Truong Cong Thanh - 05/2019

If you asked me How to explore modern and classic Seoul in only one day? My answer will be absolutely possible.

Korea is a modern country mixed with tradition, which have those tall buildings next to palaces and colorful old town. And that harmony expresses most significantly and interestingly in Seoul, which is the capital of this country.

So, if there’s only one day in Seoul, how you can experience all of that? How to be admiring the modern works, walking leisurely on the ancient stone towns or traditional markets as well as enjoying the food in here?

After a long recording trip in Seoul about Korean culture and cuisine, lots of my friends asked me that question. And the answer is absolutely possible. The first place that we can choose to begin a Seoul-exploring day is Dongdaemun Design Plaza – DDP, the museum was built base on the world's largest 3D architecture and became one of symbols for the modernity and development of Seoul. This is the place where most of Korea's newest and most prominent design ideas are displayed with various exhibition spaces. In addition to the beauty and impression of the external architecture, tourist, especially young people will be attracted by other two spaces here. That is the corridor inside the building with bold curves stand out on the white ceiling and wall. This space is designed specifically for young people passionate on taking pictures and recording music video. The second space is an artificial flower garden on the roof of museum with a vast array of artificial white flowers that can glow at night, which create a sparkling garden every time the city lights up.

Artificial flower garden on the roof of DPP Museum

Around 11:00, after about 2 hours of visiting DDP, we can get a taxi to Tongil market, a 60-year-old traditional market with affordable typical Korean flavor dishes. The unique and attractive point of this market is that we can walk, enjoy flavorful space, and especially, buy a lunch such as rice cake, barbecue or kimchi… by ancient coin. This is one way for Korean people to preserve their cultural traditions..

Tongil traditional market with Korean signature cuisine

The feeling of wandering, shopping and buying foods, sundry is really closed to each of us and more important, that is the feeling of immersing in the simple, affined life of saleslady in the market. A lunch is about 10 ancient coin (equivalent to 5.000 won). In my lunch, I bought 2 rice cakes costed 4 ancient coin but being given another one by saleslady with happy smile in her face. This showed not only hospitality, but also the Korean’s culture of desiring sharing warmth, fullness and happiness to everyone. After wandering and immersing in the simple life of Tongil market, another place that according to me, completely deserve to be in the list of one day trip in Seoul, which is Insadong walking street, not too far from Tongil. The street is featured for modern beauty interspersed with classic features, the beauty of the ancient walking streets interspersed with tall buildings towering over Seoul's cloudy background.

Insadong is the small street located in center of Seoul. Most of the stores here are built base on ancient Korean wooden and ceramic architecture with plenty of green trees. From the beginning to the end of the street is numerous souvenir shop, traditional painting shop located close together. In addition, Insadong is the street of store with various kinds of bottle, jars with glossy glaze and typical pattern in here.

Insadong walking street with old style building

Another reason why I choose Insadong for next destination is because of after enjoy an affordable but traditional Korean lunch, walking in ancient street and tasting Kimchi signature dessert cake is the most wonderful thing.

Kultare is a kind of cake made from honey combined with corn flour, often used by the king as dessert longtime ago. From one piece of honey, the baker will have to drag it into small pieces of white silk until it reaches about 16,000 silk yarns, it will be rolled with a few kernels from 15 dry nuts. Maybe, enjoying a piece of Kultare cake, feeling the sweetness of honey, the fleshy of the grain from the pie, walking around the small street, keeping eyes on the colorful souvenirs is a great time. And that is also one of the reasons that Insadong was voted the best place in Seoul by foreign tourists.

And the final place to end the day in Seoul that I choose would be the shopping center and Myongdong night market. Where we can unleash the vibrant life of Seoul, enjoy shopping from affordable to high-end items at the night market and Lotte's commercial centers.

And of course, it is indispensable to find a Korean restaurant located in a small street and enjoy a delicious scented barbecue with a cup of mellow Soju.

And so ... If there’s only one day in Seoul