28 March 2017
Fancy some Seoul searching with your soul sisters? South Korea’s lively capital is a fabulous destination for a girls’ getaway. From its 24-hour shopping malls to its seemingly endless snack stalls, there’s plenty to smile about in the city of Seoul.
A short stroll away and still in Seoul’s CBD, are the majestic grounds of Deoksugung Palace, which until the turn of the 20th century was inhabited by Korea’s very own royal family. The Royal Guard-Changing Ceremony is a must-see, taking place three times a day in front of Daehanmun Gate. This is a great opportunity to watch a rare re-enactment of a very traditional Korean event, with highly decorated guards marching proudly to the sounds of traditional instruments. After the ceremony has finished, visitors can freely roam the walled compounds of the palace grounds, which showcases a beautiful blend of modern and medieval architectural style.
Located right in the very heart of Seoul’s central business district, the iconic Westin Chosun is not only an excellent accommodation choice for a weekend away, but also holds an interesting place in Korean history. Established in October 1914, a brass plaque next to the grand entrance validates its position in the Guinness Book of Records as Korea’s oldest hotel. Of course, the hotel has since been renovated and modernised, with the Westin Chosun offering immaculate rooms and facilities that one would expect from such a grand five-star hotel. Adjacent to the main building is the last remaining shrine belonging to the once great Hwangudan Alter. Originally built in 1897, the alter was used by the Emperor to perform the Rite of Heaven, but most of the structure was destroyed in 1913 during the Japanese invasion. The lone octagonal shrine that remains is now a popular place for the hotel’s guests to relax and reflect.
Moments from the Westin Chosun, is the extravagant Lotte Hotel Seoul, home to the luxurious Sulwhasoo SPA. The Sulwhasoo brand specialises in the use of traditional Korean herbs and techniques, each treatment starting with a delicious cup of aromatic tea, followed by a red ginseng water foot bath and ginseng seed peel scrub. The 90-minute stress relief treatment is a firm yet soothing massage, performed on a perfectly heated bed by one of the spa’s friendly and professional therapists. This is precisely what a girl needs and deserves after a day of pounding the pavements of Seoul.
Korea is renowned for its very distinctive sense of fashion, and the Myeongdong area is recognised as one of the city’s most popular shopping districts. From its bustling street stalls and underground markets to its high-end retail stores and stylish malls, shopping enthusiasts are guaranteed to find something to suit all tastes and budgets. As evening approaches, the side-streets are lined with a whole plethora of neon-lit food and fashion stalls. If there’s still stomach space left after grazing on all the delicious Korean street food, Myeongdong also plays host to a number of late night bars and restaurants.
For those with an insatiable appetite for late night shopping, check out the sprawling area of Dongdaemun Market. With 26 shopping malls spread over 10 blocks, this is a serious shopper’s paradise with fabrics, clothes, shoes and accessories aplenty. The Dongdaemun Market area is open from 10am to 5am the following day, so be warned, this is not for the faint-hearted shopper with no guarantee that you will leave empty handed.