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3 Things To Do In Seoul, South Korea - Going Local For A Day

By Nadine Regina

KDA Internship


With a population of at least 10 million people, Seoul is always bustling with activities right from the get-go in the early mornings till the wee hours of the night. It is no doubt that the capital of South Korea prides itself as not only the mecca of shopping, but also K-beauty, K-pop, and nightlife, which makes basically everyone want to travel there at least once in their life.

However, with so many people travelling to Seoul and South Korea, (psst, myself included!) here is a list of the top 3 things to do in Seoul that are somewhat a little off-the-radar, or as I like to consider it, the routes less travelled by the regular foreigner, and the best way for you to camouflage and blend in as a local in Seoul:

1. Start your day with a meal at Guldari Sikdang for that definite fix of authentic Korean home cooking

Image credit: 꽃집아가씨

Take a day off the aesthetic cafes and restaurants that Seoul is known for by making a stop to Guldari and acting like a native of South Korea. With 40 years of experience, Guldari Sikdang serves only two dishes - kimchi jjigae (kimchi stew with pork and onions) and jeyuk bokkeum (spicy stir-fried pork).

Image credit: Pheuron Tay

You might be thinking, just two dishes? Well, these two dishes are THE dishes that you’ll be craving to have for the rest of your trip after you’ve had a meal here. Packed with extraordinary flavour despite its simple recipe (thus being family favourites to cook in Korean households), Guldari Sikdang is known by locals as one of the top 3 kimchi jjigae restaurants in Seoul because their food is able to evoke a sense of nostalgia with every bite.

Image credit: Mini En Monde

A set of kimchi jjigae or a set of jeyuk bokkeum is not that expensive either, going at KRW7,000 and KRW10,000 respectively, and even comes with white rice and an assortment of side dishes like their gyeran mari (Korean rolled omelette). Don’t worry if it’s not enough, you can always ask for refills!

Image credit: yongdae.kkim

Venue: Guldari Sikdang (굴다리 식당)

181-45 Dohwa-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Opening Hours: 8:00am to 10:00pm

Telephone: +82 2-712-0066

2. Go back to the 80s with this stop at Baekdugangsan for a dabang (traditional cafe) experience

Image credit: Baekdugangsan

Named after the tallest mountain in the Korean peninsula that holds huge symbolic importance to many Koreans, Baekdusan (Mount Baekdu), Baekdugangsan is the place to relax and recharge after a filling lunch or a busy day of shopping.

Image credit: Ashley B Choi

Surprise your friends with your knowledge that such a cafe exists! Due to Baekdugangsan’s nature of not promoting themselves often, even locals have mentioned that it is hard to find the cafe. The only way of identification that you are at the right place is with 2 pieces of paper pasted on the glass door of the building entrance and on its main entrance.

Image credit: Ashley B Choi

Enter this cafe and be welcomed by the amazing scent of coffee beans and the unique atmosphere that Baekdugangsan has to offer. The space is lightly decorated with Korean calligraphy, sculptures, and floral curtains that let the sun shine through effortlessly - definitely the best place to get your golden hour selfies taken!

Image credit: Baekdugangsan

Venue: Baekdugansan (백두강산)

24-3 Chungmuro 3(sam)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Opening Hours: Tuesdays to Sundays, 1:00pm to 9:00pm

Telephone: +82 010-9937-7061

3. End your day with a visit to the Yeouido World Bamdokkaebi Night Market, a unique night market that comes alive only on 2 nights per week

Image Credit: Seoul Bamdokkaebi Night Market

Just like its name, this special night market only operates during the “Bam”, which means night, and disappears in the day like a “Dokkaebi”, or a goblin - the mythical creature from Korean fairy tales.

This night market is held every week during the months of April to October, but here’s the catch! Its stalls only operate on Fridays and Saturdays, from 6pm to 11pm, so you always have to get that wallet ready for the food trucks and shopping that you are about to indulge in when you get there.

Image credit: Sehee in the World

Under the theme of “one-night world tour”, travel the world while being in Yeouido Hangang Park as you get to witness first-hand traditional and modern performances from all over the world. You can even purchase souvenirs and rent a tent to enhance the evening experience (bonus: you even get to have a splendid view of the Han River!).

Image credit: Sehee in the World

From food trucks serving traditional Korean foods and foods from other countries, to a Shopping Lane for you to look through a variety of items from different cultures, to the Viewing Area where you can enjoy traditional and modern performances to end off a splendid night in Seoul!

What’s even better is that the Yeouido World Bamdokkaebi Night Market is part of a series of night markets that are held at three other venues - Banpo Hangang Park, Dongdaemun Design Plaza and Cheonggyecheon Stream - with each venue having its own theme, which means that there are much more things that you can explore (if time permits!).

Venues: Yeouido Hangang Park, Banpo Hangang Park, Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Cheonggyecheon Stream

Opening Hours: Every Friday and Saturday, 6:00pm - 11:00pm


Now you will have no fear in acting as a local in a foreign land and going down the path less travelled compared to other foreigners with the help of this trusty list of things to do when you are in Seoul, South Korea! Not only does this list provide you with ideas of where you should venture to and chill at, but this list can also pose as a one-day itinerary for you and your friends and family to follow and enjoy. Shopping for BTS merchandise can wait!

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