Thursday, November 14, 2019

Mountaintops and Riverwalks South Korea Style

Since we were only spending a few days in Seoul we wanted to be sure and see the highlights. People watching, browsing local markets, and coffee in a local cafe are always on the agenda when we travel, but I also want to see some of the sites a city is known for. I'm a big fan of the DK Eyewitness Travel Guides which are easy to use and have pullout maps of cities and subway systems.

If you have a short window of time to spend in a large city the DK Eyewitness Top 10 guides are especially good at steering you toward the 'don't miss' stuff. When you're using an underground metro system it makes sense to plan your day a bit so you don't waste time criss crossing the city unnecessarily and we used the Top10 Seoul guide to help plan our days.

We had beautiful weather the three days we were in the city. One thing you need to know about S. Korea is the air quality is not always good for outdoor activities. There are days you're advised to stay indoors and we do, which might explain the abundance of cafes and coffee shops here. We've had several poor air quality days since arriving, but the weekend we spent in Seoul was gorgeous.

Friday we slept in because that darn cold-ugh! then grabbed coffee and pastry at a nearby bakery. Actually hubs had coffee and I had the famous Korean milk tea which was scrumptious! This bakery offered the tea warm or cold, but the girl behind the counter told me cold is the way to go.

She was right-so good!

After breakfast we walked up the hill to get on the 'tram' that would take us to the cable car that
would take us to the elevator that would take us to the top of Seoul Tower.  If you read here you know how I feel about cable cars but when in Rome...

Seoul Tower sits atop Namson, a peak in the mountains that make up Korea. There are fabulous views from the tower observation deck and several dining and shopping options at the base and up top both. There's also apparently a Teddy Bear museum but we missed that.

When you get off the cable car, but before you enter the elevator taking you into the tower itself you see trees and fences and railings covered with padlocks.  Couples buy a lock and attach it to one of the 'trees' then throw away the key, symbolizing eternal love. It's a colorful sight for sure.

Way back when, during the Joeson era, Koreans used smoke signals to communicate, and Namsan was at the center of a network of chimneys used to signal warnings.

Depending on the threat anywhere from one to five beacons would be lit and then copied on successive mountains all the way up the coast to the Chinese border.

The communication and observation tower was built in 1971, stands 774 feet high, and has spectacular views from the top.

After leaving the tower we went back to our hotel for a small siesta then rode the metro to the well known Gwangjang Market, one of the oldest and largest traditional markets in South Korea, to see what we could see.

Fish. Lots of fish. And people dining on everything from live squid to blood sausage and pig intestines. We stuck with less adventurous fare and sampled the mung bean pancake (Bindaetteok) and seaweed rolls (Mayak Kimbap).

The market was bustling and filled with locals on their way home from work on a Friday night, a fun place to explore.

After we left the market we walked along the Cheonggyecheon Stream to see the Lantern Festival.

This is a two week festival beginning on the first Friday in November each year and definitely worth seeing if you're in the city during its run.

The theme this year is "Your Seoul, Light Through Dream" and features Korean characters from Korean folk tales and stories-

Fairy tales from around the world-

and more-

It's beautiful and the walk along the stream really is so dreamy.

A magical way to end the day.


  1. Oh my goodness, those lighted figures and all the lanterns are just beautiful! The market looks crazy and I would have been hesitant to eat anything! The view from the top of that mountain is amazing. Thank you for sharing all of this with us!

  2. I love all the beautiful lights.

  3. Glad the air quality worked out for you. I didn't know that it was so bad there. How exciting to be seeing so many wonderful things. I enjoyed all the photos and especially liked those trees. That festival was awesome!

  4. Being that I am unlikely to ever see these amazing sites in Seoul, I have so enjoyed it through your eyes. Thank you!