things to do in seoul, hiking
Hike in Seoul | Photo via Flickr by schizoform

A quick Google search will tell you that eating and shopping are two of the most popular activities for holidaymakers in Seoul, but these activities won’t help you get under the skin of the city. If you want to understand the culture, learn more about its rich history, and experience the luscious landscape, look no further. Add even one of these activities to your list of must-dos, and make your adventure a more Seoul-full one!

1. Cuddle With Coffee

I’ve written before about Tokyo’s animal cafés, but it’s Korea that takes the [coffee] cake. You’ll find a variety of themed cafés in Seoul, from stuffed animals to sheep and bikes to books. While cat cafés are still the most popular café theme, dog people might prefer to head to BAUhouse, the coffeeshop that doubles as an animal shelter. There’s no entrance fee, but you do have to buy a drink. BAUhouse also encourages you to BYOP, or bring your own pooch!

Getting There: 64 Seogyo-dong, Hongdae; Hapjeong Station (Line 2), Exit 3

2. Clean Up Korean-Style

Let yourself go at a traditional jimjilbang, a sauna and spa experience that has become a popular spot for locals to socialize. The Dragon Hill Spa is one of the most famous in Seoul. It includes eight floors of saunas, gardens, restaurants, and spa treatments. Relax in different hot tubs or go local and get a full body scrub. You’ve never felt so clean! Admission costs between 12,000 and 15,000 won per adult, depending on the time of day. For a more private experience, some hotels like the Intercontinental Grand Seoul Parnas have their own spas for guests.

Getting There: 40-712, Hangangno 3-ga, Yongsan-gu; Yongsan Station (Line 1) or Sinyongsan Station (Line 4)

3. Visit a Museum Where Cameras Are Encouraged

Museums and landmarks around the world are banning selfie sticks and discouraging photography. In contrast, the Trick Eye Museum in Seoul allows you to interact with all the pieces while getting photo evidence. The installations use trompe l’oeil techniques that create a variety of optical illusions. A couple of hours of interactive fun and laughter at the museum costs 15,000 won, and the experience is worth the cost.

Getting There: 20, Hongik-ro 3-gil, Mapo-gu; Hongik University Station (Line 2), Exit 9.

4. Take a Hike

The mountains that circle Seoul create many hiking opportunities that offer gorgeous views of the capital. The most popular path is Bugaksan, which takes hikers along an ancient fortress wall to gates that date back to the 15th century. Note that you’ll need your passport to get access to the trail.

Physical fitness is important to Koreans, particularly among older generations, so it’s best to hit the trails during the week. Believe me, you don’t want to get between an ajumma and the peak!

Getting There: Gyeongbokgung Palace Station (Line 3), Exit 3. Take a green bus 1020, 7022, or 7212. Get off at Jahamun Gate Hill (자하문 고개).

Seoul is a vibrant city that offers so much for visitors, from nightlife to outdoor activities. The cosmopolitan may seem overwhelming at first, but these activities will send you in the right direction!

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