The Shilla Seoul in Winter

Itaewon

I’ve been to Seoul a few more times since I first posted about it and mentioned that Seoul was a Shopping Heaven.  As such, I would like to share more information about this city to give you an even more in depth experience of what it’s like to perhaps live in Seoul.

The ShillaA beautiful sky

Surprisingly I didn’t mention about this in the previous post, but one common food item in Korean BBQ restaurants was beef organs.  I remember going to a BBQ restaurant with my friends and asked them, through body language since they didn’t understand English, if the restaurant only served beef organs, and there were no “normal” beef meat, responding that they only do have organs.  We immediately left.

Then of course Koreans also love to eat spicy food, so you cannot get away with not eating spicy food in any Korean restaurants, especially if you want to eat the delicious dishes.

Accommodations

Grand Hyatt Seoul (website)

I had the chance to enjoy Grand Hyatt Seoul as part of a weekend trip and it was an absolute beautiful hotel to stay in.  You can sense the second you step in their noble entrance that the hotel was filled with affluent, mature (talking about late 20’s early 30’s and up) persons who enjoy the social scenes floating and socializing around the area.  The hotel has a sleek and modern design and is somewhat conveniently located to Itaewon, the district most famous for attracting expats with its bars, foreign restaurants, and nightclubs.

Grand Hyatt Seoul

Grand Hyatt SeoulViews from nearby Grand Hyatt Seoul

Grand Hyatt Seoul

Grand Hyatt Seoul

 

The Shilla Seoul (website)

The Shilla hotel itself does not shy away from comparison with Grand Hyatt, but they are different.  I personally prefer the Grand Hyatt one, but I have had friends who preferred staying at the Shilla instead.  If Hyatt is modern and sleek, Shilla is classy and elegant.

Shilla is a top class hotel hosting one of the rare 3 star Michelin Korean restaurants in the world, La Yeon.  It’s often stayed by government ministers and celebrities globally as well.  They even have a department store next to it selling luxurious brands only.

That said, its location is sub optimal but still convenient enough.  You could walk down to the Dongguk University station within a few minutes.  Service is excellent.  If there was one word that is used to describe the hotel, it would be posh.

The Shilla

The ShillaThe road outside Shilla

The Shilla HotelAt night

The Shilla Duty FreeThe Shilla Duty Free.  Many Chinese tourists were visiting this store

The Shilla Duty FreeThe rooftop at The Shilla Duty Free

 

Transportations

You can refer to the past post for more info, but most of the transportation was done by subway and taxi.  There really is no Uber as there is another app, I think found in Kakao, that utilizes the same ride sharing concept.

Some maps:

Itaewon MapMap of Itaewon

Insadong MapMap of Insadong

Seoul Subway Station MapSeoul subway station map

ApgujeongMap of Apgujeong

 

Things to Do

In no particular order:

HapjeongHapjeong, supposedly good for coffee cafes

Ewha University ShoppingEwha University for shopping, especially for girls and women

The Bank of KoreaThe Bank of Korea Museum.  It’s like a small museum about money in general, not just about Korean won

The Bank of Korea

The Bank of KoreaIt’s located near Myeongdong / Namdaemun

Tosokchon SamgyetangMy friend took me to this awesome place, this restaurant is Tosokchon Samgyetang, obviously to eat Samgyetang, which means ginseng chicken soup

Tosokchon SamgyetangYou can usually tell how good a Korean restaurant is by its Korean radish and Kimchi

Tosokchon SamgyetangSo good during the winter!  The line may look long outside by the way, but it moves fast as the restaurant is big.

Tongin MarketRight next to Tosokchon Samgyetang is Tongin Market

Tongin MarketAs you can see, this market is like a series of Korean food stalls.  If I wasn’t so full from the ginseng chicken soup, I definitely would have tried these stalls~

Tongin MarketPeople trying some food.  Maybe there’s live octopus somewhere to eat here… (not interested btw!)

Gyeongbokgung PalaceNext stop was Gyeongbokgung Palace, the largest palace for the Joseon dynasty

Gyeongbokgung PalaceInside

King SejongIn honor of King Sejong, the guy who invented the Korean alphabet Hangul.  The ginseng chicken soup, Tongin market, and all these historical items can be found at the Gyeongbokgung station.

Korean History

Seoul Ferry Disaster MemorialThis is the Seoul Ferry Disaster Memorial to remember those who have passed away on Apr. 16, 2014 for the disaster that happened.  People still come and pray for them.

Seoul PoliceMy friend told me that the police that are wearing the golden eagle are the real police, while the ones silver ones are those that are from the Korean military assisting the police

GyeongbokgungAt night, kept walking around Gyeongbokgung

Cheonggyecheon-roCheonggyecheon-ro

Cheonggyecheon-ro

Korean BBQTime for some Korean BBQ!

Korean BBQNom nom

HookahNext up, we went to a shisha/hookah place nearby

Hookah

HookahThis place is interesting.  They have a chain to make sure that the hookah stays in place.

Hyundai Department StoreThe Hyundai Department Store

Carehome

CarehomeInside Carehome

Korean PorridgeTraditional Korean Porridge

Cheese BuldakCheese Buldak – the result of mixing cheese, chicken, and spiciness on this hot plate.  It was freaking delicious, but freaking spicy as well!

SinsaShopped around at Sinsa

SinsaSinsa again

KBBQRaw beef and raw yolk

KBBQ

KBBQBulgogi

KBBQEgg.  I love this egg.  They have so many appetizers in Korean meals it’s cray cray.

Ben N JerrysBen N Jerry’s

ItaewonItaewon in Halloween… super packed.

ItaewonLego master

ItaewonThe Joker

J.J. MahoneyOne of the best hotel bars / clubs in Seoul, J.J. Mahoney!  Perhaps it was Halloween so the setup and the amount of people was just perfect… vibe was perfect… mega fun.  An older crowd but was worth.. look at how packed Itaewon was!

My thoughts about Seoul is that… you can’t go wrong here, but at the same time as you progressively come here again and again, it turns into a city.  Initially from my previous posts, you can see how enthusiastic and fascinated I was by Seoul.  But the more I discover it, the more I find the neighborhoods to be somewhat similar to one another, and that what you do in Seoul is what you do in Hong Kong… eating, night clubbing etc.  In fact, the diversity of restaurants is wider in Hong Kong than in Seoul.

I still really like Seoul, no doubt, but its familiarity with me also started to lose its mysteriousness and charm and instead I find the cooling winds, autumn leaves, and just the overall city in general more vibrant, elegant and beautiful.

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