Seoul is the capital of South Korea, which basically makes it the capital of the pop culture capital of the world. Everything about the country is ridiculously cool from K-Pop to Korean sheet masks to Oscar winning movies. So who could blame the average teen for being a little bit obsessed with everything K. How about just indulging them instead, that’s our plan and here are some top Seoul places to start with.
Head to Hongdae Seoul street art district
Practically made for teens, Hongdae is one of the liveliest and most colourful neighbourhoods in Seoul. Young art lovers will adore a walk down Hongdae Mural Street, where stunning art pops up in the most unexpected places, and the whole district is filled with irresistible pocket-friendly shopping, amazing street food and live entertainment.
For a coffee with a difference, the Meerkat Cafe trumps every cat cafe you’ve ever been to, because here you can get up close and personal with the resident felines, just remember who’s in charge. Trick Eye museum is fun for photos, and if you stay all day, you’ll love how energetic Hongdae gets after dark. Mapo-gu in the western end of Seoul, stretching from Seogyo-dong to Hapjeong-dong.
Take a hike in Bukhansan National Park
You don’t find many cities in the world with a National Park inside their borders, but Seoul is far from your average city. Bukhansan Mountain was designated a national park of Korea in 1983, and has endless trails to explore, ranging from easy to expert, many with stunning views of the city below.
On your hike, look out for some of the 1,300 species of plants and animals which call the mountain home, as well as many, many cultural sites. The history of the Bukhansanseong Fortress stretches back more than 2,000 years, and there are over 100 Buddhist temples scattered around the park. North of the city centre
Find Seoul cool in Gangnam-Gu
Visit the district that started it all and experience the true Gangnam Style first hand. It’s a district with a unique identity of its all, complete with high end shopping, traditional temples and K-Pop references galore. There’s even a Gangnam Style statue in the form of a pair of giant bronze hands in the classic Psy pose.
COEX Mall is a shopping heaven and mixes culture, fashion, food and fun. Once you’re all shopped out, head to Bongeunsa Temple, one of the most beautiful in Seoul, or take a trip up Seoul Sky for a panoramic view of the city. Finally, take a wander down K-star road and spot the 17 human-size #gangmandol bears – it’s your teen’s Tik Tok moment. City centre, south of the river Han
Deep dive into history in the DMZ
At the border of South and North Koren, in what is known as the demilitarised zone (DMZ), the Third Tunnel of Aggression is one of four known tunnels spanning the border. It’s incomplete, but has the type of backstory teens love: it was reportedly built by North Korea with a view to invading the south, but was discovered before it could be completed.
Donning the compulsory helmet, you can head down a steeply inclined pathway into the heart of the tunnel. The whole thing is about 1.6 kilometres long, but only 2 metres wide and the same in height, although it gets narrower towards the end. If you don’t want to walk, there’s a little train and you’ll be pleased to know there are snack places to reward your efforts. North of Seoul on the border with North Korea
Immerse yourself in Seoul hot springs
Seoul has a strong hot spring tradition and you’ll find several that are great for kids in the city, ranging from the fairly basic to full-on decadent. The only sulphur hot spring in Seoul can be found at Woori Yuhwang Spa, which brings water from a kilometre below the ground into its hot tubs. Its skin and hair smooth properties and reputation for therapeutic healing make this one very popular.
Elsewhere, there’s alkaline hot spring water at Bongil Spa Land, which is said to improve blood circulation, soothe skin conditions and relieve fatigue. And for a dip with a view, Vista Walkerhill lets you soak in a hot tub while gazing out over the Hangang River. Various locations throughout Seoul
Myeong-dong for street food and people watching
Myeong-dong is one of the main shopping districts in Seoul so put it to the top of your must-do list for teens. Several glossy department stores are at home here, along with outrageously glamorous designer stores. But you’ll also find bargains if you hunt, particularly in smaller, indie places tucked away in the side alleys.
Even if you don’t want to spend, Myeong-dong is a fabulous district to browse for free. And after dark, it comes alive with street food vendors, which give you an affordable and cool alternative for dinner. City centre
Climb the Namsan Seoul Tower for best city views
Even with teens, observation towers are a fun-stop on any city trip. But Namsan Seoul Tower is more than just a viewing platform. It has a place to propose (although your teen probably won’t be interested). There are animal statues at Linlin Land and Yoohoo Land. Don’t miss the roof terrace and tunnel of digital art. And if you’re there at the right time of day, there’s also a perfect sport to watch the sunset.
Like we said, there’s much more to this tower than the view, although that part is sensational. Hop on the cable car up if you want to save your energy. Or take a 40 minute hike to the top through pretty Namsan Park. Nam Mountain in central Seoul
Starfield Library, Starfield COEX Mall
Study time on holiday is probably the last thing your teens want to think about, but Starfield Library could change their mind. It’s one of the world’s most photographed modern libraries with good reason: it looks amazing. But futuristic shelves and soaring book stacks aside, it’s a very chill space just to catch a breath and regroup in hectic Seoul. And you definitely don’t need to be studying, in fact you don’t even have to read. Hanging out, enjoying the vibe and capturing the great design is actively encouraged. Gangnam-Gu
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