Asian Getaways: Seoul

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Rated Asia's most livable city in 2015, Seoul has quickly become a leading global metropolis. From age-old architecture holding ground alongside towering skyscrapers to food stalls selling a variety of traditional snacks outside Italian-Korean fusion restaurants, visitors are able to get a sense of both the old and the new just by roaming the streets of the bustling city. Here are some of our picks for must-sees when traveling to this developing megacity. Hold on tight - we're heading to the "Seoul" of Asia:

Myeong Dong (명동)


Need some retail therapy? Keep your wallet readily available as you head to Seoul's premier shopping district, Myeong Dong. Featuring mid-to-high priced retail stores selling everything and anything from affordable Korean cosmetic brands to luxury foreign brands, Myeong Dong has it all. Shopping can be tiring, so make sure to stop by one of the many street stalls to reenergize with a tasty snack. Prepare to butt elbows with the millions of shoppers that don the streets of this district every day - Koreans are serious when it comes to getting a good deal!

Namdaemun Market (남대문 시장)

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There's no better way to get a feel for the hustle and bustle of the city than by stopping by the city's oldest continually running market, Namdaemun. From inexpensive clothing to kitchen appliances, this endless sprawl of street-vendor stalls is a fantastic place to pick up anything and everything you need. Make your way through the serious crowds to graze at the dozens of food stalls. One of our favorites is hotteok, pressed hand-sized  circles of dough that are filled with a sweet mixture containing brown sugar, honey, chopped peanuts, and cinnamon - yum!

21 Namdaemunsijang 4-gil, Jung-gu Seoul, South Korea

Gyeongbokgoong (경복궁)

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Calling all history fanatics! Head to Gyeongbok Palace, located in the heart of the city. Built in 1395, the palace was the main royal palace for the Joseon Dynasty but unfortunately, has been destroyed and reconstructed numerous times throughout its history. A stroll around the palace's many pavilions and halls is the perfect way for visitors to learn more about the nation's traditional architecture and first-handedly experience its cultural heritage.

161 Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu Seoul, South Korea

Sam Chung Dong (삼청동)

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When people think of Seoul, the skyscrapers and fast-paced lifestyle of Psy's infamous "Gangnam Style" music video come to mind. However, head to Sam Chung Dong to be transported back to ancient times. A picturesque neighborhood, this area consists of clusters made up of restored hanok, or traditional Korean wooden homes characterized by their small courtyards, decorative outer walls, and dark-tiled roofs, a paradox to the sleek cityscape that is just a few minute-walk away.  Take a break from sightseeing while sipping on a latte at a quaint café or peek into one of the area's many art galleries featuring local up-and-coming artists.

Noryangjin Fish Market (노량진 수산시장)

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When people think of Korean food, classic grilled meats and soups come to mind, but a visit to Noryangjin Fish Market will allow you to explore another major part of Korean cuisine: fish & seafood. This expansive wholesale & retail market offers an authentic marketplace feel with bustling patrons and fish sellers calling out the day's best catches ranging from clams to sea cucumbers. If you're really feeling like a local, purchase some fresh seafood and get it sliced into sashimi at one of the restaurants in the market. Step aside Japan, there's a new seafood king in town.

688 Nodeul-ro, Dongjak-gu Seoul, South Korea