Insider’s guide on best things to do and places to eat in Seoul

Born and raised in Seoul, South Korea, Jetstar cabin crew member Sophia Heo reveals her favourite things to do and places to eat in her home town.

Jetstar cabin crew member Sophia Heo
  • Jetstar
  • May 2019

As the birthplace of K-Pop and K-Drama, South Korea’s vibrant capital has plenty to keep visitors coming back for more. If you’ve never been to Seoul before, here are some tips from one of Jetstar’s cabin crew members who happens to be a local.

What are the top 3 experiences you would recommend for a first-time visitor to Seoul?

1. Traditional
The UNESCO World Heritage sites Gyeongbokgung Palace and Changdeokgung Palace are a must-see. You can hire traditional Korean royal family costume called “Hanbok” in nearby stores and take photos around the palaces. You can also buy some traditional Korean clothes in nearby Insadong area, which is known for its handicrafts and art, as well as souvenirs and traditional drinks and desserts. Also in the area is Bukchon Hanok Village where you can see hundreds of Korean traditional houses and buildings that are more than 600 years old.

Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul.
Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul.

2. Shopping
The most famous shopping centre in Seoul is the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (called DDP), which was selected as one of the “Top 52 Places to Visit in 2015” by The New York Times so that’s well worth a visit – even if it’s just to see the newest and most iconic building of the Korean design industry.

Teenagers and twentysomethings might prefer the Lotte World Tower instead, which is right next to the Lotte World Adventure Park. If you’re looking for Korean cosmetics, head to the famous shopping district of Myeongdong, with plenty of department stores, duty-free stores and cafes to take a break. For luxury and designer brands, look no further than Apgujeong dong and Garosu-gil in Gangnam.

Seoul N Tower.
Seoul N Tower has great views of the city.

For stunning views of the city, head to Seoul N Tower. It’s a great place to spend an evening with friends while taking in the beautiful nightscape over a cup of coffee and you can see the night view of Seoul by riding a cable car or walking up the mountain.

Street food in Myeongdong.
Myeongdong shopping district has plenty of eats to try.

Where are your favourite places to eat in Seoul?

Myeongdong Kyoja, Myeongdong
Myeongdong Kyoja opens in new window is a noodle restaurant located near Myeongdong Cathedral that has been in business for about 40 years. It serves handmade kalguksu (noodle soup), which is its signature dish.

Kalguksu literally means noodles made by cutting dough into thin slices with a knife and also popular are the mandu (Korean dumplings), bibim guksu (spicy noodles), and kongguksu (noodles in cold soybean soup).

Street performance in Itaewon.
Street performance in Itaewon.

Hongdae and Itaewon districts
A cultural hub of youthful energy, it is one of the most popular university towns for foreigners in Seoul and there are various Korean charcoal grilled BBQ restaurants, clubs, bars and modern style cafes where you can taste all kinds of food from around the world. There are also concert halls and regular street performances.

Noryangjin Fish Market.
Grab a bite at Noryangjin Fish Market.

Noryangjin Fish Market
The Noryangjin Fish Market is one of the largest seafood markets in Korea, has been in operation since 1927. On any given day, you’ll see vendors selling more than 800 varieties of seafood, both retail and wholesale. It’s the place to go to sample the freshest Korean seafood. Here you can pick your catch and have it prepared for you at one of the on-site restaurants on the second floor and basement levels.

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