In October from 2019, I traveled to the country of my dreams: South Korea. Last year, unexpectedly, I was able to scratch that name from my bucket list. Why unexpectedly? It was sudden. It was only a month since I had returned from Costa Rica. Getting to South Korea took me around two days with four layovers on the way. The flight from Los Angeles to China lasted around thirteen hours. Yet, from my first day in the country, I knew my journey was worth it. Here are my top five experiences in Seoul.
1. Dancing in the Gyeongbokgung Palace
I went to visit Gyeongbokgung Palace during my first week in Seoul. The Palace, with over five hundred years of history, is one of the must-see places. I decided to explore the Palace by myself. As a result, I spent the whole afternoon walking around and taking pictures. Just when I decided to leave, I came upon a beautiful show of Korean Folk Dance. I followed them up to a garden where all the visitors made a circle around them. Since I was up in the front, I was dragged with a couple of other tourists to the center of the circle, where we had to imitate the dance routine and sing along with the girls. I couldn’t help but laugh and smile all along and I couldn’t imagine a better way to end a day in the Palace.
2. Haneul Park
From my investigation about places to visit in Seoul, I learned about a place called Haneul Park. It is a great field at the top of a hill, filled with pampa grass. During the autumn, the place is a popular spot because the pampa grass turns into a silver shade, making it seem like actual heaven, which is the meaning of its name.
Also, it is a good example of the urban regeneration movement in Seoul since the place used to be a landfill. I arrived with a friend around four in the afternoon. The breeze was cold, and it moved the pampa grass gently from once place to another. It was a relaxing experience and after walking around for a while, we sat in a swing to watch the view of Seoul.
3. Korean BBQ with friends
If you’ve heard about South Korea, you have probably heard about the traditional Korean BBQ. It was something I couldn’t miss during my trip. So, I went to a small place in Gangnam, close to Garosu-Gil. The “ajhumma” that attended us didn’t speak English. Nonetheless, she kindly directed us to a table and recommended us the most popular thing on the menu. When they brought the meat over, we weren’t sure how it was supposed to be grilled. In response to our clueless faces, she took the utensils from our hands and grilled the meat herself. She even taught us how to dip the meat in different sauces. It was a simple moment. Yet, what makes a moment more memorable than good friends and good food? And to top it all, living it in Seoul, South Korea.
4. Ihwa Village, Seoul
I heard from Ihwa village after a few weeks of staying in Seoul. I’m glad someone told me about it. I can’t describe the place as something else as magical. One of the things I loved the most about Seoul was that art was everywhere, not only in a gallery. Ihwa Village is an example. The small village is at the top of a hill. It is a popular place for filming and once you see it, you understand why.
Everywhere about there are murals, sculptures, and worth-a-picture places. If you love taking photographs for your Instagram, this one should be on your top five must-see places in Seoul. Not only you can enjoy the mystic atmosphere created by the art, but you can also enjoy a coffee in one of the numerous coffee shops in the place.
5. First snowfall and eating in Myeongdong, Seoul
My last night in Seoul, I decided to visit Myeongdong for the last time. I visited Myeongdong four times during my stay in Seoul. The crowded streets and the endless options of food made it one of my favorite places. Nevertheless, this time, I met up with a friend and decided to have some tea. It was close to midnight when I suddenly heard a commotion among the pedestrians.
I looked around to find the source, just to see them gazing upon the sky. And that’s when I saw it for the first time: the snow. I had the privilege to see it for the first time in South Korea. What more could I ask from this trip? It ended in a totally perfect and nostalgic way.
A final thought on my top five experiences in Seoul
Although I can say those were my top five memorable experiences in Seoul, I must clarify those weren’t the only moments I enjoyed. I had the privilege to visit other places and to meet multiple persons.
South Korea not only fulfilled my expectations, but it exceeded them. I wanted to share these experiences because I think everyone should have them, in South Korea or in other countries: eating with good friends, visiting a historic place, and seeing or discovering something for the first time.
What were your top experiences during a trip? Let me know in a comment below!