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Myeongdong

cat1For cat lovers travelling to Seoul, this place is a must to visit for you 🙂

Seoul has a lot of quirky and unique cafes, each with their own speciality. One of the unique cafes in Seoul is dog cafes and cat cafes. There are a few of cat and dog cafes spread around the capital. But only a few outstanding ones.

One of the cleanest cat cafe I’ve been to is located in Myeongdong, one of Seoul’s busiest shopping places. The cafe is located in the top level of one the shop houses and it makes a perfect place to getaway from the hustle-bustle in the street below.

Look out for this Garfield cat! He was dancing Psy's Gentleman with another mascot...

Look out for this Garfield cat! He was dancing Psy’s Gentleman with another mascot here…

Don’t worry not to be able to find the place, because the cafe’s mascot, Garfield the Cat, will be walking around on the main street of Myeongdong. He will show give away the leaflets with map details.

Before entering the cafe, you need to take off your shoes and change into slippers. To sit down in the cafe, you pay a small admission fee that includes any hot or cold beverage of your choice. But you can stay as long at the cafe as you’d like. There are a few rules how to handle the cats too.

This cat is welcoming the guests at the counter

This cat is welcoming the guests at the counter

The cats here are clean and don’t smell. Almost most of them are adorable cats. But they are not as active as dogs. Most of them will only approach you if buy cat treats. Most of the cats when I came were sleeping, so what we did not interact much with them.

Snacking time!

Sleeping…

and sleeping…

The cats here wear cute cat collars and most of them are made by the staff here. The cats even have their own special toilet. Different from the dogs in the dog cafe which can just anywhere produce their waste, the cats knows the right place to do their business.

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If you are a feline, this Cat Café is a must to go to. Overall, it is really quite a nice and clean cafe for relaxing, especially when you want to take a break from the busy shopping activity in Myeongdong.

Admission: 8,000KRW for entrance and a drink.

How to go there: 

Take subway to Myeongdong Station (Line 4, blue line) and get off at exit #6. You will see Uniqlo just right in front of the stairway exit and turn left from the exit. Walk straight towards the BSX shop and turn right. The cafe is on one of shophouses on the right side (you’ll see the banner)

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The tower has been the symbol of Seoul since its opening day. The initial name ‘Namsan Tower‘ just recently changed to N Seoul Tower after it went through a make over (N stands for ‘new’ look). At the observatory deck of tower, visitors can see the city of Seoul in a bird’s eye view, dine on a revolving restaurant, see the Teddy Bear Museum, and of course locks-locking.

Myself, went here twice. Once at night time and once during the day time. Going here at night and during the day, each will give a different experience. Some says coming during the day is nicer than at night. I might not be helpful in suggesting which timing is better, but it’s best to check out both if you have time.

namsan

The tower is accessible by foot, bus, cable car and cars/taxis (only up to the cable car station). I took the most convenient method. I flagged a taxi from the nearest subway station, Myeongdong (this only costs about 3,000-4,000KRW), and hopped onto the cable car. Or if you love to hike, you can challenge your stamina and climb up the stairs. 

Cable Car Station

Cable Car Station

There is also the Pavilion, a cultural experience space with performances and exhibitions for adults and children. The scenery will keep changing every season. Seasons that offer the best scenic views are spring and autumn, where the trees are in different colours. The risk of coming here during the night is that it was pretty dark, so you won’t get to take good pictures as much as in the day time.

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In the spring season, the trees are colourful

In the spring season, the trees are colourful

The tower is not only a favourite place to visit for families, but also for couples. Similar to Paris’ Pont de l’Archevêché, it is believed that those couples who lock their lock on the rails of the tower and tosses they key, will be together forever. It’s such a romantic place…

The locks are not only locked along the rails of the towers, but also on the trees. Most couple will bring their own padlocks, or you can also buy on the spot. The locks are different in shapes and colours and most of them are personally written and drawn.

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Trees of locks

Trees of locks

Lock your locks and your love will be eternal

Lock your locks and your love will be eternal

There are a few tourist attractions which are worth going within the tower; Roof Terrace, Digital Observatory and Teddy Bear Museum. Tickets are available at the Plaza Square or on the basement level. There is a package deal too for those who wish to visit the Observatory Deck and Teddy bear Museum.

On my daytime-visit, I decided not to go up the tower’s observation deck because the Seoul city doesn’t look nice during the day. But, it’s a total opposite at night. At night, the tower is colourfully lighted up and it is a worthy-experience to go up and see the light-up Seoul city. So pretty! Make sure to come up the tower in a good weather, not in hazy, snowy, or rainy days. Unless, you won’t get to see anything there.

Night view of Seoul city from the tower

Night view of Seoul city from the tower

The number of visitors coming here keeps increasing, especially on weekends. During the day, there are more people to come here.

I had a good time visiting such a romantic place. The tower is a special place where not only couples, but families can enjoy and make meaningful memories together. Neither at night or day, N Seoul Tower does not fail to offer a scenic view of Seoul city in 360 degree in a bird’s eye view.

Website: www.nseoultower.co.kr

Admission Fees for N Seoul Tower:

  1. Observatory :  Adults (18+): 9,000 won / Seniors (65+) & Youth (13-17): 7,000 won / Children (3-12): 5,000 won / Infants (Under 3): Free
  2. Teddy Bear Museum :  Adults (18+) 8,000 won / Seniors (65+) & Youth (13-17): 6,000 won / Children (3-12): 5,000 won / Infants (Under 3): Free
  3. Observatory + Teddy Bear Museum Package  Adults (18+): 14,000 won / Seniors (65+) & Youth (13-17): 10,000 won / Children (3-12): 7,000 won

Admission Fees for Cable Car :

  1. Adults (Roundtrip) : Individuals 8,500 won / Groups 7,000 won
  2. Adults (One-way) :  Individuals 6,000 won / Groups 5,000 won
  3. Children (Roundtrip) : Individuals 5,500 won / Groups 4,500 won
  4. Children (One-way) : Individuals 3,500 won / Groups 3,000 won

* Operating Hours : 10AM – 11PM (all year around)

How to go there:

  • By cab and cable car:

From Myeongdong subway station, flag a cab and ask the driver to drop you at the Cable Car Station. Take the cable car up to the tower.

  • By foot and cable car:

From Myeongdong station (line 4, blue line) take exit #3. Take the wide street and you will reach the Pacific Hotel. Take the street on the left side of the hotel and  Continue walking through the commercial quarter until you reach a small stairway. Climb up the stairs and keep walking up the street towards the direction of the Mount Namsan. After 15 minutes walk, you will reach the cable car station. Take the cable car up to the tower.

  • By shuttle bus and cable car:

Take subway to Myeongdong station (line 4, blue line), take exit #7 or #8. Wait in front of an office building/bank for the free shuttle that will take you to the cable car station.

  • By bus:

Take a yellow bus at Chungmuro station (line 3 and 4, orange and blue line) or at Dongguk University station (Line 3, orange line). Take the yellow bus 2 at the bus stop in front of the subway station. The bus will stop at the bus stop at the N Seoul Tower.

How to go back from N Seoul Tower:
Buy a return ticket before going up to the tower and take the cable car back to the cable car station. From there, you can take a cab (normal fare to Myeongdong: 3000KRW).

Ps: Beware of the scam cab driver who refuse to switch on the meter and will charge tourists for the fare. Bad ones can charge you until 30,000KRW!

OR, alternatively wait for the FREE shuttle bus to Myeongdong which come regularly.

If you are heading to N Seoul Tower (used to be Namsan Tower), Teddy Bear Museum is one of a must-go attractions within the tower. The gallery is located at the basement level of the tower.

teddy

The Teddy Bear Museum is smaller and slightly different from Teddy Bear Museum in Jeju Island. The gallery at Namsan displays more of the history of Korea. Plushy teddy bears are used to tell the story of olden Korea and modern Korea.

The first hall is the Hall of Historical Seoul. You’ll be welcomed by a big teddy bear dressed in hanbok, representing Dangun, the founder of Korea. The teddy bears pose in the scenes recreating historic events and the daily life of the people in Joseon era. There are scenes of construction of the royal palaces, the activities in the old traditional Joseon market, even the scenes of royal wedding.

First half of the hall

First half of exhibition the hall, showing Korea in olden days

The modern Seoul

The modern Seoul

The second hall of the exhibition is about the modern Seoul. Famous streets in Seoul such as the biggest shopping places, Myeongdong and Dongdaemun to the art street of Insadong are exhibited here. Even there are teddy bears acting out the famous Cooking NANTA performance here…

The dioramas are actually moving and act out the scenes. Since the galleries are not huge, it take less than an hour to complete both. Souvenirs are available on the foyer deck, near the ticket booth. I bought a cute teddy bear plush wearing a woman’s hanbok (Korean traditional clothing).

If you are to include the museum and observatory deck in your itinerary, I suggest to buy the package ticket deal. The visit to Teddy Bear Museum is a good experience to learn the history of Korea in a fun and plushy way. It shows how Seoul has changed and developed over time from the olden to modern days.

How to go there: 

The museum is located within the N Seoul Tower. Read how to go to N Seoul Tower here

School Food is definitely my most favourite restaurant in Seoul. This Korean fusion brand has more than 80 outlets across the county. School Food has been my addiction starting from my first visit (click here to read about my first visit to School Food).

In my first review, we ordered their Carbonara tteokbokki  까르보나라 떡뻑이. On my second visit, I tried their soy-carbonara ddeokbbeoki 쏘이 까르보나라 떡뻑이 and turned out it is more flavourful, sweet, with rich creamy sauce. It may be more spicy than carbonara, since they mix gochu 고추 (chilli pepper) in it. This is a must-to-order if you love spicy and cream sauce. For me, the dish has been my regular menu every visit.

school food3

Soy-carbonara Tteokbokki 쏘이 까르보나라 떡뻑이, a must-to-order

If you don’t like something creamy, you can opt for Cheese tteokbokki 치즈 떡뻑이. Similar to the original, School Food’s Cheese Tteokbokki is served in red chilli paste, but topped with mozzarella cheese. Spicy? Yes it is..

It may be looked similar to pasta dishes, but it tastes totally different with the red chilli paste sauce. The rice cakes are chewy and tender combined with melted mozzarella cheese, create a combination

school food4

Cheese Tteokbokki 치즈 떡뻑이

school food1

Prawn Mari 통새우마리

School Food‘s other specialities are their kimbab rolls. But the kimbab is not those you usually find on the food cart, it is a mini version of kimbab, more similar to sushi maki. Coming here a number of times, I have tried most of their makis : Bulgogi Mari 불고기(데리야끼)마리, Spam Mari 1 스팸마리1, Spam Mari 2 스팸마리2, Special Mari 1 스페셜마리1, Special Mari 3 스페셜마리3, and also Prawn Mari 통새우마리.

My favourite maki of all is spam mari 2 (rice rolls stuffed with spam meat, cheese and mayo, wrapped with seaweed and egg). My Korean friend taught me how to eat the maris, is to dip into the ddeokbbeoki sauce. Spam mari 2 and soy carbonara tteokbokki make the best combination of all…

school food2

Bulgogi Fried Rice 철판 쇠고기 볶음밥

How about their fried rice? I don’t find their fried rice is fantastic. The bulgogi fried rice is too oily and dry. Perhaps because the put too much seaweed or soy sauce, it looks like a burnt rice.

School Food is now not only open in US, but they have 2 outlets too in Jakarta, indonesia (Central Park and Lotte Kuningan Avenue). Although the taste is not as nice as Seoul’s ones but good enough to cure my school-food-sickness.

Website: www.schoolfood.co.kr

Myeongdong, not only famous as a shopping place in Seoul. But it is also the spot where we can find the famous kalguksu noodles that one should not miss. Myeongdong Gyoza is known for their knife-cut, handmade kalguksu noodles / 칼국수.

myeondong gyoza

For K-drama lovers, the shooting of ‘You’re Beautiful’ took place at the restaurant. It was the scene when Go Mi Nam (Park Shin Hye) ate the kalguksu noodle 칼국수 and toured around Myeongdong to wait for Hwang Tae Kyung (Jang Geun Suk).

There are still queues although they open 2 outlets. Thanks to their efficiency and sitting arrangement system, the queuing time was shorter than I expected.

They only serve 4 kinds of food in their menu and three of them are noodles. But don’t get it wrong, all are their specialities that make you want to come back again. Most people order the kalguksu 칼국수, a combination of handmade noodle and garnish, served with dumplings in a thick chicken broth. Tastes really good if you mix with their special homemade spicy with strong garlic-taste kimchi.

Gyoza Kalguksu noodle

Gyoza Kalguksu noodle

Although one could finish one generous serving of kalguksu 칼국수 alone, I have to share the portion. Another special delicacy that one should try is their mandu (만두) or steamed dumpling. I really love the dumplings. The soft-skin dumplings are stuffed with pork, vegetables, leek and sesame oil. One serving comes with 10 pieces of fat steamed dumplings. The dumplings goes really well with the dipping sauce made of soy bean paste, green chilli, vinegar, and spring onion.

Big-fat delicious steamed dumplings stuffed with pork meat, veggie and leek

Big-fat delicious steamed dumplings stuffed with pork meat, veggie and leek

gyoza3

bibiimguksu 비빔국수

If you want something cold and spicy, try their bibiimguksu 비빔국수. Bibiimguksu 비빔국수 is buck-wheat noodle mixed with sweet-sour sauce, usually served with cucumber slices. The cucumber gives an extra of crunchiness that enhances the overall texture of the noodle.

Although it tastes good too, but still coming to Myeongdong Gyoza is not a mission-accomplished without having a portion of kalguksu or dumplings.

Every time I find myself in Korea, I always find time to go back to this place. Imagining a bowl of kalguksu 칼국수 with steamed dumplings in the cold weather right now, is making me drooling…

Need to replenish your energy with nice food before continuing shopping? Myeongdong Gyoza will be the place!

How to go there:

  • – Take subway to Myeongdong (Line 4, blue line) take exit #8. From the exit, turn left to the small street and walk straight passing by 2 intersection (you will pass by Happy Lemon drink shop on your left, lots of cosmetic shops such as Etude House, Innisfree, Espoir…)
  • – There are 2 outlets along that small street, just keep watching on your left and right. One is located opposite of the M Plaza Building and another one is further down, almost near to the end of the small street if you walk towards the direction of the big Olive Young Store.

Website: http://www.mdkj.co.kr/

I came back to this shop again. Actually it’s not my second time. I went here quite a few times before I post this. But maybe because I tried their different menu this time besides ddukbokki and kimbab and took a picture of their menu, so I decided to do a post.

Today I went Myeongdong to exchange money (so far I think Myeongdong has the best rate for USD, if you know somewhere else, please let me know :P). As expected, Sunday is always a busy day for everyone who go Myeongdong, busy shopping, busy selling, busy snacking, busy persuading people to go into their store… Since I was not going to spend my day at Myeongdong, I decided to have a quick and easy lunch at Kim-Ga-Ne 김家네 .

menu

This time I ordered Tuna Kimbab (참치김밥) for 3,500 won and tried their Bulgogi Bokkeum Udon or Stir-fried Beef Udon (불고기볶음우돈) for 6000 won. I have already posted about their kimbab김밥 before at my previous post Kim-Ga-Ne 김家네.

udonThis is how Bulgogi Bokkeum Udon looks like. It looks a bit different from the picture which shows a stir-fried udon without gravy.  I will say it taste alright, but not fantastic. The udon served with flat rice cakes or dduk 떡 too.

This place is perfect for those who wants to have a quick korean meal. Since this outlet is at Myeongdong, so it is a friendly place for tourists, the staff can speak chinese and the menu comes in English and chinese too.

Myeongdong is the shopping paradise of Seoul. The place has always been busy everyday, crowded by local and foreign shoppers. It is a stunning shopping district with countless shops and restaurants. We can find food, cosmetics to fashion apparels here.

What makes Myeongdong popular amongst shoppers is because it has something for everyone. From the high-end international brand such as H&M and Zara, to the mid-priced items, you will find them here. There are several major department stores too, such as Shinsegae, Lotte Department Store, and Migliore (they also have in Dongdaemun).

Most of the shops here are local cosmetic shops. There are lots of cosmetics shops here from individual brand like Etude House, Tony Moly, Holika holika, Skin Food, Laneige to Nature Republic,etc. Myeongdong has truly become international as there are now more foreigners than locals along the streets. But because most of the shoppers are foreigners, the cosmetic shops at Myeongdong branch sell some of their cosmetic, especially face masks in sets/packs. Oh, and they will give you a lot of samples too 🙂

Nature Republic, one of the local brands

Myeongdong is not only about the cosmetic shops, but also about the street food. Along the streets there are a lot of food carts selling local food streets too. From tteokbokki (rice cake) to odeng (fish-cake on stick), you will find them all here. One of the most famous street foods is the spiral potato. It is made of a potato sliced, skewered, and fried in the shape of a spiral and sprinkled with seasonings.

Myeongdong Street Food

My favorite Spiral Potato!

Recently I’m aware that the number of foreign shoppers coming here keeps increasing. Even most of the sales in the cosmetic shops are Chinese or Japanese. It was funny when I tried to speak in Korean, the staffs did not understand and my Chinese-speaking friend ended up translating for me…

Other attractions aside from shopping here are Cooking Nanta Show and Myeongdong Cathedral. I’ve never been to Cooking Nanta before but to Myeongdong Cathedral. As the first Roman Catholic parish church it is regarded as a symbol of Catholicism in Korea. In contrast with its location within the busiest shopping district in Seoul, the church complex is a quiet area for relaxation.

Myeongdong Cathedral

Myeongdong Cathedral

Candles in the Cathedral

Candles in the Cathedral

So, are you ready to spend here? Happy fun shopping!!

How to go to here:
Nearer to Migliore and Uniqlo: Take subway station to Myeongdong Station (Subway Line 4, blue line), and take exit #5, #6, #7 or #8.

Nearer to Lotte Department Store and Shinsaegae: Take subway to Euljiro (1)Il-ga Station (Subway Line 2, green line), and take exit #5.

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