Seoul is a fascinating city of contrasts and surprises. November’s autumn colours and mild temperatures make it the perfect time to visit and enjoy both city and nature. The hiking trails, parks, and temple gardens are painted with fiery reds, burnt oranges, and warm yellows all month long.
South Korea is often overlooked as a holiday destination due to its association with its northern half’s media reputation. However, a visit to Seoul can open up the magnificent Korean culture that’s waiting to be explored. The flourishing economy of the city has made it a hi-tech, modern, trendy city with a diverse nightlight and a stylish cityscape. There’s fashion boutiques on every corner, chilled cafes and lively bars. Skyscrapers of futuristic aesthetic stick out above the city’s green spaces. The presence of innovation and design can be seen and felt all over the city.
Beyond this modernity lies the strong traditional Korean culture. Cobbled streets, classic architecture, flea markets, street food walks, all stake their claim in the city space. Temples and religious buildings still stand proudly. Night markets are busy, noisy and alive with smells each evening. Locals still steam, soak and snooze in the jjimjilbang (saunas and spas) around the city.
A good place to start in autumn is Changdeokgung Palace, located in the heart of Seoul. The stunning complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was the primary royal residence for over 2000 years. Wandering its Secret Garden is like entering a whole new world. In autumn, the overhanging foliage is vividly coloured. Red maple leaves cascade over the little ponds and litter themselves in the water to makes patterns of colour. The peace and quiet is unbeatable there and shouldn’t be missed so book your tour early (essential for entry).
To delve into modern Seoul, visit the Dongdaemun, a gigantic 24-hour shopping complex. It has wholesale outlets, an undergound mall, and the iconic space-age silver cultural hub designer by Zaha Hadid, the world-famous architect. Next, visit the N Seoul Tower, standing 480m above sea level and offering incredible views from its observation deck without the strain of a hike. Take the lift or cable car into the sky and see the panorama views from its spot at the top of Namsan Mountain. Another must-visit is Lotte World, Seoul’s largest recreation complex. It has the world’s biggest indoor theme park and if that’s not enough to draw you in then I don’t know what it. There’s also an outdoor amusement park, Magic Island, on an artificial island inside linked by a monorail.
Tap into to Seoul’s unique culture by taking a picture in front of the Gangnam Style statue in the Gangnam district in front of COEX Mall. Since Psy’s viral single, this neighbourhood has grown to be the most popular in the city. Another popular area to visit is Hongdae, the bustling space around Hongik University. It’s known as been the youth culture hub, with arts and crafts markets and a lively nightlife with live music and loads of events. Also trendy, artsy and always lively is Insa-dong, located in the historic district of Jongno-gu. It’s an art hub where tradition meets modernity. There’s loads of shops, galleries, cafes and a weekly Saturday market. For extreme shopping, head to Common Ground. This sprawling space, occupying 5,300 square metres, is the largest shipping container mall in the world. The complex has a market hall, a street market, a square for exhibitions and performances, and plenty of food. As you can tell, Seoul is a city of fashion, design, and extreme shopping.
Gyeongbokgung is the largest palace in the city, and a lovely place to explore and learn about Korea’s history. Inside the huge complex is the National Folk Museum of Korea. Travel tip: rent the traditional hanbok dress and your admission will be free! Any of the temples or palaces around the city will be beautiful to explore this season. To end though, we insist you take a walk down Asan Gingko Tree Road if you visit Seoul in autumn. The long avenue is line with towering trees, the leaves of which turn golden yellow and float to the ground to make a soft glowing carpet. Asan Gingko Tree Road is serene, despite the influx of photographers during this time, and you will be wishing you had it on your doorstep whenever you’re feeling like stepping into nature.
For your trip to Seoul, pack one of these new autumnal glasses…
Prada always designs impeccably for the contemporary woman. These brown orange frames are a unique and eye-catching design that are perfectly fitting for autumn.
Gucci’s creativity knows no bounds. These large flat top pilot frames, constructed from acetate, are a stand-out piece from their latest collection.
Tom Ford’s sense of timeless elegance shines through in every one of his creations. These unusual cross cateye glasses are striking and unique, while still remaining timelessly classy.
Have you visited Seoul before? Share your highlights with us in the comments section below.