Places covered: Tosokchon Restaurant, Insadong, Ssamziegil, ARA Modern Art Museum, Gwangjang Market, Lotte Department Store (Supermarket), Loco Quan 401, Octagon, M2.
We head out later than planned because apparently we had too much fun the night before and the bride was a bit hungover. Thankfully, our itinerary started with the perfect beginning for a hangover.
1st stop – Tosokchon Samgyetang (Ginseng Chicken) Restaurant
The restaurant that was frequented by late President Roh Moo hyun, and hailed as the best samgyetang in Korea. Tosokchon is popular among tourists and locals alike as I can see from the queue. Thank goodness we arrived tad bit earlier for lunch and avoided the crowd. But not too worry, the place is spacious and the queue moves pretty quickly.
We shared 1 black chicken and 3 white chickens among 8 of us. The portion was just right, leaving a bit of room for desserts and drinks later. We were served small cup of ginseng wine to clear our palate, you can purchase a bottle of it too. I prefer the black chicken because it has stronger flavor but it might be placebo effect. Nonetheless both are equally delicious.
Like any popular spots, Tosokchon has been called “too commercialized” and “overrated”. Regardless the reviews, I definitely recommend coming here to experience Korean food beyond just Korean BBQ in a hanok setting!
5, Jahamun-ro 5-gil, Jongno-gu
Nearest Subway: Gyeongbokgong
2nd Stop – Insadong, Ssamziegil, Ara Museum of Modern Art.
Insadong is only one station away from Gyeongbokgong. We took the subway to Anguk station and then walk 5 minutes to the main street of Insadong. Insadong is a place where you can get all your souvenirs; chopsticks, metal bowls, fans, and other small gifts that will collect dust back home. My personal favorite store here is a bag shop at the corner, selling all bags at KRW10,000 a piece. I have been there 3 times out of my 4 trips to Seoul and never fail to leave the store carrying a shopping bag.
You know you’re in the main street, Insadong-gil, when you see rows of traditional antique shops, Korean crafts, etc. The street also has many narrow alleys that are worth exploring. Keep walking on the main street until you find Ssamziegil, a spiraling shopping complex that has all the cute stuff that I have no purpose for but will buy anyway because I’m on holiday.
If you’re a more artsy type, drop by ARA Modern Arts Museum and soak in some contemporary arts. When we visited, the museum was having a solo exhibition by Mr. Brainwash from France titled Life Is Beautiful. I don’t understand art that well despite having worked as a part-time Artist Assistant, but I like being surrounded by it and trying to decipher the meaning behind the work. As a Star Wars fans, I was excited at the sight of AT-AT walker and Darth Vader holding a brush with writing on the wall “May the Art Be With You” *gasp* The exhibition has plenty of area for the perfect insta-worthy shots too.
ARA Modern Art Museum
26, Insadong 9-gil, Jongno-gu
4th Stop – Gwangjang Market
The place that’s made even more famous by Running Man. It was my first visit to Gwangjang Market and I wonder why have I not been here before! Gwangjang market is basically a galore of street food and shops selling food items to bring back home. My friends and I bought bags of Honey Butter/ Wasabi Almonds that are now trending in Korea. They were selling cheaper than at the supermarket. We stopped by for kimbab, bindaetteok, odeng and tteokbokki. I was tempted to try the live octopus but no one wanted to try with me so I reckon one octopus to myself is too much. Maybe next time.
88, Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Nearest Subway: Jongno 5-ga
4th Stop – Lotte Department Store, Loco Quan 401 (Myeongdong)
We got stuck in the rain at Gwangjang and waited about 30 mins at a nice little cafe before looking for cab to Lotte Department Store to do supermarket shopping. Since there were 8 of us we had to take 2 cabs. The first cab came within seconds, but we had no luck stopping the second cab and ended up taking the subway to Euljiro 1-ga where Lotte Department Store is located. It was only 3 stations away but we needed to change 3 lines. The walk from one line to other is so far apart, we were so exhausted. After buying seaweed, jellies, instant noodles, and other loot, we took a cab back to our hotel. Taking a cab is during peak hour is a hassle. There was no taxi stand and we literally had to fight with others.
We put our stuff down at the hotel and quickly cross over the street for BBQ dinner at Haha’s restaurant Loco Quan 401. Finding it is quite tricky because there’s no sign at eye level so you need to look up, and there’s a signage on the 8th floor. We ordered our food quickly; Set menu and additional dosirak (lunch box)! The pork serving was thick and delicious. The wait staff seemed aloof I guess due to their already famed reputation. Overall it was a safe choice if you’re looking for a good Korean BBQ. If you prefer a less commercialized restaurant, you can try Sae Maeul Sik Dang in Myeongdong as well.
I think I was so hungry I didn’t take photo of the restaurant at all!
Loco Quan 401
41 Myeongdong 10-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
5th Stop – Octagon @ Gangnam, M2 @ Hongdae
Octagon is the particular club requested by our bride. She has heard so much about clubbing scene in Seoul, apparently the party doesn’t end till 5am or even 7am?! I’ve only been to a club in Seoul once previously and I remember going back at 4am and it was still crowded. Anyway, so after BBQ dinner, we went back to hotel, washed up and get ready for the party! We took a cab down to Gangnam, and arrived at the scene about midnight. The crowd at Octagon, contrary to popular belief, don’t dressed up and looks pretty laid back which is cool. I don’t go to clubs usually so if you ask me whether the clubbing scene in Seoul is good or bad I can’t really tell. All I know is that the DJ at Octagon was good-looking and music was awesome but, according to my friends, when they changed the DJ it went downhill. Again, to me they sounded pretty similar. So we cabbed to M2 to check out the scene at Hongdae. Hongdae is so much livelier than Gangnam! What I noticed between the 2 areas, is that Gangnam crowd are better looking and some converse in English, whereas Hongdae crowd are supposedly younger since it’s located at the University district, and caters more to locals. When we went to M2, we had a drink, it was awful and the music was just hard to follow. We didn’t stay in the club too long. But overall I just enjoy hanging out with the girls and we brought home balloons too!
645 Nonhyeon-ro, Nonhyeon 1(il)-dong, Gangnam-gu.
20-5 Jandari-ro, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu.
I can’t remember what time we left the scene. But me and my roommie went home and put on face masks before we sleep. It felt so goodddd. Some of the girls went to 7-11 next to our hotel and had ramen which was superb as well.
Recounting our Day 3 in Seoul, I just realized how much activities we had in a day! It was truly fruitful and optimized traveling. Well done ladies.