SEOUL Travel Guide

Looking for a fun getaway for the summer? Can’t decide where to go? I got the chance to spend a few days in Seoul last summer, and I absolutely loved it! Seoul was never a place that I thought much of and I never really had a strong desire to visit, but I am so thankful that I did. I tagged along with my mom on her business trip, so we didn’t have too much time to explore the city as a whole, but we were able to do some fun things and explore a couple cool places. I just wanted to write this to share all the things we did, and hopefully give you some inspiration to visit this really awesome city!

We stayed at the Sheraton Seoul Palace Gangnam, located in the Seocho-gu district. While it’s not walking distance from downtown, it’s only about a 10 minute drive (and a 30 minute drive from the airport). It’s also caddy corner from the Shinsegae department store as well as the Goto Mall, which is the underground shopping mall connected to the Gangnam subway station (super useful to help get around). The department store and the mall combined has enough to keep you occupied for at least a whole day. The mall has tons of sit-down restaurants ranging from Italian to Chinese to Korean, and the basement of the department store has a huge supermarket as well as lot’s of little eateries.

There’s an office building right next to the hotel with a bingsu shop (forgot the name of it, but you can find bingsu everywhere), which was a perfect little afternoon snack for my mom and I after a day of shopping.

On the second night, we went to the Myeongdong district which is a large outdoor shopping area. The only thing I can relate it to is Takeshita Street in Harajuku, Tokyo. It was crazy, chaotic and super fun. The streets were absolutely filled with beauty stores, clothing shops, and food vendors. We spent a couple hours walking around and buying some fun Korean beauty products, and then walked over to Ziu Spa, where we spent 3 hours getting pampered. It was a traditional Korean spa, so they had two big thermal baths as well as two sauna’s (one rock and one salt), where we spent the first 20 minutes before we got famous Korean body scrubs, massages, face masks and body masks. The session ended with cupping (this was the first time I tried it and it was so cool!). After feeling totally blissed out, we walked over to a Korean BBQ restaurant where we had lot’s of meat, beer and soju:)

On our last full day, we were lucky enough to have lunch at an Imperial Korean Restaurant, where we were served lots of traditional Korean foods including kimchi, bulgogi beef, japchae, buchimgae and lots of other dishes in a private (really fancy room). The restaurant was in an old traditional house with a huge Korean garden out back. We spent half an hour walking around and soaking in all the beauty after our delicious meal.

That night, we decided to stay close to the hotel and had another Korean BBQ dinner at one of the restaurants at Goto Mall. We found out that the restaurant did both BBQ and hot pot, so we decided to do both (because it was our last night and why not?). There was so much amazing meat, vegetables, kimchi, and of course ice cold beer. It was the perfect way to end our little getaway.

 

While there is so much more I would have loved to do and see, I am so glad I got a chance to visit this vibrant city, and I hope to go back again soon. Below I have attached some links to some of the places/things I talked about, and also have some photos to share. Enjoy, and happy traveling!

 

Sheraton Seoul Palace Gangnam: http://www.starwoodhotels.com/sheraton/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=4542&language=en_US

Shinsegae Department Store Gangnam: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SHP/SH_EN_7_2.jsp?cid=273804

Goto Mall/Gangnam Terminal Shopping Center: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SHP/SH_EN_7_2.jsp?cid=2021659

Ziu Spa: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ziu-Spa/441988689201849

Seoul on TripAdvisor: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Tourism-g294197-Seoul-Vacations.html

Top 10 Moments of 2017

As the 2017 year comes to a close, I wanted to stop and reflect on the year that has passed. While there is so much hate and negativity going around in the world, when you stop to think about life, you really only remember the good things. Just like anyone, my year had ups and downs, but at this time I am realizing how small and trivial the downs were, and how uplifting and exciting the ups were. These are my top ten moments (in chronological order) of 2017. I hope this inspires you all to think back on your year to remember all the amazing times.

1. February 2017- The last meet of varsity high school swim career was everything and more that I could have asked for. I was the captain of the team and we were in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for our conference championships. We had all trained super hard the whole season and were excited to see what we could do as a team. To be honest, I was not confident that we would be able to pull out a win, simply because we had a fairly young and new team. The gold medal came down to the very last relay, in which I was swimming. All we had to do was beat one relay team to snag the championship. As nerve-wracking as it was, it was the most amazing race of my life, full of nothing but excitement and adrenaline. As the anchor of our team touched the wall ahead of the other team, we broke out in tears of immense joy. The absolute highlight of my high school swimming career.

2. February 2017- I always knew that I wanted to travel to New Zealand before I graduated high school, and I got the opportunity to visit the beautiful country on a school trip in February. We spent 8 days doing everything from hiking, camping, luging, white water rafting, and visiting and staying in traditional Maori housing. It was a beyond incredible experience (though I have to admit, mentally challenging at times, especially during the hiking) and I am so lucky to have visited the country. I hope I can visit this amazing country again soon!

3. March 2017- One of my favorite parts about living in South East Asia is being able to travel around easily at a fairly low cost. At least once a year, my family goes on a quick vacation to a SEA beach destination. This year we went back to Phuket, Thailand for spring break and stayed at the Meridien. As usual, the beach was clean and beautiful, perfect for a little getaway. We spent our days lounging on the sand and spent our evenings exploring restaurants throughout the town. This five day trip with my family definitely made it into the top ten moments of this year.

4. June 2017- Of course one of the highlights of this year was this milestone, Graduation! It was a crazy and hectic time of the year, but I was so unbelievably lucky to have so many family and friends around me to celebrate. I was one of those people who just loved high school, so this moment was sad as I was saying goodbye to so many people and places, but also exciting as I started a new journey.

Graduation blog post: https://swimeatlove.com/2017/07/09/a-goodbye-to-high-school/

5. July 2017- Instead of coming back to the US for the summer (like we normally do), my family stayed in Asia and I was able to travel around a bit. My mom had a business trip to Seoul, and since I had never been I decided to tag along. Although we were only there for 3 days, we saw and did so much. From exploring the local malls to going to the Korean spa and eating lots of yummy Korean food, it was a blast.

6. July 2017- Every summer my family and I go to our lake cabin in Northern Japan for a few weeks to hang and spend time with family. Last year, we discovered what I like to call a hidden gem of the Tokyo area, Karuizawa. Mainly known for it’s outlet shopping mall, the beautiful suburb is filled with secret spots that are amazing. This year we took a day off from lake life and spent the day shopping, going to the hot springs, and visiting the cutest little vintage shops. Definitely a day well spent.

7. July 2017- Although this was an extremely sad time, it was also a very memorable time. After 18 years of living in Singapore, it was time for me to say goodbye (more like see you soon!) to my beautiful little island. As most of you probably know, I have so much love in my heart for this country. It was fun for me to spend time really appreciating all the things I love about Singapore and doing a little bit of exploring at home. The last week spend at home was full of family, friends, laughs and of course some Din Tai Fung and a Tiger beer for the road:)

8. August 2017- One of my biggest dreams came true this year not only as I started college in LA, but also as I began my career as a collegiate athlete. There have been so many “pinch me” moments these last few months as I’ve experienced things I’ve never dreamed of doing. From my first collegiate swim practice and swim meet to living the LA life, college has been everything and more I ever wished for.

9. October 2017- While being away from home was hard, I was lucky enough to have my dad visit me for a week in early October. We spent the weekend hanging around Downtown LA and Santa Monica, eating to our hearts content. As a foodie, it was a much needed break from the college food scene (though I have to admit, our school has really good food). We found amazing eateries everywhere from Santa Monica Boulevard to Sunset. It was such a fun weekend with my dad, and I was lucky to have him with me.

10. December 2017- After the first semester in college, it was so nice to be home with my family for the holidays. I had counted down the days, and it was definitely one of the best holiday seasons yet. I was lucky to have 2 1/2 weeks at home and spent so much of that time with my mom, dad, little sister and doggy. There was lot’s of Christmas shopping, yummy food, cooking, cheers-ing and laughter. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the year.

Here’s to an amazing 2017 and an even better 2018!

Happy new year!

Life Through A Lens #13- MORE KOREA!

Walking through downtown Seoul in the afternoon

A view of the N Seoul Tower

love, love, love. everywhere.

The bustling streets of Myeondong

A little bit of greenery in the midst of organized chaos

A mid-afternoon pick-me-up of Korean fried chicken (so yum!!)

A night view of the brightly-lit Myeongdong

Chapchae at an Imperial Korean restaurant

A beautiful scene right outside a restaurant in the “suburbs” of Seoul

Life Through A Lens #12- FIRST TIME IN KOREA

Flying out of Gimpo airport in Seoul, and headed back to Haneda airport in Tokyo.

 

Ended the trip with some white wine and a Korean sunset.

 

A picture-perfect view of the rainbow-lit Alotf at night.

 

The bustling Myeongdong at night.

 

After spending 2 1/2 hours at the spa, we ended the night with delicious Korean BBQ and beer.

 

I loved Seoul, but this Matcha Bingsoo was the absolute winner.

 

The Express Bus Terminal was full of beautiful greenery.

 

The cutest little coffee shop (with the best lemonade).

 

Chilling with my favorite people (haha!) and the best lemonade I’ve ever had while I wait for my mom to finish her meeting.

 

The Terminal in Gangnam, Seoul.

 

When in Seoul… and it happened to be The Bachelorette day as well.

 

Rewinding with some iced coffee (and Kate Spade:) after a day of touring Seoul.

 

I was in kimchi heaven! We found rows and rows of kimchi (from cabbage to shrimp to garlic stalks) in the supermarket.

 

Tantan-men (spicy, peanut sauce noodles) for lunch at Shinsegae Department Store on the first day.

 

The Starbucks at The Terminal in Gangnam, Seoul.

Thanks for an amazing trip, Seoul! We’ll be back:)