For years, Tokyo has been a hub for discovering Asia. While the city holds a lot of international recognition – from Japanese food to minimalist design and fashion – word on the street is that Tokyo is now getting some strong competition from Seoul.
Both Tokyo and Seoul are “mega-cities” boasting incredible scenes for food, fashion, and culture. Both also have well-developed tech. industries and are centers of creativity. When it comes to food, however, Seoul has a much more popular street food scene.
A great local spot is Gwangjang Market. Vendors sell so many things to eat on-the-go, like rice cakes in a spicy sauce (tteokboki) to tempura and ice cream cones. In the winter, food trucks sell pipping hot sweet potatoes and roasted chestnuts. Kimbap (Korean sushi) and a sweet treat called hotteok (or hoddeok) – which is a fried dough filled with cinnamon, brown sugar, and nuts – are also popular street food eats.
In Seoul, there is a wide variety of attractions, ranging from old and new. You can explore art museums and galleries, hike nearby the forests and mountains, shop the Gangnam District, or discover ancient royal palaces. In Garosugil, you can find affordable Korean – as well as international – fashion labels. Koreans are known for being fashion-forward and this is the go-to place for trendy finds.
One of the most distinct things about Seoul is its history though. Seoul has retained its old world charm and you can feel it while simply walking around the city, especially in Bukchon Hanok Village, which is preserved and reflects the way people used to live in Korea during the 1500s.
Furthermore, Koreans are also known for being very welcoming and charming, which is indicative of the authentically warm atmosphere that permeates the beautiful city. Most people admit that Seoul is one the most unique cities they’ve ever been to because it blends charm with grit, old with new, like the just-built Lotte World Tower (which is the fifth-tallest building in the world).
Another great example of this dichotomy is Seoul Fashion Week, in which women wearing beautiful traditional Korean dresses (hanboks) paired with modern, designer accessories. This sense of mixing old and new with a flair for creativity and charm perfectly sums up what is happening in Seoul right now … and why everyone should be watching.