Seoul Much More

We scour the busy cap­i­tal city of South Korea to dis­cover the places that you de­serve to know. By Dewey Sim

Men's Folio (Singapore) - - Lifestyle -

Seoul is amaz­ing. Skyscrap­ers sprout high up into the grey skies, and the in­tri­cate ar­chi­tec­ture of the build­ings amazes me as I walk along its bustling streets. Korea is known for its sump­tu­ous food, cheap drinks, and of course, its pop cul­ture dom­i­nance. This is prob­a­bly why Seoul has be­come a travel hotspot for tourists from all over the world.

Talk­ing about Korean pop cul­ture, the re­cent hype of the hit TV series, De­scen­dants of the Sun, has brought its lead ac­tor, Song Joong- ki, onto mag­a­zine cov­ers, and his face is plas­tered on bill­boards, life-sized posters, and even street lamps and tea cups in small cof­fee houses. This in­fat­u­a­tion over Song alone shows how K- pop has such a huge im­pact on our lives.

How­ever, aside from K- pop and flashy build­ings, Seoul has so much more to of­fer. Ven­ture into F&B es­tab­lish­ments lo­cated along paths that are less taken, and you might find the most delectable and crispy chi­maek (Korean fried chicken). Be ad­ven­tur­ous on your next trip to Seoul. Look be­yond the malls at Gang­nam and ex­plore the small streets and bou­tique ho­tels that might just be the best places for com­fort food and rest.

Stay­ing In Style

Com­fort is of ut­most im­por­tance when it comes to trav­el­ling. Like putting on a pair of shoes with the right size for the right oc­ca­sion, the ac­com­mo­da­tion for your stay in Korea should put you at ease. Be­sides com­fort, there’s also no harm in choos­ing a ho­tel that is in­jected with some fun el­e­ments. Here are three ho­tels with unique and in­ter­est­ing con­cepts that might catch your fancy.

Lo­cated near the Sin­seol- dong sub­way sta­tion, Ho­tel Bou­tique 9 serves a wide range of guests be­cause of its un­ex­pected room themes. You might have heard of ho­tels with cus­tomised suites, but have you heard of a Funny Suite? It comes with a game sta­tion ( Xbox or Playsta­tion) of your choice. Other suites in­clude the Garden Suite, which comes with a rooftop garden, as well as the Bil­liard and Spa Suites.

If you have a keen eye for pho­tog­ra­phy, head down to Ho­tel April. Apart from the big mu­se­ums in Seoul such as the Na­tional Mu­seum of Seoul or the Dong­dae­mun De­sign Plaza (DDP), Ho­tel April houses its own mini col­lec­tion of pho­to­graphic works by lo­cal ris­ing pho­tog­ra­phers.

Given the rich tra­di­tions of the Korean cul­ture, Rak- Ko- Jae Hanok Ho­tel strikes a sweet har­mony be­tween the Hanok, tra­di­tional Korean ar­chi­tec­ture, and na­ture, pro­vid­ing you with an in­ti­mate lo­cal liv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. With a rich his­tory dat­ing back 130 years, Rak- Ko- Jae was ren­o­vated ear­lier in 2003 by renowned car­pen­ter Young Jin Chung, who em­braces the fu­sion of moder­nity and tra­di­tions, while in­cor­po­rat­ing na­ture as one of the key el­e­ments in his de­sign.

Shop­ping in Seoul

It is not dif­fi­cult to know where the top lux­ury la­bels and brands are in Seoul, as it is steadily es­tab­lish­ing it­self as a fash­ion cap­i­tal. Step­ping out of the Apgu­jeong sub­way sta­tion, you will be greeted by rows of branded shops. Along the streets of Apgu­jeong and Cheong­dam- dong, you will find premier de­part­men­tal stores and lead­ing lux­ury brand bou­tiques that will keep you busy for the en­tire day.

If you are look­ing to bring home some chic de­signs from up­com­ing lo­cal de­sign­ers, head over to the Garosu- gil Road near the Sinsa sub­way

sta­tion, which is dot­ted with small, stylish and artis­tic shops. An­other pop­u­lar shop­ping haven is Com­mon Ground, the world’s big­gest cargo con­tainer pop- up shop­ping com­plex. Com­pris­ing about 200 con­tain­ers, the four-storey mall houses an im­pres­sive line- up of trendy hip­ster brands that are on the fron­tier of the ever- chang­ing Korean fash­ion in­dus­try.

Love At First Bite

There’s one thing in Seoul you can’t miss: food. Walk­ing on the streets, you can’t help but be en­ticed by the aro­mas com­ing from the food stalls that line up across the city, as well as the restau­rants that park them­selves in cosy shop­houses. Korean street food re­mains the crux of Korean cui­sine, with mouth-wa­ter­ing favourites such as the tteok­bokki (spicy rice cakes), hwe­ori gamja (tor­nado-shaped po­tato), and chi­maek (fried chicken). For those who are more ad­ven­tur­ous, there’s the san­nakji (oc­to­pus sashimi). Other well- known Korean cui­sine such as the sam­gyetang (Gin­seng chicken soup), bu­dae jji­gae (army stew), and pa­jeon ( pan­cake) are also ubiq­ui­tous in food markets and restau­rants.

But of course, din­ing out in this day and age is more than just about food and its taste, as our pref­er­ences change ever so quickly. We are con­stantly search­ing for novel din­ing ex­pe­ri­ences that of­fer a clever play be­tween dif­fer­ent el­e­ments, and the un­ex­pected fu­sion of in­gre­di­ents that pro­duces a com­bi­na­tion of flavours that is so delectable that we would fall in love with it at first bite.

If you have yet to ex­pe­ri­ence din­ing in the dark, Le Noir at the Vault pro­vides you with just that. An in­trigu­ing din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, to say the least, it iso­lates your sense of taste and smell, thereby en­hanc­ing your ap­pre­ci­a­tion of its dishes. Al­ter­na­tively, you can also dine at Ciné de Chef, which is a lux­u­ri­ous com­bi­na­tion of movie theatre and gourmet restaurant that al­lows you to en­joy a pre­mium meal and the lat­est block­busters at the same time. An­other es­tab­lish­ment you may want to try is the Jung Sik Dang restaurant. Its head- chef, Jung Sik Yum, serves up molec­u­lar gas­tron­omy us­ing tra­di­tional Korean in­gre­di­ents.

Cel­e­brat­ing its cul­tures through its ho­tels, food, and streets, there is no doubt that Seoul is the ideal des­ti­na­tion for a short get­away.

Rak- Ko- Jae Hanok Ho­tel

Apgu­jeong In­sadong

Sin­sadong

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