Are you a certified K-Drama and K-Pop fan? If you love the Hallyu wave, visiting South Korea should definitely be on your travel bucket list. Start your journey in Seoul, the country's bustling capital, where you can experience food, culture, and everything in between.
Read on and find out which places should have a place on your itinerary. Have suggestions of your own? Let us know about them in a comment.
1. N Seoul Tower (Namsan Tower)
Address: 105, Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Hours: 10: 00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. (Sunday-Friday), 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 am (Saturday)
How to Get There: Ride Seoul Subway Line 4 and alight at Myeongdong Station. Take Exit 3, turn left and walk straight until you see Pacific Hotel. Take the right path from Pacific Hotel and keep walking until you see stairs. Climb them and you’ll see the building for the cable car station to Namsan Tower.
Paris may be the City of Love, but romance is definitely highlighted in Seoul where couple shirts and couple items abound. Celebrate your love for your BF or hubby with a visit to N Seoul Tower. Leave a padlock for each other on the tower fence to commemorate the occasion before heading to the observatory at the top of the tower where you can get an amazing view of Seoul. Don’t miss the light show projected onto the tower at night, and drop by the Teddy Bear Museum if you love cute things.
2. Seoul Forest
Address: 685, Seongsu1-ga 1-dong, Seongdong-gu, Seoul
Hours: Open 24 hours every day
How to Get There: Ride the subway Bundang Line, alight at Seoul Forest Station, and take Exit 3. From there, it's a 5-minute walk to the Seoul Forest complex. You'll know you're in the right place since you'll see a sign for Seoul Forest in front.
This giant park is actually a combination of five different parks: the Cultural Art Park, Ecological Forest, Nature Learning Field, Wetlands Ecological Field, and Han River Waterside Park. You’ll see lots of beautiful trees and flowers here as well as water forms and deer. You can come here simply to relax and enjoy nature, or if you’re coming with family, you can use it as an opportunity to let your kids learn about the environment.
3. Trick Eye Museum
Address: 20, Hongik-ro 3-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. every day
How to Get There: Ride Seoul Subway Line 2 and alight at Hongik University Station. Take Exit 9, walk straight for around 200m, and turn left into Hongik-ro Street. Go straight and turn right at the second street with Holika Holika at the corner. Continue walking, and you will see the Trick Eye Museum building on your right.
If you want to have a bit of fun with your friends, this museum features amazing trick art, perfect for an afternoon of taking quirky photos. All paintings in the museum are set up to look 3D. They even have installations that combine 2D art and props to create an even better illusion. Just have a friend take your pic from a designated photo spot (to get the right angle!), and you can do everything from clinging onto a lamppost in the middle of a flood to floating in the air in front of a giant Buddha. Don’t forget to bring a thick jacket! The entrance fee comes with free access to their Ice Museum, which houses stunning ice sculptures in freezing temperatures.
4. Gyeongbokgung Palace
Address: 161, Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (up to 6:30 p.m. from June-August, up to 5:00 p.m. from November-February), closed on Tuesdays
How to Get There: Ride Seoul Subway Line 3 and alight at Gyeongbokgung Station. Take Exit 5 and walk for 5 minutes until you see the palace.
The largest of the Five Grand Palaces in Seoul, Gyeongbokgung Palace is also one of the most popular tourist sites in Seoul. Learn about Korea’s history and see beautiful architecture from the Joseon dynasty as you go around the palace’s different buildings. Make sure you catch the changing of the guard ceremony at 10AM, 1PM, and 3PM every day. You can also visit the National Folk Museum and National Palace Museum, which are both within the palace compound.
5. Han River
Address: 252, Yeouidong-ro, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul
Hours: Hours may vary
How to Get There: Ride Seoul Subway Line 5 and alight at Yeouinaru Station. Take Exit 5 and you’ll see Han River on your left side. Just walk towards the river until you the ticket booth for the Han River Ferry Cruise.
The Han River is a staple in K-Dramas, serving as the venue for the leads’ angsty moments and breakup scenes. This long river covers much of Seoul, so you can view it from several parks all over the city. To complete your Seoul experience, have some chicken and beer by the Han River with your friends. You can also take the Han River Ferry Cruise from any of 8 docks all over the city. We recommend going to the Yeouido Ferry at Yeouido Park and taking the evening cruise, which includes passing by the colored fountains of Banpo Bridge (except during the winter months).
For more Hallyu goodness, grab Sparkling Magazine's Spring 2015 issue, out now in bookstores and newsstands at P175, featuring Boys Republic and GOT7 on the flip covers.
PHOTOS: Pixabay, courtesy of Belle Yambao