Busan is the second city in South Korea, home to nearly 4 million people and will charm you with beaches, shops and numerous activities.
And, the more exciting news is that Busan is a candidate city for the World Expo in 2030 is certainly worth a long weekend or even a long spell!
The city of Busan offers easy access to nature with easy access to mountains that are simply waiting for you to take a hike, rivers and seas – not to forget opportunities to relax at some hot springs across the city.
The most popular locations to be taken in on a visit include the famous Haeundae and Gwangalli beaches alongside the delicious food markets that will direct you to the beachfront with comfort!
If you can find time to escape the beach, there are a host of events to check the calendar before heading to the city, those include the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), The Busan Fireworks Festival and the One Asai Festival or SeoulTheJourney’s personal favourite the Busan Biennale (which reminds us to suggest those in Seoul to visit the KIAF).
Shinsegae Centrum City (Department Store) in Busan is the essential hotspot for tourists and locals alike. The department store is a Guinness World Recordsholder for being the largest department store since 2009.
Explore the store, enjoy the food court and even a spa (SpaLand)
Check out our blog on the Starfield Goyang Aquafield.
35, Centumnam-daero, Haeundae-gu, Busan
for more information check out this detailed website in English.
Busan is an ideal location for hikers. There is easy access to inland and waterfront hikes.
Take the opportunity to check out Visit Busan to plan your route..
Take the opportunity to enjoy the beach and mountains
Let us know how your visit went!
But, before we go.. let us suggest a hotel!
During our stay in Busan, we headed to the beautiful Hotel Nongshim that offered easy access to a spa and an ideal location to access the local feeling of the city and a short journey to the more touristic side of the sity!
Mamre Croissant is located only a short walk from Balsan station and is surely a pitstop on the way to explore the area (shops, coffee shops, restaurants and even more can be found!). – equally, take a few croissants home for the week!
No trip to Seattle is a trip without a visit to a Starbucks and we picked the Roastery at 1124 Pike Street. Our first love affair with Princi was at the lovely store in the heart of London that we couldn’t find on our last trip there!
With that summer feeling in the air, a luxury hotel for a relaxed weekend in Seoul is on the cards!
Start your weekend with an early evening check-in at the Four Seasons Hotel in the heart of Seoul. The hotel is stylish and well placed to get to all parts of Jongno with easy transport links in case you fancy going beyond!.
Be sure to take a look at the latest offers ahead of arriving and take advantage of the facilities at the hotel (such as the spa).
You should keep in mind the view from your room will really impress you with the great windown on the Cheong Wae Dae that was recently returned to the Korean people by the current President, President Yoon.
Take an early evening walk along the Cheonggyecheon, the 10.9-kilometre-long public space that is frequently decorated or lit up at night and take the opportunity to search out a delicious pick for dinner.
Of course, we are going to suggest that you visit the Korean Dessert (설빙 종각점) for a delicious bingsu and within walking distance.
Location: 84-1 Jongno 2(i)-ga, Jongno-gu, Seoul.
Nevertheless, Jongno is full of great choices. We suggest you explore over the weekend!
Saturday morning – a day full of art and more
Start your morning with a lovely breakfast at the hotel or head out for a morning coffee. Jongno is overload with choices. We suggest you check out our blog for more ideas.
During your relaxed weekend, we have no doubt that you will be checking out the newly designed Gwanghwamun Plaza and nearby palaces.
We suspect that you will likey be bursting for some lunch after exploring several galleries and even a quick coffee at Samcheon Blue Bottle Coffee shop or one of the many other coffee shops.
In Gongdeok, there is a good number of places to eat – there is a beautiful park space called the Gyeongui Line Forest (경의선숲길공원) which is found at 서울특별시 마포구 염리동 – Yeomni-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea.
With plenty of options, we guess you will likely want to jump back on a metro or a bus and head back to Jongno and enjoy some shopping in Myeon Dong. We do have some suggestions before you head back.
Grab the Arex from Gongeok to Seoul Station. Take the chance to check out the cultural hub located at the Old Seoul Station or explore Seoullo 717 Skygarden designed by the same company that introduced Rotterdam food hall (why they didn’t do that in Seoul, I don’t know!).
Alternatively, head to the Old Ferry Donuts and relax with friends, a podcast or book over a scumptious donut and treat. For more ideas in this neighborhood check out our blog.
Or, the alternative is the backstreets of Yongsan coffee shop Oats Coffee for a quieter coffee and some free time to explore the backstreets of Yongsan before heading back to Jongno or maybe clubbing in Itaewon, Hongik or a hike up Namsan?
Check out this awesome Walking Around Jongno video for more ideas.
The exhibition that runs from 25th May – 2 June 2022 at Arta Galler based in the trendy Distillery District is well worth a visit. Explore the historical gem of Toronto and enjoy the amazing works featured at the Toronto Art Show.
The former Victorian Industrial estate was reborn with an offering of modern art, galleries, restaurants and shops waiting for you to visit!
Check out the amazing works by HoSung Kim (b.1975) (above) an example of hyper-realism and we at SeoulTheJourney had the urgent need to grab some yoghurt to dip the strawberries and to enjoy the delicious taste of 딸기!
Explore the beautiful exhibiton at Arta Gallery and take in the in-person experience or experience the exhibition from your laptop/computer – just hit the link here.
‘The Persimmon Tree’ by BoYeon Kim will have your lips seeking out the fresh taste of persimmon – for that reason, we will redirect you to a fantastic read about a Korean farmer Kim at “Natural Garden” (자연의 뜰).
Or, take a moment to dream as you look at ‘Trace of Time’ by YooKyung Cha and let your mind float.
The magical sounds of Korea presented by KTMAC Ensemble during the opening night in Toronto.
The event was attended by a wide range of folks from across Toronto.
The event was sponsored by The Korean Consulate in Toronto and ran alongside the national celebration of Canada’s Asian Heritage Month.
Check out the event photo on the social media of the Korean Consulate in Toronto.
Don’t forget to check out the Korean side of Toronto – check out blog and video suggestions:
Just north of the Han (Han River) lies the Yongsan district of Seoul.
The neighbourhood neighbours several historic areas of the city. Yet, Yongsan remains trendy for the deep relationship that the district had with the international communities: Americans, Japanese, North Koreans and countless others.
The district is home to more than 250,000 people and spans 20 dong areas (neighbourhoods).
For many a visitor, the neighbourhoods of Itaewon and Hanganjin will jump out as the center of foreign nightlife, Yongsan station the hub of shopping and entertainment. Yet, in all honesty, it offers so much more to be discovered.
Back in the day, Yongsan used to house a former United States of America base that served as a helicopter parking yard for former President D. Trump. The US base recently moved to Camp Humphreys in nearby Pyeongtaek with the number of troops that would party in Itaewon!
Looking further back to the Baekje Dynasty, Yongsan became known for the belief of the mountain range looking like a dragon hence Yongsan itself means ‘dragon mountain [(용 Yong + San) Yong: dragon].
As for the Joseon dynasty, the neighbourhood served as the entry into Seoul for travellers and merchants.
Yongsan now returns to serve on the national stage of politics, housing the new Presidential office. President Yoon moved his offices to the neighbourhood, his first major success as previous presidents had failed to move from the infamous Cheong Wae Dae (most presidents from the former presidential compound found themselves in jail).
Learn more about the President and read about his enthusiasm for women’s and LGBTQ rights.
You can visit the Cheong Wae Dae (Blue House) and learn more here – it is worth noting for ease to use Naver, Kakao or Toss.
This blog will recommend our top places to visit
during a visit to Yongsan. Let’s go!
#1 [A touch of history] – Namyeong-dong Anti-Community Investigation Office
The investiagation office dates back to 1976 and remains a reminder to the dark days of South Korea.
The building’s dark history as a site of intimidation, violence and a boundary between the land of the living and the entry point to death.
Those who passed through this building experienced water torture and electric currents alongside the daily sound of normality just beyond the walls – the sound of the Seoul metro.
A visit to the site is essential im understanding the harsh history that is often unknown to foreigners. Take a look at the website and images on our blog.
37 Hangang-daero 71-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
[민주인권기념관] 04322 서울특별시 용산구 한강대로71길 37
#2 [A spark of creativity] Storage Book Store
Next up, we take you to a nearby book store that sparks creativity (don’t forget to bring your own photos and make your own book).
Storage Book Store on a hill, we recommend taking the bus from Garwol-dong Subway Line 4 Bus stop to Namyeong Station and a short 17 min walk).
Of course, hunger may well strike and this is where we suggest you grab a bus or a short cab ride over Itaewon. Itaewon is jam-packwed with international food options and we at SeoulTheJourney would recommend heading over to Little India Seoul – 리틀 인디아 서울.
Location: [리틀 인디아 서울]
21 Usadan-ro 10-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
#5 [A touch of Islam and a view] Masjid – 서울중앙성원
The Seoul Central Mosque-Masjid is well worth a visit. The site was offered by former President Chung-Hee Park and that was met with support from a number of Middle Eastern nations to pay for the construction. Funds are known to be largely from Saudia Arabia.
The Masjid offers Seoul a beautiful Islamic style that certainly gives a unique view of Seoul from the Han River. Don’t forget to take the opportunity to explore the neighbourhood and to enjoy the view of the Han River in reverse!
For more information on Islam in Korea check out the site here.
Location: 39 Usadan-ro 10-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
r.about cafe have several branches across the city. SeoulTheJourney would recommend a visit to the unique branch hidden in the streets of Yongsan. Check out their website to learn more about the brand.
Just be swept away by the unique design and soak up the magical atmosphere!
15 Daesagwan-ro 8-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Kore
#8 [Time to put the feet up] Yongsan Park – 용산가족공원
Head over to Yongsan Park and get that ‘Central Park’ moment with views of the city, a lovely stroll with coffee in hand and enjoy the sculptures.
Yongsan Park is spread out across the former US Army base and is truly a new gem in the heart of the city. Take time to explore the plans for the redesign here.
185 Seobinggo-ro, Yongsandong 6(yuk)-ga, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
#11 [Welcome to the hub of Itaewon] Itaewon Station & Hamilton Hotel
As we weave our way towards the end of the blog, we wanted to introduce you to the famous Hamilton Hotel which is at the heart of the party center of Yongsan.
The Hamilton Hotel Sauna (Korean spa) is a good spot for cheap sleeps and a soak if you don’t want to pay for a night taxi or to take the bus! Nevertheless, the saunas of Itaewon will come with a very much LGBTQ vibe for our straight friends who aren’t so familiar.
Itaewon is certainly a neighborhood that all will feel welcome – don’t fear if you are LGBTQ as this has long been the home of the community.
119-25, Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Itaewon | Seou
#12 [The Jewish Bath] The Korean Mikveh
In start contrast, we want to introduce an equally unique location for Jewish readers and that is the Korean Mikveh.
The Korean Mikveh comes with unique Korean architecture and full Jewishness.
Take a read about the new recently opened Mikveh. The Mikveh is managed by the local Chabad organization and was widely reported on in Jewish media.
For more information on the Jewish community in Seoul – visit Chabbad Korea.
For more liberal Jews and those from the LGBTQ community, take time to look up Hakehillah whcih will offer a more friendly welcome.
Exploring London must include time to check out the Korean side of the city!
The Korean Cultural Center UK lies in the heart of London, a short walk to the iconic National Gallery, Canada House and even the heart of the British Royal Family – Buckingham Palace.
The Korean Cultural Center hosts several events that include a range of workshops, screenings and much more. Take a look at their programs here.
On my recent visit to the KCCK, I visited the inspiring exhibition titled ‘Drifting Terrain’ that hosted works by Euphrosyne Andrews, Nia Fekri and Seungwon Jung.
The exhibition reflected on the concept of urban space and reconnection based on the experiences of migrants. Each artist highlighted their own perspective in an inspiring style.
SeoulTheJourney really gained inspiration from Seungwon Jung, an artist based in London who studied at Chung-Ang University in Korea. Jung’s artwork demonstrated how the natural world and time work together and the beauty of nature.
Take a moment to visit the KCCUK. We also suggest you check out Canada House, which regularly hosts exhibitions from time to time, just a short walk from The National Gallery.
Of course, SeoultheJourney would like to suggest a visit to Seoul Bakery and don’t even dare to think we are sending you to a bakery. We are sending you to a gem of a restaurant that is only a short walk from Tottenham Court Road and serves up a range of delicious meals (photos by Simon Williams-Im).
Don’t forget to take the opportunity to check out nearby Covent Garden and we would like to recommend a visit to the amazing Stanfords store.
London offers a wide range of Korean food options. SeoulTheJourney highly recommends a visit to Bibimbap ToGo Leadenhall Market.
Location: 39 Leadenhall Market, London EC3V 1LR, United Kingdom
Which is located only minutes from the amazing and free Sky Garden the ideal opportunity to take in an amazing view of London.
And don’t forget to take the opportunity to jump across the city to the awesome and new Westfield Mall (CoEx, eat your heart out!).
London is a city of many surprises and will keep you busy for days! We recommend that you take a moment to explore Coal Drops Yard but we know you will need some nosh for the experience!
Pop to the awesome Oseyo (Korean supermarket) to pick up some treats or even grab some Tteokbokki from Bunsik.
For readers who are planning to travel beyond London, we have more ideas on our previous blog here. We also have more ideas for your next visit to Seoul.
Our last suggestion is a necessary visit to the amazing Design Museum London and nearby Holland Park. The park is an ideal place to grab some treats and head for an awesome picnic and great opportunity to enjoy a magical park in the heart of London. Below, a few snaps to give you some inspiration!
Location: Design Museum 224-238 Kensington High St, London W8 6AG, United Kingdom with Holland Park just a few steps away.
Take time to explore BC – Vancouver, Vancouver Island..
#Jerusalem & #Tel Aviv Israel
Arriving in Israel, we would suggest heading into Tel Aviv for some beach time (R&R) and time to explore the dynamic art scene, breakfast/lunch and more.
Explore Sarona Market where it is easy to find a range of Asian food stores with a good supply of Korean foods. Although, it isn’t Korea, we would love to suggest that you take the chance on a breakfast at Benedict.
Location: שרונה מרקט, Aluf Kalman Magen St 3, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel
After a mooch around the stores and malls, beaches, galleries and much more.. it will be time to catch a train or express bus to the capital city of Israel – Jerusalem.
Our suggested first stop is the delightful ‘Seoul House’ which is a Kosher Korean restaurant within the Old City of Jerusalem. It can be found at 34 habad st, Old City of Jerusalem.
Enjoy the experience of eating and even if you happen to decide – a lovely Soju in the heart of the Jewish capital.
Be sure to check out the following websites for more ideas –
And, take time to visit Azrieli Mall in Tel Aviv before heading home
Next up is the European city, Birmingham which is in the heart of the West Midlands / England and home to Aston Villa, Birmingham City Football Club and even Cadbury’s Chocolate.
There is a lovely blend of Korean restaurants in the heart of the city and we recommend a visit to #Topokki which is within easy walking distance from Birmingham New Street/Grand Central and the iconic Bullring.
Of course, we would sugget a visit to the lovely Quarter Horse Coffee which is only a short walk from Topokki.
We saved the best for last, Berlin!
No doubt, hunger is striking and we will dive right into the favourite locations!
Cheonju is a magical day trip from Seoul. It is home to a good number of tourist bucket list locations and SeoulTheJourney fell in love with their new kid on the block, MMCA Cheonju which opened back in 2018.
The location serves as a gallery and a storage space for the amazing MMCA galleries.
Earlier this year, MMCA Cheonju start its latest exhibition that included works from Andy Warhol’s portraits, a collage from David Hockney and even more.
Check out the photographs from our visit to the gallery.
As many art lovers will know, Daejeon will be the next outpost of the MMCA in Korea and will serve as a new hub from 2026.
Don’t forget that the MMCA offer online viewings – check out the article from The Guardian here
Location: 314 Sangdang-ro, Sangdang-gu, Cheongju-si, Chungcheongbuk-do, South Korea
Before or after the gallery, we recommend a visit to 지구별여행자 which sits just opposite the gallery. A lovely cafe that can be used as a quiet place to read, enjoy the music, the atmosphere and meet up with friends. Check out a Korean blog for more details.
Next up, explore the history of printing and change your perspective – did you know that bookmaking started in Korea.
Explore the story of the JikJi
The Jikji was published at the Heungdeok Temple in 1377 and is the world’s oldest book.
The Jikji was published 78 years before the well-known Johannes Gutenberg’s 42-Line Bible (printed 1452-1455).
The last volume of Jikji has survived and is kept safely at the National Library of France.
So, what is the Jikji?
The Jikji is a collection of quotes from well-known Buddhist monks recorded by Gyeonghan (1298-1374), the chief priest of Anguk and Shinwang Temples in Haeju.
At that time, Buddhism was the national religion of the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392) or modern-day Korea.
Take a bus from the Express (inter-city) Bus from Cheongju City (831) then get off at Cheongju Art Center Bus Stop.
The journey is around 20 minutes from the terminal to the Museum area.
A visit to Cheonju requires a visit to Suamgol Mural Village which is found in Su-Dong. Formally it was the shantytown that housed the poor just after the Korean War but it was rebuilt in 2008 into a popular trendy and tourist-friendly neighbourhood.
As you explore Freedom Park, there is a landmark location called Jemulpo Club which has a strong history for the foreigners of South Korea as the first bar/cafe for the non-locals. Take a walk around and if the chance is there, have a nice drink!
Location: 25 Jayugongwonnam-ro, Jung-gu, Incheon, South Korea
인천광역시 중구 자유공원남로 25
#Incheon is accessible by metro from #Seoul take a look at Seoul Metro
Below, the beautiful first Incheon Post Office that is found at Hang-dong 2 ga. It opened in November 1884 and provided delivery services between Incheon and Seoul.
In 1982, the post office was restored and updated. It also gained the titled as Incheon City’s Cultural Asset #8.
#3 Incheon Art Platform 인천아트플랫폼
Incheon Art Platform incorporates thirteen red-brick buildings dating back to the 1930s and 1940s and houses some studios, exhibition spaces and performance halls.
The site was funded by Incheon Metropolitan City and made Haean Dong into a creative hub for the city.
Location: 3, Jemullyang-ro 218beon-gil (1ga Haean-dong), Jung-gu, Incheon 22314, Korea
인천문화재단 인천아트플랫폼 400-021 인천광역시 중구 제물량로 218번길 3(해안동 1가)
#4 Walking Tour
After a lovely morning coffee and a walk around the beautiful China Town and Art Platform, we recommend taking a walk to the waterfront – take in the view, find some lunch or even visit the fish market.
DON”T FORGET TO Take in the beautiful Freedom Park,Giant Murals / aka Silo Super Graphic(인천항 곡물저장고) and Incheon Ferry.
As you continue to explore the area, a short walk or even a bus ride down Wolmi-ro – you will find yourself in Wolmi Park home to a good number of activities. The most popular include the beautiful Wolmi Viewpoint, a walk around Yangjindang (historical location) and of course the Silo Super Graphic (above -murals).
#5 Yongyu Beach and cafe street (Airport Island)
The unusual location that SeoulTheJourney discovered for an evening coffee and a lovely sunset was found on Airport Island. Of course, it is only a short train ride from Incheon Airport!
From Incheon Airport take the maglev to the final stop and be ready for a little walk, numerous restaurants, bakeries and coffee shops await you!
The view was amazing!
How to get there: Incheon’s Maglev take it to Yongyu station.
And if you fancy a hotel with a view, check out the well-known Nest Hotel.
#6 Incheon Airport
Incheon Airport is well known to a good number of visitors to South Korea. The airport is award-winning and pre-pandemic was always bustling with travellers and it will once more.
There are so many facilities at the airport’s two terminals and even the lovely spa – Spa On Air is a gem that can be used as a traveller or just to end a perfect day of exploring Incheon and the area.
Get inspired about your pending trip to Korea with some snapshots of the new terminal!
#7 – The Wildcard – a visit to Joyang Textile (조양방직)
Admittedly, Joyang Textile isn’t in Incheon – it is a short drive or 1.5 hour from Seoul. Joyang Textile is a well-known cafe in the heart of Ganghwa Island and is built on a former mill that was built in 1933.
As textile factories come and go.. it was reborn into a gem of a cafe! This is a must-visit, great coffee, great location and Instagramable!
Check out the video by Jocelyn in Korea.
Location: 12 Hyangnamu-gil 5beon-gil, Ganghwa-eup, Ganghwa-gun, Incheon, South Korea 인천광역시 강화군 강화읍 향나무길5번길 12
#8 강화 평화전망대 – Ganghwa Peace Observatory – take a look at North Korea
Take a short drive to the Ganghwa Peace Observatory (ensure that you are carrying ID) and take a look from the northern border of South Korea and look north towards North Korea.
#9 Ganghwa Bugeunri Jiseokmyo(Dolmen Site) – 강화 부근리 지석묘
Ganghwa Bugeunri Jiseokmyo (Dolmen site) is essentially a 1st millennium BC tomb, it is made up of large stone slabs and relates to the Megalithic culture