Tay's First Trip to Korea
I originally planned to post a recap of our trip sooner, but it took much longer than expected. With trying to overcome the jet lag and a cool new project in the works, (I promise I will share with you guys soon!), I’ve had my hands full and as a result, this post took the backseat. With that said… going through all the photos from our trip brought all the feels and I’m excited to share with you guys highlights from our recent trip to Korea.
We left for Korea without any expectations because we weren’t sure how the trip would pan out. We were nervous about Taylor’s first flight (be sure to check my previous post on Traveling with a Toddler) and we told ourselves that we’d roll with the punches and really just try to enjoy our time together. We had so many things to consider when planning our trip, but one of the most important things was figuring out where we would be staying.
FRASER PLACE NAMDAEMUN
We usually stay in the Gangnam Area, but this time we chose Fraser Place Namdaemun for several reasons. The Premier Apartments are fully equipped with a kitchenette, laundry unit and separate living, dining and sleeping areas, making it perfect for a family. The hotel is also located right across the street from Namdaemun Market—central to Dongdaemun, Hongdae, and Insadong. I also loved that they had a Nuna Baby Cot ready for us in our room. Other perks were that the hotel staff spoke fluent English and they offer free shuttle service to and from Seoul Station. I actually think, if we can, we will continue to stay at Fraser Place whenever we come to Korea.
As for the rest of our trip, we didn’t really have a “set” itinerary. Daniel and I stopped by Korea during our honeymoon and since then have returned to Korea several times so we didn’t feel the need to do all the touristy sights and attractions that we’d done in the past because we knew that we would come back to enjoy those things with Taylor once she was older. I did make a list of some places I wanted to check out, but the only real plans we had were to explore Seoul, visit cafes and bakeries and indulge in lots of food and quality time together.
We didn’t go to the Gangnam area this time, but if you are into trendy, high end fashion or looking for vibrant night life, Cheongdam, Apgujeong Rodeo and Garosugil are all great places to visit. Another great place for exciting nightlife, fun bistros and pubs as well as great eats is Itaewon. Known as the “western town”, it’s a very popular place amongst foreigners.
With that said, this is definitely not one of those “Top Things to do in Seoul” type of post and in no way a comprehensive list of places to visit, but is more of a recap of our time in korea, sharing some highlights of our trip through Tay’s eyes.
My Korean Drama dream come true :) I think we stopped by a GS25, CU or a 7-eleven convenience store at least once a day and I got my fill of snacks and instant ramen.
Myeongong is called the “consumerist heaven” because it’s loaded with department stores, boutique stores and cosmetic stores. Tourists flock to Myeongdong to catch up on all of the latest styles and trends and to indulge in all the street food. The streets are flooded with people and you’ll notice many promoters handing out flyers for promotions and handing out beauty product samples. A word of caution, prices for somethings are heavily inflated because there are so many tourists! I bought a hotteok (sweet pancake) for 4,000 won when you can find them anywhere else in Seoul for only 1000 won! (it was worth it, but you get the idea!)
Gwangjang Market is one of the oldest traditional markets in Korea and one of the best places to experience Korean street food. It’s a food lovers paradise where you can find everything from mung bean pancakes, ttekobokki, mayak gimbap and even Korean raw beef.
Dongdaemun Digital Design Plaza also known as DDP is an urban development landmark located in the heart of Seoul’s fashion hub, Dongdaemun. DDP was one of the main reasons that Seoul was designated as the World Design Capital in 2010 and for good reason. Designed by British Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, it integrates historical, cultural , urban, social and economical aspects of Seoul. Definitely worth visiting!
Don’t forget to visit the Rose Garden exhibit. It is a magical art installation of white LED roses that light up once the sun sets, but equally pretty in the day.
I think Namdaemun Market is quite possibly one of my favorite places in all of Seoul. The fact that we were staying right across the street was super convenient because we were able to make several trips! Every morning, we would head to the market just to pick up some fresh savory hotteok, dumplings and Korean donuts (and of course, fresh fruit for Tay.)
Namdaemun you can find just about EVERYTHING! From fresh produce, seafood and meats to kitchen gadget and appliances, Namdaemun market is the place to go.
I could probably spend all day at Namdaemun Market getting lost in the maze of stores (they have the CUTEST kid’s clothes & accessories) and vendors and eating my way through every food stall.
BUKCHON HANOK VILLAGE
Bukchon Hanok is a beautiful historic village, dating back almost 600 years, that is located on a hill near Anguk Station between Gyeonbokgung Palace and Changdeokung palace. Over the years, it has become quite the tourist attraction and now boasts many modern restaurants and cafes. There are a few Hanoks that are “open” and allow for tourists to come inside and immerse in the art. You can also rent a hanbok or even experience a hanok homestay.
Loved walking through the alleys and enjoying the beautiful architecture of all the traditional homes.
CAFES & BAKERIES
There’s probably a coffee shop or two or ten on every street in Seoul.Korea’s coffee scene has exploded over the last few years and there are so many new, trendy and instagram worthy spots.
Hongdae is a bustling university that is known for its urban arts, indie music and fun night life. I love exploring the street art on Mural Street and shopping at the Free Market where you will find hip and trendy fashion at relatively decent prices.
If you do happen to go to Hongdae, be sure to check out Famous Burger!
I originally made a note to visit Loco’s restaurant in hopes that I would run into Simon Dominic (total fan girl), not expecting much. How good could a burger really be in Korea? But, I was surprisingly impressed.
I really thought that once we had a baby, traveling would never be the same. I was definitely right, but I never expected it would be for the better. I can honestly say that this trip to Korea was probably the best yet. I’m not saying it was easy, but being able to explore Korea together with Taylor was such a new and amazing experience—one that we will cherish forever.
My heart & tummy were definitely full :)
Missing our time in Korea, but excited for all the new adventures awaiting for us!
Now time for me to go through all our photos of Japan!! Stay tuned :)