

A cable car ride and a short walk later, visitors will arrive at the tower. Alternatively, those who wish to take a leisurely stroll, can walk up to the tower. The best time to visit the tower is during sunset or at night.

The main attraction here is probably the “Locks of Love” at the Roof Terrace of the tower. The locks can be purchased from the gift shop and you can make a wish or write a message to your loved ones before locking it into place.

Other attractions include the Live Museum, the observation deck and a lovely dining experience. The tower is a great place to take panoramic photos of Seoul. From the observation deck of the tower, visitors are greeted with a 360-degree view of the city.

How to get there: Take the Metro and get down in Myeongdong Station, Subway Line 4.

Bukchon Hanok Village is preserved to represent a 600-year-old environment.

It is now used as a traditional cultural centre to allow visitors to experience the atmosphere of a traditional Korean village. The houses here represent the architecture of the Joseon Dynasty.

Surprisingly, most, if not all, of the houses at the village are still inhabited. Scattered among the houses are cultural centres, cafes and boutiques. Classes on traditional Korean costume, kimchi-making and pottery-making are available at the cultural centres. Tourist can pay to attend these classes.

The main attraction is, however, the Buckchon 8 spot. These spots represent different views and they provide excellent opportunities to take photos.

How to get there: Take the Metro to Anguk Station, Seoul Subway Line 3, Exit 2.

Myeongdong is one of the busiest shopping places in Korea. All manner of skincare and cosmetics can be found here.

Famous Korean skincare products such as Too Cool For School, Nature Republic and Skinfood – to name a few – have opened up major outlets here.

Some tourist come to Korea specifically to purchase these products in large quantities – as they are much cheaper in Seoul – and sell it when they return to their respective countries.

Dongdaemun market comprises more than 20 shopping malls that specialise in the sale of wholesale clothes.

It is divided into two sections, one for retail and the other for wholesale. Prices here are reasonable, but it also caters for high-end clothing and accessories. Best of all, the clothes sold are made in Korea.

Lotte mart is one of the biggest hypermarkets in Korea. A variety of goods ranging from groceries to electronics can be found here.

The main attraction for tourist, however, is the food section. There’s no denying that Korean snacks are the best and tourists buy them by the cartons! Most of these snacks can be found in Malaysia, but it is much cheaper to buy it there, and of course, there are much more variety compared to the ones exported to Malaysia.

(i) Take the Metro to Myeong-dong Station, Seoul Subway Line 4, Exit 5, 6, 7, or 8 or Euljiro Il-ga Station, Seoul Subway Line 2, Exit 5.

(ii) Take the Metro to Dongdaemun Station, Seoul Subway Line 1 and 4, Exit 8 or 9.

Ewha Women University is one of the most prestigious universities in Korea. The streets around the campus are lined with cafes, little boutiques and cosmetics shops.

Since the shops here cater for university students, you are able to get the best bargains for the things you buy.

Besides shopping, tourist can take a stroll through the university compound.

How to get there: Take Metro to Ewha Station, Seoul Subway Line 2 and get off at exit 2 or 3.

If you’re looking to enhance your appearance by going under the knife, Korea is a suitable destination for your nip-and-tuck.

Korea not only provides affordable options for plastic surgery, its clinics are of world-class standards as well.

Information on the type of procedure and licensed clinics which carry out such services can be found on the Tourism Korea website.

Alternatively, approach the medical tourist centre to get more information.

Travel tip: The best way to travel in Seoul is by public transport, and the subway is the best. Print out the map of the subway system and bring it with you, the maps provided at the airport are usually in Mandarin. – January 16, 2015.


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