Even though I’ve been flying around the world for a few years there is still so much to discover. I would love to visit Australia (just not looking forward to 300 plus hour flight). And see how bohemian Bali really is (just don’t want to go where all the tourist go). And Iceland, I’ve heard Reykjavik is the place to be. Anyway, the wish list goes on and on. When you’ve been globetrotting for so long it something becomes ‘normal’. Luckily I still get surprised every once and a while. Like the other day, when I visited Seoul for the first time. I consider myself quite the Asia expert, (I could totally live in Tokyo) but never before have I been in South Korea. I usually take some time to prepare my visits to a new destination, ‘what’s the currency, how do you say thank you, which subway line to take’ but I didn’t have enough time to do that. The only thing I prepared was the location I wanted to take yet another Instagram pic. I did come across some other nice hotspots. Want to know which ones?
First, Insadong a traditional neighborhood where you’ll find lots of pottery shops (I’ve spotted some cool bowls for my fave açai bowl), souvenir shops and tea houses. This is a fave hang out of Korean tourist as well. I also visited one of those theme cafés here. A Kitty café (where you can have a coffee or tea while playing and cuddling with the felines), but the cats couldn’t be bothered and I’m allergic any way so it was a very quick visit. Oh and did you know they have a Raccoon (!) café here as well? Urgh, just the thought alone..yikes.
No Starbucks this time but a visit to a traditional tea house. I tried a cup of Jujube ginger tea a thick and peculiar tasting tea (sweet and sour at the same time). Jujube tea is made of Korean dates and is said to be super healthy. It’s good for your hormone balance, good for digestion, helps to beat insomnia and it is full of antioxidants.
Up next, Bukchon Hanok Village. A small village on one of the many hills of Seoul (it’s cool to be in a traditional village and see the modern sky line on the background). People actually live in the small houses so on every corner you’ll find someone carrying a sign with ‘please be quiet, people living here’. Despite the fact that they are talking the loudest, haha! You can also attend traditional tea ceremony and dress up like the locals.
These ladies (also tourists) dressed up in local costumes and walked around the village to take pictures. (can you spot the Hello Kitty selfie stick and purple Uggs?:-)
When you leave Bukchon Village and back down to the main street you’ll find a street filled with cute stores and boutiques like this cute stationary store.
Work, work, work. Students working hard for their future (yes, I did go to Starbucks anyway..).
The never ending Insta story. The only part of the trip that I’ve done research for. After I stumbled upon some very cool angel wings online (I have this thing with angel wings) I just had to visit Ihwa mural village. A cute little place, also in the hills where you can find some serious street art. About ten years ago they started this project to give the village a little boost. About 60 artists worked their magic and transformed the village into a popular hotspot.
You can easily spent an entire day here because there are enough coffee places and nice shops.
How gorgeous is this view? After a firm climb from Ihwa Mural village you are rewarded with this gorgeousness. A beautiful view over the city.
The Golden Hour, the best time of the day.
The price of beauty. The Korean beauty industry is hot! Having perfect skin is the number one goal for many Korean women. Money is no option when it comes to buying skincare products and they don’t shy away from a little nib/tuck here and there either. They don’t call South Korea ‘the plastic surgery capital of the world‘ for nothing. All around Asia people are traveling to Korea to get surgery done. The most popular is getting an eye crease, followed by body sculpting, breast enhancement, anti aging treatment and jaw sculpting for a smaller face. Also typical Korean, sheet masks, paper masks that are drenched in a certain product like collagen, hyaluronic acid, placenta or red ginseng. There are literally tons to choose from. Perfect to use on a beauty/pamper day and I must say, the collagen mask is definitely worth trying!
Seoul food! Of course I couldn’t leave Seoul without trying a typical Korean BBQ. It works like this: you choose whatever meat type you like and you roast it yourself on this hot plate. For starters you get a miso soup and there’s also rice, lettuce and other veggies to add to your meal. Also very popular: Shabu Shabu which is basically a hot pot where you boil all sorts of meats and veggies in.
Why talk when you can say it in colors? At juice bar Beesket choose all the ingredients you want in your smoothie by means of little colored sticks. You’ll find this juice bar on more locations throughout Seoul, this one was in the Dongdeamun area.
More shopping. I enjoy walking around big Asian cities more in the evening. Maybe it’s because of all the neon lights that are lit up but the atmosphere is better at night. You can enjoy some shopping until late in the evening in the countless clothing stores and beauty shops. The must visit areas are, Iteawon, Hongdea and Myeongdong.
Seoul so far. Unfortunately I just scratched the surface of all that the city of Seoul has to offer but still I can say that it is a super cool city. It reminds me of Taipei and Tokyo mixed together and despite of it being a big city it is very easy-going. Still a lot to discover so I’m already planning my next trip to this awesome city! Till soon!