7-Day Seoul Itinerary - Day 1

This post will outline our 7-day trip to Seoul and South Korea. Our main interests during the trip were seeing nature, architecture, visiting cultural attractions and photography spots. We hope you'll find something useful from these posts.

Day 1

  • Myeongdong

  • Mr Holmes Bakehouse (Garosugil area)

  • Namsangol Hanok Village.

  • N Seoul Tower, Namsan Park

  • Namdaemun

DAY 2

  • Common Ground

  • Yeuido Hangang Park

  • Cheonggyecheon Stream

  • Gwanghwamun Square and Gate

  • Insadong

DAY 3

  • Seoraksan National Park

DAY 4

  • Gyeongbokgung Palace

  • National Folk Village

  • Samcheongdong

  • Bukchon Hanok Village

  • Insadong

  • Dongdaemun

DAY 7

  • Hongdae Area

  • Thanks Nature Sheep Cafe

  • Ewha Womans University

  • Gangnam Style Monument

  • Gangnam Public Library

DAY 5

  • TeamLab

  • LotteWorld and Lotte Tower

  • CommonGround (again)

DAY 6

  • Busan Station

  • Haedong Yonggungsa Temple

  • Gamcheon Cultural Village

  • Jagalchi Market

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Flying into Seoul

The first thing you’ll need to do is obviously fly into Seoul. From wherever you are into the world, you will most likely land at the Incheon International Airport.

Snapping up cheap fares to Seoul doesn’t have to be tricky with many travel agents offering seasonal discounts. We usually check our flight prices using Skyscanner but have also booked through a discount airfare travel agent, Bravofly. Bravofly often has the cheapest rates available out of all the online travel agents out there, so using them could prove cost beneficial.

Incheon Airport is located quite far away from central Seoul, so you’ll have to decide what type of transportation you’d like to take to get into Seoul. There are a number of ways you can do this, including by train, bus or taxi.

We recommend you visit the official Korean Tourism board's website for more information, as your route can vary depending on where you’re staying in Seoul.

Okay, on to the itinerary now!!

7-Day Seoul Itinerary - Day 1: Myeongdong, Garosugil, N Seoul Tower


Myeongdong

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After collecting our bags from Incheon International Airport, we caught a bus to our hotel. That should have been simple, right? Unfortunately not for us. We got off the wrong bus twice and ended up having to walk with our heavy luggage through the South Korean rain.

Thankfully the first stop on our itinerary was only a 3 minute walk. We had heard a lot about Myeongdong from our friends, who described it as an exciting shopping haven and THE area to stay in. 

One of the primary shopping districts in Seoul, Myeongdong is also likely to be the most popular with shoppers. We spent about 2 hours walking through this busy and bustling area window shopping, tasting street food and soaking in the buzz of this busy place. Some highlights of the area were:

  • Cute and novel stores like the Line Friends store, which features a giant plush bear

  • Ogling at street food such as chilli pork skewers, takoyaki and crepes

  • The huge Lotte Department Store in the middle of Myeongdong with over 20 floors, which is a shopping experience in itself.

Exploring Myeongdong is definitely a must-do for any South Korea trip itinerary.

 
 

Transport: Alight at Euljiro 1(il)-ga Station (Seoul Subway Line 2), take Exits 5, 6 & 7; or alight at Myeongdong Station (Seoul Subway Line 4), take Exits 5, 6, 7 & 8. 

Click photos above to see:

  1. Starting the day off right with bubble tea

  2. Busy streets of Myeongdong

  3. Our meal at the Lotte Department Store

Mr Holmes Bakehouse (Garosugil area)

MrHolmesBakehouse

Following lunch, we decided to explore the trendy Garosugil area, which is an area in Sinsadong, Gangnam-gu. This photogenic place is famous for its streets, which are lined with beautiful green trees. Garosugil has a cool, chill vibe, with many modern cafes and shops.

After exploring the area, we made our way to Mr Holmes Bakehouse. The Bakehouse is well-known for its array of tasty pastries and drinks. Interestingly, the Bakehouse's neon lights have also become quite the Instagram hit; locals and tourists alike flock to the bakehouse to take pictures by the 'I got baked in Seoul' sign, among other neon signs inside the store.

We ordered the Matcha Croissant, Cinnamon Cream Donut and Iced Matcha Lattes as we sat down on the chic marble tables which overlooked the Garosugil streets. 2/3 items were of course, matcha, because Ralph is matcha crazy. The food there was great, but the interior decor was even more special. Definitely worth a visit.

 
 

Transport: Alight at Sinsa station (Subway Line 3), take exit 8. Keep walking straight for about 15-20 minutes and you'll arrive.

Click photos above to see:

  1. One of the most Instagrammed signs in Seoul

  2. Kale Sucks

  3. Afternoon tea to keep us going

  4. Mr Holmes Bakehouse's Matcha Croissant and Hazelnut Pastry

Namsangol Hanok Village

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The story of how we ended up in Namsangnol Hanok Village is quite a funny one. 

After Garosugil, the next item on our itinerary was actually N Seoul Tower. However, true to form, we exited the wrong train station and blindly started exploring the surrounding areas. We saw the tower from afar and foolishly said to each other 'It's not that far! We can do it!'.

So we started walking towards the direction of the tower, and it lead us to the Namsangol Hanok Village. We spent half an hour trying to walk through the Hanok Village to get to the N Seoul Tower. Needless to say, we did not find the Tower that way. We did, however, get to explore this pretty Hanok Village a little bit. 

Namsangnol Hanok Village opened in 1998 and contains five hanok houses. These hanok houses were remodeled after the traditional houses of Joseon Dynasty. Inside the village, lush greenery awaited us, as well as many pagodas with different traditional designs and colours. Although nothing inside the Hanok Village was particularly eye catching, it may be worth checking out if you're in search of some peace and quiet.

 

Transport: Alight at Chungmuro Station (Seoul Subway Line 3 & 4), take Exit 3 or 4. Keep walking along the road between oh!zemidong (Chungmuro Media Center) and Maeil Business Newspaper Building (150m).

Click photos above to see:

  1. Blessing in disguise: We found this Hanok Village by mistake!

  2. Namsangnol Hanok Village's colourful gates

  3. One of the many pagodas inside the Hanok Village

N Seoul Tower, Namsan Park

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We finally managed to pull up the right directions on Google Maps to get to N Seoul Tower (which, by the way, was a struggle because Google Maps practically doesn't work in South Korea - it only spits out public transport information). While waiting for our bus, we watched a group of cute puppies through the window of a pet shop - just a taste of the dog and cat culture in this city.

The bus arrived and we hopped on, taking it all the way to the top of the hill where the tower stood. As we arrived, the last glimpses of sun began to disappear. The tower shun beautifully bright against the night sky and was well worth the long bus ride.

N Seoul Tower is one of the main tourist attractions in Seoul. Standing at 480m above sea level, it is one of the tallest towers in Asia. A shopping center also stands at the bottom of the tower and offers an array of shopping and dining options.

Namsan Park, filled with lovestruck tourists is within close range of the area. If you visit Namsan Park, don't leave without taking a shot of the beautiful Seoul skyline as the park provides an impressive view of the city.

After paying around 8USD to enter the observation tower, we went up in a lift which took us close the peak of the tower. Unfortunately, the lift itself, which played a video simulation of you going up in space, was probably the most entertaining part of the observation deck. The windows of the deck were covered in fog, so sadly we couldn't really see the view of Seoul. However, I'm sure it would have been a lot more scenic if we visited on a day that was less cloudy.

 

Transport:
Namsan Circular Shuttle Buses
1. Namsan Circular Shuttle Bus No. 02
- Take the bus from the closest subway station: Chungmuro Station (Seoul Subway Line 3, 4), Exit 2 (in front of Daehan Cinema) or Dongguk University Station (Seoul Subway Line 3), Exit 6.

2. Namsan Circular Shuttle Bus No. 03
- Take the bus from the closest subway station: Seoul Station (Seoul Subway Line 1, 4), Exit 9, Itaewon Station (Seoul Subway Line 6), Exit 4 or Hangangjin Station (Seoul Subway Line 6), Exit 2.

3. Namsan Circular Shuttle Bus No. 05
- Take the bus from the closest subway station: Myeong-dong Station (Seoul Subway Line 4), Exit 3 or Chungmuro Station (Seoul Subway Line 3), Exit 2 (in front of Daehan Cinema).

Cable Car
Alight at Myeong-dong Station (Seoul Subway Line 4) and take Exit 3.
Walk for about 15 minutes following the street on the right side of the Pacific Hotel. The cable car boarding place will be seen ahead.

Click photos above to see:

  1. Where lovers from around the world lock love hearts onto the wall.

  2. The view from the observation point

  3. Puppies are Fred's weakness! (Fred is allergic to dogs.)

  4. The N Seoul Tower at night

  5. At the N Seoul Park, there is a viewing ledge

Namdaemun

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After visiting N Seoul Tower, we were both dead tired as we only landed at 10am that day from a long 20-hour journey that began in Perth, Australia. However, we kept pushing to see more of Seoul at around midnight. For our final attraction on the itinerary, we decided to hit up the Namdaemun Markets. We took the bus from N Seoul Tower which was supposed to lead us straight to the markets.

As the bus was driving along, we saw this beautiful lit up gate and looked at each other - what was this? We got off the bus and started walking back the gate to take pictures of it. Later, we discovered that it was Namdaemun Gate. Namdaemun Gate is one of the Eight Gates in the Fortress Wall of Seoul. It was originally built in 1398 and has since undergone restoration many times, including recovering from a 2008 fire.

Once we were done taking photos, we moved forward on the quest to find these markets. We literally walked up and down countless streets and alleyways trying to find these markets, and even passed through gates that said "NAMDAEMUN MARKETS", but to no avail - where were these so-called markets that were supposed to stay open until 5am?? 

I did a quick Google search and realised that most of the stores were closed on a Sunday, which happened to be the day we visited. We tried to visit the markets again on Monday - however the stores were still closed! To this day, we still don't know if these markets exist. Was it all a myth? Someone please tell us.

In all seriousness, we probably should have just stuck to the regular opening hours instead of trying to visit past midnight.

Day 2 is next. Stay tuned for that recap!

 

Transport: Alight at Hoehyeon Station (Seoul Subway Line 4), take Exit 5.

Click on above photo:

  1. Namdaemun Gate at night

Where we stayed in Seoul

We broke up our stay in Seoul by staying in two different areas.

Myeongdong Accommodation

The first was Myeongdong, and we stayed at the Lotte City Hotel Myeongdong. We had a great stay here, and found that the rooms were clean, the service was friendly, and that the location was very close to the busy area in Myenongdong. We would highly recommend staying here! No complaints at all really.

However, it’s important to know that there are two other Lotte Hotels that sound similar in the area (the main Lotte hotel, L7 Hotel and there's also the Lotte City Mapo Hotel not that far the main Lotte City Hotel).

This provided lots of confusion for bus drivers and taxi drivers who didn't speak English as they would drop us off at one of these similar-sounding hotels. I would suggest writing down the address on your phone/a piece of paper so you can reference it if this situation ever arises. The address is 362, Samil-daero, Jung-gu, Jung-Gu, 04542 Seoul. Their number is +82 2-6112-1000, which you should also keep handy just in case you need to call them.

Myeongdong is a great area to stay in because it’s centralized, surrounded by stores, always buzzing and generally has the ‘Seoul’ vibe that you probably came to experience.

There are so many hotel options in Myeongdong. Some you should check out are:

Budget Traveller

Mid-Range Traveller

Luxury Traveller

Hongdae Accommodation

In Hongdae, we stayed at the Hotel The-Ore. The location was central and close to the train station, but we found the rest of the hotel to be a bit of a letdown. The rooms were extremely small and the bathroom wasn’t very functional because there was no partition between the shower, toilet and sink, which made bathroom flooding a common occurrence.

Hongdae is another great area to stay in because it’s considered the youth and sub-culture capital of Seoul. Always busy with young people sporting the latest fashion and street performers showcasing their talents, Hongdae is very on trend.

At the time (in 2017), there were very few hotels in the Hongdae area. Thankfully, this has since changed, and you can now enjoy a larger selection of accommodation options in the area, such as:

Budget Traveller

Mid-Range Traveller

Luxury Traveller

Note that Hongdae has a lack of true luxury accommodation. You won’t find many 5-star hotels here, but the properties listed under the “Luxury Traveller” heading are a step above the others.

Other areas to stay in

Seoul is a huge sprawling city, so it comes as no surprise that there are many other areas you can stay in. Some options include:

Gangnam - upscale; think designer brands and classy vibes. Prices are generally more expensive here but there are affordable options.

Itaewon - known as the hotspot for expats and party central

Insadong - popular choice for Korean culture and traditional goods, features teahouses and souvenir stores

Dongdaemun - another popular shopping area; full of shopping centers and department stores

Yeouido - this is a business area right near the Han River and can be a quite peaceful place to stay

Jamsil - for easy access to Lotte World, one of South Korea’s most popular theme parks

Have any questions or want to share some of your experiences?

Let us know in the comments below!