Thursday, November 25, 2010

Seoul: Fusion Of Modernity and Antiquity

One of the remarkable thing I noticed about Seoul is the fusion of the old and new. Seoul being a bustling metropolitan is teeming with high rise buildings and remarkable architectural contructions but it still retains the richness of its heritage as several palaces are located beside these modern structures. There is no need to go out of Seoul to have a cultural experience, there are already several grandiose palaces that you can visit within the city.

Blast from Past

Right after we deposited our bags and settled our arrangements with the hostel, we headed to Changdeokgung Palace to catch the morning schedule for the palace tour.This palace can only be visited via a guided tour. We are just in time for the first English tour of the day which is at 11:30 am. The tour ran for roughly an hour and 30 minutes. Changdeokgung Palace is the second palace of the Joseon dynasty after the more popular and grander Gyeongbukgong Palace.
Palace Roof
We were ushered into the huge and sprawling courtyards and intricate palace rooms.One special feature of this palace is the Secret Garden but too bad with all this weather anomalies,spring has not yet caught up during the last week of March.So it was just bare trees and dried grass but I’m imagining that it will be very beautiful and colorful during autumn as the color of the foliage changes.

Changdeokgung Palace
How to get there: Take Line 3 to An-guk Station – Exit 3
Tour Schedule: 11:30 am, 1:30 pm, 3:30 pm
Admission Fee: 3,000 KRW (Adults)
Note: Can only be visited via guided tour
Closed Every Monday

Back to the Future
If Singapore got Orchard Road, Manila got Ayala/Greenbelt, New York got Fifth Avenue and Japan got Shibuya well Seoul got Myeongdong from brands to local bazaars they got it all just like SM. Myeongdong is one of the shopping district in Seoul and it is teeming with locals and tourists. Shopping centres and boutiques lined the whole street and makeshift mobile carts littered the streets selling optical glass frames (at dirt cheap prices and funky style), korean made shoes, bags and accessories, every conceivable styles and colors of socks (I just can’t understand the fascination with the socks) and of course street foods ranging from dried squid to chicken wraps – one can indeed shop til you drop.
If you are looking for Korean facial product shops, Myeongdong is your one stop place. It seems like this particular place has a very high concentration of these facial product shops.An almost permanent fixture in the entrance of these facial shops are young Korean women waving product samples, handling small shopping baskets and urging you to go into their shops with their high pitched singsong voice

If you are a koreanovela fanatic and wishes to copy their ‘fasyon’ (fashion) statement, head to Migliore which is several floors of uniquely Korean apparel at an affordable price.It is very similar to our 168 in Divisoria but the prices are higher but the merchandise are of better quality and style. Don’t be afraid to haggle even if you are a tourist but do so in a nice manner, I was personally able to get a discount for my purchases by flashing my charming smile and saying the few korean phrases I know courtesy of Lonely Planet’s chapter on korean phrases.But if you are a brand-whore and would want to get some stuff from these high class stores, you can head to Lotte department store.

Looking to have a shopping fix of an authentic South Korean brands – the answer is  SPAO which has floors and floors of retail galore. SPAO is like South Korea’s answer to Japan’s Uniqlo. Clothes are of high quality and affordable price. Check out the Sale items because you might just get that elusive tailored white shirt at 50% discount. And if your a K-Pop fan, they have merchandise for two famous K-Pop singing group sensations which are the Girls Generation and Superstar Junior.Other stores you can checkout are Uniqlo and H&M. Though during the time we went there, H&M has just opened so there is queue to get in during the weekend but weekday should be less crowded.

Free Hugs, Anyone?

How to get there: take the subway there is a Myeongdong station

Our first day has been a full-packed day from getting lost in translation to a cultural experience in the Changdeokgung Palace and finally capping it with a retail therapy at Myeongdong.


  1. This post made me excited! Not really a shop-aholic here but I wanna buy some more stuff in H&M. I hope the line won't be that long when I'm there. LOL at the girls offering free hugs. That's unique! :D

  2. @adventure accountant, thanks for dropping by :) I think it should not be crowded in H&M, that time it was newly opened so I guess the people are all excited..It's really fun in Seoul..hope you'll enjoy it too :)