This is part of a series of posts where I look back at some of my favourite pictures from different cities that I have visited. You can read the rest of the series here.
It's another article and another positive review, I'm a big fan of Seoul. It's a nice middle ground between crazy busy old East Asian cities and more laidback modern cities. It's not the cheapest place in the world, but it's a large city and there's always something to do. If you want to check out my full review of Seoul, you can do here, and here are the 5 things I loved about Seoul (if you want a shorter read).
Travel advice for Sikhs
Really nice place for Sikhs. I wouldn't call it a starter city because the language barrier is quite big, but from airport to locals I experienced no issues as a Sikh, Who knows what people say behind your back, but I didn't get any indication of resentment or hate. I felt seriously comfortable walking around the city, and even the airport wasn't unpleasant.
I hate the tourist shopping streets that you get in major cities, places like Oxford Street in London, Fifth Avenue in New York and the Magnificent Mile in Chicago. I'm sure if I lived in Seoul I might avoid Myeong-dong too, but when I visited I really liked it.
Sure it's expensive and crowded, but something about a completely different alphabet in bright lights meant I really enjoyed walking down Myeong-dong.
I took quite a few photos at the N Seoul Tower, one of the highest points in the city. This was my favourite because watching people on the platform with the city in the background was a nice contrast. It also gives a better sense of scale of the city.
London has a great transport system, but every so often I come across a city with a transport system so good it contextualises everything. The underground in Seoul was clean, open and punctual. It also provides a different jingle on each stop depending on what line you're on. Big thumbs up for public transport (except the small seats on buses which are obviously not made for tall people).
Gyeongbokgung - the largest of the Five Grand Palaces, and my favourite - I mean just look at it.
It costs about £2.50 for entrance, but if you wear the traditional Korean Hanbok clothing you can get in for fee.
Here, two Korean's in Hanbok try and find the best view for a photo of the main palace.
The grounds of Gyeongbokgung are huge, I was walking around for a long time and there's so much to see. This peaceful lake surrounds the Gyeonghoeru, a banquet hall where rulers could host dignitaries.
It's strange, you're in this giant complex surrounded by people in Hanbok and you feel as though you're in the 19th century - but you look over the walls and you have the modern city of Seoul in the background. I've previously spoken about how much I love the dichotomy of old and new.
More Hanbok - this time in the Historical Village, a traditional village in the heart of the city. It's a great place to visit, and at the corner of every street are people telling tourists not to make any noise because this isn't museum - people live in these houses.
Another one where history meets modernity. That's the N Seoul tower in the background.
Tea houses and galleries are the main points of order in Insa-dong, my favourite shopping district. It's a little more laidback, I might even go as far as saying slightly hipster...not enough to be annoying.
Cheonggyecheon - my favourite part of Seoul as a whole. This is what I wrote in my main review article, and I'm just going to copy and paste it here because I think it perfectly encapsulates what this stream is:
"The circle of life - city edition!
People move to a city that has a small stream. People decide to modernise the city and fill up the stream with concrete. Gentrification occurs, people want a stream."
I've been to baseball games in New York, but this was so different. The whole crowd gets involved in chants based on famous songs from the 1980s. I probably learned more Korean here than the rest of the trip combined.
I love the golden sunset as the game went on long into the evening.
Changdeokgung is another of the Five Grand Palaces - more Hanbok, more beautiful architecture.
After days of sun, this was moments before an incredible snowstorm. The clouds framed the architecture of Changdeokgung with its dark mood.
If you like full on night Asian style night markets then you'll love Gwangjang. It's a large indoor market with narrow passageways. I lost the count of times I was stuck in a queue that didn't seem to move at all.
Food was centre piece of this market (as it seems to be for most night markets) and they had everything I'd seen before, and somethings I hadn't. It wasn't all good though, the wet market aspect of it was almost as bad as the one I saw in Hong Kong with half dead animals on ice or in tanks of water.
The stairs at Dongdaemun, a modern shopping plaza was pretty cool - the shopping centre not so much (think any type of Westfields). I headed to a local university after this which was a little more fun, but much less photogenic.
Gangnam Style - Seoul's answer to Mayfair. I thought I'd hate the pretentiousness but it wasn't so bad - and there were certainly more rustic parts in the area. This is where I experienced a full on Korean BBQ.
And then there's Lottoworld, inside the tallest building in the city. It was such a high end shopping centre, it reminded me of the type of malls you see in Dubai. This picture looks like something from a Disney fairytale.
It's a nice city - a lot of fun, and a fair bit to do. One day I'll list the cities I've visited and this will definitely be at the higher end of the list. But just bare in mind cost - it's not cheap to get there, it's a long distance, and it's not cheap when you land there either.
British Sikh, born in the Midlands, based in London, travelling the world seeing new cultures.