The 10 Best 24-Hour Things to Do in Seoul | 10 Korea Magazine (2023)

You just got off the plane at Incheon airport. It is his first time in Korea and he is set to spend the next 24 hours in Seoul, one of the largest cities in the world. With so much to do and so little time, tackling the big city can be overwhelming.

We asked readers what they thought of the top 10 places to visit in Seoul in a single day. The result is an itinerary that will make you challenge your taste buds, touch history and feel the pulse of one of the most dynamic cities in the world.

stop no. 1Noryangjin Fish Market

After hours of sensory deprivation on a plane, what better place to start your authentic Seoul experience than by jumping headfirst into the Noryangjin Fish Market.
The 66,000-square-foot facility has more than 700 stalls selling fresh octopus, squid, shrimp, and just about anything with gills that lives underwater. Eating here is as much a self-imposed adventure as it is a culinary experience.

After browsing the stalls and haggling with the street vendors, make a selection of what appeals to your taste buds. Then take it to one of the restaurant's booths and it will be grilled, steamed, or turned into fresh sashimi right before your eyes.

These chefs work with a “nothing goes to waste” philosophy. After cooking the fish, they take the leftovers and serve them in a tasty broth. It's the perfect meal to fuel you up for a long day of sightseeing.

How to get there:Take line 9 and take exit 1. Keep walking until you see the entrance to Mercado do Peixe on the right.

1 (the dark blue line) to Noryangjin Station and take the only exit following the bridge over the tracks until you reach a rooftop parking lot. Go down the stairs to the fish market.

stop no. 2Palacio Gyeongbokgung

Close your eyes for a minute and imagine that you were in Seoul 500 years ago. The city is hard to imagine without skyscrapers, without City Lights and without traffic routes.

As one of the great relics of the Joseon Dynasty, Gyeongbokgung Palace offers visitors the chance to experience Korean history. Originally built in 1395, it was destroyed during the Japanese invasion at the end of the 16th century and later restored. It is still home to some of the most impressive and traditional architecture in Seoul and is often considered the most beautiful palace in the city.

The changing of the guard ritual takes place every hour between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. m. and 3 p.m. m., while traditional dance performances take place throughout the day.

The palace entrance fee of W3,000 also gets you into the nearby National Museum of Folklore and the National Palace Museum.

How to get there:Take Line 3 (Orange Line) to Gyeongbokgung Station and exit 5.

stop no. 3Aldeia Bukchon Hanok

Seoul is a kind of sim city. One day you might be shopping at a vintage clothing store, only to find out a few days later that it has been replaced by a trendy new coffee shop.

This rapid development is what drives Seoul and is part of what makes living here such a dynamic experience. Although much of the old has been replaced with new in the city, Bukchon Hanok Village is an area where tradition is preserved.

hanok, a traditional-style house characterized by intricate timber construction and slate roofs, has all but disappeared from the city, except for a few small regions designated as government heritage sites.
Located between Gyeongbokgung Palace and Changdeokgung Palace, the village is surrounded by hanok, many of which have been converted into business premises and accommodation. Wander the seemingly random, narrow streets and you'll find plenty of hidden gems in the form of shops, restaurants, tea houses, and cultural centers.

A map of eight of the best photo opportunities in the area is available at each of the information booths. Gahoe-dong Alley, the sixth place to take photos, offers one of the best views of Hanok against the backdrop of Seoul's skyscrapers.

How to get there:Turn left at Gyeongbokgung Palace and walk for about 10 minutes until you reach Anguk Station. Walk straight from exit 2 for about 5 minutes and you will come to an information desk that provides visitors with a map of the area.

stop no. 4Insadong

The last stop on the more traditional leg of the 24-hour tour, Insadong is an art lover's paradise and a great place to shop for souvenirs and recharge your batteries.

During the Joseon Dynasty, the area was dominated byfoam(도화원, schools for artists). Today, that tradition is alive and well, with a few modern twists.

The main street is a 700-meter stretch of small art galleries, craft stalls, antique shops, and traditional Korean pottery shops. The most common items for sale include scrolls and calligraphy materials,Colon(Hanji, traditional paper),Hanbok(한지, traditional dress), tea and accessories. Be sure to venture into the back streets, as they are lined with some of the most unique shops in the area.

The Ssamzigil shopping center near the middle of Main Street is probably the best place to find crafts from younger artisans. The entrance is an open courtyard, usually occupied by stalls that host art and craft exhibitions on weekends. A walk up the spiral staircase provides ample opportunity to browse some of the more modern shops. There is a great rooftop cafe where you can rest before continuing your adventure in Seoul.

How to get there:Insadong is a short walk from Bukcheon Hanok Village. Use your map to find your way back to Anguk station and take exit 6. Keep going straight until you come to a tourist information office where you can get a map of the area. From here, turn left to find yourself on the main street of Insadong.

stop no. 5namdaemun market

Underground galleries, alleys full of street vendors and multi-story buildings full of wholesalers and small businessmen.

Like many of Seoul's markets, Namdaemun is an intricate maze of hidden gems best experienced by getting lost in the stairways and side streets. It operates on a 24-hour cycle, with retailers and small shops open from 7am to 5pm and wholesalers from midnight to 6am.

There are more than 1,000 stores selling imported clothing, shoes, fabrics, toys, jewelry, and groceries, among other things. Namdaemun Market is also a great place to sample authentic Korean street food.

During the day the main street is filled with offers of tentsbandage well(Bindaetteok, Mungobohnenpfannkuchen),sleep(meatball soup),tteokbokki(떡복이, Spicy Sauce Rice Cake) and many more. Prepare to queue as the market is packed with hungry shoppers during the day.

How to get there:Take subway line 4 (light blue line) to Hoehyeon station and exit 5. It is at gate 6, the entrance to the main street of the market.

stop no. 6tower by itself

Perhaps the only place in Seoul (and possibly the entire country) where the view from the bathroom is a selling point, Seoul Tower is one of the city's most popular attractions. Perched on top of Namsan Mountain, it has earned a reputation for offering the most impressive views of Seoul and its surroundings.

A return cable car ticket to the top of the mountain costs W7500 (or you can walk if that's your thing). Besides the observatory, there are a lot of activities and places to see. A fenced off area at the base of the tower is a favorite spot for the desperately in love.

Couples express their affection by leaving image-adorned locks and sweets believed to bring good fortune to budding relationships. Other activities include a revolving restaurant, concert halls, exhibition halls or just a walk in the park.

How to get there:Take subway line 4 (light blue line) to Myeongdong station and exit 3. Take the wide street next to the supermarket and walk straight past Pacific Hotel on the left. Continue until you reach a ladder and follow it, keeping to the right. On the right you will see a free parking space. Here you will find the cable car platform.

stop no. 7Hongdae Free Market

While Hongdae is an area better known for its nightlife, a weekend afternoon trip offers a chance to explore another of the city's unique markets.

Opened in 2002, the open-air market embodies the free artistic spirit of the district. On Saturdays between 1:00 p.m. m. and 7:00 p.m. m., the park in front of Hongik University is filled with craft vendors.

Although much of what's for sale is geared toward women—necklaces, rings, and other jewelry—handicrafts aren't the only reason to visit the market. The area also attracts street performers.

Dancers, singers, musicians and magicians animate the market every weekend. The Mercado Livre is only open between March and November. So if your 24-hour tour arrives in the winter months, this is one stop you might miss.

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How to get there:Take Line 2 (Green Line) to Hongdae University Station and exit 9.

stop no. 8barbacoa coreana

When it comes to food, barbecue is as ubiquitous as it is in Korea. You can hardly throw a stone without hitting at least one restaurant, be it a chain or family business. The reason for this phenomenon is simple: Korean barbecue is amazing.

Looks can be deceiving when it comes to restaurants in Korea. What may seem simple or dubious could be home to some of the most authentic cuisine in the city.

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Generally, though not always, the price is correlated with the quality of the meat. So use this as a barometer when choosing a restaurant. A decent meal costs around 10,000 to 15,000 W per serving.

Keep in mind that most grill restaurants require a minimum order of two servings (since the food is for sharing). So if you are traveling alone, be prepared to eat a hefty serving of meat.
Since you're looking for an authentic experience, order at least one bottle of soju.

It is the perfect drink to start the party night ahead.

stop no. 9party in hongdae

If the soju hasn't hit you yet, don't worry. Nightlife in Seoul usually starts late (midnight or later) and ends early in the morning, so manage it.

As a university district built for the student lifestyle, there are a variety of hofs (Korean-style pubs where you order drinks with food), bars and clubs serving cheap drinks, and plenty of opportunities to mingle with Koreans and expats. .

A great place to start the night is the Zen Bar. Tequila shots are only 2000W and beer and cocktails are around 5000W or less. From there you can go to one of dozens of nightclubs. Some of the hotspots are Club Naked, Cocoon, Papa Gorillas, and Mama Gorillas.

Coverage averages around 10,000W, but can go as high as 30,000W in some of the larger venues, depending on the night and the event.

You can also check out some of the live music venues. Club Evans offers live jazz; Freebird features live local rock; and V-Hall and Rolling Hall are larger concert venues that have attracted some of the biggest names in indie rock.

A word of warning: Hongdae's streets are a bit chaotic and it's easy to turn around or get lost. As a beginner, it's best to ask for directions to find a specific facility. Also, remember that many places require identification, so bring your passport with you.

How to get there:Take Line 2 (Green Line) to Hongdae University Station and get off at Exit 9.

stop no. 10jjimjilbang

Forget worrying about a hotel to stay at. After a long day of sightseeing and a night of drinking in Hongdae, stop at one of Seoul's restaurants.jjimjilbang(찜질방) is just what the doctor ordered.
With average rates ranging from W6,000 to W15,000 per night, these full-service, 24-hour spas are a cost-effective alternative to a hotel.

After grabbing a locker and changing your clothes, head to the gender-separated restrooms to freshen up. These areas have showers and wet areas where you can get a full scrub and massage.

After a snack, relax in the sauna and let the stress of the day melt away. While each facility has a different style, it's standard to have unisex sauna areas with multiple rooms at different temperatures. You can sweat in one of the hottest rooms or cool down (especially in the summer months) in a freezing room.

When you're done pampering yourself, head to one of the common rest areas and grab a snack and nap before your morning flight.

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Just like steakhouses, Jjimjilbang is very easy to find. But if you're going to end the night in Hongdae, the best place to go is Happy Day Spa, where W10,000 offers up to 12 hours of use of the facilities.

How to get there:The metro stops running after midnight, so you have to take a taxi to where you want to stay. Happy Day Spa is located at Seoul-si Mapo-gu Seogyo-dong 371-10 Gyusyudang Wedding Hall B1 (02-322-3399).


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