Day 3: Driving around Seoul

Day 3 Activities:
  1. Dongdaemun Market 동대문시장 (東大門 市場)
  2. Apgujeong 압구정동 (狎鷗亭洞), Cheongdam-dong 청담동 (淸潭洞), and COEX Mall area
  3. Garosugil 가로수길 (林荫树路)
  4. Itaewon 이태원 (梨泰院)
  5. Cheonggyecheon Stream at night 청계천 (淸溪川)
  6. Myeongdong 명동 (明洞)
I originally planned to take the subway to Dongdaemun Market and the Apgujeong area, however, my good friend in Seoul offered to show me around the city. After pretty much spending all of the second day on my feet, going for a drive was a much welcomed change.

She picked me up early in the morning to hit Dongdaemun before the crowds. If you're wondering whether you should go to Namdaemun Market 남대문 시장 (南大門 市場) or Dongdaemun Market (that is, if you don't have time for both) please read my more detailed post about Dongdaemun here.

From what I read online, I knew Dongdaemun Market would be big, but I didn't know it would be that big! There were so many malls, markets, and little stores, it was definitely overwhelming. You can bargain down prices, but you're not allowed to try on most things. Ask anyway because the shopkeeper just might be in a good mood! Things were actually more expensive than I expected them to be (maybe I was looking in the wrong places?), but I still found a sweater and some leather bracelets.

Sweater bought at Dongdaemun Market

Because I didn't have that much time, I only went to Jeil Pyeonghwa 제일평화시장 and Doota 두타.

Shopping at Jeil Pyeonghwa

Jeil Pyeonghwa resembled a warehouse attic (it's more for ladies 30 and older) and Doota (very fashion forward) was like a Forever 21 on crack.

 * * *

There was a lot of selection, but maybe too much! I started to feel overwhelmed and confused by the plethora of choices. Even though I was at Dongdaemun Market for over 3 hours, it only felt like 30 minutes. By 1:00, our stomachs were grumbling and we left to go eat lunch in the Apgujeong area, otherwise known as the "rich" area of Seoul.

Driving towards Apgujeong and passing by a lot of houses on the hills

 Crossing the Han River

Bridge on the Han River

Going to Apgujeong

We crossed the Han River and arrived at Sawore Boribap 사월에 보리밥 for a boribap (mixed barley rice 보리밥) meal:

Sawore Boribap Restaurant

Sawore Boribap menu

The restaurant was crowded (a good sign) and the inside was zen-like and spacious.

Inside Sawore Boribap

Boribap is a popular health food in Seoul. Think of it as bibimbap, but with barley as well as rice. My friend invited two other people and we ordered boribap (which came with banchan), kimchi haemul jeon (kimchi and seafood pancake 김치해물전), and a galbi (marinated beef ribs 갈비) dish of some sort. Our meal came out to 35,000 won, which is pretty reasonable for a restaurant in Apgujeong. The food at Sawore Boribap was really good, filling yet non-food coma inducing. I highly recommend it if you're in the area.

With our bellies full of barley, we walked around the Galleria and Cheongdam-dong Fashion Street 청담동 (淸潭洞) area.

Galleria in Apgujeong

Galleria in Apgujeong

Mesmerizing texture of the Galleria facade

Driving down the Cheongdam area

Cheongdam area

All of the stores were upscale and pricey, but they were perfect for window shopping. The numerous coffee shops and little eateries also made for good people watching. If you want to stake out a k-pop celebrity, this would be the place to do it, as Apgujeong is known to be frequented by the rich and famous. However, we had no such luck that day.

In Apgujeong, there are several department stores and shopping areas. As you can see in the below map, Rodeo Drive (South Korea's version of the popular Beverly Hills street) is marked in green and Cheongdam-dong Fashion Street is marked in blue. Both of these areas sport the trendiest trends.

Apgujeong and Cheongdam-dong map

To the upper left corner is the Apgujeong Subway Station and COEX Mall 코엑스몰, a ginormous underground shopping complex, is a few minutes drive away towards the right. Notable things about the mall include the COEX Convention Center, Hyundai Department Store, COEX Aquarium, Asem Garden, and the Bandi and Luni's Bookstore (the largest bookstore in Seoul). Bongeun Temple 봉은사 (奉恩寺) is just to the north of COEX Mall, but you know me, I'm not really interested in visiting temples.

COEX Mall map

We ended up not going to COEX because we were pretty shopped out for the day. However, if your shopping wits are still sharp, COEX Mall is a worthy challenge. Starting from the Galleria in Apgujeong, you can walk down the length of Cheongdam Fashion Street (15-20 min walk) and take a cab at the Cheongdam 4-Way Intersection (Cheongdam Saguri 청담사거리, the intersection between Apgujeong Road (압구장로) and Tosande Road (도산대로)) to get to COEX Mall. You can probably walk to there straight from the intersection, but it all depends on your feet. COEX is on my list of to-see places for when I visit Korea again next year.

So after wandering around Apgujeong, we decided get coffee at the famed cafes along Garosugil, a.k.a. "the tree lined street." The drive there didn't take long, but it was impossible to find a parking spot. We drove up and down the road 8 times with no luck. Even though there were a bunch of interesting restaurants, coffee shops, and eccentric stores, we decided to cut our losses and head back to the hotel.


Garosugil lives up to its name though. There were definitely lots of trees on both sides of the road! Though I must say, the trees were not as dense as I thought they'd be. I imagined them to canopy the street, like the ones at my alma mater Rice.

As we made our way back to Hotel Ibis, my friend took a detour to go through Itaewon. I never planned to visit this tourist spot on my trip because... I live in America and Itaewon is known for being the go-to area for foreigners. Going there would be like taking someone from China to Chinatown. Anyway, I wasn't that impressed with it, but it seems like a nice area for the homesick expat or for someone looking for L or XL clothes.


Burger King in Itaewon

Then we passed by the The War Memorial of Korea. There is an American military base nearby, so you can spot lots of soldiers in uniform. Seeing them made me miss home all of a sudden...

The War Memorial of Korea

The War Memorial of Korea

You can see also N'Seoul Tower in the distance atop Namsan Mountain (where I visited the next day): 

N'Seoul Tower at Mt. Namsan

After sitting through some more traffic, we finally arrived back at the hotel. I didn't walk as much as the day before, but I was pooped! I passed out for an hour or so and by the time I woke up, it was already dark outside. Since I had nothing else to do, I set out to explore Myeongdong and grab some dinner.

Dunkin' Donuts in Myeongdong

While the street food vendors were alluring and the giant Dunkin' Donuts tempting, I settled for dinner at Myeongdong Gyoja.

Kalguksu at Myeongdong Gyoja

After dinner, I walked around Myeongdong some more, before re-visiting Cheonggyecheon Stream to see how it looked at night. Surprisingly, it only took a quick 15 minute walk to get there. Yesterday it seemed like it took forever!

Cheonggye Plaza at night

The plaza was the only part of the stream that looked really nice at night. Other areas were pretty dimly lit and could use a few more lights. I was still pretty full, so I walked further along the stream until I reached this random night market. I wasn't really sure where I was, but I took a look around and then went back to my hotel to turn in for the day.

Somewhere near Cheongyecheon Stream

A market near Cheonggyecheon Stream

Market near Cheonggyecheon Stream
    Overall, another great experience in Seoul!

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