The Foursquare Superuser Community is made up of people from diverse backgrounds and unique talents, bound together by their passion for exploring places. This month, we spotlight a very talented photographer and Superuser Level 6 from Seoul, South Korea, Kwak Seong Jin, who has been checking in with Foursquare since 2010. With a mission to make Korea a welcoming place for foreign visitors, Seong Jin likes to ensure there is accurate information and helpful tips on venues. Below, he shares some of his best tips and photos for Seoul, Korea!
Historical Gardens, Local Markets and Other Seoul-ful Things
As the capital of South Korea, Seoul is one of the largest cities in the world with a population of about 10 million. A showcase of advanced technology and preservation of history and tradition, the city is also distinctly composed of mountains and a wide river running through the middle—the Han River.
While Seoul may be known for its amazing internet connection speed or as an electronics nirvana, the city also strives to preserve its history and traditions for the next generations. For example, one site Seong Jin recommends visiting is Changdeokgung Palace’s Secret Garden, a garden that served as the resting place for the royal family members during the reign of King Taejong in the 15th century. The garden is kept as natural as possible and tended to by human hands only when absolutely necessary. There are many pavilions and fountains that occupy the garden. The most beautiful time to see the garden is during the fall when the autumn foliage is at its peak and the leaves have just started to fall.
The Changdeokgung Palace’s Secret Garden, which used to be a resting place for the royal family members in the 15th century, features many pavilions and fountains throughout.
There are many attractions in Seoul, but if we had to pinpoint one specific aspect the city is best known for, it would have to be food and the variety of delicious cuisines available in this bustling metropolis. In fact, Korea is where Mukbang, the live online broadcasts in which hosts eating large amounts of food while interacting with the audience (ASMR, anyone?), originally started in 2010.
One of the most popular spots for tourists is Gwangjang Market, where they sell inexpensive street foods such as Tteokbokki (spicy rice cake), Bindaeddeok (Korean pancake/pizza) and Gimbap (Korean sushi roll). This market is also a great place to observe how ordinary Korean people spend their days, what they eat, how they dress and how they talk.
Food is one of the highlights of any trip to Seoul, and Gwangjang Market is a popular spot to try a variety of inexpensive street food.
For traditional Korean food, Seong Jin’s favorite restaurant is Mongmyeok Sanbang, a Korean restaurant located in the heart of the city. The exterior of the restaurant is Hanok, the Korean traditional housing structure that exists in various pockets of the city today. Be sure to order the Bibimbap, a mixed-rice bowl with a colorful arrangement of vegetables and meat, one of the rare dishes where you only need a spoon to eat! Afterwards, you can take the cable-car near the restaurant to go to the peak of Namsan Mountain, where you can take in a beautiful nighttime view of Seoul.
Another fun nighttime activity is the Seoul Bamdokkaebi Night Market, an evening flea market featuring different food trucks and special vendors. With a myriad of food and shopping options at the market and in the area, many young people gather and mingle here on summer nights. You can also enjoy views of the Han River running across Seoul from East to West and the Banpo Bridge Moonlight Rainbow every hour.
For an urban respite, look no further than Gyeongui Line Forest Park, a railway renovated into a civic park and located near the Airport Express Line. There are many restaurants and cafes located on either side of the park, and if the weather is nice, you can even have a beer on the grass.
To see some of the places mentioned and other cool and interesting spots in Seoul, follow Seong Jin’s Top Experiences in Seoul Foursquare list. From historical sites, the tallest skyscraper in Korea and of course, more food, this list has it all!
If you have more than a few days in Korea, you might want to consider a short trip to Jeju-do, a popular island that is only about an hour flight south from Seoul. A breathtaking coastline, high mountains, UNESCO heritage sites, fresh food and a warm climate make it the ideal getaway.
Thank you for sharing your thoughtful tips and amazing photos with our community of explorers, Seong Jin!
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