Fireworks over Wonhyo Bridge – Han River, caption by Olivier Le Rille, National Geographic
Written by Jana Lazarevska
A year passed since I was an exchange student in Seoul, South Korea. It was an incredible adventure filled with new friendships and intensive studying. As time goes by my memory gets overwhelmed by new events and obligations chasing after me on daily bases. But, even though some puzzles of my memory started to fade away there are those bits and pieces that are simply unforgettable. So, here are the most amazing places I had the chance to visit while in Korea that will stay engraved in my memory forever.
1 . Han River
I believe that every traveler has their own way of exploring new places. For me, exploring new surroundings goes hand in hand with understanding the daily life of people living in the area. I tried to live and breathe like a “Korean” and create my own little life there. Basically, that’s how the Han River turned into my favorite getaway place. I’m certain there is something magical in that huge blue surface that splits Seoul in two parts. It’s no wonder that there a lot of vast parks and bridges scattered along its flow. If you like nature, long walks, picnics, fun bicycle rides or just a calm place to chill out you cannot miss this place!
2. The Cherry blossom street
I’m sure you’ve seen at least one of those movie scenes where a couple walks along that amazing street surrounded with cherry trees. The cherry blossoms look like little clouds colored in baby pink, and the petals that fall as the couple walks by are even more gracious than snowflakes. Well, in mid-April, on a street near Han River, you can experience that amazing move-like scene which, I have to say, is even more glamorous in real life. Don’t get me wrong, even though it’s very romantic, I believe it is even better to walk along this street alone. It tickles your imagination!
Downtown Seoul, caption by By Robert Koehler @ flickriver
3. N Seoul tower
Imagine: You’re standing upon a thousand lights. Some of them are restless, anxiously passing by the ones that stand still. Then you focus on the others, the ones that stick to their position, their colors are different but, that is partly the magic which this ‘sea’ called Seoul has to offer. Now you turn to the other side, you spot the red moon which decided to hide silently in the night. You feel peaceful. That’s the picture that comes to my mind whenever I think of the N Seoul tower. It is located in the center of Seoul on a mountain called Namsan. From this place you can see most of the city, and it’s especially beautiful at night. There are some attractions around the tower but, what I liked the most was the view it offered. It’s one of those places you wouldn’t want to miss!
4. The local coffee shops
It’s not a place…but rather places. Unlike some people who enjoy their cup of coffee in franchised huge coffee companies I prefer to have my daily elixir in a small, cozy, creative environment. That’s probably why I absolutely fell in love with Korean coffee shops! Why are they so different, you may wonder? Well, first of all every coffee shop has its own ‘character’ which makes it unique. And it seemed like the diverse environments took my usual coffee routine to a whole new level. They are colorful but, not tacky; they all serve basically the same things yet they are different. Regardless of how hard I try to depict the loveliness of these places I still cannot fully explain it. It is certainly something worth experiencing!
Jeju – The Island of Geological Marvels, caption by Julie Jackson, National Geographic
5. Jeju Island
I have dreamed about this place long before I got to Korea. It’s located in the Korea Strait at the bottom of the Korean peninsula. Jeju is most famous for being a volcanic island on which Hallasan, the highest mountain in South Korea, is located. But, the reason why I like this place is the beautiful nature that covers the whole island. Underground there are lava tubes that look like long gray caves. It’s pretty amazing! I also liked the richness of the water that surrounds it; the gradation of blue was like something I’ve never seen before. What fascinated me the most were the old lady divers who were collecting seashells and weed from the sea. I have heard a saying about Jeju Island that I find very interesting. It goes something like “Samda Sammu” – “the three plentys” and “the three lacks”. Apparently it represents the great number of stones, wind and women on the island and the lack of thieves, fences and beggars. Jeju is definitely one of the most memorable places I’ve ever visited!
There are plenty more places worth visiting in South Korea. However, I will leave it to you to discover the myriad of exotic places and new experiences South Korea has to offer. Just out of the comfort bubble and on the road, the world hides unimaginable horizons and landscapes.