Monday, May 4, 2015

Hipmunk City Love: Hiking, Biking, Eating, and Sleeping in Seoul

Seoul is a city known for its historic temples and palaces as well as its modern, high-tech skyscrapers. However, not everyone knows that a river runs through it, and it is surrounded by mountains. If you are planning a trip to Seoul, you should plan to add some hiking and biking to your itinerary so you can see it all. You’ll also want to study up on Korean cuisine to help you plan your dining destinations. And don’t forget about lodging. Choosing the right place to stay from the many Seoul hotels, will ensure your trip is extra pleasurable.  

Photo by Ally Moon via trover.com

Hiking in the Mountains

Seoul’s mountains provide many scenic views of nature and the city. Of the 37 mountains, Mt. Bukhansan is the highest at 2746 feet. There are mountains for hikers of all skill levels too. Mt. Achasan is 941 feet and has views of downtown Seoul and the Hangang River. A hike to the top of Mt. Bugaksan, at 1112 feet, gives you an outstanding view of the capital, and takes you along the city’s ancient fortress wall and through reconstructed 15th century gates.  Or you could leave the city for a guided excursion on Mt. Seorak, South Korea’s third highest mountain.

Biking along the River

The Hangang River and its 25 bridges and 12 parks are a fascinating part of the city that you’ll surely enjoy seeing. An ideal way to do so is to bike along the riverbank trails. There’re several bike rental facilities in the parks and outside subway stations. Some of them offer free rentals when you leave an ID and a deposit. You can exercise, see the sights, and save money. Make sure to pick up a trail map to locate the bridges with cafes when you’re hungry; they are fun places to eat with great views.

Eating the Local Cuisine

Gogi-gui is what Koreans call barbecue, and you will find plenty of these barbecue restaurants around Seoul. Go to one of the restaurants closest to Majang meat market for the freshest meat and best prices. The meats, grains, and vegetables are cooked on a grill in the middle of the table for an experience you won’t forget. Another popular local dish is japchae which is stir-fried cellophane noodles with sliced beef and vegetables. To get a full cuisine experience, take a 2 1/2 hour food tour to learn about the customs and sample several foods.

Sleeping in Comfort

If your budget allows, pamper yourself at the five-star Lotte Hotel Seoul. The luxury hotel has rooms with amazing views of the city. It also has resort amenities and numerous restaurants and bars on-site for your pleasure. A little easier on the wallet but clean and ideally-located is the Hotel PJ. This hotel has three restaurants and friendly staff too. Another option with reasonable rates on the south side of the river is Hotel Prima. There are on-site shops, dining, and spacious rooms at Hotel Prima.

Photo by binssii via trover.com

If you have any time left after all of your other adventures, Seoul is also known for its department store shopping. Use the money you would normally tip a server to buy yourself something special. Tipping at a restaurant is not standard in Seoul. 

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