Our next day in Seoul started as exciting as the last day ended. We had a full program today, but at the end we just did what we were feeling like to do. We started to walk to Changdeokgung Palace. On our way we passed by a small garden and a beautiful temple, hidden in some local streets. We had the whole area on our own. This place didn’t seem to be well known under tourists. But because we passed by, we just had a look.
Walking to the palace was therefore quite interesting. Especially because we saw a totally different side of Seoul. Tourists usually only see the big city centre, which doesn’t represent the local life in Korea. Here we saw the actual living area of probably not the richest families.
There are in total two big Palace in Seoul. Gyeongbokgung Palace, which we visited yesterday, is the most famous one and therefore much more crowded than Changdeokgung Palace. The locals, as Elle’s friend told us, prefer the less known one. Therefore, it was actually quite good that we didn’t visited yesterday Gyeongbokgung Palace from the inside. It’s definitely enough to choose one of them. At the end the whole structure and the experience is the same no matter which palace you decided to visit.Changdeokgung Palace was beautiful to visit and definitely a recommendation. The area is really big and has many hidden spots that you can discover. I really liked the atmosphere, the feeling to dive into history and the fact that there weren’t that many tourists walking around.
Afterwards we took a bus to Ihwa Mural Village. I didn’t really know what to expect from this place. All I knew was, that it is an area with little shops, coffees and paintings/ graffiti on the walls. Because I really like to see street art, I thought it might be nice to have a look. And it was absolutely worth it! I really loved it. The cafés and shops were mostly closed and there weren’t many people at all. Nevertheless, it was amazing to walk through these little streets and up these many stairs. In every corner was something else to discover. The paintings were so original, funny and beautiful. Furthermore, we had a perfect view over the city, which we didn’t expect to have either. I have to say, that Ihwa Mural Village reminded me more of a European hipster town than of a place in Asia. Maybe that’s the reason why I really enjoyed it. It was just good to see something different.
From Ihwa Mural Village we headed to Gwanjang market, a very popular street food market. I watched already many food videos on YouTube about the market and the food. It is maybe good to know what kind of food they offer, because at the end no one there can help you out. Furthermore, I was much more interested in trying all of these things, as if I would have been when not being informed. First, we walked through the whole market area, which doesn’t only consist of food, but also clothes, cooking utensils and so on. But the most interesting part was of course the street food. So many spices, a crazy amount of kimchi and other dishes that I haven’t seen before. It was just an authentically Korean food experience, seeing all these old ladies cooking the food, that they probably cook already their whole life.
For lunch we sat down on one stand and tried a lot of different things. One popular item is the mung bean pancake. You see how they grain the beans freshly at the back and use the flour to make the fried delicious pancakes. Furthermore, I ate some rice cakes in a spicy sauce, which I have tried before from a Korean friend in school. What I loved was called “Kimbap”. Kimbap is similar to Sushi, but still super different. They fill the rice with (pickled) vegetables and roll it to little sticks. They are really addicting. We also tried the Kimchi and pork filled dumplings, as well as the special noodles. It was all really delicious and filling. Seoul-food!
But there was definitely some stuff, that we didn’t wanted to try, like the blood sausage, pig snout or octopus sashimi. To see octopus sashimi is an experience that we will both definitely never ever forget in our life. It was grows. The mum with her two sons sitting next to us ordered the octopus sashimi. Therefore, we saw how the lady took out the octopus, which was of course still alive. She cut it in small pieces and served it directly to the guests. I don’t know if you knew it, but when you cut an octopus, the pieces are still moving. You can compare it to a worm. OMG! Disgusting. The mom found it so funny, that we were so shocked about that. But I still can’t forget the picture of the moving octopus in the dipping sauce. Ouuuuu! We decided instead to get some fruits for dessert. Maybe the better decision for some foreigners.
After having lunch, we relaxed like yesterday afternoon by the small river. After a while we headed straight to Dongdaemun Design Plaza. We had no idea what to expect. But because the next subway station would have been in that direction anyway, we passed by and were more than impressed. I mean, I am not extremely into art, but this whole construction was really cool. It was an area with lots of museums, fancy statues and buildings. Elle is much more interested in art and design than I am. Therefore, we spend a while checking out the different buildings and stores. We even bought the cutest air pod cases in the KAKAO friends store.
From Dongdaemun Design Plaza we took the subway to Common ground. Common ground is a shopping area constructed out of old shipping containers. It’s a cool spot, but not really worth to visit when you aren’t there to go shopping. Furthermore, they were filming a K-POP scene at the moment we went by. Therefore, we couldn’t go super close to the containers anyway. Instead we went straight back to the subway in order to get to Lotte World tower.
Lotte world tower is the 6thhighest building in the world. Lotte is a Korean brand and extremely famous there. If hotels, stores, cafés, buildings or fun parks, everything is called Lotte. To see the tower from a nice perspective we crossed the bridge and walked around the little lake. From there we had not only a nice view of the tower, but also one of Lotte world park, a fun park here in Seoul. Furthermore, it was just super nice to have a little walk in the park.
Our next stop was Hongdae, the young and hipster like quarter of Seoul. It took us a while to reach Hongdae, because it is literally on the other side of town. But we didn’t have anything against chilling in the subway. In Hongdae we walked at Gyeongui Line Forest park, which was originally a train line going to North Korea. Nowadays it is just a street along some cool cafés and shops. We went in a Flower Café to have a drink. It was such a cute and detailed café. The drinks we got looked absolutely beautiful and were made with so much love and passion. In addition, they tasted delicious. I got a green grape slush/ juice, which is a super popular flavour in Korea, not only for drinks, but also for cosmetic products or snacks. The owner even gave us flower accessorise to put in our hair.
To experience the actual Hondae life, we made our way to the shopping street. That was the moment when I realized why everyone loves Hondae. It’s just a very fun, but crowded, place to be. Every 5 meters is another “artist” playing music, dancing or singing. It’s unbelievable and a “Reizüberflutung”. I have no idea how to say that in English. Otherwise there are many different types of shops. What I love about Korea is, that everyone is doing their own thing in terms of store concepts and designs. Every store is unique on his own and hard to find anywhere else.
Even though we liked Hongdae a lot, we didn’t spend so much time here. We rather decided to move to Myeongdong. There, we went straight to dinner. This evening we decided to eat Bimbimbap, probably one of the most famous Korean dishes in the world. It is basically a big pot of rice with many different kinds of vegetables, an egg, a spicy sauce and other toppings inside. You mix everything together and just eat it. I looove it! I could eat that dish all day long. What you should also know about Korea is, that they are using always bowls and chopsticks made out of stainless steel. It keeps food super-hot and is definitely quite a sustainable option. Korean chopsticks are the hardest ones to use, because they are extremely thin and flat.
Because our restaurant was located directly in Myeongdong centre, we walked through the night market there. The choices of street food were insane and incredible to look at. Furthermore, I understood finally why everyone is talking about Korean skin care. Myeongdong is basically a shopping paradise for skin care. Literally every shop is focused on skin care. I`ve never seen something like that before. But we will come back on our last day to have a closer look.
The last stop for this long and exciting day was the N Seoul Tower. We just walked 20 minutes to the cable car station, bought a ticket and went up the mountain to have a beautiful view over Seoul. Because it is so humid and hot here, the view wasn’t as clear as I wished it would have been, but it was still beautiful. We could have also gone up the tower to have a 360° view, but in our opinion that wasn’t necessary. The view from the hill was already beautiful enough for us.
We experienced a lot and had so much fun this day. Because Elle and me never travelled or did in general something together, I had no idea how it would be. I was just so happy that we were just so similar in our humour, our travel style and yeah … just in general. We were already excited for the next day, which started extremely early in the morning. But I can already say, that it was worth all the effort we put into it!