If you happened to catch Okja, the visually stunning yet emotionally crippling film about a beloved little (big) pet who gets carted off to a factory for mass consumption, you’re probably just a tad obsessed with South Korea.
Adorable main character aside, the film also featured some pretty damn enticing scenes of Seoul and South Korea’s countryside (although admittedly some of the countryside scenes were shot in Vancouver, Canada).
Anywho, the point is that South Korea is often overlooked for its more ~mainstream~ neighbourino, Japan. This is a huge oversight, as there are so many unique experiences South Korea has to offer and everyone is doing themselves a serious disservice by not giving it a red-hot crack.
If you need some decent reasons to add Seoul to your ever-expanding travel list, have a squiz at a few below.
This isn’t necessarily an ‘off-the-beaten-track’ tip as the shopping district of Myeongdong is often considered the place to go in Seoul.
Thanks to the fact that it’s bloody massive and you can grab some immense specialty products (rumour has it Korea’s beauty products are second to none), you can wander down streets for hours and even end up back in the ’70s, apparently. (See: above pic.)
Aloft Hotel Myeongdong
You can’t get the full Myeongdong experience if you don’t stay smack-bang in the middle of it. Enter Aloft Hotel Myeongdong, which lets you do just that.
On top of the bangin’ service and ripper views (above), the bar also has regular live music performances from local emerging acts, so if you’re having one of those days where you’d rather cry than go on another walking tour, you can just live it up in the hotel and you might cop an earful of the next big muso.
Pro tip: There’s also an Aloft Hotel in Gangnam too, just in case you venture further out of Seoul and still wanna hit up a similar place to stay.
Come for the guards, stay for the…well, guards.
Genuinely, these poor souls have to stand there decked out in their full uniform – often in 30+ degree weather – meaning they deserve an award for not muttering “I’m too hot for this shit” every two-to-five minutes. Tell ya what, we can all learn some self-discipline from these guards.
Plus, Gyeongbokgung Palace is incredibly pretty and rife with history – I should’ve really started with that.
Bukchon Hanok Village
If you manage to pry yourself away from the city centre and venture up a mountain (think more of a slight incline rather than Mt Everest), Bukchon Hanok Village is a 600-year-old traditional village riddled with alleys to explore.
Bukchon Hanok Village conveniently overlooks the heart of Seoul, so you if you want a hella decent snap of the city, I suggest you make the relatively chill trek.
Korean Demilitarised Zone
Everyone’s curious about the mystery surrounding North Korea, and while it’s still virtually impossible to travel to directly, you can get a bit of a glimpse from the Korean Demilitarised Zone.
It’s essentially a United Nations-owned part of the border between North and South Korea – or, what I like to call the ‘Chill Zone’ – so you can pop a squiz without any of the drama. There are also day trips running to the Korean DMZ from Seoul on the reg.
While you ponder when you want to go to South Korea, have a squiz at the video of Alex Dyson and the Project: Aloft Star finalists High Tropics exploring Seoul for themselves: