There are many areas to stay while you’re in Seoul. Researching and finding the best fit for your travel needs will be a must. Ultimately Myeongdong was the area of Seoul I settled on.
I learned that Seoul is essentially split into two sections. Everything north of the Han River & everything south of the Han River. Myeongdong is located north of the Han River, and I think this area is really ideal if you’re coming to Seoul for the first time. All of the main attractions & areas you’ll want to visit are mostly located north of the Han River. For example, Myeongdong, Gyeongbuk Palace, Changdeokgung Palace, Hongdae, Bukchon Hanok Village, Namsan Tower and more.
I heard that Myeongdong was the place for shopping. But wow, when I had arrived I could have never imagined the crazy crowds and endless stores encompassing this one area. Stores in Myeongdong open mid-morning, but everything really starts to come alive as soon as it starts to get a bit dark. The streets get busier and louder. There are more street vendors, food carts, people, and stores cat-calling for you step inside & spend some money. It’s definitely a place to experience.
Since Myeongdong was my home base it was easy to get around to the main tourist attractions. One of this first areas we decided to go was Cheonggyecheon stream and Gwanghwamun market. I took a nice stroll through the Cheonggyecheon stream to get to Gwanghwamun market. By the way, something I recommend everyone do whenever they visit somewhere new is to walk around and experience all of the sights, sounds, and smells of the city. Walking allows you to see more than you would if you took transportation to get to your destination.
Walking to Cheonggyecheon allowed us to stop whenever we wanted, and peek through the small alleyways of Seoul. It was a beautiful day for a walk, and after strolling Cheonggyecheon stream we headed for Gwanghwamun market to fill our stomachs with delicious Korean food.
Gwanghwamun market was a first for me. The sights, smells, and sounds from this entire place felt so inviting. I practically felt like a kid in a candy store. I do love food, and I’m always happy to try new dishes. We had no idea what to eat at first, but when I saw these kimchi dumplings (a.k.a. dumplings) I knew right then and there that we had to try them. The kimchi dumplings were steamed and filled to the brim with savory kimchi and vegetables. Not only did they taste great, they also fed 2 people for under $5 USD! The lady at the food stall was also so welcoming. She even remembered us as we walked back by her stall. She was waving, smiling, and saying “annyeonghaseyo” (thank you)!
After getting an initial taste of kimchi dumplings, we headed out for more. The next stop was for tteokbokki and kimbap. These are the two foods I always see people scarfing down in K-dramas. I was very excited to see if they lived up to the hype. The kimbap I loved. The tteokbokki not so much. It may have been that the tteokbokki was not spicy enough for me and the size of the rice cakes were a bit too large. With that in mind, I’m still want to give it another shot. But maybe at a different stall or restaurant. I didn’t get to try the Sundae, which is a blood sausage made from intestines & other ingredients. I honestly didn’t have the guts to!
With our stomachs filled again, we headed off to explore the rest of the market and walk off some of the calories. The entire market was filled with such color. Everywhere you turn there’s something else to look at and capture. Even if you don’t eat anything here, it’s an experience to walk around and see it all.
After walking around the market, I had room for one more treat. This was probably my favorite find at the market. I gravitated towards a vendor making fresh bindaetteok, otherwise known as Korean munch bean pancakes. This was my first time having bindaetteok, but certainly not my last! The bindaetteok was a crispy, hot, savory pancake made of mung beans, kimchi, green onion, and peppers. It has a slightly nutty taste to it, and while it’s crispy on the outside, it’s soft and fluffy on the inside.
After all of the market adventures, we headed back in Myeongdong for the Nanta Theatre “Cookin’!” show. Attending a play was a nice break from all the eating & shopping. But not long after my stomach was calling for food again. So I couldn’t pass by some of the street food. But FYI, the fries pictured below aren’t fries!
Finally with a fully content stomach…it was time to walk back to the hotel. See you in the next post!!
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