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Seoul South Korea Travel Guide: Rainy Days to River Romance

Join us, Nic and Sarah, as we embark on an amazing holiday in Seoul. It was Nic's first time visiting this vibrant city, while Sarah had the pleasure of experiencing it before. We share a passion for studying the language and have an insatiable love for the local cuisine. Let us guide you and get ready to hear all about our travel adventures as we explored the city's sights, indulged in delicious meals, and encountered the perfect blend of old and new in Seoul, South Korea

Day 1: Rainy Adventures and Cozy Cafés

Our first day in Seoul didn't exactly start off with a sunny bang; Instead, the rain came pouring down on us starting from when we first got off the plane! But hey, that didn't dampen our spirits! We kicked off our explorations by seeking shelter at Sniffer Koffee, a café that was practically begging us to come in and escape the wet madness outside.

Once inside, we cozied up with our drinks - Nic went for a Sniffer Latte while Sarah opted for a Colombia San Agustin Decaf. And to sweeten the deal, we shared a mouthwatering almond cookie. Talk about starting the day on the right foot!

sniffer koffee seoul korea
A view inside Sniffer Koffee

Next on our rainy-day agenda was The War Memorial of Korea. We dove headfirst into the rich history of this country, discovering captivating exhibits and artifacts that brought Korea's courageous past to life. The rain added a special touch to the experience, creating an emotional atmosphere that seemed almost orchestrated by nature itself.

war memorial seoul korea
The War Memorial of Korea

Now, normally, we wouldn't have tackled COEX/Starfield Mall on our first day. It was a bit farther from our hotel, and we had planned to save it for later. But you know what they say—when life gives you rain, go shopping! So off we went to this vibrant retail wonderland, housing everything from an Instagram-able library to a cinema and even the COEX Aquarium. We couldn't resist snapping a few pics at the library before venturing into the underwater world of the aquarium.

COEX mall library seoul
The beautiful library inside COEX Mall

Unfortunately, it seemed like everyone else had the same rainy-day idea. The aquarium was packed, and we found ourselves swimming through a sea of excited visitors. Lesson learned: public holidays + indoor attractions = crowded chaos. But hey, we made the best of it and moved on.

Dinner time! We indulged in the delectable delight that is Tosokchon Samgyetang. Picture a nourishing chicken ginseng soup that warms your soul like a cozy blanket. It was the perfect remedy after a day spent battling the rain. But our regal adventure didn't end there! On our way back to the hotel, we made a pit stop at the majestic Gyeongbokgung Palace and Gwanghwamun Square, It was a serene experience especially with the night sky and slight drizzle. As we admired the historical beauty and peaceful ambiance of these iconic landmarks, it felt like a quiet escape from the bustling city, allowing us to appreciate the historical significance of the place.

Ginseng chicken soup at Tosokchon Samgyetang
Ginseng chicken soup at Tosokchon Samgyetang
Gyeongbokgung Palace at night
Gyeongbokgung Palace at night

Day 2: From Royalty to River Romance

Finally, the sun was shining bright on our second day in Seoul! It was like the universe knew we needed a break from the rain. Our first stop was again the magnificent Gyeongbokgung Palace. a convenient 10 minute walk from our hotel. And guess what? We lucked out and arrived just in time for the changing of the royal guards at the Gwanghwamun Gate. Talk about perfect timing!

We wandered through the palace grounds, completely in awe of the intricate architecture and sprawling courtyards. Seriously, this place was massive! We soaked in the grandeur of this historical gem, even though we couldn't explore every nook and cranny. Oh, and the cherry on top—the sea of people dressed in traditional hanboks. It felt like we had time-traveled to a bygone era of royal splendor. We must add too that the daytime visit offered a distinct contrast from the enchanting night view, providing a different perspective on the palace's beauty and atmosphere.

Gyeongbokgung Palace
Changing of the guards at Gyeongbokgung Palace
Gyeongbokgung Palace
Outdoor view, Gyeongbokgung Palace
Gyeongbokgung Palace
Gyeongbokgung Palace: inside view

After a while, Nic's energy was waning, and Sarah's tummy was growling. So, we made a beeline for Coffee @ Works, a little haven that served up a mean strawberry cheese tart, the perfect way to recharge and refuel!

Our next destination was the charming Bukchon Hanok Village. But wait, don't be fooled—it may look picturesque, but those steep hills were no joke. Sarah huffed and puffed, but hey, who needs a stair climber when you've got a cultural gem waiting for you at the top?

This traditional neighborhood, nestled amidst modern Seoul, stole our hearts. Narrow alleyways lined with well-preserved hanok houses exuded tranquility. We couldn't resist capturing the beauty on our cameras and storing those memories forever.

 Bukchon Hanok Village
Bukchon Hanok Village

In the late afternoon, we headed to Hongdae, expecting an explosion of excitement and liveliness. But alas, it seemed like we were a bit too early for the party. No worries, though. We embarked on a crazy adventure—a long walk across the Seonyu Ro Bridge to Seonyudo Park, followed by a delightful stroll to Yeouido Hangang Park which had some amazing views that didn't show up on travel guides.

Dinner time! We opted for the ultimate Korean experience—a mouth-watering feast of chicken and beer by the Han River at Yeouido Hangang Park. It was pure bliss, sitting on benches, people-watching, and witnessing the sun painting the sky with vibrant hues as it bid us farewell. Trust us, if you're a couple looking for a romantic moment, this is a definite 10 out of 10 recommendation!

Han River  Yeouido Hangang Park
The view of the Han River near Yeouido Hangang Park

Day 3: Lazy Explorations and Hidden Gems

Today, we threw caution to the wind and embraced our lazy side. We slept in, stretched like cats, and decided to take it easy. Our first stop was Ikseon-dong, Seoul's hipster corner. Picture numerous cafes, restaurants, and adorable shops all tucked away in charming hanoks along narrow alleys. It was a foodie paradise, and we dove right in for a delicious lunch. But hey, who could resist a visit to the Insta-famous Nakwon Cafe? Retro vibes and rail tracks cutting across the café made it the perfect spot to snap some envy-inducing pics. The lengths we go for the 'gram!

 Nakwon Cafe
The view outside Nakwon Cafe with the railway track

With our energy restored, we took a leisurely stroll to the nearby Insa-dong. And guess what? We stumbled upon Le France, a fantastic spot for some midday vino overlooking the iconic N Seoul Tower as the sun began its descent. Pure magic, we tell you!

Before we knew it, it was dinner time and our stomachs were in need of attention. We headed to Gwangjang Market for some delectable street food and we even spotted the famous Kalguksu knife-cut noodles lady, who had gained Netflix fame. Unfortunately, we missed out on trying those show-stopping noodles, but hey, we didn't let it dampen our spirits.

Now, it wouldn't be a complete trip to Seoul without some karaoke action. Nic had been dreaming about it since the beginning, so we made his dream come true at Su Noraebang in Hongdae. Oh boy, did we have a blast belting out tunes in our private room! The night was still young, and Hongdae was calling, but we had a date with Charles H, the 7th-ranked bar on Asia's 50 Best Bars list. The stunning interior, the exquisite drinks, and the free flow of snacks made it an unforgettable nightcap experience!

Charles H Seoul
Charles H, inside Four Seasons Hotel Seoul

Day 4: Hidden Cafés and Palace Adventures

Today, Nic transformed into a treasure hunter and discovered a hidden gem—Cafe Sasa. Tucked away near Changdeokgung Palace, this cute little café served up injeolmi rice cakes that were out of this world. The best part? We had the entire place to ourselves, allowing us to savor our drinks, enjoy the peaceful ambiance, and savor the moment. Ah, bliss!

Cafe Sasa Seoul
Breakfast at Cafe Sasa

With our bellies satisfied, we embarked on a culinary adventure at Ida Seoul - fusion cuisine that tickled our taste buds and left us wanting more. Sadly, time was not on our side, as we had a guided tour waiting for us.

The afternoon was dedicated to exploring Changdeokgung Palace and the Secret Garden. And let us tell you, that guided tour was a game-changer! We dove deep into the history, learning about old Korea and gaining a newfound appreciation for this magnificent place. Finally, our taste buds called for some sizzling Korean BBQ, and Wangdijip at Myeongdong delivered the goods. With satisfied tummies, we spent the rest of the evening exploring Myeongdong, shopping, indulging in street food, and capturing unforgettable moments in Korea's iconic photobooths.

Korean BBQ
Korean BBQ at Wangdijip Myeongdong

Day 5: Adventures, Trails, and Moonlight Magic

Feeling adventurous, we embarked on a hike up Namsan trail to the N Seoul Tower. Sure, we could have taken the easy way up with the Namsan Cable Car, but where's the fun in that? We embraced the challenge, tackling the trail like brave explorers. Please be warned that it was tougher than we expected. Huffing and puffing, we conquered the uphill battle, rewarded with breath-taking views along the way and at the top. The slight cloud cover didn't dampen our spirits—it only added a touch of mystery to the experience.

N Seoul Tower
The view from the base of N Seoul Tower
N Seoul Tower
Our view of the N Seoul Tower during our walk up Namsan

Myeongdong Kyoja beckoned to us for lunch (mentioned in Michelin guide) and we devoured their kalguksu noodle soup and mandu dumplings before moving on to satisfy Nic's caffeine cravings. For this, we made a pit stop at Cafe Coin just around the corner; the aroma of freshly brewed coffee filled the air, rejuvenating our senses for more adventures.

Our next stop was Namdaemun Market, Korea's largest traditional market. Now, truth be told, it wasn't exactly our cup of tea so we didn't spend much time there. Besides, exploring new places means trying out different experiences, right? We quickly moved on, eager to explore Gangnam. Little did we know, Gangnam had a few surprises for us—slopes! Lots of slopes! Walking around turned into a mini workout session, and we soon realized we weren't wearing our hiking boots. Lesson learned!

But a delicious izakaya dinner in Garugosil made up for the uphill struggle. The language barrier was no match for our determination to enjoy a fantastic meal and we resorted to Google images to order, and it worked like a charm. Bellies full, we attempted to catch the Banpo Bridge Moonlight Rainbow Fountain, but we missed the last show. We were a little bummed initially but a leisurely walk along the Han River, people-watching, and soaking in the serene atmosphere made up for it and became the perfect end to our day.

Day 6: Farewell, Seoul, and Café Adventures

Our last official day in Seoul dawned upon us, and we were determined to make the most of it. Breakfast at Cafe Libre, with their mean hot chocolate, set the tone for a delightful day ahead. Myeongdong called to us one last time, luring us in for some last-minute shopping. We couldn't resist the magnetic pull of Grandmother's Recipe near Seoul Forest Park, where tasty traditional dishes awaited our eager taste buds.

Speaking of Seoul Forest Park, the scorching sun greeted us with open arms. We couldn't help but imagine how this place might transform into a picturesque wonderland in autumn. With Gangnam on our minds, we revisited Gangnam and this time, dropped by the Apgujeong Rodeo and K-Star Road, crossing them off our to-do list. But honestly, apart from those spots, Gangnam didn't offer much excitement (at least to us). No worries, though— the delicious izakaya dinner in Garugosil more than made up for it!

Seoul Forest Park
Horse-riding sculptures in Seoul Forest Park
K Star Road Gangnam
K Star Road in Gangnam

We couldn't resist one final rendezvous with the Han River and its tranquil beauty. Banpo Hangang Park welcomed us back, and this time, we caught the sunset and witnessed the magical display of the moonlight rainbow fountain. It was a breath-taking end to our Seoul adventure, bittersweet as it may be.

Banpo Bridge Moonlight Rainbow Fountain
Banpo Bridge Moonlight Rainbow Fountain

And so, we bid farewell to this remarkable city, cherishing the memories we made, the flavours we savoured, and the experiences that will forever be etched in our hearts. Seoul, you stole a piece of our souls, and we promise to return someday for another round of incredible adventures!

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