The Perfect 5-Day Seoul Itinerary

The Perfect 5-Day Seoul Itinerary

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Seoul is a massive city. It has one of the most populated metropolitan areas in the world. There’s a lot to see and do in Seoul but thankfully, the city has an efficient and extensive metro system that makes sightseeing a breeze.

Like Tokyo, first-time visitors will have their hands full navigating the city’s myriad attractions so I’ve come up with this 5-day Seoul itinerary to help you maximize your stay.

Like any trip, it’s always better to stay longer but five days will give you enough time to explore the city’s top tourist attractions at a moderate, enjoyable pace.

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Changing of the guard at Gyeongbokgung

WHAT TO DO IN SEOUL IN 5 DAYS

Listed below are Seoul’s top tourist attractions along with a few recommended restaurants. You can jump to the location map to see exactly where they are in the city.

NOTE: We usually use Google Maps to navigate but it doesn’t work as well in Korea. In Seoul, it’s best to navigate using the NAVER Map, Navigation app (iOS | Android).

QUICK GLANCE

DAY ONE

• Gyeongbokgung Palace / Gwanghwamun Gate
• Tosokchon (lunch)
• Bukchon Hanok Village
• Changdeokgung Palace / Huwon
• Changgyeonggung Palace
• Jongmyo Shrine
• Ikseondong Hanok Village
• Insadong
• Jogyesa Temple
• Imun Seolleongtang (dinner)
DAY TWO

• Gyeonghuigung Palace
• Deoksugung Palace
• Jeonju Yuhalmeoni Bibimbap (lunch)
• Namdaemun Market
• N Seoul Tower
• Myeongdong
• Myeongdong Kyoja (dinner)
DAY THREE

• Noryangjin Fish Market
• Hongdae
• BBQ Olive Chicken Cafe (lunch)
• Bongeunsa Temple
• COEX Mall
• Starfield Library
• Gangnam Shopping Street
• Wonjo Masan Halmae Agujjim (dinner)
DAY FOUR

• Cheonggyecheon Stream
• Gwangjang Market
• Woo Lae Oak (lunch)
• Ihwa Mural Village
• Dongdaemun Design Plaza
• Itaewon
• Sigol Bapsang (appetizer)
• Woosung Galbi (dinner)
DAY FIVE

• Day Trip

DAY 1

Gyeongbokgung Palace

Gyeongbokgung is the oldest and largest among Seoul’s Five Grand Palaces. Built in 1395, it served as the main palace of the Joseon Dynasty and currently houses the National Palace Museum of Korea and the National Folk Museum of Korea.

Gyeongbokgung is the biggest palace and considered by many to be the most beautiful so it makes sense to go there first. Pictured below is Gwanghwamun Gate. It’s the main gate to the palace and where you can watch the changing of the Royal Guard.

Entrance to Gyeongbokgung is KRW 3,000 but you can get an integrated palace ticket for KRW 10,000 that gives you access to Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung (including Huwon), Changgyeonggung, Deoksugung, and Jongmyo Shrine.
Gwanghwamun Gate

You can witness the ceremonial changing of the Royal Guard at Gwanghwamun Gate at 10AM and 2PM everyday except Tuesday. It’s one of the most interesting times to visit Gyeongbokgung so it’s best to arrive before 10AM. Other than Gyeongbokgung, the only other palace where you can watch the changing of the guard is at Deoksugung.

We visited Gyeongbokgung on our own but if you’d prefer to go on a guided tour, then there are a few palace tours you can choose from on Klook or Get Your Guide. Many tourists who visit Gyeongbokgung will rent a hanbok first for more memorable pictures (Klook | Get Your Guide).
Changing of the guard at Gwanghwamun Gate

Operating Hours: 9AM-6PM, Wed-Mon (closed Tuesdays)
Admission: KRW 3,000
Closest Subway Station: Gyeongbokgung Station (Line 3, Exit 5) or Anguk Station (Line 3, Exit 1)
Estimated Time to Spend: About 1-2 hrs

Tosokchon

After exploring Gyeongbokgung, head over to Tosokchon for lunch. It’s about a 5-minute walk west of the palace. Tosokchon has been open for over 30 years and is known for serving some of the best samgyetang in Seoul.

Samgyetang is a hearty Korean soup dish made from a whole young chicken stuffed with glutinous rice and boiled in a broth of Korean ginseng, jujube fruits, garlic, ginger, and other ingredients. It’s believed to have a cooling effect on the body and is thus especially popular in summer.

We’ve tried many delicious dishes in Korea and samgyetang is definitely one of the most interesting. Pictured below is a version of the dish made with black chicken.
Tosokchon

Address: 5 Jahamun-ro 5-gil, Sajik-dong, Jongno-gu, 서울특별시 South Korea
Operating Hours: 10AM-10PM, daily
Closest Subway Station: Gyeongbokgung Station (Exit 2)
What to Order: Samgyetang
What We Paid: Around KRW 15,000-20,000 per person

Bukchon Hanok Village

Bukchon Hanok Village is an atmospheric residential/commercial neighborhood located between Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung palaces. After lunch at Tosokchon, make your way there before proceeding to Changdeokgung.

Bukchon Hanok Village is home to hundreds of hanoks or traditional Korean houses that date back to the Joseon Dynasty. It’s one of the most popular places in Seoul to rent a hanbok for pictures.

While many of the hanoks have been converted into cultural centers and teahouses, the majority are still residences so it’s important to be respectful and keep your voices down when you visit.

I’ve visited Bukchon Hanok Village a few times, always on my own, but there’s a free walking tour you may want to join. You can visit on a guided tour as well.
Bukchon Hanok Village

Closest Subway Station: Anguk Station (Line 3, Exit 1 or 2)
Estimated Time to Spend: About 1 – 1.5 hrs

Changdeokgung Palace

From Bukchon Hanok Village, it’s about a 10-15 minute walk east to Changdeokgung Palace. It’s the second of the Five Grand Palaces you’ll be visiting on this itinerary.

Changdeokgung was the second royal villa built in Seoul, after Gyeongbokgung. It’s perhaps the most well-preserved of the five palaces and one of the most visited. If you were to visit just two palaces, then it should probably be Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung.
Changdeokgung Palace

One of Changdeokgung’s most notable features is the rear secret garden or Huwon. It was used as a resting place by the Joseon kings and considered one of the best examples of Korean garden design. It features a small pond, a pavilion, and a large tree that’s over 300 years old.

Admission to the Huwon is separate from the palace but the integrated palace ticket will give you access to both. Like Gyeongbokgung and Bukchon Hanok Village, Changdeokgung is a great place to rent a hanbok for pictures. You can also visit on a guided tour.
Huwon

Operating Hours: 9AM-6PM, Tue-Sun (closed Mondays)
Admission: KRW 3,000 (palace), KRW 8,000 (Huwon)
Closest Subway Station: Anguk Station (Line 3, Exit 3)
Estimated Time to Spend: About 2 hrs

Changgyeonggung Palace

Connected to Changdeokgung is Changgyeonggung, the next of the Five Grand Palaces. It was built in 1483 for the wives of the Joseon kings.

Changgyeonggung Palace is smaller and less impressive than the previous two but its proximity to Changdeokgung makes it a worthwhile stop on this itinerary. Plus, you’ll have free access with the integrated palace ticket.

PHOTO:Changgyeonggung Palace, Seoul, erly 15th century (12)” by Richard Mortel, used under CC BY 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom
Changgyeonggung Palace

Operating Hours: 9AM-9PM, Tue-Sun (closed Mondays)
Admission: KRW 1,000
Closest Subway Station: Anguk Station (Line 3, Exit 3)
Estimated Time to Spend: About 1 – 1.5 hrs

Jongmyo Shrine

Located directly south of Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggung palaces is Jongmyo, a royal shrine where the ancestral rites for deceased Joseon kings and queens are performed.

Jongmyo Shrine is where you’ll find the royal spirit tablets. These are the placards used to designate the seat of a deity or past ancestor. It’s a sacred place that’s more solemn in atmosphere than the royal palaces so it’s important to be respectful when you visit. It’s the only non-palace included in the integrated palace ticket.

PHOTO:Jongmyo Shrine” by whyyan, used under CC BY 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom
Jongmyo Shrine

Operating Hours: 9AM-6PM, Wed-Mon (closed Tuesdays)
Admission: KRW 1,000
Closest Subway Station: Jongno 3(sam)-ga Station (Line 1, 3, 5 / Exit 8, 11)
Estimated Time to Spend: About 1 hr

Ikseondong Hanok Village

Directly to the west of Jongmyo Shrine is Ikseondong Hanok Village, perhaps one of Seoul’s best kept secrets. A labyrinth of hanoks that have been converted into cute cafes and boutiques, it’s like a trendier version of Bukchon Hanok Village.

We visited Ikseondong in the morning when many of the shops were still closed so it’s best to go later in the day. If you’re looking for something a little less touristy in Seoul, then Ikseondong is a great neighborhood to get lost in. People looking for a more novel way of exploring Ikseondong may be interested in this Segway tour.
Ikseondong Hanok Village

Closest Subway Station: Jongno 3(sam)-ga Station (Line 1, 3, 5 / Exit 6)
Estimated Time to Spend: About 2-3 hrs

Insadong

Make your way to Insadong, this first of five popular Seoul neighborhoods you’ll be exploring on this itinerary. It’s comprised of a main street – Insadong-gil – connected to a network of smaller alleyways filled with art galleries, traditional craft shops, restaurants, cafes, and street food stalls.

At one point, Insadong was home to the largest market of antiques and artwork in Korea. If you’re looking to purchase more traditional items in Seoul, then Insadong is the place to go.

It’s fun to explore the area on your own but if you’d like to go with a guide, then you may be interested in this city sightseeing tour that takes you through the heart of Insadong.
Insadong

Closest Subway Station: Jonggak Station (Line 1, Exit 11) or Anguk Station (Line 3, Exit 6)
Estimated Time to Spend: About 3-4 hrs

Jogyesa Temple

From Insadong-gil, continue west to Jogyesa Temple, the head temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. It’s one of the most important Buddhist temples in Korea and serves as the main venue for many Buddhist events.
Jogyesa Temple

Operating Hours: 24 hrs
Admission: FREE
Closest Subway Station: Jonggak Station (Line 1, Exit 2)
Estimated Time to Spend: About 30 mins – 1 hr

Imun Seolleongtang

A short walk from Jogyesa Temple is Imun Seolleongtang, the oldest restaurant in Seoul. They’ve been serving seolnongtang or ox bone soup for close to 120 years.

My sister-in-law is Korean and a former chef and one of her favorite dishes is seolnongtang. It’s a hearty soup dish made by boiling beef shank bones for several hours to extract the flavor from the bones.

As you can see below, the process turns the broth cloudy and milky white. Brisket and other cuts of beef are added to the broth along with rice and soft wheat noodles.

Seolnongtang is great to have with makgeolli which is a sweet-sour alcoholic beverage made from rice or wheat mixed with nuruk, a Korean fermentation starter. What better way to end a day of historical sightseeing than with dinner and drinks at Seoul’s oldest restaurant?
Imun Seolleongtang

Address: 38-13 Ujeongguk-ro, Gyeonji-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Operating Hours: 8AM-9PM, daily
Closest Subway Station: Jonggak Station (Exit 3-1)
What to Order: Seolnongtang, makgeolli
What We Paid: Around KRW 10,000-15,000 per person

DAY 2

Gyeonghuigung Palace

If you haven’t had your fill of palaces yet, then start your second day in Seoul with a visit to Gyeonghuigung Palace, the fourth of the Five Grand Palaces.

During the latter half of the Joseon period, Gyeonghuigung served as the king’s secondary palace. It was where he retreated to in times of emergency. At its peak, it was comprised of about 100 buildings but most were destroyed during the Japanese occupation.

Admission to Gyeonghuigung Palace is free. It’s about a 10-minute walk from Deoksugung Palace. If you’d like to catch the 11AM changing of the guard at Deoksugung, then it’s best to be at Gyeonghuigung by around 9:30AM.
Gyeonghuigung Palace

Operating Hours: 9AM-6PM, Tue-Sun (closed Mondays)
Admission: FREE
Closest Subway Station: Seodaemun Station (Line 5, Exit 4)
Estimated Time to Spend: About 1 hr

Deoksugung Palace

Deoksugung is the last of Seoul’s Five Grand Palaces. It became the primary royal palace after Gyeongbokgung was burned down during the Japanese invasion of Korea. It’s for this reason why it’s the only other palace in Seoul where you can witness the changing of the Royal Guard.

Deoksugung’s changing of the guard happens three times a day – at 11AM, 2PM, and 3:30PM. It takes place in front of Daehanmun which is the palace’s main gate. Admission to Deoksugung is included in the integrated palace ticket.

PHOTO:Deoksugung Palace, Seoul (59)” by Richard Mortel, used under CC BY 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom
Deoksugung Palace

Operating Hours: 9AM-9PM, Tue-Sun (closed Mondays)
Admission: KRW 1,000
Closest Subway Station: City Hall Station (Line 1, 2 / Exit 1, 2, 3)
Estimated Time to Spend: About 1 hr

Jeonju Yuhalmeoni Bibimbap

After exploring Deoksugung, walk over to Jeonju Yuhalmeoni Bibimbap for lunch. Owned and operated by Grandma Yu, this humble restaurant has been serving Jeonju-style bibimbap for over 40 years.

Like bulgogi, galbi, or japchae, bibimbap is a beloved and well-known Korean dish. It refers to a bowl of white rice topped with sauteed and seasoned vegetables, gochujang (Korean chili paste), a raw or fried egg, and sliced meat. The contents are mixed together thoroughly before being eaten.
Jeonju Yuhalmeoni Bibimbap

Address: 12-2, Bukchang-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Operating Hours: 11AM-7PM, Thurs-Sat / 11AM-6PM, Sun-Wed
Closest Subway Station: City Hall Station (Exit 8)
What to Order: Jeonju bibimbap
What We Paid: Around KRW 10,000 per person

Namdaemun Market

After lunch, continue south to Namdeamun Market. It’s Korea’s largest traditional market with over 10,000 shops selling a variety of goods like clothes, houseware, toys, accessories, and food.

Spend as much time as you want exploring the market before proceeding to the next stop on this itinerary. Markets are one of the best places to sample any destination’s street food.

PHOTO:Namdaemun Market” by Adrián Pérez, used under CC BY-SA 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom
Namdaemun Market

Operating Hours: 24 hrs
Closest Subway Station: Hoehyeon Station (Line 4, Exit 5)
Estimated Time to Spend: About 1-2 hrs

N Seoul Tower

From Namdaemun Market, continue south to N Seoul Tower. It’s a little under 2 km (1.2 miles) away, part of which is uphill, so you may want to take the metro to Myeongdong station then walk the rest of the way.

Standing at almost 480 meters (1,575 ft) above sea level, N Seoul Tower is one of the tallest towers in Asia. It towers over Namsan Mountain and boasts an observation deck offering sweeping 360° views of the city.

The observation deck is the main draw but there are other attractions within and around the tower as well like the Locks of Love, a game plaza, a VR entertainment center, and over a dozen restaurants and cafes.

You can get to N Seoul Tower on foot, by taxi or bus, or by cable car. Most tourists go by cable car. You can purchase tickets to the observatory at the gate or in advance through Klook or Get Your Guide.
N Seoul Tower

Operating Hours: 11AM-10PM, daily
Admission: KRW 11,000 (observatory), KRW 9,500 (cable car roundtrip)
Closest Subway Station: Myeong-dong Station (Line 4, Exit 3)
Estimated Time to Spend: About 1-2 hrs

Myeongdong

From N Seoul Tower, take the cable car back down then walk to Myeongdong, one of Seoul’s most popular neighborhoods and shopping districts. It boasts a neon-lit labyrinth of department stores and boutiques selling a variety of goods like designer apparel, cosmetics, bags, luggage, and mobile accessories.

If you’re visiting Seoul primarily to shop, then this is probably where you’ll be spending most of your time.
Myeongdong

Aside from designer boutiques, Myeongdong is home to a wealth of restaurants and cafes. It’s one of the most popular areas in Seoul to have street food.

Various vendors set up in the late afternoon to sell a variety of street food like tteokbokki (rice cakes), skewered seafood, and most decadent of all – grilled lobster tails.
Grilled lobster tails

Closest Subway Station: Euljiro 1(il)-ga Station (Line 2 / Exit 5, 6, 7) or Myeong-dong Station (Line 4 / Exit 5, 6, 7, 8)
Estimated Time to Spend: About 3-4 hrs

Myeongdong Kyoja

There are many restaurants to choose from in Myeongdong but a popular choice is Myeongdong Kyoja. They’ve been around for over 50 years and are known for serving some of the best kalguksu or knife-cut noodles in Seoul.

Kalguksu consists of handmade, knife-cut wheat flour noodles served in a bowl with broth and other ingredients. At Myeondong Kyoja, it’s typically enjoyed with a side of steamed mandu or Korean-style dumplings.

Kalguksu is great but if you’d like more restaurant suggestions in the Myeongdong area, then check out our list of must-try restaurants in Seoul.
Myeongdong Kyoja

Address: 29 Myeongdong 10-gil, Myeongdong 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu, 서울특별시 South Korea
Operating Hours: 10:30AM-9:30PM, daily
Closest Subway Station: Myeongdong Station (Exit 8)
What to Order: Kalguksu, mandu
What We Paid: Around KRW 10,000-15,000 per person

DAY 3

Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market

Noryangjin Market is one of the biggest and most well-known seafood markets in Seoul. We visited Noryangjin on our very first trip to Seoul to try sannakji, Korea’s infamous dish of “live” octopus sashimi.

Parts of Noryangjin stay open for 24 hours but one of the most interesting times to visit is at 3AM during the live fish auction. Up to 300 tons of marine products are traded at the market everyday.

What makes the market even more interesting are the many restaurants on the second floor that can prepare and cook your seafood for you. Just bring your fresh seafood to them, negotiate a price, and enjoy a seafood feast.
Noryangjin Fish Market

Operating Hours: 24 hrs (high-class fish market)
Closest Subway Station: Noryangjin Station (Line 1, Exit 1)
Estimated Time to Spend: About 1-2 hrs

Hongdae

After your seafood feast, hop back into the metro and head over to Hongdae, one of our favorite neighborhoods in Seoul.

Hongdae refers to the area around Hongik University. It’s a lively and youthful neighborhood with plenty of cute cafes, restaurants, boutiques, and street performers.

Because Hongdae is populated with students, it has a fun college town atmosphere that’s unlike any other in Seoul. You could easily spend the whole day here exploring its myriad shops and cafes.
Hongdae

Closest Subway Station: Hongik University Station (Line 2, Exit 9)
Estimated Time to Spend: About 3-4 hrs

BBQ Olive Chicken Cafe

If you’re a fan of Korean television dramas, then you may recognize this place. It was featured prominently in the hugely successful Goblin series.

BBQ Olive Chicken Cafe is a chimaek restaurant chain with multiple outlets throughout the city. Chimaek refers to the popular combination of Korean fried chicken and beer, one of the best duos you can have in Korea!

Two BBQ Olive Chicken Cafe outlets were featured in the Goblin tv series – one by Cheonggyecheon Stream and another in Gangnam. The former is more popular but this itinerary takes you to Gangnam next so I’m suggesting you go to the latter.
BBQ Olive Chicken Cafe

Address: 687-2 Ilwon-dong, Gangnam District, Seoul, Korea
Operating Hours: 11:30AM-2AM, daily
Closest Subway Station: Daecheong Station (Exit 4)
What to Order: Golden Olive Chicken, sweet potato fries
What We Paid: Around KRW 15,000 per person

Bongeunsa Temple

After lunch, take the metro to Bongeunsa Temple, a Buddhist temple located directly north of COEX Mall. It’s a good place to make a quick stop before visiting the mall’s Instagram-famous Starfield Library.

PHOTO:Bongeunsa temple, Seoul” by mia!, used under CC BY-SA 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom
Bongeunsa Temple

Operating Hours: 24 hrs
Admission: FREE
Closest Subway Station: Bongeunsa Temple Station (Line 9, Exit 1)
Estimated Time to Spend: About 1 hr

COEX Mall Starfield Library

Starfield Library is an open-air public library located in the middle of COEX Mall. It features hundreds of books and magazines, even iPads that you can use to read E-books. It’s a stunning library that’s become one of the most popular picture-taking spots in Seoul.
COEX Mall Starfield Library

Operating Hours: 10:30AM-10PM, daily
Admission: FREE
Closest Subway Station: Samseong Station (Line 2 / Exit 5, 6), Bongeunsa Station (Line 9 / Exit 1, 6, 7), or Cheongdam Station (Line 7, Exit 2)
Estimated Time to Spend: About 2-3 hrs

Gangnam Shopping Street

The Gangnam district is one of the most affluent neighborhoods in Seoul. It’s drawn comparisons to Beverly Hills, CA and features some of the most expensive real estate in the city. The district gained global popularity thanks to Korean singer Psy’s smash hit “Gangnam Style”.

If you’d like to explore the Gangnam District, then a good area to start is Gangnam-daero or Gangnam Shopping Street. Located between Gangnam and Sinnonhyeon stations, this stretch of road is the most popular shopping and dining area in Gangnam.

PHOTO:Gangnam-gu, Seoul” by Kan Wu, used under CC BY 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom
Gangnam

Closest Subway Station: Gangnam Station (Line 2 / Exit 10, 11) or Sinnonhyeon Station (Line 9 / Exit 5, 6)
Estimated Time to Spend: About 2-3 hrs

Wonjo Masan Halmae Agujjim

If you walk north on Gangnam-daero, then you’ll eventually find yourself at a cluster of restaurants specializing in ganjang gejang. It’s a dish of raw crab marinated in soy sauce.

To prepare, fresh raw crabs are cleaned then put in an earthenware crock where they’re salted for about six hours. A mixture of soy sauce and other ingredients is boiled briefly then poured over the salted crabs.

After an hour, the sauce is removed and reboiled before again being poured over the crabs. This process is repeated several times before the dish is chilled and consumed.

I love crabs but I’ve never had it prepared in this way. It’s absolutely delicious and one of my favorite things to eat in Korea. If you enjoy exploring the world through food, then you need to try ganjang gejang.

There are a few ganjang gejang restaurants in this area but we went to Wonjo Masan Halmae Agujjim based on the strength of its reviews.
Wonjo Masan Halmae Agujjim

Address: 10 Gangnam-daero 99-gil, Seocho-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Closest Subway Station: Sinsa Station (Exit 4)
What to Order: Ganjang gejang
What We Paid: Around KRW 30,000-40,000 per person

DAY 4

Cheonggyecheon Stream

Start your fourth day in Seoul at Cheonggyecheon, an 11 km long urban stream that runs through the heart of central Seoul. It starts at Cheonggye Plaza and passes under 22 bridges before flowing out into the Han River.

Cheonggyecheon Stream is a favorite photo backdrop for both locals and tourists. During the hotter months, you’ll often find people sitting on the stream’s edge with their feet submerged in the water.

It’s easy to walk the length of Cheonggyecheon Stream on your own, but if you’d like to learn about the many tourist attractions along the way, then you may be interested in joining this free walking tour.
Cheonggyecheon Stream

Closest Subway Station: City Hall Station (Line 1, Exit 4)
Estimated Time to Spend: About 1-2 hrs

Gwangjang Market

Walk east along the stream to Gwangjang Market, one of Seoul’s oldest and most well-known traditional markets. Open since 1905, it’s famous for its vintage clothing arcade and its abundance of street food.

Gwangjang Market is a great place to have a Korean breakfast. We were there early in the morning when the stalls were packed with locals enjoying dishes like eomuk (fish cakes), tteokbokki, bindaetteok (mung bean pancakes), and kimbap (Korean sushi rolls). A few stalls were even offering sannakji.
Gwangjang Market

Operating Hours: 8:30AM-11PM, daily
Closest Subway Station: Jongno 5-ga Station (Line 1 / Exit 7, 8)
Estimated Time to Spend: About 1-2 hrs

Woo Lae Oak

A short walk from Gwangjang Market is Woo Lae Oak, one of Seoul’s oldest restaurants. They’re known for their bulgogi and other barbecue dishes but they’re also famous for their naengmyeon.

Naengmyeon is a dish of chilled buckwheat noodles typically served in an iced broth made from beef, chicken, or dongchimi (watery brine made from kimchi). It’s originally a North Korean dish that became popular throughout the peninsula after the Korean War.

When we had lunch at Woo Lae Oak, everyone else was having barbecue but I suggest trying the naengmyeon. It’s an interesting dish and Woo Lae Oak is said to be one of the best places to try it in Seoul.
Woo Lae Oak

Address: 62-29, Changgyeonggung-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Operating Hours: 11:30AM-9:30PM, daily
Closest Subway Station: Euljiro 4-ga Station (Exit 4)
What to Order: Naengmyeon, bulgogi
What We Paid: Around KRW 15,000-20,000 per person

Ihwa Mural Village

From Woo Lae Oak, make your way north to Ihwa Mural Village. We haven’t been there but it’s a popular destination for people wanting to take pictures for their Instagram.

Ihwa Mural Village was once a decaying residential neighborhood set for demolition over a decade ago. To save the neighborhood, local artists were commissioned to create murals and sculptures and turn the area into an artistic landmark. The initiative worked, with Ihwa Mural Village becoming a popular tourist attraction in Seoul.

Like Bukchon Hanok Village, Ihwa Mural Village is a residential neighborhood so you’re reminded to keep your voices down when you visit.

PHOTO:梨花洞壁畫村” by Wei-Te Wong, used under CC BY-SA 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom
Ihwa Mural Village

Closest Subway Station: Hyehwa Station (Line 4, Exit 2)
Estimated Time to Spend: About 2 hrs

Dongdaemun Design Plaza

Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) is one of the most striking buildings in Seoul. It was designed by world-renowned architect Zaha Hadid and functions as the primary venue for important design-related shows, events, and conferences in Seoul.

DDP is comprised of five halls – the Art Hall, Museum, Design Lab, Design Market, and Dongdaemun History and Culture Park. Some areas are free to enter but limited time exhibits will often charge for admission. If you like art and design, then this is a great place to explore and get lost in for a couple of hours.
Dongdaemun Design Plaza

Operating Hours: 10AM-7PM, Tue-Sun (closed Mondays)
Admission: FREE
Closest Subway Station: Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station (Line 2, 4 ,5 / Exit 1)
Estimated Time to Spend: About 2 hrs

Itaewon

Among Seoul’s most popular neighborhoods, Itaewon is the one we’re least familiar with. It’s known for being one of the most culturally diverse neighborhoods in Seoul.

Itaewon refers to a lively commercial area in Yongsan-gu, close to where American soldiers stayed after the Korean War. Over the years, it’s developed into an international destination with numerous bars, clubs, and restaurants offering a wide range of international cuisines.

Itaewon is a favorite hangout for expats and tourists. If you like to party, then you may be interested in this pub crawl (Klook | Get Your Guide) that takes you to some of the best bars in Itaewon or Hongdae.

PHOTO:Itaewon, Seoul” by Aleksandr Zykov, used under CC BY-SA 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom
Itaewon

Closest Subway Station: Itaewon Station (Line 6)
Estimated Time to Spend: About 3-4 hrs

Sigol Bapsang

We’ve only been to Itaewon once, ironically, to have dinner at this tiny old-fashioned Korean restaurant known for serving over 20 different types of banchan.

Banchan refers to those little plates of food served at the start of a Korean meal. They’re normally treated as just side dishes but at Sigol Bapsang, they’re the star.

For less than USD 15, you can enjoy a banchan feast with rice and a steaming bowl of jjigae (fermented soybean paste stew). Banchan is offered at almost every Korean restaurant but Sigol Bapsang is the only place we’ve been to that serves it like this.
Sigol Bapsang

Address: 235 Itaewon-ro, Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Operating Hours: 24 hrs
Closest Subway Station: Itaewon Station (Exit 2)
What to Order: Banchan
What We Paid: Around KRW 10,000-15,000 per person

Woosung Galbi

If you’re still hungry after Sigol Bapsang and don’t want to hang out in Itaewon, then you may be interested in having a Korean barbecue dinner at Woosung Galbi. It’s just a few stops away by metro at Yaksu Market.

Meat is expensive in Korea. You often have to shell out quite a bit of money to enjoy Korean barbecue. Thankfully, we found Woosung Galbi. It’s a no frills barbecue restaurant that offers just two things on their menu – pork galbi and pork rinds.

I read that Woosung Galbi is popular among locals and Korean food bloggers. True enough, the place was packed with no other foreigners in sight. It’s a good place to enjoy simple but delicious pork barbecue at reasonable prices.
Woosung Galbi

Address: 372-40 Sindang3-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Operating Hours: 2PM-2AM, daily
Closest Subway Station: Yaksu Station (Exit 5)
What to Order: Pork galbi, pork rinds
What We Paid: Around KRW 15,000-20,000 per person

DAY 5

Your first four days in Seoul will take you to the city’s top cultural attractions and its most popular neighborhoods. On your fifth and final day, I recommending exploring beyond the city and going on a day trip.

Nami Island (pictured below), the DMZ, and the Everland theme park are among the most popular destinations, but for more suggestions, then check out our article on some of the best day trips you can make from Seoul.
Nami Island

LOCATION MAP

To help you understand where these attractions are in relation to one another, I’ve pinned them all on a map. Click on the link to open the interactive map in a new window.
Map with pins

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There are 2 comments for this article
  1. Martin at 3:37 pm

    Great guide! Loved reading it. For just a moment I was in Korea. I would love to go. Since watching some wonderful Korean TV shows I’ve become more interested in Korea.

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