Asia,  Seoul,  South Korea,  TDM,  Travel Journal

Travel Diary Seoul (South Korea) #2: Namdaemun Market, Namsangol Hanok Village and Gangnam

Despite the rain, we decide to go out and explore some uncovered places in Seoul. Follow us!

Namdaemun Market

It is a well-known market, open 24 hours a day. Usually there are stands in the middle of the road but today I think there are none because of the rain (?!). Anyway, this market is so big that it seems impossible to visit everything in one day

JB immediately spots a small alley where all the saleswomen sell bibimbap and cold noodles. In spite of my insistence on the importance of a non-spicy dish, she still puts a spoonful of chilli pepper on me 🙁

Well, the cold noodles (left) has as a bonus a big ice cube to keep them fresh. It tastes like Thai vermicelli salad and I think it’s the first Korean meal that I find really good. And it comes with a small homemade noodle soup (right). This means that for 6000won (about 4,5€), not only I eat my fill, but also half of each bowl is left. All the saleswomen here display a newspaper excerpt about them, or a picture of their TV appearance. It’s super cute!

We choose a building at the piff (Daedo Commerical Center) and we are overwhelmed by the number of products per square meter. The jewelry sellers are all there sorting the products bought in bulk and presenting them properly. The models are very different from one booth to another. The negative point is that no prices are displayed and you have to know how to negotiate to get a good deal

On the 3rd floor there are flower sellers (real flowers and fake flowers), it smells great!

In the street, there are a few street food stands too (that don’t tell us too much)

When you come here, you have to be careful of small alleys, because each block hides small alleys with small restaurants, street food etc. Like all Asian markets, cleanliness isn’t always there, but I really like its authenticity

There are even free tours in English

Namsangol Hanok Village

We then go to Namsangol Hanok Village, a station away… and discover that there are free guided tours too. We will surely come back there another day

The place gathers 5 traditional houses of different social classes, so we can compare and see how they used to live. You can even rent a hanbok (traditional Korean clothing) and walk around with it

From here you can see the Namsan Tower hidden by the clouds. It’s quite funny to walk among the hanoks and see big buildings in the distance

It’s really raining too much, we hurry home

Seoul Seolleung Royal Tomb

A few days later, we explore the Gangnam side, on the other side of the Han river, very modern and known by K-pop fans

But in this part of the city there are also three royal tombs hidden in a green park. We were told a lot of good things about this place so we decided to go there

The ticket costs only 1000won, there are even monthly and yearly tickets for those who want to come for a walk or jogging here

As King Jeongneung’s tomb is closer to the ticket office, we visit it first. His tomb is located on the hill behind this wooden building, which is used only for rituals

One goes towards the other tomb of another king and sees a small traditional house which is used to accommodate the people who come to organize the various rituals..

then we stop at a small information building, which we were highly recommended. Because one can see there an explanatory video which makes us understand that the tombs look much more complicated than we thought. It isn’t just a “round end” at the top of the hill. Basically, there are 2 techniques: to build everything at once. Then build a big part and then take down the king’s coffin afterwards. Anyway, everything is made of stone and wood, and then they cover it with earth. Given the number of carved stones to be made, it doesn’t surprise me that the construction takes years

We continue on our way. It’s really great to have a green space like this in Seoul

For this tomb, one can climb to the top of the hill and see the round-shaped tomb at the top. The real coffin is buried several meters below. Of course, the location of the tomb must follow the rules of feng shui, which ensures eternal rest for kings

The contrast between a traditional place and the modern city..

We also see large stone statues to guard the tomb

Some pretty flowers border the path..

There is still one tomb to visit, that of the queen, but we are too lazy and we end up rather at a Dunkin Donuts, under the insistence of JB who is a fan since he discovered this channel in the USA

Beautiful cafes abound in Seoul, because Koreans like to go out a lot, have a lot of dates (love dates )… To flirt with a Korean girl requires a lot of time, a lot of going out and a lot of investment from the boys. They all use the KakaoTalk instant messaging app and there are implicit rules that if you are interested in a person, it is customary to reply to your message within 15 minutes. As a result, everyone has their eyes glued to their smartphone


Well, I show you the pictures of Gangnam

It’s like the United States (or Australia)

We are super impressed by this huge curved screen (which is only used to broadcast ads). The HD resolution, its big size… it makes you want to have a screen like this in your living room !

And here is the EXCO, the venue chosen for the G-20 in 2010. The building doesn’t look very high, but underneath is a complex network of shopping malls, restaurants, meeting rooms…. basically you can spend your life there without seeing the sky

Bongeunsa Temple

We finally arrive at Bongeunsa Temple, open 24 hours a day. Buddha’s birthday has passed but the lanterns made for the occasion are still there

Even by day, they are very beautiful because they have been painted with care

You can sign up for the “temple stay” program and stay here for one night

Any self-respecting K-pop fan should visit Apgujeongrodeo, the KstarROAD and the buildings of the companies that manage your favorite K-pop bands. But as we don’t know much about it, we just go home

In the area, there is also the Garosu-gil Road, a must-see for shopping fans. And the underground shopping at GangnamStation. There is also a light show but we will come back another day

The return trip is awful, line 9 here looks like line 13 in Paris. It’s been a long time since we’ve been crushed so much in a subway

Did you like this article? Discover all our Seoul & Jeju travel diaries:

Travel Diary Seoul (South Korea) #1 : Discovery of Myeongdong & Lotus Lantern Festival
Travel Diary Seoul (South Korea) #2: Namdaemun Market, Namsangol Hanok Village and Gangnam
Travel Diary Seoul (South Korea) #3: Changdeokgung Palace, Insadong, Noryangjin Fish Market, Hongdae, Namsan Tower, Seoul City Tour Bus
Travel Diary Seoul (South Korea) #4: Seoul with friends
Travel Diary Seoul (South Korea) #5 : Lotte World, tickets, flagship attractions, magic pass
Travel Diary Seoul (South Korea) #6: War Memorial Hall of Korea, Barbecue, Lenses and Shopping
Travel Diary Seoul (South Korea) #7: Marinated raw crab, Gilsangsa Temple, Suyeonsanbang, shopping in Myeong-dong
Travel Diary Seoul (South Korea) #8: B2B Market, Palais Royal, Notre-Dame de Paris, Barbecues

Practical Guide to Seoul
Seoul Shopping Guide
Guide to Cosmetics to buy in South Korea

Travel Diary Jeju Island (South Korea) #1
Travel Diary Jeju Island (South Korea) #2
Travel Diary Jeju Island (South Korea) #3

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