An Asian Detour to … Seoul, Part 2

This is Part 2 of a 2 part series on my trip to Seoul. For Part 1, click here

I really loved Seoul. Maybe it’s because I went there with few expectations or maybe it’s because I was there for the International Convention, but whatever it was, Seoul captured my heart. What are my favorite things about Seoul? Here they are, in reverse order…

#3 The Shopping…

We barely scratched the surface of all that Seoul has to offer with its shopping due to limited time and limited luggage space, but what we saw, we loved.

Our group in front of Insadong Street Market

If you want souvenirs of Korea, you needn’t go much further than Insadong Street Market. Insadong was once the home of the National Department of Painting which was responsible for the artwork in the nearby palaces. Later many art galleries moved in and are still here, surrounded by a plethora of souvenir shops. We visited on the national Korean Thanksgiving holiday, so it was quite crowded, but despite the crowds, we managed to get a good look around.

Just a few steps away from the busy main road of Insadong lies the Insadong Tourist Information Center. Here, you can try on a Hanbok (the traditional Korean dress) for about $2.50 (KRW 3000) for 20 minutes.

Another great shopping area is Namdaemun Market. Namdaemun Market is the largest traditional market in Korea. I think you can find almost everything here – jewelry, food, souvenirs, clothes, skin care… you name it, they have it.

Unfortunately we found my favorite shopping area about 30 minutes before we had to catch a cab back to the airport and therefore didn’t have much time to explore at all. Myeongdong is one of the main shopping districts in Seoul and attracts a younger crowd, with its beauty and department stores. My favorite shop was Artbox which had the cutest products and only my-already-packed-bags-with-no-space-in-them prevented me from going as shopping-crazy as I wanted to. There were also awesome fun photo spots within the store itself.

#2 The Food…

I think this is one area where the pictures are worth a thousand words…

Gimbap, the Korean version of sushi
Bibimbap, a Korean rice dish. But my favorite part about Korean meals is the Banchan, the small shared side dishes that come along with every meal.
One thing that many people don’t know about is that Koreans are also famous for fried chicken. Beer and chicken places are all over Seoul – in fact I think there were 4 within a 5 minute walk from where we were staying. It was delicious!
One of the only problems we encountered in restaurants is that sometimes the menus were only in Korean. This was the only restaurant we encountered where the staff didn’t speak any English and there were no photos in the menu, so we had no idea what anything was. So I took a chance and ordered something almost randomly off the menu! It ended up being an amazing meal of mackerel and roast pork with noodles and a bunch of side dishes, so thankfully we ordered the right thing!
Amazing Korean BBQ pork with egg and kimchi cooking on the side.

Last but definitely not least were the Korean desserts. Koreans take their coffee and dessert VERY seriously as I think we saw about 2-3 on every block! Honestly, every night after our meal, we were so full that we couldn’t even think about eating dessert. But on our last night in Seoul, we forced ourselves knowing that we had to try it before we left. We were so happy we did! My only regret was not trying it sooner…

#1 The People…

The people was the best part of our visit to this country. The way they warmly welcomed us was truly a beautiful sight. We really enjoyed getting to know the Korean people and the Korean culture better.

In taking photos with my new friends, I learned that Koreans love using filters!

Although I’m already back in home in France, a piece of my heart is still in Korea. We had such a wonderful time, but that was only our first week in Asia. More to come!

Next up… Tokyo!

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