In Seoul you can visit ancient temples or be surrounded by the skyline. Past and future of Asia, here are the spots picked by our Fashion Editor that you can’t miss if you are visiting it …
Seoul is the past and the future of Asia, the place where you can trace history and yet foresee what’s next: two strong identities that coexists everyday within a delicate balance. Small enough to visit in a few days and easy to get around by foot and metro, Seoul is known for its sense of style. The Seoul look is an androgynous one mixed with subtle femininity and is a great source for ready-to-wear collections. Doo-Ri Chung, Richard Chai, Juun J, Yoni Pai (of Steve J and Yoni P), Sonia Yoon (of Bensoni) and Aimee Cho, internationally acclaimed designers today, are all hailed from South Korea.
The best time to visit Seoul is during autumn (September-November), so hurry up! Be ready for cool and sunny weather - temperature ranges from 5 to 15 degrees Celsius - with bright blue skies.
This guide will walk you through the must-see things in Seoul, the heart of Korea, the largest metropolis of the Country. Here is what you can’t miss, divided through main areas so that it will be easier for you to navigate the city.
The places have been picked by Yuri Ahn, our fashion Editor here at Swide and nonetheless a real Korean (South Korean), who found out all the right places to be for us.
Insadong is perfect if you are looking for a Korean cultural experience, for here you will find art galleries and many antiquaries. The neighbourhood of Samcheong-dong has a very old street and many craft shops, because the Chosun Dynasty confucionist scholars used to go to Insa Dong to buy paper, ink, brushes and books, and many of the old shops are still there.
Visit Gyeongbok, an ancient Royal headquarter, which is now a Museum open to the public, built in 1934, is one of the biggest buildings of the Joseon dynasty. Biwon is the Changdeok building, a residence nominated by Unesco as World Heritage Site: enjoy the beautiful park and its Korean tranquility.
Biwon secret garden
You must taste Korean cuisine, which usually consists of many small courses like the ubiquitous kimchee (spicy pickled cabbage) and the shinseonro, a hot pot that contains a mix of flavors that varies, like clams, meatballs, fish jeon (fish pancakes), boiled abalone, carrots, radish, cabbage, water parsle, leeks. All courses in Korea are served together – forget the European way. Main ingredients are meat, rice, and vegetables but also fish, cooked with typical Korean sauces like soy sauce and chilli pepper sauce that give food a twist. Onion, garlic and chilli peppers are also generally used for cooking. Where to try all of the typical dishes and atmosphere? Venture yourself outside the center, book at Philkyung Jae (Jeollanam-do Suncheon-si Jorye-dong 1719-5 ), where you can taste authentic court cuisine. The structure is almost like a Royal Palace, with different buildings (it has 99 rooms that host more than 100 guests) and a walking path, in case you eat too much… If you are fancying fusion cuisine, instead, pick Do Ga Hun (109 Sagan-dong, Seoul, 110-190), which means “very beautiful house”. Here you will find a mix of Western style dishes and Korean ones.
Another area you can’t miss is Cheongdamdong, the Via Montenapoleone (the famous luxury fashion district in Milan) of Seoul packed with famous International luxury boutiques – and Apgujeong-dong, the “Yuppie Street”, where many young fashionistas live. Here you will find big brands and small designer shops, too. Visit also Garosu-gil, the "tree-lined street”, full of little boutiques and cafes with great finds (like you would find in SoHo, New York), it’s a beautiful place to take a walk, too. Have your saju read in one of the dedicated cafes – saju means “four pillars”, your fortune based on the time, date, month and year of your birth – while sipping tea.
Have dinner at Sonsooheon (Seoul, Gangnam-gu, Nonhyeon-dong 99-32), a Korean Grill, an Asian sort of BBQ, where you cook the beef yourself at your table, or go to Bistro Seoul, situated in a fashion area where you will be served typical Korean cuisine surrounded by a cool environment.
Myeong-dong: mostly a commercial area, has an extensive range of local and international chain stores and youth-oriented brands. It is very popular among young people. Meander through the vibrant streets – the area is pedestrian for most of the day - and discover the small shops of emerging designers. If you are into brands, though, there is a lot you can see here because the most famous Seoul Malls with local and international brands are located here (among them, Lotte Dept Store, Shinsegae Main Dept Store, Noon Square). A bi-annual festival is held in this area in spring and autumn to encourage tourism, with fashion shows, concerts, parades.
If you need a break from shopping, have lunch or dinner at two delicious restaurants: Mugungwha, Hotel Lotte’s Restaurant (http://www.lottehotel.com/kr/), has a breathe-taking view of the city and serves traditional Korean cuisine. Naosnova, instead, is a sleek contemporary restaurant that offers Korean and French Cuisine, an interesting fusion.
If you are in Seoul, be sure to visit this season's exhibit organized by the Korean MoCA at the National Museum of Art of Deoksugung (until December 4th) "Art of Communication. Anri Sala, Yang Ah Ham, Philippe Parreno, Jorge Pardo" , where the four artists' different backgrounds - Algeria, Albania, Cuba, and Seoul - meet, reflected in their unique aesthetic perspectives about communication today and more precisely about the intimacies of everyday life, social messages, and the eternal dialogue between the arts.
And don’t miss Dolce & Gabbana store (99-19 Chungdam Dong Gangnam-Ku): a party will be thrown on November 8th at 8 PM with DJ Graziano della Nebbia on the occasion of a new space addition: Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana will attend the event with Yuri Ahn.
Written by Elisa della Barba in collaboration with Yuri Ahn
Gallery Photo Credits: Yuri Ahn
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