Though Tokyo is a wonderful city with endless fun-filled activities on hand, cafes to visit, and delicious foods to eat, it is also located close to other exciting Asian cities. Seoul, the capital of South Korea, is only a two-hour plane ride away from Tokyo, making it a convenient and easy city to explore from here! Like Tokyo, there are so many awesome things to enjoy in Seoul! It is the hub of k-pop, k-beauty, and cheap spicy Korean food. Speaking of which, I have just come back from a summer exchange there. In my opinion, the list that follows is a rundown of the top things to do in this lively city.
Try “bingsu”, Korean-style shaved ice dessert
Do you enjoy shaved ice, or “kakigori” as it’s known in Japan? If so, this is the treat for you. “Bingsu” is the Korean version of this style of dessert, and unlike the Japanese kakigori, it is much creamier and often more extravagant in terms of toppings, covered with everything from summer melon to oreos and red beans. Although they are a little pricey, it can actually end up being pretty cheap if you share with your friends! “Korean Dessert Cafe” is a popular dessert chain scattered throughout Seoul that offers seasonally varied bingsu flavors that might be fun to check out.
Visit the “mural village”
There is so much history and culture that you can easily access throughout Seoul. More recently, a group of artists has come together to revamp a little village area located near Hyehwa Station on Line 4, painting beautiful murals across the walls in this part of the city. Although there’s a bit of a hilly walk there, it’s definitely worth it to get some iconic photos and breathtaking views of Seoul. Just be aware that these murals are located in residential areas, so try to keep your voice down and be respectful of the local residents.
Go to animal-themed cafes
Sheep cafes, raccoon cafes, and dog cafes are just some of the fun themed cafes popping up around Seoul at the moment. Although Tokyo has thematic cafes of its own, Seoul has lots of rather unique animal-themed spaces that you are unlikely to find anywhere else. It definitely recommend checking some of them out!
Visit the DMZ
This suggestion might sound rather educational and for those with a special interest, but I found the DMZ, or Demilitarized Zone, to be really a fascinating and historically insightful place. Located just outside of Seoul, there are daily tours that depart from various locations within Seoul. It is the most heavily guarded border in the world, but here you can learn all about the history and tensions between North and South Korea, while also getting the chance to glimpse across the border. If you’re interested in learning more about the country, this would be the ideal tour to sign up for while you are there.
Eat traditional Korean food
Probably the most obvious suggestion to make, but I seriously recommend trying traditional Korean food while in Seoul! Insadong is a popular street located near the Gyeongbokgung Palace that is well known for its traditional Korean shops and restaurants. Here you can try classic Korean street food, teas, and wander about all kinds of shops. It is worth keeping in mind that Korean food in Korea is extremely spicy! Especially compared to the Korean food you typically get in Japan.
Good luck and enjoy!