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24 hours in Seoul

things to do in seoul local guides

Surviving Seoul is no picnic.  When I first arrived in the city I was dropped in Hongdae by myself.  Hongdae sits at the party centre of Seoul, one of the world’s largest cities and I had just come from quiet old New Zealand.  At the time I wasn’t thinking of things to do in Seoul I was thinking that the suburb of Hongdae itself probably has half of the population of New Zealand.  It was intimidating.  So in typical Kiwi fashion I walked up to the first person who wasn’t walking faster than I can run and asked for help.

He was a lifesaver.  Struggling with broken English he looked over my crudely drawn map and helped me find the place I had booked online.  From the start I was blessed to have such a great local person helping me.  My first 24 hours in Seoul were like a tornado mixed with tequila.  There were so many things to do in Seoul.  It was loud, fast, scary and absolutely everything I hoped for.  So I wanted to share some of the amazing things to do in Seoul if you have just 24 hours to experience this stunning city.


Head to the Han River and hire a bike.  Riding along the edge of the river is a great way to take in the city.  There are a lot of places you can hire a bike, Ttokseom Resort is one of my favourites.

things to do in seoul han river


Head for lunch in the trendy HBC (Haebangcheon) area just around the corner from Itaewon.  HBC is full of fusion cafes and restaurants that do amazing food.  Don’t miss it.


Shop till you drop.  Head to Namdaemun markets.  Namdaemun is an old style Korean market where you can get anything you could ever image for cheap!  Chat to the market owners and have some fun haggling, but don’t haggle too hard, they need to make a living!

things to do in seoul namdaemun


Catch the bus up to the summit of Namsan to visit Namsan Tower.  The view from here takes in the entire city as the sun goes down.  This spot is constantly featured in K-drama TV shows as the place where romance blossoms, so make sure you find someone to hold hands with!


Time for a late dinner and there is no better place in Korea to get a good meal than the street.  You’ll find street markets everywhere in Korea that sell all sorts of delicious food that you wouldn’t even know that you liked until you try it.  Find the best ones literally anywhere – I mean it.   It’s one of the best things to do in Seoul.


Time for a drink! Only old people go out before midnight.  Seoul has a lot of amazing night spots but Hongdae, for me, takes the cake.  This student suburb lights up with music, people and chaos after midnight and is just the place to go for trouble.  You’ll find a party behind every door.

3am (keep up, you’re on Seoul time now)

Closing in on the home stretch the main thing now is to limit the damage.  Refuel your water stores at a local 7/11 or if you need a heavy duty hangover cure find any Korea restaurant that serves soup.  If they are open at 3am and they serve soup it’s famous Korean hangover soup.  Good for curing pretty much everything.

So there it is, 24 hours of things to do in Seoul.  If you manage to survive this day you might just make it in Seoul.  Just remember that this is what they do most nights of the week.

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