Put your hands up for those who has ever caught yourself imagining walking on the streets of Korea with a popsicle in hand on a sunny yet breezy day.I know I did, and guess what, I did EXACTLY that when I was in Korea!
During my stay in Korea they brought us to a few streets: Insadong, Myeongdong, Bukchon Hanok and Itaewon. All these streets has their own specialty and definitely worth the visit, especially the first one!
A step into the Past...Bukchon Hanok
Bukchon Hanok village is surrounded by Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokung Palace and Jongmyo Shrine, this place is home to hundreds of traditional houses called hanok dating back to the Joseon dynasty. Some of these houses are open for home-stays to foreigners but I heard it's quite pricey. Here we were able to experience traditional craft, Dack Jongyi (Paper) Craft activity making Gomusin (traditional shoes). Females are given the Gomusin for females and their respective male counterparts with male shoes. These shoes are made from mulberry paper.
Walking around this area makes one feel like we time traveled to another era, here we took tons of picture while Biha videoed the whole way because the architecture is just so pretty. Then we walked around Samcheongdong to our dinner place.
Did someone say street food? Insadong
TRY ALL THE HAWKER STALLS! That is my only advice to you, there are so many interesting things to see and eat here. Previously, Insadong is the street that scholars go to when they want to buy stationery but ever since modern day pens and pencil took over, most of the stationery shop closed down and is replaced with cafes and souvenir shops.
Why so many hoooo-mans... Myeongdong
Myeongdong is one of the primary shopping districts in Seoul. Granted it has gazillion shops in the area, mostly apparel and skincare, the occasional souvenir shop and some hawker food. Totally explains why it's always packed with people. All in all, nothing that made me go "WOW" and no food that made me go "I NEED to try that" except for this ice cream in a fish thing that I completely missed and was only informed after I reach back to my hotel. But still, a place every tourist must step foot on. Oh wait, actually I did manage to eat my foot-long ice cream here...
Let's go meet some foreigners! Itaewon
I was told that Itaewon is where all foreigners are at and it's true. Walking down the street you'll see a lot of tourist sight-seeing and like all tourist spots things here are exceptionally pricey. So highly not recommended to get any souvenirs here. You can however, try out this awesome street food; squid cooked on hot stones. It's super delicious and other than Itaewon, I didn't see them being sold anywhere else. Oh! and apparently Itaewon comes alive at night, with pubs and bars.
1. Namdaemun- cheapest place to shop and get souvenirs.
2. Myeongdong- walking distance from Namdaemun, lots of food and things are quite resonable, slightly more expensive than Namdaemun.
3. Itaewon- lots of foreigners here, most of their stuff are considered expensive
4. Insadong- Formerly is famous for the street where most scholars get their stationery, well not anymore. Populated with tourist, interesting/must-try street food, Insadong < Namdaemun for souvenir.
5. Bukchon Hanok- fantastic architecture and conservation of heritage site, quite high-end, things are not cheap here. TONS of home-stays in this area.
During my homestay, my Korean omma brought Helen and I to a local mall (square 1) and also emart which is a supermarket like servay, jusco, giant and etc.. Emart is one one of the biggest chains in Korea, the other one would be lotte.
I know this sounds really silly but if you ever get the chance to go to a supermarket in Korea, do it! especially with an empty stomach (I know very cheapskate of me) though in my defense
a) no one knows who you are
b) the promoters are more than happy to have foreigners try out their testers
c) fastest and cheapest way to try out local food
I had never had this much fun Grocery Shopping, I swear.
At one point, they actually served like lamp chop cut in small pieces. No, seriously. And bananas are so expensive! They're like RM 20 for a bunch of banana.
My omma actually told us that, youngsters actually comes in to these grocery stores and snack on the samples to save cost. I'm not sure if she said that to make me and Helen feels better about trying all the samples. But the hospitality of Koreans are amazing! They're all so friendly and giving, none of those if-you're-not-buying-don't-touch nonsense.
Nothing much to talk about here just, a big big mall with a few exhibitions hall. Very KLCC like, never a big fan of malls anyways, but SM town is here and i guess to Kpop lovers that is considered iconic.
[Please take note that I have VERY limited time in all these places so I probably only covered 30% of what they have to offer]