9 Things to do in Seoul over Chuseok
This year, the Korean national holiday, Chuseok, is an unprecedented 10 days off in a row. Which means gridlocked roads, an empty city, and truly insane prices on flights out of the country…
So unless you’re one of those rare people that plans their vacations far, far, far in advance (do you people actually exist?) 😉 you’re probably staying put in the city. You’re in luck though because autumn is the absolute best time of the year to be in Seoul. The skies are brilliantly blue, the air is good and temperatures are pretty much perfect. And best of all? – much of the population exits the city. Seoul is quiet and serene in a way that it rarely is.
Here’s 9 ideas for what you can get up to during Chuseok.
SEE SEOUL FROM ABOVE
Autumn is undoubtedly the best time of the year in Korea weather-wise, with incredible sunsets, blue skies and clear air virtually guaranteed. There’s no better season to see Seoul in all it’s mega-city glory.
It was pretty much the perfect day to visit #seoulsky – clear air, bright sun and empty observation platforms…uhhh, except for those elementary school tour groups 👦👧🙉. If u visit during weekdays in the morning or early afternoons, you can enjoy an unfettered #view too! 😍#lifeinkorea #lotteworldtower
My pick for the best birds-eye view of the city is from the Seoul Sky Observatory in Korea’s tallest building – the Lotte World Tower. There are 7 different levels from which to take in views, but the 120th floor outdoor Sky Terrace is the highest outdoor observatory in the world. It sits at a whopping 486 metres high and you’re guaranteed a breathtaking unobstructed view of the city (meaning no dirty, streaky windows).
You can almost touch the ☀️sun☀️ on the #Seoulsky Sky Terrace. At 486 metres, it's the only outdoor observation area at the 123 story Lotte World Tower. @thesoulofseoulblog and I, had it all to ourselves, which was fantastic since it's the only place to get super clear shots of the city without dirty windows getting in the way. 🙈❤ * Can you find my reflection? #travel #seoul #lotteworldtower
If Seoul Sky’s 27,000 price tag is a bit steep for you, the Observatory at N Seoul Tower offers expansive views from its perch high atop Namsan Mountain. You can get tickets for 40% off (just 6000KRW) through BnBHero using THIS LINK.
Vibrant love locks and colourless skies @nseoultower. ❤️🗝🔒 * I finally made it up to the observatory after 8 years in Seoul thanks to @bnbhero. Did you know you can get tickets to the Tower on their website for a massive 40% off? 🤗 * Have you placed a love lock anywhere in the world? * * * * #familytravel #femaletravelbloggers #gltlove #traveltips #travelwithkids #namsantower #seoultower #seoul_korea #seoul #travelkorea #lovelocks #남산 #skyscape #seoulsnap #expatlife #cityscapes
DINE IN STYLE
A fine dining experience in a Seoul restaurant at dinnertime can be pretty darn pricey, as it is in most major cities around the world, BUT at lunchtime prices drop significantly, for almost the exact same thing. Chuseok is the perfect opportunity to try out one of the city’s fancier food experiences, at a reduced cost.
Jungsik has locations in New York and Seoul, both with coveted Michelin Stars, and offers modern interpretations of Korean classics. When we visited, lunch course menus started at just 45,000KRW.
Lab XXIV is one of my personal favourites, because it offers delicious and clever molecular gastronomy course menus at an incredible price. From its new location in Gangnam, it serves lunch course menus including amuse bouche, appetizer, main, dessert, coffee and petit fours starting at just 55,000KRW tax and service included. Reservations are definitely recommended.
VISIT A KOREAN HERITAGE SITE FOR FREE
If you haven’t ventured into one of Seoul’s historical sites yet, Chuseok is the perfect chance to finally go. Major royal palaces and tombs across the country will stay open during the entire 10-day Chuseok holiday, and best of all admission into all sites is free!
There’ll be various performance and special events during Chuseok, and you can participate in Korean folk games at the different sites. You can also visit Jongmyo Shrine, which is usually only open to guided tour groups, on your own until October 9th.
TAKE AN EASY DAY TRIP OUT TO THE GARDEN OF MORNING CALM
The Garden of Morning Calm is a 30,000 square metre private garden, with 20 different themed sections, and 5000 different kinds of plants. It’s located just an hour away from Seoul in Gapyeong, and best of all, it’s accessible by subway, meaning you won’t have to deal with potential traffic jams.
Tranport information can be found HERE.
While there, make sure to stop into the MOAI Cafe for interesting architecture and strong coffee. It’s on the main road leading to the Garden of Morning Calm, and there’s no way you can miss seeing it.
GO HIKING ONE OF SEOUL’S MOUNTAINS
Let’s face it, hiking the mountains close to Seoul is not always the peaceful communing with nature it should be. But over Chuseok, it’s a distinct possibility that you might have a mountain to call your own. Both Bukhansan and Gwanaksan are reachable by subway and bus and may even be showing the first signs of fall colour over Chuseok.
If you want to ensure yourself a solitary experience, head to one of the lesser known trails around Bukhansan, like Hyangnobong Peak.
TRY SOME UZBEK FOOD AT FORTUNE CAFE
Visiting the Russian district and trying some Uzbek food is one of the top things to do in Dongdaemun. It will be full of workers with real time off and missing a taste of home. The area will be bouncing with life and for certain, nothing will be closed over Chuseok.
The restaurant my Uzbek friend Diana recommends as the best in the city is Fortune Cafe. Try the samsa – a seasoned lamb and onion filled pie!
GET VIRTUAL AT THE TRICKEYE MUSEUM
If you’ve lived in Seoul for any length of time, chances are you’ve already visited one of the city’s many optical illusion museums. There’s multiple Trick Art Museums in the Insadong area, but the Trickeye Museum in Hongdae has upped its game, by adding Augmented Reality to its already eye-bending art.
By downloading a free app onto your phone, you can take video or pictures of yourself interacting with pandas, sword-fighting with skeletons or dodging sharks. It’s a ton of fun, and less people in the city should mean more space for you to get the perfect shot!
While there, make sure to Caface your own face onto your latte. 😉
Our #littletraveler's not sure how she feels about her face as latte art…especially since mommy's about to drink it up. 😂 * I've been wanting to @caface_seoul Naia for quite some time, and though I'm sad to say the coffee was completely overpowered by what they use to create the latte art, the gimmick was kinda worth it, and the 8,500KRW price tag. 😉 Once is probably enough though. Probably…
GET CAUGHT UP ON YOUR READING AT STARFIELD COEX MALL
If books are your thing, the new Starfield Library in Coex Mall is not to be missed. It’s truly grand in scale, with 2800 square metres of space spread over 2 stories. Without a doubt though, it’s most eye-catching feature is 3 gigantic bookshelves stuffed with over 50,000 books and magazines.
Visit over Chuseok or in the morning and you’re guaranteed a comfortable and inspiring spot to catch up on your reading.
ENJOY A BLISSFULLY EMPY CITY
And finally, simply enjoy Seoul without gazillions of people in it. Wander the streets aimlessly without crashing into wayward Koreans. Eat in your favourite restaurants without waiting, and maybe, just maybe find silence in a cafe.
Are you staying in Seoul for Chuseok? Or jetting off somewhere? What do you have planned for all that time off?