Vogue’s Insider Guide to Seoul

Vogue’s Insider Guide to Seoul

Photographed by Su Shan Leong | @leongsushan

The ultimate guide to eating, drinking, shopping and exploring Seoul

Though Seoul is far from an under-the-radar destination, it has for decades sat under the sweeping shadow of Tokyo in terms of tourism to the continent’s North East corner. But not anymore. K-culture has ensured the metropolis’ a much-deserved heavyweight status, catapulting it to the top of many a bucket list within our generation. Whether they seek to discover its rich, and often tragic, history or simply to fully immerse as a BLINK, they do it knocking back the tastiest of brews (soup, coffee and soju alike). Got ‘K’ on the mind? Here’s how to have a truly unforgettable time.

Where to Stay

L7 Hongdae by LOTTE

Situated in the heart of Hongdae, L7 is a hipster hangout inspired by the youth of the surrounding streets. Its Blue Roof Lounge boasts a library, art exhibit and vinyl collection, whilst the Floating bar provides an energetic space to toast as sunset speckles over the adjacent pool.

Vista Walkerhill Seoul

One word: views. Vista Walkerhill is a family-friendly property with wellness at its core, but it’s also the best place to set your sights on sublime Han River gazing. Guests can soak it in from sleek, minimalist rooms, steaming open-air baths, or their towering sky garden. 

Four Seasons Seoul

Plush boudoirs, meticulous service and traditional touches make the Four Seasons a sumptuous experience. Guests are treated to sights of the city, including Gyeongbokgung Palace, and the property’s expansive Korean spa features a rejuvenating array of cold, warm and hot plunges.

What to Do

Courtesy of James Wong

Have a Photoshoot in Gyeongbokgung Palace

Built in 1395, Gyeongbokgung Palace is Seoul’s most striking architectural wonder located at Bukchon Hanok Village, a neighborhood comprising hundreds of traditional Korean homes from the Joseon Dynasty. Visitors are encouraged to discover their national attire, Hanbok; so much so that entry to the palace is free for anyone wearing them. Rentals are available all over the village.

See North Korea With Your Own Eyes

A trip to the most reclusive country on earth may not appeal to most, but those fascinated with the separation of North and South can tour the border. The Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) gives tourists a glimpse of North Korea via an observatory, plus a chance to explore nearby infiltration tunnels and the Bridge of Freedom used by prisoners of war. Half-day tours should be booked on GetYourGuide.

Browse the Coolest Library in the World

Consider yourself a bookworm? Starfield Library, found in the middle of the COEX Mall, is the place to get lost in a world of literature. Here you’ll peruse thousands of books and magazines and enjoy them in cozy nooks or the on-site cafe. Their 13m high bookshelf is one of the most Instagrammed spots in town and also served as a filming location for hit K-drama Record of Youth.

Take a K-Pop Dance Class

K-Pop dance covers have become somewhat a phenomenon, and that’s in part because enthusiasts actually take the sport seriously. You’ll find classes all over the city, from beginner to advanced, but be warned: classes are often announced randomly and sell out fast. Keep an eye on the YN Company for dance packages and the J-Hope acknowledged dance academy, We Flex Dance Studios for special sessions.

Learn to Make Kimchi

Museum Kimchikan is a compact space in Insadong dedicated to the beloved Korean dish, kimchi. Visitors are invited to discover everything there is to know about the fermented tableside staple which spans more than just the cabbage variety. Then, for a small fee, they can partake in a kimchi-making class. Tip: come hungry—there will be plenty of eating.

Courtesy of Netflix

What to Eat and Drink

Gohyang Kalguksu 

This unassuming noodle stall may look like just another vendor in Gwangjang Market, but Netflix’s Street Food has only made it one of the most sought-after eats in the entire country. Prepare to brave hour-long lines to taste Cho Yonsoon’s knife-cut noodles and kimchi or pork-chive dumplings. Trust us, it’s worth the wait,

Geumdwaeji Sikdang

Translated in English as ‘Golden Pig Restaurant’, Geumdwaeji Sikdang is renowned for serving the finest barbecued pork in Seoul. The restaurant’s been featured on the Michelin Guide, and has seen not one, but two BTS members dine (Jimin and Jungkook—ask your server if you want to see their autographs). No reservations are accepted, however, so you’ll need to show up early and add your name to a waitlist.

Jean Frigo

This slick Dongdaemun speakeasy is also known as the “refrigerator bar” because its entrance can be found through the refrigerator door of a (plastic) fruit shop. Downstairs, savvy patrons are welcomed with fruit-forward cocktails, and delectable bites such as pizza and pasta.

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