Myeong-dong and surroundings, Seoul

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안녕 – annyeong!

Welcome to Myeong-dong, Seoul, it’s our first day in South Korea and we are taking some time to wander around the area. We didn’t have any specific activities thought out for the day. It was really meant to be a day of rest after the long flight from New Zealand but we had a burst of energy, decided to look around and ended up hitting some major spots unintentionally. This was such a fun way to go about our first day since we got to know the city in preparation for the more structured days to come and we had a chance to explore without expectations.

I was blown away by the city and it’s walkability. This blog will give you a good idea of the distances between different spots in Seoul as we casually walked from our accomodation near Myeong-dong Station and Namsan Seoul Tower to Gyeongbokgung Palace and back. Before our trip, I’d google transportation and distances but I couldn’t really grasp how close or far everything would be until we were there. For reference, other places we visited in Seoul were Gangnam and Hongdae and these are NOT walking distance from Myeong-dong.

For more about this and other Seoul destinations, activities and information, check out my other blog posts on South Korea.

How did we get here?

We took a flight from Wellington to Auckland, New Zealand to Tokyo, Japan and finally to Seoul, South Korea. We arrived late at night and took a train from Incheon International Airport to Myeong-dong station, had a good (but late!) night sleep.

Map of the area

I’ll attatch some useful maps throughout the blog specific to Myeongdong but, in the Seoul Travel Diary blog, I give you some more useful tools and links regarding wayfinding maps and information on Seoul’s excelent tourism board and services so check it out if you haven’t already!


In this map, Myeongdong is outlined in red. You can also see Gyeongbokgung Palace on the top left and N Seoul Tower on the bottom right, both of which we walked and visited this day.

Pyeoneuijeom breakfast!

Jetlag made us wake up fast and furious. For breakfast, we went to the nearest pyeoneuijeom (convenience store) to get some quick fixer uppers. We got two samgak kimbap (triangle kimbap) and a coffee. We ate it on the rooftop of our hostel and we got hyped up for the day with some views of the Namsan Seoul Tower, which believe it or not, we didn’t know was going to be so close to us! Jono booked the accomodation for this trip and he got some tips online for best areas to stay in but we had no idea we’d be so close to the Tower! It was a pleasant surprise to see of a new country the morning after a big flight.

After breakfast we made our way to Myeong-dong Market area, crossing the avenue past Myeongdong Station to get there. We could also get down to the station and accross underground to avoid waing on the traffic.

Myeong-dong walking streets

It is known for being one of Seoul’s main shopping, parade route, and tourism districts. The area is known for its two historically significant sites, namely the Myeongdong Cathedral and the Myeongdong Theater. Myeongdong Market contains a wealth of items from some of the world’s most sought-after brands. Seoul’s Myeongdong shopping hot-spots include Lotte Young Plaza, the Lotte Department Store, M Plaza, and Noon Square Shopping Mall.

Once in Myeong-dong, I experience for the first time the joy of Seoul’s numerous coffee shops and coffee culture. Walking down the streets of Seoul, cafés are present nearly everywhere. There are wide varieties of cafés to choose from, and Korean people often frequent cafes at any time of the day. Rather than visiting cafés merely to get a coffee, Korean people frequent cafés to socialize, study, work, or relax. ☕️ (Cafe Culture)

According to Medium, as of 25 Jul 2023, Korea ranks second in coffee consumption per capita, with 367 cups per person, following France (551.4 cups) This is more than twice the global average of 161 cups, and 70% of Korean adults have at least one cup of coffee daily. This trend is evident as cafes are not just numerous but overflowing in Korea.

Today, over 18,000 coffee shops are sprawled across the city, each one more aesthetically pleasing than the next. You can find themed cafés, hidden-away cafés, and cafés offering incredible views of the capital city. (10 best Cafes in Seoul)

Ediya Coffee is the coffee franchise with the largest number of stores in the country.

Myeongdong is trendy, illuminated by flashing signboards at night, bustling with socks shops and other variety goods. It’s the best location to stay in Seoul for nightlife. It’s also home to one of Seoul’s best street food stalls and markets, Myeongdong Night Market. I personally really loved it since I’m not a big night-out clubbing type of person but Myeongdong is my nightlife type of place, lots of restaurants, window shopping (and shopping) options, caffees (even late at night), quirky shops and activities like life drawing cartoons and more. It’s lively without being overpowering.

Myeongdong Night Market

Cheonggyecheon Stream

We made our way to Cheonggyecheon Stream of Seoul. Created as part of an urban renewal project, Cheonggyecheon Stream is a restoration of the stream that was once there during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). The stream was covered with an elevated highway after the Korean War (1950-1953), as part of the country’s post-war economic development.

Gyeongbokgung Palace

Gyeongbokgung, also known as Gyeongbokgung Palace, was the main royal palace of the Joseon dynasty. Built in 1395, it is located in northern Seoul, South Korea. The largest of the Five Grand Palaces built by the Joseon dynasty, Gyeongbokgung served as the home of the royal family and the seat of government.

We weren’t planning on walking this far yet we did and it was a pleasant surprise to be able to witness the famous guard change and take a picture with one of the guards afterwards. The front of the Palace (as pictured) is free to walk around and visit. The change of the guards takes place in this free of charge area so if you’re not planning on visiting any of the Palaces due to budget constrains, this might be a good option to fit in this famous spot into your itinerary.

There is an entrance fee for the rest of the Palace but entry is free if you come wearing a Hanbok (traditional clothing). I had planned a whole day for Hanbok wearing later in the week so we kept the visit to the rest of the Palace for later.

There are Five Royal Palaces in Seoul: Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace, Changgyeonggung Palace, Deoksugung Palace and Gyeonghuigung Palace.

Why you need to visit Gyeongbokgung Palace? Gyeongbokgung Palace is arguably the most beautiful and remains the largest of all five palaces. This is the most popular tourist attraction in South Korea, and with good reason. It’s been around for over 600 years and despite many renovations and changes, it still retains its iconic status as one of Seoul’s top places to visit.

Check out my blog on Gyeongbokgung Palace and Hanbok Rental here.

Samcheong-dong Street

Looking for a place to have lunch in the beautiful Bukchon Hanok Village, we got a bit lost and walked a little out of the way in the wrong direction. We landed in the Samcheaong-dong Streets.

Samcheong-dong is a dong, neighbourhood of Jongno-gu in Seoul, South Korea. It lies north of Jongno and east of Gyeongbokgung.This hilly neighborhood is characterized by numerous small art galleries, shops, and restaurants. Visitors to the area can see restored hanok, Korean traditional-style houses. The Board of Audit and Inspection of Korea is located here. It is also home to several foreign government offices including the Vietnamese consulate.

Low-key Samcheong-dong draws visitors to Bukchon Hanok Village, a sprawling maze of centuries-old traditional houses filled with artisan workshops, tea rooms and small museums. Elsewhere, galleries like the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art and Kukje Gallery show avant-garde work. Local indie boutiques sell crafts and gifts, and dining options include quirky al fresco cafes and laid-back Korean eateries. 

Hot Pot Lunch at Mukshidonna Samcheongdong

Jeongol (Korean: 전골) is a Korean-style hot pot made by putting meat, mushroom, seafood, seasoning, etc., in a stew pot, adding broth, and boiling it. We got really conservative with the things we added to our hot pot and I think our servers were judging us for it. You can usually ask for extra cheese and sides to drop into your hot pot as well as rice to eat the leftover broth with. We got quite satisfied at the end of our meal so we definetivelly didn’t need any of the extras but on hence sight, the extras would’ve made it a much more exciting meal.

Nevertheless, it got us fed and it was quite tasty as it was. This was our first experience eating out and with all the korean restaurant essentials: the cutlery and tissues on the built in drawer on the side of the table, the hot pot set up the flat metal chopsticks, the korean aunties and overall korean restaurant environment so this is a meal to be fond of in my books.

The National Folk Museum of Korea

National Folk Museum of Korea is a national museum located on the grounds of Gyeongbokgung Palace in Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea. It uses replicas of historical objects to illustrate the history of traditional life of the Korean people. As a self appointed tourismologist and folklore fanatic, this was one of my favourite places in Seoul. Not to mention it is free to enter at all times!

We were lucky enough to be in the city during the annual Hanbok festival and The National Folk Museum was one of the many places that offer a bunch of activities to conmemorate it. Sadly, most activities required signing up in advance so we didn’t get the chance to do them but it was great to see.

There were some questionable but seemingly very culturaly apropiate replicas of some sort of Korean game at the entrance of the museum to entice your visit that you could see from accross the street! A statue of colorful children playing Malttukbakgi game outside the National Folk Museum of Korea in Seoul, South Korea. It s a bizarre statue depicting a Korean traditional game called Malttukbakgi or the Piling Game. It s a fun game that both Korean girls and boys play up until high school. (Multtukbakgi game)

Once inside, there’s a very colorful and picturesque replica of a village that shows what life in South Korea was like after the Korean War giving you a glimse of the lifestyle that ultimately built into the modern nation and culture we see today. You can see old hanok houses, shop fronts and temples.

The National Folk Museum has multiple buildings and areas such as the replica village mentioned above, the main Pagoda and the Childrens Museum so there’s lot’s to see.!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d1580.9406958160885!2d126.97668229148245!3d37.58141515974641!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x357ca2c74aeddea1%3A0x7bda4040beb37be0!2sThe%20National%20Folk%20Museum%20of%20Korea!5e0!3m2!1sen!2snz!4v1714207694191!5m2!1sen!2snz

The main pagoda is called Gyeongcheonsa Pagoda and it stands 13.5 m in height and is ten storeys tall. However, because of the three-tiered foundation, it is a common mistake to believe that the pagoda has thirteen storeys. It is National Treasure of Korea No. 86. It was designated by the South Korean government on December 20, 1962.This pagoda is very valuable because it preserves the Goryeo-era wooden architectural style that has been mostly lost. According to the South Korean Cultural Heritage Administration, this pagoda is one of the finest examples of Korean stone work and is of high artistic value.

An inscription on the first story of the pagoda states that it was erected in the fourth year of King Chungmok in 1348. The pagoda was first placed at the now-lost Gyeongcheonsa Temple which sat at the foot of Mt. Buso in Gwangdeok-myeon, Gaepung-gun, Gyeonggi-do Province. During the Japanese occupation of Korea, in 1907 the pagoda was taken to Japan. In 1918, the pagoda was returned and placed on the grounds of Gyeongbokgung Palace.

Check out my full National Folk Museum of Korea post for more information about this wonderful museum here.

Our first Banana Milk and Icecream

A quick rest back at the Hotel – 123 Hostel

Namsan Cable Car

Namsan cable car is an aerial tramway in Seoul, South Korea. Built in 1962, it spans from the Hoehyeon-dong platform to the Yejang-dong platform near the top of Mt. Namsan and the N Seoul Tower. It is the first commercial cable car service for passengers in Korea. The length of the cable is 605 metres.

N Seoul Tower at Sunset and Night

The N Seoul Tower, officially the YTN Seoul Tower and commonly known as Namsan Tower or Seoul Tower, is a communication and observation tower located on Namsan Mountain in central Seoul, South Korea. The 236-meter-tall tower marks the second highest point in Seoul and is considered a local landmark. 

Korean BBQ, Bibimbop and Hot Pot Dinner at Owooga 오우가

No trip to Korea is complete without experiencing ‘gogi-gui,’ a Korean BBQ that’s as much a social event as it is a filling meal. This style of BBQ involves grilling various meats on gas or charcoal grills, often built directly into the dining table. Popular cuts include fatty slices of fresh pork belly and sweeter marinated beef such as “bulgogi” (beef sirloin or tenderloin) and “galbi” (beef ribs). Korean BBQ is characterized by its communal spirit, where diners cook their meats to their liking and enjoy them directly with an array of side dishes known as “banchan.” Meats are often enjoyed as “ssam,” wrapped in lettuce or other greens with flavorful add-ons like garlic and savory condiments like soy bean and chili paste. Grilling and eating together emphasizes the communal aspect of sharing food and conversation, making Korean BBQ a deeply social dining experience. (A seasonal journey: Barbecue traditions from around the world)

A Korean barbecue usually consists of: Sliced meat, most commonly beef, but also pork and chickenSauce like ssamjang (soybean paste and chili paste) and gochujang (a spicy chili paste) Lettuce or perilla leaves.

Myeongdong Night Market and Cheonggyecheon Stream at Night

Not this same day but we came back to Myeong-dong Night Market and it was fabulous! I must say the street food is not as varied and fresh as I’d like but the ambience and livelyhood of the area saved this place for me. Make sure to get into some of the restaurants instead of eating street food only!

We got our cartoon portraits drawn and the result was too accurate and sweet! It is to this day one of our most precious memories and souveniers. We have it on display at home!

If you have energy to go all out till late at night, after this day full of activities, head back over to Cheonggyecheon Stream for it’s night views! We didn’t go back at night but it was definetivelly one of the things I wanted to and didn’t get around to do. This are some of the stunning views you can get of it night.

For more about this and other Seoul destinations, activities and information, check out my other blog posts on South Korea.

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Hello, this blog is written by a young artist and traveler looking to share the world from her perspective. 

“I want to share things that inspire me: Different disciplines I learn along the way and experiences I have. Hoping to inspire whoever’s reading to live a more authentic and fulfilling life.” 

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