Contributed with love and just for you, by Juyoung Yoon – Korean but really a Londoner at heart, lover of all things gold and Baroque, who is currently the art and exhibitions assistant at MARIOTESTINO+
At the crack of dawn (kidding) –
Start with the Aria restaurant at the Chosun hotel for the breakfast buffet – you’re spoiled for choice! There is also a Louise Bourgeois, Maman monumental sculpture in the courtyard that I always stop by to admire.
A walks to digest –
A favorite of mine would have to be Namsan Park trail. It’s a green oasis right in the centre of Seoul and you temporarily forget you’re in this huge city. The glimpses of Seoul that you get along the walk is pretty amazing (both during the day and night!). However, another walk I love is in Heyri Art Valley, an artist colony built by artists on the outskirts of Seoul (less than an hour drive and close to South Korea’s DMZ line). It’s full of galleries and artist studios so you’re guaranteed to discover something!
My latest museum obsession –
I have too many favourite galleries and museums like Gana Art, Kukje or Hakgojae but my latest obsession is the Korea Furniture Museum. There’s really nothing like marvelling at traditional Korean craftmanship all in the beautiful context of a Hanok (the traditional Korean house).
Palsun at The Shilla is where you will be able to have possibly the best Chinese food in Seoul and admire works by modern masters such as Miro and Picasso from the hotel’s incredible art collection.
Tea, crumpets & booze –
When I’m feeling very contemporary and conceptual –
The Nam June Paik Art Center just outside of Seoul is a great museum dedicated to the pioneering video artist. The building is amazing inside and out too and really works well with the collection. However, going there and back can take up a little less than half of the day.
When I’m in a scavenger mood and need to raid something, anything –
Bukchon Hanok Village has so many great little independent shops you will always be able to pick up great jewellery for a bargain. Or the Hongdae Free Market every Saturday from 1pm – 6pm is best for picking up any hand made artisinal goodies.
When the night is young and the belly is roaring –
Food and drink matching is serious business in Korea so whether it’s the Chimaek 치맥 (beer), the Pa Jun (Korean pancake) and Makgolli (Delicious milky rice wine), or the infamous Somaek 소맥 (AKA the hurricane) with your Korean BBQ, make sure you’re prepared to eat and drink the night away!
Head over to the Hongdae area, it’s right next to the biggest arts university so it’s always full of energy. Start at Mapo Galmaegi for really good Korean BBQ, beer and soju. Aftewards, feel free to walk in anywhere that tickles your fancy. I mean – ANYWHERE. If you need a mini break from all the eating then I would recommend stopping by the first Karoake bar you see (or known as noraebang in Korean 노래방).
Gangnam District is another obvious choice! If you get off at Gangnam station and walk along any of the parallel streets running north you will be blinded by the lights and spoilt for choice!
My favorite thing about Seoul is –
The pace and the people! Things are constantly changing, there’s always something new to discover and learn about. Every time you go to Seoul there will be a new building, a new trend and it’s completely exhilarating!