Squarely at the intersection of traditional Eastern cultures and neon-soaked Western ways, Seoul, South Korea is absolutely dripping with soul, a mecca of art, music and hipster culture that buzzes with vitality. The best time to visit this Korean capital is spring and fall, when the city is popping at its liveliest. What’s to love about Seoul?
One of the things Seoul is known for around the globe is Korean BBQ, the bold flavors of marinated meat and veg cooked over a tabletop grill and served with a slew of sides, called banchan. Social and fun, one of the locals’ fave is Mapo Jeong Daepo in the Mapo-Gu neighborhood, considered one of the best Korean BBQ joints in town. Eat the grilled meat the “Korean” way, slathered with gochujang (red chili paste) and wrapped in a lettuce leaf. For more savories, experiment with weird and wonderful street food at Gwangjang Market, Seoul’s oldest food market, a warren of activity fit for adventurous foodies. After grazing, have cocktails and listen to live jazz at Once in a Blue Moon in the swanky Gangnam district.
Although Seoul is a booming city buzzing with energy, a visit to Bukchon Hanok Village feels like a step back in time. Wander the alleyways and narrow streets that lead up into the hills and you’ll find a slew of traditional handicrafts, art galleries and restaurants to peruse. Check Ihwa Mural Art Village for eye popping art, a formerly rundown community transformed by bright colors and street art.
The Seongsu-dong neighborhood, often compared to Brooklyn, is a haven of hipsters, a hangout spot to visit is Common Ground, a 200-shipping container shopping specializing in local brands (Studio K and Jbans are here) and order Korean tacos from the food trucks always onsite. Fashionistas flock to Myeongdong, the place for the latest quirky designs, load up on Korean cosmetics and shop for souvenirs. The crowds can be intense, but the Instagram-worthy scenes of people and street snacks, so worth it.
Make plans to eat, explore and shop in this lively Asian city. Your local AAA Travel Agent can help. Call 800-750-5386 today!
(Traveler Winter 2019)