If you missed my last post, I am writing a series on how to manage Seoul without having to spend a lot of the day stuck on a subway. Yesterday I covered the culture and traditional side of the city, today I spend my time seeing the markets, eating delicious food and getting in a little more culture.
A Little Bit of Everything – Lines 4 and 6
Who doesn’t love a good market?
Seoul houses Namdaemun,,the largest market in Korea where you can find everything under the sun. Want some fresh food and spices? no problem. Fish straight from the seaside – they have it. Clothes, makeup, fabric, technology, shoes… the list is never ending. By heading out to Hoehyeon Station on the blue line (no 4), you can leave exit 5 and walk right into the chaos. This market is 24/7 so can be checked out any time of the day, but early morning is a good way to avoid the crowds and the sun (if you are visiting in summertime).
After walking around and seeing and smelling all the interesting things for sale, you can check out Seoul fortress which rests right across the road.
This has been there since the 5th or 6th century, although parts of it were destroyed by the Japanese occupation and then later in 2002 by an arsonist. The fortress has since been restored and is an interesting landmark in the city. It rests in the middle of a busy intersection and contrasts the rest of the bustling city.
You could spend a couple of hours wandering around the market, there is just so much to see and eat. The food area is lined with street snacks like fruit, baked sweet potatoes, rice cakes, donuts and various Korean dishes. It makes a great place to grab some lunch to eat as you walk or to sit down by the fortress and take in the area.
Namdaemun is only a few stops away from Dongdaemun History and Culture Park, another interesting area in the city. Simply hop back on the blue line (no. 4) and head towards the Dongdaemun subway stop.
From here the area is well mapped out and finding the park is easy. Inside are grounds from a past archeological dig, walking areas and the Olympic torch from when Seoul hosted the games in 1989.
If you follow the maps alongside the park you can easily get to Cheonggyecheon river which is a nice quiet escape from the city.
The Dongdaemun area is a great way to see the effort Seoul has made to include various aspects of it’s history whenever it can. Walking around outside all morning and for the afternoon can get tiring, so the National Museum of Korea makes for a good place to finish the day. Back on the blue line (no.4) and head toward Ichon station where the museum is clearly marked.
This building is seriously cool. The museum is enormous and is surrounded by a pond and mountains. Pretty damn beautiful.
Entrance is free and here you can see pretty much everything to do with Korea starting at the prehistoric age. I don’t usually enjoy things like this but found it really interesting, particularly as the way everything is set out takes away from the idea of museums being stale and boring. There is always a special exhibit which you need to pay to get into, but sometimes they are really good. I was lucky enough to be there when a show of impressionist works from France was on. As an art history student this was exciting and bought out my inner nerd.
After a long day of walking some relaxation is in order so head over to Itaewon for delicious food and a few drinks. Take the blue line (4) to Samgakji station and transfer to the brown line (6) to get to the area.
Itaewon is known as the foreigner district where visitors from around the world have taken over to open restaurants and stores. You can get any time of cuisine here from Bulgarian to Brazilian BBQ. They also have a Taco Bell which many expats find themselves at after a night of drinking. If you want good pub food, leave exit 3 and right opposite the Taco Bell you will see Gekko’s Terrace, a traditional British pub which has good drinks and food.
If this isn’t you thing just cross the road (so you are on the same side as Hamilton Hotel) and duck behind the first alleyway. There really is every type of cuisine here so finding dinner wont be hard.
Sit back, relax and unwind from a long day. Walking around Seoul trumps standing on the subway any day!