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A Tour with Seoul

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Things to see and do in Korea
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161 Sajik-ro, Jongno 1(il).2(i).3(sam).4(sa), Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Originally built in 1395, Gyeongbokgung Palace is the largest and greatest of Seoul’s Five Grand Palaces. Burned down during the Japanese invasion of 1592, it was reconstructed in 1867. Today, the palace grounds, filled with lotus ponds,...
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South Korea, Seoul, Jongno-gu, Gahoe-dong, 계동길 37
On my first evening back in Seoul, on my first visit in almost twenty years, I could hardly believe I was in the middle of a metropolitan area of over twenty million people. I was staying in the Buk-chon neighborhood, in a 'hanok'--one of the...
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99 Sejong-daero, Jeong-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
While in Seoul, stop by Daehanmun Gate at Deoksugung Palace, where you can see semi-daily changing of the guard ceremonies.
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Samseong 2(i)-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Across the street from Asia's largest underground mall, Bong-eun-sa temple still functions as one of Seoul's largest and oldest Buddhist temples. Under the paper lanterns, ritual continues, a counterpoint to the the wired and wifi frenzy in the...
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Deoksugung-gil, Sogong-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Bukchon, the historic neighborhood between Gyeongbok-gung and Changdeok-gung palaces in the heart of Seoul, is the home of buk-chon son mandu, which translates as "handmade dumplings." Even though this is a Seoul chain restaurant, the namesake...
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22 Majang-ro, Sindang-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
We lose ourselves in travel, work or play. Becoming fully engulfed in the moment is all to frequent. This photo was taken in the Sindang Market in Central Seoul. It is tough to put a finger on Sindang Market, it is a place where you can find an...
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Samcheong-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
While living in Seoul, exploring was something I would often do. I would ride the subways and pick a random stop, get off then walk as far as I could. In my opinion there is no better way to gather a sense of place in a foreign land. One area I...
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106 Sogong-ro, Sogong-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
The "Altar to Heaven," hidden away in what is now the garden of the Westin Chosun Hotel in central Seoul, was one of the Joseon Dynasty's last architectural expressions of independence. In the tumult of the end of the 19th and beginning of the...
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21 Cheonho-daero 4-gil, Sinseol-dong, Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Seoul's Folk Flea Market is a place where you can buy anything, I mean anything! This scary contraption looks like an invention of a comic book super-villain, but for the small price of 5 dollars you could be tightening those crow's feet and...
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21 Namdaemunsijang 4-gil, Hoehyeon-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Among the biggest and most chaotic markets in Korea, Seoul's Namdaemun Market is the capital's oldest, dating to the 1400s. Today you can find ANYthing here, if you're willing to brave the crowded alleyways tucked in behind skyscrapers:...
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Namdaemun Market, the most bustling place in Seoul. Food vendors fly through unnavigable aisles with food stacked on their heads, touts selling their wares and a constant stream of shoppers looking to spot the best bargain. Three things you should...
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18 Insadong 4-gil, Jongno 1(il).2(i).3(sam).4(sa), Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
On a sidewalk in Seoul's Insa-dong district, a husband-and-wife team demonstrate the traditional way to make "tteok," chewy-sticky rice-cakes. Pounding the sweet rice in the giant stone mortar with a wooden pestle turns it into a flour which is...
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78 Namdaemun-ro, Myeongdong 1(il)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
In the Korean capital's Myeongdong district, you're not limited to 'Seoul-food;' you can also taste distinctive dishes from Jeonju city, in the country's fertile Southwest. Go to "Go-gung" (pronounce: goh-goong) restaurant. The restaurant's...
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Changdeokgung-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
The upswept rooflines of Korean architecture are beguiling: intricate eaves are a symphony of patterned color...and every once in a while, a face pops out, like this scowling end-tile 'guardian'--a face only a roofer could love. I spent a couple...
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Gwanghui-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Globalization is this groovy thing leading to all sorts of adventure. I was surprised while living in Central Asia to find how many people had family living in Korea or were Koreans living in the region. With this said, I should not have been...
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21 Namdaemunsijang 4-gil, Hoehyeon-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Dumplings are delicious. That's not much of a secret. But snacking on dumplings in one of the world's busiest and most atmospheric night markets? That's an entirely different experience. Namdaeumun Night Market, located smack dab in the heart of ...
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Sincheon-ro, Songpa-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Bodega is a Spanish wine & tapas bar in a funky neighborhood in Seoul. Nothing strange about that. In fact, there's nothing strange about the food or the wine at all—the sparkling brut is cheap as chips, and the albariño blend comes to the table...
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Jibong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
"Dongdaemun" is the old east gate of Seoul. The word is also synonymous with the massive market area that surrounds the gate, both above and below ground. Several of the nearby subway stations connect with underground shopping arcades. You can...
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18 Insadong 4-gil, Jongno 1(il).2(i).3(sam).4(sa), Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
"Yeot...what?" The closest approximation in English for one of Korea's favorite street-sweets might be "taffy." It ranges from sticky-soft all the way to jaw-breaker-hard. Traditional vendors announce their confectionery presence by loudly and...
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60-16 Itaewon-ro 55-gil, Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
A great way to spend an afternoon in Seoul: a good book and the genius of sculptor Louise Bourgeois at the Leeum Museum. A gentleman relaxes on ‘Eye Benches,’ while 'Maman' stands guard. It’s in Itaewon that Samsung planted the Leeum Contemporary...
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Chungmuro 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
There is a definite rhythmic buzz along the streets of Myeong Dong, in the heart of Seoul. From the energetic calls of salesgirls thrusting skincare samples into the hands of passersby to the throngs of trendy travellers stopping at the roadside...
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South Korea, Seoul, Jongno-gu, Gahoe-dong, 계동길 49-23
Travelers looking for a rich cultural experience should book a room at a hanok, or traditional Korean home. One of the best, Rak Ko Jae, has fancy touches such as jade floors and a mud sauna. Guests can perform a tea ceremony and make their own...
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88 Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno 1(il).2(i).3(sam).4(sa), Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
You won’t break the bank at Gwangjang, lively 100-year-old market in Seoul’s Jong-Ro. To get a taste of the countryside just like the locals do with all the hustle and bustle of a traditional market, try Jeon scallion pancakes, Yukhoe (Korean Beef...
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Gugi-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Clear your mind with an overnight session at Geumsunsa Temple, where you’ll welcome the dawn with 108 yogic bows. On a hill in central Seoul, the grounds are a welcome escape from the city’s urban center. geumsunsa.org. This appeared in the...
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688 Nodeul-ro, Noryangjin 1(il)-dong, Dongjak-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Korea puts its own spin on sashimi at the Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market. Bargain for a piece of raw fish (hoe, pronounced “hway”) amid the lanes of fishmongers, then head upstairs to have one of the in-house restaurants garnish your prize...
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685 Jayang-dong, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Spa as the locals do: Spend an afternoon at a jjimjilbang, a public bathhouse such as Happy Day Spa, with cauldron-like hot tubs, kiln-stoked saunas, and areas to just relax on the heated floor. This appeared in the January/February 2014 issue.
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Cheonggyecheon, Jongno 5(o).6(yuk)ga-dong, Seoul
An artery of calm running through central Seoul is the Cheonggyecheon stream. This soothing green space proffers a respite from the bustle, with tranquil waterfalls, bridges, and landscaped rock formations adorning the 5.2 miles of wooden walkways...
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1 Euljiro 7(chil)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
I go to Dongdaemun Market (Dongdaemun Stadium Station) to see how the locals live. The market is made up of 26 shopping malls over multiple blocks. There are more than 5,000 shops. You can find everything from food to clothing to electronic goods...
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Ujeongguk-ro, Jongno 1(il).2(i).3(sam).4(sa), Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
In the Samcheong-dong neighborhood, I saw this whimsical mural on the side of a bakery—perfect for a Francophile Korean sweet tooth. I became a lover of macarons (not to be confused with macaroons) when I lived in Paris. I had no idea that the...
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Changdeokgung-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Amidst the almost hypnotic repetition of pattern and color, I spent an afternoon 'lost' in the colonnades of Changdeok-gung Palace. Focusing my vision on architecture in a historical context far removed from my everyday life--one of my favorite...
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Changdeokgung-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Covering 78 acres of hilly forest in the middle of Seoul, the Huweon, or "Rear Garden" of Changdeok-gung Palace is better known by the city's millions as Biweon, or "The Secret Garden." Once exclusively for the royal family, today it's a favorite...
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Ujeongguk-ro, Jongno 1(il).2(i).3(sam).4(sa), Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
This religious site is within a quarter mile of the popular Gyeongbuk Palace and is worth a visit. The courtyard in front of this wall of buddhas is shaded by bamboo. The atmosphere is extremely peaceful unlike the busy streets just outside this...
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240 Olympic-ro, Jamsil 3(sam)-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul, South Korea
The world’s largest indoor amusement park, Lotte World gets more than 7 million visitors annually. Seasonal festivals like the Rio Samba Carnival and the Happy Christmas Party dictate the themes of the daily parades and performances, while...
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Insa-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Tucked away in the heart of downtown Seoul is the quaint Insadong district, where a Korea of yore comes to life in the form of traditional artists and musicians, shops selling Korean crafts and souvenirs, and street performers dressed in native...
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662 Gyeongin-ro, Sindorim-dong, Guro-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Located in southern Seoul at the Sindorim Subway Station is D-Cube City. This retail monolith houses scores of shops and restaurants. There are the ubiquitous H&M, Zara, and Uniqlo, but also trendy Korean labels such as Bean Pole, Codes...
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Sinsa-dong, Seoul, South Korea
Prominently situated on Rodeo Drive in the ritzy district of Apgujeong is the aptly named restaurant Salt and Butter. Cooking up what one may call comfort food, I stumbled upon Salt and Butter while window shopping one afternoon. Owned by a Korean...
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99 Sejong-daero, Jeong-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
There are many imperial palaces in Seoul, but only one is open at night - Deoksugung Palace. For about $1, enter the east gate and watch couples hold hands as you stroll through the grounds of former kings and queens. When you leave, cross the...