Coex Mall and popular department stores mixed with upscale designer flagships; hip local boutiques and stylish cafes at Apgujeong Cheongdam-dong
Modern and traditional cultures mingle; historic palaces and contemporary galleries; handicraft stores at Insa-Dong
North of the Han River; Namsan Mountain; cultural sites, museums and galleries; wholesaler scene at Dongdaemun; local chains at Myeongdong
Destination for shopping and dining for trendy Seoulites, concept stores and boutiques in Hongdae, bustling street market at Ewha
Located on the Han River; Times Square urban mall complex; off-thebeaten- path attractions
Diverse dining culture and bustling bar scene at Itaewon; scattered hip labels and boutiques among popular cafes at Hannam-dong
Newly developed neighbourhood north of the river: quick connection by bridge makes travel to bustling Apgujeong and Cheongdam-dong easy. Design fairs take place in the area and it's also renowned for leather goods and shoemaking
SEOUL CITY GUIDE | 48 HOURS
Wake up at...
The hip but affordable Makers Hotel, five minutes walk to Insa-dong. Start your day in the artsy Samcheong-ro neighbourhood, where the National Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art, Kukje Gallery and many other galleries are gathered. From here, head to Myeong-dong, the mega shopping zone, and check out 10 Corso Como on the top floor of Avenuel. Lotte Young Plaza next door is a hub for casual youth apparel, accessories and beauty brands, both international and local. Be sure to visit Stylenanda’s Pink Hotel flagship and beauty haven Etude House. The area is great for a taste of Korean mid-market brands; 8Seconds, Spao, Too Cool for School and Banila Co all have stores over there.
Spend the afternoon...
At temple cuisine restaurant Balwoo. Expect a unique experience with beautiful presentation of seasonal ingredients. Afterwards, take the metro to Hongik University to explore the buzzing Hongdae district, especially popular with young locals. Check out Jebidabang, an old-school cafe turned into a live concert venue for indie bands such as Hyukoh, or sift through the racks of vintage garms from Vintage Crew and Bborok. Grab a pastry at San Francisco transplant Tartine Bakery in the new Ryse Hotel before heading to Jordan Hongdae, Nike’s fifth global location dedicated to Jordans, and Nike’s SNKRS, focused on sneakers only. After that, visit Seoul-based designer brand Ader Error's flagship for trendy, high-quality items, and Chuu for its popular jeans.
Spend the evening...
Dining at Wooraeok, where you can enjoy classic Korean grilled meat (bulgogi) or icy buckwheat noodles (naengmyeon). Visit the Zaha Hadid-designed Dongdaemun Design Plaza – the venue for Seoul Fashion Week – and check out its fashion or art exhibition on schedule. Head over to Doota for late-night street casualwear shopping or walk to APM Place, where Dongdaemun retailers have created a boutique atmosphere. For a snack, check out the stalls selling street food, from spicy rice cakes (tteokbokki) and vegetable sushi (gimbap), to warm skewers of fishcake (odeng).
Wake up at...
Hotel La Casa, the boutique hotel offering a cosy interior and a nice cafe for breakfast. It's conveniently located in the heart of popular Gangnam and you can easily reach the trendy Hannam-dong area by crossing the nearby bridge. Start at Hyundai Department Store's main branch, a typical destination for outings for families and friends. Take a deepdive into K-fashion by visiting the local designers at SJYP for denim as well as the duo’s contemporary chic styles, and bold streetwear pieces at Stretch Angels' quirky new flagship. Don’t forget to stop by Gentle Monster's flagship as well as Gentle Monster Parallel for killer VM inspiration. Head down the street to experience another cool store concept at Tamburins, Gentle Monster's new beauty brand housed in a gallery-like setting, as well as relative newcomer Huxley's pastel flagship. Be sure to check out Liful Minimal Garments' unisex pieces before heading to Jungsik for some contemporary Korean food approved by Michelin. If you're in the mood for vintage hunting, head to Dongmyo Flea Market for an unforgettable experience rifling through piles of secondhand pieces along with college hipsters and ajummas (Korean middle-aged women).
Spend the afternoon...
At the Burberry flagship, then walk down to House of Dior and make a quick stop at the Pierre Hermé Patisserie inside the boutique. Head towards Maison Hermès Dosan Park and check out the new Chanel flagship before visiting the landmark Galleria Department Store, which has two buildings connected through the basement's gourmet food hall. The store is packed with fashion, beauty and lifestyle products over multiple floors, with an interesting mix of designer brand store-in-store formats as well as pop-up shops. A little way down Seolleung-ro, multi-label boutique Beaker offers a mix of merchandise sourced globally, alongside local designer products displayed in the upcycled interior concept. Andersson Bell's Dosan Park boutique feels more like an exhibition space than a retail one. If you're feeling peckish, head to Sous le Gui for coffee and a special interpretation of the bûche, with a light custard filling. Take a picture in the indoor garden before taking a stroll through the alleyways of Itaewon for independent boutiques of all shapes and sizes.
Spend the evening...
At Saemaul BBQ for a delectable meal of grilled pork at this casual, popular chain. Take a taxi to Hannam-dong, where British brand YMC has opened its first flagship, with a small garden. Wind down by visiting Leeum, the museum owned by Samsung, made up of three structures by architects Mario Botta, Jean Nouvel and Rem Koolhaas. Enjoy well-curated contemporary exhibitions by international and Korean artists, before ending your night with a tipple at Southside Parlour in the notorious Itaewon drinking district
SEOUL CITY GUIDE | FAST FACTS
INCHEON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (ICN)
Most visitors arrive via this airport, located on Yeongjong Island. The best way to get into the city is by limousine buses, which cost about W10,000-15,000 one-way. Shuttles are also offered on the first floor of the arrival gate. The Arex railway links the two airports into Seoul; a ticket is W4,150 for all-stop trains, W4,750 from Incheon Airport's Terminal 2 station, and W9,000 for premium express trains. All-stop trains run every 10 minutes and take about an hour to reach Seoul, while express trains run every 35 minutes and the journey takes 43 minutes. Taxis directly into Seoul are W55,000-75,000. It is recommended to know your destination name in Korean.
GIMPO AIRPORT (GMP)
This airport only accommodates domestic travellers and those travelling to Tokyo-
Haneda, Osaka-Kansi and Shanghai-Hongqiao. It is located south of the Han River in
western Seoul. The easiest way to get downtown from Gimpo is by limousine bus, which
costs W7,000 -75,00 one-way. You can also take the Arex railway into Seoul for W1,450-
Due to the frequency of traffic jams, the Seoul subway system is the most efficient way to get around the city. Ride prices are based on distance and start at W1,250. Signs are written in both Korean and English, and most lines run 6am-1am. Buses cost W1,000-2,400 with cash and are cheaper with a T-Money Card, which can be used on both the metro and buses and purchased/refilled at kiosks and convenience stores. You can flag a taxi down almost anywhere in Seoul, but make sure there is a meter. Regular (Ilban) taxis’ basic fares start at W2,800 - 3,300 and increase by W100 depending on the distance.
It is not customary to tip in Seoul. On occasion a 10%
surcharge is added to the bill at some mid-range and
high-end hotels and restaurants.
Boutiques are open daily 10am-8pm. Shopping centres
are open daily 10:30am-10pm, with some open 24
hours, especially wholesale malls in Dongdaemun.
Market hours vary by market: some are closed Sundays,
while others, such as Namdaemun, are open 24 hours.*
* This is a general guideline as hours are flexible and different for each store. Please check store websites or call for more specific information
Time Zone: Standard time zone (DST) GMT+9
Common Language: Korean