Who doesn't like looking at a calendar with a lot of red numbers? And everyone is surely jumping up and down because it will be a very loooong weekend starting tomorrow! There are a lot of red numbers next week! The Seollal holidays will be a five-day weekend!
And since everyone will have a lot of free time next week, I thought of enumerating the things anyone in Seoul can do during the five-day winter weekend!
1. Explore your neighborhood!
Yes, if you think you don't know your neighborhood that well, have a look-see. Walking around the blocks and alleyways, and think of it as a walking exercise. When I was new to my neighborhood, I strolled around to check out the restaurants, cafes and shops, and even discovered a hiking trail behind the apartments!
2. Get on the Seoul City Tour Bus
Why not explore the city on a bus if you haven't yet? If you're new to the country (and the city!), this is a convenient way to discover and familiarize yourself with the popular tourist spots, shopping centers and other places of interest.
3. Hit the Palaces!
Entrance to the palaces in Seoul will be free on Seollal day. So why not visit Gyeongbukgung, Deoksugung and Changdeokgung. Take your pick!
4. Join the Seollal activities at Namsangol
Over the years, I have watched some unique Korean performances at Namsangol Village like Korean dances, jultagi and taekwondo. And they're having unique Korean activities for everyone, especially for the bored.
5. Climb up the 63 Building or the Lotte World Tower!
The 63 Building used to be the tallest building in the city, and it still affords a great view of the neighborhoods along the Han River. By the way, that building is the location of the annual Yeouido Fireworks Festival. Going up there would be a different experience, especially if you can see the Han River freezing.
The Lotte World Tower as the tallest building in Korea, on the other hand, will afford you a different kind of view. You will also need to buy a ticket to go up the view deck, but always remember to pick a day that's not cloudy or foggy.
6. Watch plays or musicales at Daehangno
Well, they'll probably be closed on Seollal day itself, but on other holidays, when you get out of Exit 1 of Hyewha Station, barkers for plays and musicales would meet you and offer you tickets for their performances.
7. Watch a performance at the National Theater of Korea
It's the venue for Korean performances and they have some interesting ones in the calendar. They'll even have Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston over to play Shakespeare.
(Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston
poster in Seoul!)
8. Go up and mountain like Namsan any other mountain
'Climb every mountain', so sung Maria in The Sound of Music. And if you're just bored at home, put on those hiking shoes, thick warm jackets and walk up one of mountains around the city.
9. NSeoul Tower
And if you're headin gup Namsan, why don't you go further up? To the Nseoul Tower and see the whole Seoul from there?
10. Run, Bike, or Walk along the Han River
Yes, this one's I will definitely do at least by mid-morning if it's not that freezing. I have been walking along the river banks during the weekends, joining the hundreds of bikers, runners and everyone else who needed some sun and exercise. You can do the same during the holidays!
11. Stroll around Bukchon Village and Insadong
While shops Insadong may be closed during the Seollal day itself, you can still head off to the neighboring Bukchon Village and discover the hanok, or Korean traditional houses that still dominate the architecture of the area.
12. Hit the Cafes and Brunch places with friends
If you just want to catch up on your reading, you can just pick a spot in a neighborhood cafe and read. Most cafes will be closed on the Seollal day itself, but some usually open in the afternoon.
I actually plan to visit Leonidas cafe again in Itaewon. I miss their version of iced cafe mocha. It's like chocolate and coffee in one iced drink! And I may be bringing my laptop to blog from there!
And most brunch places will be open on other days, so you can drag your friends with you for brunch!
13. Watch a movie!
The Oscar-worthy movies have been showing lately, and it's time to watch some of them. For some art films, you can visit the Cinecube cinema near Gwanghwamun, or CGV's arthaus in Myeongdong.
14. Ice skate!
Yes, before the ice melts, you can practice your triple Axel jumps at the ice rinks at the Seoul Plaza (which ends on February 9), or at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, or at the I-Park Mall in Yongsan.
The Pyeongchang Olympics is just two years away, so you better polish your skating if you want to represent your country and win a medal. Ha-ha-ha!
15. Visit a Jjimjilbang
During the cold months, this is the most popular hangout place for the locals, where you can bathe and soak in a warm pools, and play and chat with friends in your pajamas.
There are big jjimjilbangs like the Dragon Hill Spa near Yongsan Station, and the Itaewon Land in Itaewon. But be prepared for big crowds with families and kids. And avoid soaking in the warm pools if you have an open wound to avoid infection. Even a microbiologist would cringe at the bacteria and other matters present in those waters. Eeeww!
16. Do a Catholic pilgrimage
If you're a Catholic, the Lenten season starts next week. So, if you have free time, you may want to get ahead of everyone else by doing a pilgrimage around the Cathlic churches and sites in the city.
Here are some useful links:
I actually plan to visit one or two churches during the warmer days.
17. Do a Temple Stay
Some people find this a unique experience, where they 'discover' themselves in a temple and away from the crowds, noise and Facebook.
If you can separate yourself from your social media accounts for a couple of days, then you might want to try this.
18. Play some sports!
There are basketball and football courts along the Han River that are free. I may hit the tennis courts with a friend in order to sweat up a bit.
There are sports clubs in the meetup app where you can join to play your favorite sport.
19. Visit the Noryanjin Fish Market
This is where most fish vendors around the city get their fresh fish, and I have only been here a few times. And since it has just been renovated, maybe it's time for another visit.
20. Get a plastic surgery!
Yes, I think most people (especially women!) may be doing just that. Getting a new nose, a new pair of boobs, or a lift on some sagging part of your body may be a good idea. I am wondering, maybe some clinics in the Sinsa area in the Gangnam District may even be open just to accommodate some patients, so when they return to work next week, their friends won't be able to recognize them. Ha-ha-ha!
During the holidays, Namdaemun and Dongdaemun Markets will be closed. But if you want to walk around the Dongdaemun Design Plaza, you can.
But if you'd rather leave the city, you can brave the heavy traffic and head off to the ski resorts in the nearby provinces. During the Seollal a couple of years back, my friends and I headed to the Alpensia Ski Resort, which will be the venue for some Pyeongchang Olympics events. Although the traffic was bad as we expected it to be, the trip and the skiing were fun!
So, whatever you want to do during these holidays, have fun! :-)