Top 5 Seoul Destinations: Are They Hit or Miss?

Evening View of Lotte World

As travel restrictions ease and wanderlust kicks in, Korea emerges as a top destination for travel enthusiasts in 2023. Renowned for its captivating K-Dramas, rich culture, and mouth-watering cuisine, this East Asian country beckons tourists from every corner of the globe to dive into its vibrant local tapestry. With an average holiday duration of 1.5 to two weeks, visitors eagerly aim to explore every renowned landmark and capture the perfect Instagram-worthy moments. Drawing from my personal experiences of visiting Korea twice, here’s a list of the top five destinations that could make or break your next Seoul adventure!

1. Hongdae Shopping Street – Hit

View of tourist shopping along Hongdae Street

Hongdae shopping street is another tourist spot famous for their cosmetics, clothing and fashion stores. At night, it especially buzzes with energy, drawing crowds of eager shoppers in Seoul. Notable brands like Etude House, Kakao Friends, Popmart, Nike and ABC Mart, tourists are spoilt for choices! It’s definitely a hit among the younger crowds with Hongdae’s famous street performances, trending fashion stores and their amazing delicacies.

Address: 365-8 서교동 Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea

2. Starfield Library – Miss

View of Starfield Library in Starfield COEX Mall

Nestled within the heart of COEX Mall, the Starfield Library offers an expansive, open space where visitors are invited to unwind, recharge, and indulge in the world of literature alongside fellow book enthusiasts. Boasting a diverse collection spanning various genres including humanities, economics, and hobbies, this library provides ample options for every reader. Dedicated sections are reserved for foreign titles and renowned authors, while iPads are available for those inclined towards e-books. With nearly 600 domestic and international magazines on offer, Starfield Library distinguishes itself from conventional libraries.

If you’re travelling a long way and your schedule’s packed, I advise giving the library a pass. It’s cozy, sure, but with limited seating and a crowded vibe, it might not be the tranquil reading nook you’re after. Plus, it’s smaller than you might expect, and since most books are in Korean, non-Korean speakers might struggle to dive into the literary scene. However, if you’re already planning a shopping spree at COEX Mall, swinging by the Starfield Library could make for a nice pit stop along the way.

Address: 513 Yeongdong-daero, B1 COEX Mall, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Opening hours: 10.30am-10pm, Daily

Contact: +82 2 6002-3031 | Starfield Library website

3. Dongdaemun Design Plaza – Miss

Night view of Dongdaemun Design Plaza

The Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) was designed by late Zaha Hadid, an Iraqi-born British world-renowned architect. DDP’s exterior features over 40,000 aluminium panels, none of which are the same. DDP is a multi-cultural complex designed to support the spread of culture and the development of design and fashion in South Korea. The plaza is home to various exhibition spaces, design museum, sky lounge, rest area, souvenir shop and restaurants. However, if you are not a fan of design and architecture, skipping this hot tourist spot might free up some time to explore around! Furthermore, Dongdaemun is known to be the haven for wholesale goods and supplies, catering more to wholesalers than to tourists.

Address: Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DPP) 동대문디자인플라자

서울특별시 중구 을지로 281 (을지로7가) | 281, Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul

4. Gyeongbokgung Palace – Hit

Entrance view of Gyeongbokgung Palace

As the largest among the five grand palaces built during the Joseon era and still standing in Seoul today, Gyeongbokgung Palace holds a significant place in Korean history and culture. The palace’s splendour is particularly striking across all four seasons, making it a captivating destination for visitors year-round. If you are planning to visit during the spring and autumn season, be prepared for crowds at every photo spot! To fully embrace Korean culture, I recommend renting a Hanbok from the nearby Hanbok rental stores for a memorable experience!

5. Lotte World – Miss

Evening View of Lotte World

Lotte World is Korea’s famous amusement park chain. As an avid amusement park enthusiast, I had high hopes for Lotte World Seoul, but unfortunately, it fell short of expectations. The queues for rides often stretched beyond two hours even on weekdays, and weekends saw even longer wait times. With an adult ticket priced at 52,000 Won (approximately $52.50 SGD), the offerings at the souvenir and food stores left much to be desired, not to mention their steep prices. However, if you’re determined to visit Lotte World after seeing it featured in K-dramas, I’d recommend planning your visit meticulously to make the most of your time.

Address: Jamsil Station (line 2/8, exit 4). Station directly connected to Lotte World.

Website: www.lotteworld.com

Tips For Your Next Korea Vacation

  • Papago: Naver Papago, shortened to Papago and stylized as papago, is a multilingual machine translation cloud service provided by Naver Corporation. Translate words, texts and audios for free!
  • Naver Map: Naver Map is a South Korean online mapping service. It offers detailed maps, real-time traffic updates, public transportation routes, and points of interest. It’s widely used in South Korea for navigation and local information. *Google Map may not work in South Korea.
  • Purchase a T Money Card For easy transportation for their buses and subways. You can purchase them at any 7-Eleven stores in Korea and top up at any subway station.

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