A VISIT to Korea is a no brainer if you love to watch Korean dramas, and listen to K-pop beats like I do. Korean pop culture has definitely taken the world by storm from cosmetics to entertainment.
While this is my third time to travel to Korea, it still provides an element of surprise each time I visit. There were a lot of improvements, new flagship stores and restaurants. The search for the best skin care, Instagrammable cafés and amazing Korean street food starts here.
Seoul is a shopaholics’ paradise.There are many shopping districts, each having its own uniqueness. The best neighborhoods for one to stay or shop are Hongdae, Myeong-dong, and Gangnam. These are hip places that cater to the exuberant youth.
Hongdae is the epic center of Seoul’s modern vibe and nightlife. Surrounding the town are quirky bars, restaurants and themed cafés. Every weekend, live performances can be witnessed on the sidewalks. These buskers and musicians are so good they can easily be the next K-pop stars!
Myeong-dong on the other hand, is a mecca for Korean fashion, cosmetics and K-pop merchandise. A hyper shopping street filled with all the big Korean make up brands, cosmetic gurus wouldn’t want to leave this place. Here, you can also find BT21 flagship stores, which I presume is the hottest apparel as of the moment thanks to BTS, a world phenomenon.
Gangnam is known to be the richest district of Korea. The people who reside in this neighborhood are the ones who can afford flashy cars and glitzy lifestyles, most Korean idols live here. Similar to Los Angeles’ Rodeo Drive, Seoul also has a luxurious fashion street called Apgujeong Rodeo Street. Along the strip you can find cutting edge fashion, designer stores and local high-end boutiques.
Many tourists head here to try their chance at spotting Korean celebrities, since Gangnam is also home to the biggest Korean entertainment companies.
Plastic surgery has become a huge part of Korean culture, especially in wealthy Gangnam, so expect a lot of mirrors saying “Are you happy?” when you get off the station.
Temple Run and Folk Village
Seoul has five Joseon royal palaces. If you can’t decide on which ones to visit, here are two I highly recommend.
Gyeongbokgung Palace is the biggest, grandest of all. It was the main royal palace of the Joseon period. If you come at the right time don’t miss the changing of the guards ceremony, it’s a great cultural experience.
Changdeokgung palace is a Unesco heritage site and home to Huwon, or the secret garden. This palace has greatly influenced the development of garden planning and arts for many centuries. It reflects sophisticated architectural values, harmonized with beautiful landscapes. If you like photography, these two are the most photogenic structures due to the intricate detail on roofs, ceilings and doorways.
As ultramodern as Seoul can be, the city has preserved a 600-year-old village right at the heart of the city. Bukchon Ancient Village is a maze of narrow alleyways and traditional houses called Hanoks.These unique houses embody rustic, old-world charm. Exploring the network of streets will take you back in time, especially if you rented a hanbok, Korean traditional attire, through the course of your tour.
For all the K-drama addicts out there, you will be in for a treat, as every corner of the city has a reference to which Korean drama was shot at a particular location, so prepare to mimic scenes from your favorite K-dramas. These Korean dramas were filmed at some of the top tourist spots of Seoul.
N Seoul Tower, or Namsan Tower, is an iconic landmark of Seoul, it’s the perfect place to see the entire city. It is also where all well-acclaimed romantic scenes from Korean dramas happen. Apart from its K-drama angle, there are countless activities to enjoy here, from themed museums to VR rooms that will keep you entertained throughout the day.
Petit France, a small French-inspired storybook town with its vintage ambiance, has colorful houses that lend a visually-enchanting vibe. Once you enter, you will be greeted by lots of flourishing blooms bursting with spring color. No wonder many variety shows use this place as a backdrop because it’s so magical.
Nami Island is the most famous crescent-shape sanctuary that gave birth to Korean aestheticism. In fact, statues were erected to help travellers recall famous K-drama scenes that transpired in the area. In addition, Nami is also an oasis of leisure. A walk around the beautiful tree-lined pathways made me feel like I was in a fairytale trance.
Hallyu, Korean wave
K-pop is a subculture that does not only refer to music, but also the ideas, fashion and aesthetic lifestyle of its artists.
During this trip, I finally had the chance to visit SMTOWN Coex Artium. It is an impressive complex that houses a museum, café and music hall built to commemorate SM Entertainment artists’ achievements. Being a zealous follower, it was truly a dream come true to see an array of albums, awards and stage costumes of various hallyu stars. I had fun browsing and learning how the K-pop industry works.
Entertainment plays a huge role in making Korea world-known as a bearer of its good image. The increase in global popularity of the Korean wave has helped uplift the country’s economy. Korea uses hallyu stars to promote tourist attractions, Korean products and more. With its advanced technology and fast internet connection, social media is a key point in introducing this new genre to the world.
I can say South Korea, specifically Seoul, has transformed itself into an affluent capital. The modernization of the city really boosted Korean tourism, plus the global exposure of Korean music and entertainment continues to entice audiences. But even if you are not into the hallyu craze, there are so many other points of interest to explore. You should undoubtedly put Seoul on your travel list.