The 5 Most Impressive Discoveries in Seoul for First-Timers

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Seoul is electric. Unlike New York or London, it’s truly a city that never sleeps. You can get awesome food, including Korean barbecue, 24/7, party to the break of dawn (and onward), and kick back and relax in style.

The city is fantastic. And, thanks to its awesome transportation network, getting around it is actually cheap and easy.

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While the list of awesome things to do in Seoul is endless, here are five things you better not miss out on.

The 5 Most Impressive Discoveries in Seoul for First-Timers
Photo by Chan Hyuk Moon on Unsplash

1. Get a Taste of the Nightlife

Seoul nightlife is truly legendary. Like all mega-cities, Seoul is divided into different districts, each with its own flare.

If you’re enjoying the artsy and college crowd, then you’ll want to head to Hongdae. Looking for glitter and glam? Then Gangnam is where you want to be. Want to have a raucous good time with people from around the world? Then better head to Itaewon.

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Do note that all of these areas are a little spread out. While it is possible to go between them in one night, you’re better off committing to one and exploring all of their nooks and crannies.

2. Get a Cup of Coffee

The 5 Most Impressive Discoveries in Seoul for First-Timers
Photo by cHoLoNg cHoI on Unsplash

Seoul has the largest number of Starbucks in the world by density. As great as the world’s most popular coffee chain is, however, go for a local option instead. You can opt for a Korean cafe like Angel in Us or Tous le Jours or find excellent brew in an independent roastery.

Itaewon has a large number of trendy cafes where you can even get your haircut and sip some whisky while you’re at it.

This is a good place to kick back and enjoy the free WiFi. Just make sure you use a VPN anytime you connect to one. Seoul internet is pretty safe but do not forget the country of hackers located just 25 miles to the north.

3. Kick Back in the Sauna

Saunas are part of life in Korea. When you drink so much soju, you’ve got to find a way to detox! All Korean saunas have bathing rooms with cool, warm, and hot tubs you can relax in. There are also wet and dry saunas. Here you can get a good massage or skin-exfoliating rub.

Do note the vast majority of saunas are single-sex. And you likely won’t be wearing any clothes. But many saunas are a part of Jjimjilbangs, which is a co-ed space (with clothes!). Here you can meet back up with friends and family and enjoy some delicious food and relaxation before returning to the sauna to sweat it all out again.

4. Get Some Fresh Air

The 5 Most Impressive Discoveries in Seoul for First-Timers
Photo by pan zhen on Unsplash

One of the coolest things about Seoul is that you can take a short train ride from the city and arrive at the footsteps of the mountain.

You’ll notice Seoul is surrounded by mountains on all sides. Hiking is a major part of local culture. Grab the subway and check out Bukhansan. This is the largest mountain in the metro area and has absolutely unbeatable views of the city.

Don’t forget to grab a little rice wine and treats as you head back down the mountain.

5. Don’t Miss the Fish Markets

The 5 Most Impressive Discoveries in Seoul for First-Timers
Photo by Daniel Bernard on Unsplash

Korean cuisine is famous for its barbecue, bulgogi, and kimchi. But Korean fish dishes are equally delicious. Seoul has a few world-famous fish markets. The most famous is Noryangjin.

Here you can enjoy delicacies like live octopus and raw fish (the Korean equivalent of sushi). Don’t worry; if you’re less brave, there are plenty of other dishes like spicy fish stew and fried shrimp.

Above all, however, this is a cultural experience. You can mix it up with some of the vendors and locals and really feel the Seoul life.

5 Amazing Things to Do in Seoul

We’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of incredible Seoul activities. There’s so much more to do and see. So, we only have one more piece of advice—give yourself plenty of time.

Seoul is truly massive, and there is, even more, to do just outside the city in places like Asan and Gyeonggi-Do.

Even a week isn’t enough to do and see it all. And don’t forget the most important thing of all. Always make sure you are ready for a good time. Because when it’s 12 AM in Seoul, the party is just getting started!

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