2012년 3월 1일 목요일

Dating in Seoul (Part 1)

Dating in Seoul (Part 1):

A very good friend of mine, Jayvee Fernandez is getting hitched on March 3 and he and he and his future wife have decided to “celebrate” their honeymoon in Korea! He’s been asking me about travel tips and romantic places to visit in Seoul and for that, this post is dedicated to you and Chie, dude! Also, this is my Valentine special!

So, what are the top 10 dating places in Seoul? I will first start with locations that are close to one another and are located near the backpackers area.

1. 청계천 Cheonggyecheon

Cheonggyecheon is a 5.8 km creek flowing west to east through downtown Seoul. It had been a neglected body of water, almost to the point of running dry but then Seoul mayor, Lee Myung-bak initiated a $900 million project to remove the elevated highway and restore the stream. The recreation park as we know it now officially opened in 2005 and has since become a favorite destination among families, friends and of course, lovers.


I already spot couples! Lots of them!

- photo courtesy of ulsanonline.com

What to see:

Cheonggyecheon in the morning isn’t very spectacular. Its true beauty is revealed at night when the lights are lit up and their rays are reflected on the clear water. It’s truly a romantic sight! On some occasions, you would even see festive decorations around the stream and if you would visit on November, you can even check out the Seoul Lantern Festival, which is a visual feast and attracts tourists from all over the world.

What to do during the date:

After shopping at 동대문 Dongdaemun (at least the part that’s near Cheonggyecheon), you can buy some Korean street food like 떡볶이 ddeokbokki and French fry-coated hot dog and drinks like 바나나맛 우유 banana milk or Milkis then head over to Cheonggyecheon just across the street. Look for a nice spot and eat your snacks there while watching the flowing water and chatting your hearts out. If you’re not in the mood to eat, you can just snuggle up with each other. Seriously, it’s such a romantic sight.

2. 인사동 Insa-dong

Insa-dong is well known as a traditional street to both locals and foreigners and represents the culture of the past and the present. Also, it’s one of my most favorite places in Seoul because the place is just alive with tradition and arts. Yes, if you like the arts, you would adore this place. Literally thousands of tourists visit the place every week although it’s not a very good place to buy souvenirs from as they’re a bit expensive.


They like their flags, noh?

What to see:

Insa-dong contains 40% of the nation’s antique shops and art galleries as well as 90% of the traditional stationery shops. Art galleries, many of which have free entrance also litter the area and street performers and artists can be found in all corners of Insa-dong. You can also find many carts selling traditional candies and sweets, the Institute of Traditional Korean Food and the only Starbucks in the world with the signage written in Hangul.

What to do during the date:

Where do I even begin? So many things can be done around Insa-dong! Start your date by having lunch in one of the restaurants in the area. Then just walk around and check out the really cool antique shops! Find a museum or an art gallery that has an exhibit and buy some sweets from the street vendors. Watch the street performers or buy some trinkets and collectibles but my advice? Have your photos taken in one of the studios there wearing traditional Korean clothes. Because it’s awesome.

3. 경복궁 Gyeongbokgung

Gyeongbokgung in English means “Palace of Shining Happiness” and to be honest, there’s no way you cannot be happy when you go there. The place is just… magnificent! It was first constructed in 1394 and reconstructed in 1867 and was the main and largest palace of the Five Grand Palaces built by the Jeoseon Dynasty. When I went there for the first time, I got frustrated by the fact that I wasn’t with Jimmy because in my opinion, it was an very ideal date place and I was in awe at the fact that it sits right in the middle of the bustling capital. The Gyeongbok Palace consists of many different gates and courts and the Korean government had done a great job restoring and preserving the estate.


Again, this is right in the middle of Seoul and outside this are random trains and like, malls.

- photo courtesy of wikipedia -

What to see:

A LOT. Gyeongbokgung is a sight to behold. I was seriously taken aback by its grandness when I went there. You cannot really go inside most of the edifices but just looking at the fine and distinct Korean architecture is enough. I was told that the best place to go there is on autumn, when the leaves surrounding the palaces are colored red, orange and yellow but anytime of the year would be okay.

What to do during the date:

Before going around the palace compound, spend about two hours in the National Folk Museum of Korea, which is within the grounds of Gyeongbokgung. You can learn so many things about the country and its people. Then you can proceed to check out the different palaces, take selcas and end your journey at 광화문 Gwanghwamun, which is the main and most famous gate. You can watch the imperial guards “show” and have your photos taken with them.

4. 홍대앞 Hongdae Area

Hongdae is an abbreviation of Hongik Daehakgyo or Hongik University, which is well known for being a center for young art in Korea. Much like with Insa-dong, if you love the arts especially the contemporary variety, you would surely enjoy this area. There’s a mural street, which contains various murals and graffiti. The surrounding area of the university, however, is more known for its entertainment and clubs. The vibe of Hongdae is very hip and young and in fact, it’s the home of many local indie bands and artists.


I love the nightlife. I got to boogie.

- photo courtesy of Koreanbeacon.com -

What to see:

Fashionable people in their late teens, 20′s and 30′s roam the streets of Hongdae. It is also frequented by ESL teachers and tourists and every Saturday, except on winter, there are flee markets near the university. But as mentioned above, Hongdae is perhaps most famous for its nightlife as bars and clubs are literally everywhere.

What to do during the date:

Hongdae is for couples who want enjoy the night with some music, dancing and of course, alcohol. My kind of date, really. Hahaha! There are so many establishments to choose from! If you’re not into loud music, you can also find a nice cafe where you can talk over coffee or tea. Or you may go to a jazz bar, whatever floats your boat. Furthermore (and this might be VERY helpful), the last Friday of each month is “Club Day”, a wristband-powered event which allows entry to more than a dozen clubs for the price of one. Every second Friday, there is also “Sound Day” which is the “indie music” version of Club Day.

5. Han River Cruise

한강 or Han River is the main blood vesel not only of Seoul but of Korea. It winds along for over 500 kilometers before passing through Seoul on its way into the West or Yellow Sea. The river cruise is a perfect way to enjoy the scenery of the city and currently there are six ferry cruises, going from 양화 Yanghwa to 잠실 Jamsil, which operate everyday of the year, except in the event of a natural disaster or bad weather. You may avail of one-way or round trip routes.


It goes right under the Banpo Bridge!

- photo courtesy of cosmojin.com-

What to see:

Night cruises are recommended but there are also afternoon cruises, which can give you a different view of the riverside. From the boat you can see Jeoldusan Park, the 63 Building, Namsan Tower, Jamsil’s Multi Sports Complex, Olympic Stadium, and neighborhoods like Apgujeong and Yongsan, among many others. You might also find delight in passing under many of the city’s 27 bridges, which in some occasions are illuminated.

What to do during the date:

Other than the obvious sight-seeing, you can choose from the Magic Show Cruise, Live Concert Cruise or Dinner Buffet Cruise, the latter being the most ideal for dates. The round trip dinner buffet cruise costs 60,000 KRW or abut Php 2,300 per head. It may be a bit pricey but it’s definitely worth it, if only for the romance of it all… *coughJimmyKimcough*

That’s it for the first part of my Dating in Seoul Valentine special. Hope this has been helpful, Jayvs! Please watch out for part 2! And if you wanna know more about my first Seoul adventures, check this out! And if you wanna know what it’s like to date a Korean guy, BETTER SIGN UP FOR THIS!

ps: I got limited stocks of G-Dragon High-Cut on-hand. Interested? Email me at kring[at]funnysexy[dot]ph for the price and to reserve. Only for meet-ups!

Please don’t forget to follow us on Twitter: Kring, My Korean Boyfriend, Jimmy Kim

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