From Hidden Parks and Artist’s Collectives to Street Food: An Insider’s Guide to SeoulBy Jeanne Cheung
Get under the city’s skin and into the places only locals know. These three spots put some of Seoul’s lesser-known cultural treasures in the spotlight—whether you prefer food, flora or discovering hot new artists.
Even locals wandering Seoul’s majestic Han River could miss tranquil Seonyudo Park. The man-made island can only be reached via an arched bridge, and the climb across takes you to peaceful seclusion hard to find elsewhere. Formerly a water treatment plant, the sprawling site now boasts a pond topped with lilies, a playground and even pianos which visitors are welcome to play. Find out more about the land’s transformation by visiting the park’s Hangang River History Museum and then explore the quiet grounds. During cherry blossom season, you might find yourself among just a handful of others taking in the view—a real money-can’t-buy kind of experience.
Address: 343 Seonyu-ro, Yeongdeungpo-gu (Exit 2, Seonyudo Station, Line 9)
Sindorim Food Street
Delve into real local culture—and a bowl of authentic cuisine—at Sindorim. More than 20 restaurants and bars huddle on this food stretch. Locals on the lookout for fresh seafood head to Sukeenae Chogae Jeongol and order up bubbling bowls of its signature clam stew with noodles and squid. Although most spots are open during the day, the place really starts to simmer after 5pm as salarymen race from work to meet friends.
Address: 16 Saemal-ro, Guro-gu
Korean art has hit the big time in recent years, with downtown Seoul’s collection of slick galleries as testament. But if you want to see the city’s real creative soul, stop by the industrial neighborhood of Mullae-dong where an artists’ enclave is flourishing amid the area’s long-established steel works. Expect glimpses of street art as well as a smattering of shops, art spaces and quirky cafes. And why not stay for dinner—insiders say some of these places fry up the city’s best Korean chicken.
Address: At the junction of Dangsan-ro and Dorim-ro 128-gil (Mullae Station, Line 2)
If you fancy staying close by, the Sheraton Seoul D Cube City Hotel is within 15 minutes’ reach of each of these spots.