Tour Guide: Seoul, South Korea

Seoul’s chaotic crowds and gray concrete skyline can sense each overwhelming and bland. But the faintest exploration speedy famous certainly one of Asia’s coolest cities. Seoul gives up a life-time’s really worth of discovery and experience. It’s a town where you could consume like a king and birthday celebration like a college freshman, then recharge in a quiet mountain temple or a 24-hour sauna. It’s a neon-drenched megacity that by no means shuts down, a historical city wealthy in tradition and the high-tech center of Asia’s gaming and pop culture. If you can’t discover what you’re looking for in Seoul, it possibly can’t be located.

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The community surrounding Korea’s leading art college is likewise domestic to the kingdom’s largest underground music scene. Hongdae clubs like FF and Freebird function neighborhood, expat and international bands from throughout Northeast Asia, whilst bars like Jebi Dabang host small shows on intimate hole-in-the-wall tiers and in hidden basement spaces. Hongdae bands experiment with the entirety possible—jazz, hardcore, punk, rock, folks, even ska. You’re probable to discover a new favored band or a whole new sound.

Korean food is an entity in itself, and a walk thru the sprawling Gwangjang market gives a difficult-and-speedy introduction. Vendors sell mounds of cabbage kimchi, barrels of crimson peppers, bricks of fermented soybean and lumps of evident stingrays. Stalls sell food, too; Gwangju’s specialty is mung bean pancakes. The beans are ground on a stone mill and fried right in the front of you. You can also strive sundae, a noodle sausage made with pig’s blood, and Ddeokbokki, a dish of rice desserts in purple pepper sauce. It’s a Korean consolation food sort of like mac and cheese, simplest highly spiced and chewy.

Seoul is defined by way of its mountains, and the town has grown up around them. Namsan is an inexperienced retreat in the bodily center of Seoul and offers excellent views from N Seoul Tower on the top. Bukhansan National Park is a towering mountain range comfortably placed in the metropolis’s outer limits—you could in reality get there on the subway. Bukhansan has a complex community of absolutely marked trails that climb via forested slopes, soaring granite peaks and hidden temples.

In Korea, gaming is a severe hobby, big enterprise, and a thriving professional game. Seoul’s Yongsan e-Sports Stadium is in the middle of all of it. This massive complex is the placing for local and international fits of League of Legends, StarCraft and a host of different games. Matches take vicinity on levels with massive monitors, complete with cheering enthusiasts, mascots, and cheerleaders. For e-sports lovers, this is Woodstock and Mecca combined. For every body else, it’s an entire world you by no means knew existed.

Seoul turned into the seat of royal electricity throughout Korea’s long Joseon dynasty (1392-1910), and the city has numerous palaces as proof. Few of the buildings are authentic (most of Seoul’s largely wooden heritage become destroyed via fires or bombed flat for the duration of the Korean War) however they are trustworthy reconstructions. Less visited than the principle Palace, Changgyeonggung has beautiful homes with colorfully painted beams, tiled rooftops and ornate decorations. It additionally has a peaceful park with a Victorian-style greenhouse.

Seoul’s history has in general been knocked down and remade in concrete and glass. Exploring the wooden houses and narrow streets of Bukchon reveals what the city would possibly have seemed like 600 years ago. Here artisans make soju and rice wine the old-fashioned manner, and traditional wood hook houses have been transformed into galleries, cafes and artsy stores. The community is a excellent break from Seoul’s endless city rush.

In Korea, meat restaurants all specialize in positive animals or cuts of meat. The conventional fish fry joints sell samgyeopsal—strips of thick, fats-covered beef stomach. If you’re feeling ambitious, snatch a pair of tongs and scissors (to cut the strips up) and cook dinner your own dinner. Wash it down with a few beer and soju. To be truly Korean, dump a shot of soju into your beer and knock it again in “one shot!” For a extraordinary meat revel in, go to Jokbal Alley, aka Pig’s Feet Alley, wherein mounds of boiled trotters stretch as a ways as the eye can see.

Seoul may be weird, and also you want a few WTF moments to genuinely whole a go to. There’s the innovative interpretation of English on T-shirts and signs and symptoms—the city’s new official slogan is “I.Seoul.U.” You would possibly see couples carrying matching clothing (shoes and watches too). Dog and cat cafes are fun but pretty standard in Seoul—attempt a raccoon cafe in case you want a few excitement. Culinary strangeness abounds, too. Honey butter … squid all of us? Grilled cow intestine is an absolute delicacy, but a plate of sliced, nonetheless-writhing octopus is harder to provide an explanation for to parents again domestic. Especially the feeling of the octopus suckers clinging in your mouth on the way down.

No, not like that. The Korean phrase “bang” clearly approach “room,” and is used for a spread of establishments. PC bangs are the schooling grounds for Korea’s elite game enthusiasts. Noraebang is the non-public karaoke rooms which are a critical finisher for an extended night time out. And Jimjillbangs are public bathhouses and saunas in which you may bathe, soak, sleep, get a rubdown or just lie on the ground watching Korean dramas. After a few days absorbed in Seoul’s chaos and charms, a soak and a relaxation are simply important.

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