Collected by John McCreary
South Korea, Seoul, Jongno-gu, Gahoe-dong, 계동길 49-23
Meaning “a place where one can enjoy the traditions of times past and rest one’s soul,” Rak Ko Jae certainly lives up to its name. Styled after a Chosun Dynasty–era house, the 130-year-old hanok (traditional Korean house)...
10 Gukjegeumyung-ro, Yeoeuido-dong, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Located on Yeouido Island in the middle of the mighty Han River, the Conrad Seoul is a relatively new addition to the South Korean capital’s futuristic skyline. Opened in 2012, the hotel is situated in the bustling Yeouido business district...
527-2 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Situated along the bustling, tree-lined avenues of Gangnam, Hotel La Casa is a concept hotel created by one of Korea’s most popular lifestyle and furniture stores, Casa Mia. Known for clean lines and modern touches, the brand is the South...
606 Teheran-ro, Daechi-dong, Seoul, South Korea
Standing tall in Gangnam—one of Seoul’s most exclusive neighborhoods—is the glass-encased structure that is the Park Hyatt. The hotel’s east-meets-west atmosphere was created by the Japanese design firm Super Potato, using...
527-2 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
In the center of Seoul, the natural haven of Mt. Namsan and its namesake tower rising over Korea’s capital is the focal point of the city. Nestled amid the trees yet overlooking the sprawling urban landscape is the exclusive Banyan Tree Club...
177 Walkerhill-ro, Gwangjang-dong, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Starwood’s W Hotel chain is known for its contemporary style and design, and the W Seoul-Walkerhill is no exception. Set against the picturesque backdrop of Mt. Achasan—a popular hiking destination in the area—and overlooking the...
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...
Samseong-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Notebooks and markers and pencils, oh my! Art Box offers a kaleidoscopic array of school supply fun, a favorite among Korean students of all ages. Found in various locations around Seoul, this colorful stationery shop sells everything from...
Dosan-daero 13-gil, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
No, it’s not your imagination. Everyone—men, women, children, even dogs—dresses up in Seoul. Sure, you’re bound to see the odd denim-clad dud, but on the whole you’re more likely to spot bow ties and blazers or blouses and heels walking the...
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...
60 Jangchungdan-ro, Jangchungdong 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Treatments at the Banyan Tree Club and Spa Seoul draw on regional therapies and ingredients. Banyan Tree’s green tea bath treatment was inspired by the bathing rituals of jjimjilbangs—Korean public bathhouses. Korean green tea is rich in...
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...
Chungmuro 1(il)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Seoul is full of street food, and open-air markets and sidewalk stalls abound. But wander the avenues at night, and warm light from under tarps beckons; it's the poh-jahng-mah-chah. Literally meaning "covered/tented wagon," these are an...
Hyoja-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Culture and cuisine go hand-in-hand. For most travelers, the opportunity to try new and exciting dishes is a main reason for going on a trip. Pork jowl is eaten in the United States, but I had never witnessed such an upfront way of marketing the...
Myeongdong 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
"Oh-deng" is a street-food classic found on the streets of Seoul. It's kind of hard to describe: formed crab-cakes, or white fish sausage (sounds weird, tastes great!). Late one night in Seoul's Myongdong district (think Times Square meets the...
Incheon International Airport (ICN), 272 Gonghang-ro, Jung-gu, Incheon, South Korea
As soon as I clear customs at Incheon Airport, I head to Bon Juk restaurant in public area 1F near Exit 12 of the airport terminal and order a bowl of traditional abalone porridge. The mellow porridge has a nice texture and settles my stomach...
88 Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno 1(il).2(i).3(sam).4(sa), Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
For over a century, Seoul's Gwangjang Market has been a destination for snack-seekers. The labyrinthine passageways are covered, and you can find anything from knock-off shoes ("fira" instead of "Fila," for example) to chili powder and embroidered...
29 Itaewon-ro, Namyeong-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
South Korea's past is a rocky one, and at the War Memorial of Korea people from all across the country come to pay respects to brave soldiers who fought for their freedom. In addition to the museum's huge display of war- and military-related...
1 Sejongno, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Current tensions require close monitoring, but Cheong Wa Dae is open for visitors. From its mountainside overlooking central Seoul, "The Blue House" is the official residence of the South Korean president, and if you apply weeks in advance with...
Palpan-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
The Throne Hall of Gyeongbok-gung Palace in Seoul has a lofty name based on Confucian principles: "Geun-jeong-jeon," meaning "diligence helps governance"—words for politicians to live by, eh? Originally built in the 1390s when a new dynasty...
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,...
99 Yulgok-ro, Waryong-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
I spent the better part of a summer afternoon on the grounds of Changdeok-gung Palace, wandering the old courtyards and lush gardens of one of the most visited sites in Seoul. Originally built in 1405 as a secondary palace, this complex served as...
Seobinggo-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
The Korean alphabet, known as hangeul, is the only alphabet in the world where the letters were created to resemble the shape the mouth makes as you voice them. Created by King Sejong in the mid 15th century as a way to educate the illiterate, the...
175 Sejong-daero, Jongno 1(il).2(i).3(sam).4(sa), Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
The major thoroughfare of downtown Seoul, Sejong Street, is brimming with art, fountains, statues, palaces, embassies and, of course, people. There couldn’t be a better place to walk through the city and take it all in. Pause to read the plaques...
231 Samil-daero, Yongsan 2(i)ga-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Forget the tower at the top, head to Namsan to take a walk in Seoul’s green heart. If you’re very ambitious, a stairway leads to the top of the mountain and makes for some inspiring views of the city. But if fresh air and exercise are what you’re...
Hangangno 3(sam)-ga, Seoul, South Korea
A walk along the Han River may be one of the most peaceful things to do in this city of 10.5 million. In spring or fall, take in the vibrant foliage, while in summer it’s fun to watch the many parties and picnics taking place in the sprawling...
Seongsan 2(i)-dong, Seoul, South Korea
Here’s the thing about sports arenas in Korea: They are so much more than just a place to watch a game. After the Korea/Japan World Cup in 2002, the Seoul World Cup Stadium turned into a diverse cultural space, a place where parks and gardens...
Gangwon-do, South Korea
Just a short train ride from Seoul is the High 1 Ski Resort. You may not think of Korea as a place for world-class slopes, but the mountains near Seoul are just that: They didn’t choose Korea as the location of the 2018 winter Olympic games for...
Seoksu-dong, Manan-gu, Anyang, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea
Anyang, located just outside Seoul, is an incredible place for a day trip. The Anyang Art Park has numerous sites to see—including this maze-like staircase. The park, situated in a valley, is a perfect place to spend an afternoon in any season.
Dongjang-ri, Jangdan-myeon, Paju-si, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea
Located between the two Koreas in the Civilian Control Zone along the 38th Parallel, Dorasan station has recently awakened as though from a spell. Once only used as a showcase boasting of hopes for reunification between the divided peninsula for...
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