It’s wintertime again, and while this year doesn’t seem nearly as cold as last, the temperatures are still low enough to make me not want to leave my apartment. But, cabin fever is bound to kick in and when it does, consider heading out for some indoor fun!
Visit Coex Aquarium and you can see about 600 species of fish, otters, sharks, stingrays, and polar bears in a tunnel like atmosphere. The tanks are divided into different sections such as The Inca Empire, Amazonian World, Seven Seas, Ocean Kingdom, and Marine Touch. For me the coolest part was all the unique fish tanks. You could view fish in a fire extinguisher, traffic light, Coke machine, payphone… And while you’re in Coex, don’t forget to check out their many stores and have a meal at On the Border if you’re craving Mexican food.
Directions: Samseong Station, Line 2, Exit 6
Head to the famous Noryangjin Fish Market to browse the stalls and take photos. If you’re brave enough, buy a live baby octopus (sannakji) and take it to a restaurant. (You can also purchase clams, shrimp, blue crabs, sea cucumbers, halibut, and snapper.) There they will provide you with side dishes (along with beer and soju for courage), cut up the octopus, and serve it to you still wriggling on the plate. Dig in, and don’t forget to chew.
Cost: We paid ₩3,000 for the octopus along with a small fee at the restaurant for preparation, side dishes, and alcohol.
Directions: Noryangjin Station, Line 1, Exit 1
This has been one of my most memorable experiences in Seoul to date and I don’t even like Korean food! I took the bulgogi (a soy and sesame marinated beef dish) and kimchi class at O’ngo Food Communications and thoroughly enjoyed it. First the chef instructed us on how to prepare the dishes. After the chef’s directions, we went to our cooking stations. We prepared the bulgogi and then we made the kimchi. Next we cooked our bulgogi and made a chive salad to go with it. Last we ate!! Rice, tea, and coffee were provided as well. Also the kimchi is packed to go so you can take it home with you. Classes last about 2 hours. While you’re in the neighborhood, head to Insadong for some souvenir shopping if it’s not too cold! You can also visit the Bird Flying Tea Shop (see theme cafes below).
Cost: ₩55,000 for Saturday classes (₩65,000 for weekday classes)
Directions: Anguk Station, Line 3, Exit 4
If you like sports, check out a basketball game in Jamsil. We went with a Meetup.com group and got free tickets but seats are cheap regardless and you can BYOB and snacks. The game was entertaining even for me, a non-sports fan. I mostly paid attention to the dancing cheerleaders and mascots!
Cost: ₩20,000 for floor seats, tickets get cheaper farther away from the court
Directions: Sports Complex Station, Line 2
NANTA is a (mostly) non-verbal rhythm and comedy show with some audience participation thrown in. The plot revolves around three cooks who must prepare a wedding feast while teaching the boss’s nephew how to cook as well. It was highly entertaining and enjoyable. While you’re in Myeongdong, shop at stores like H&M and Forever 21 and eat at my favorite Indian restaurant, Om Dristi.
Cost: ₩40,000-60,000 but there are always discounts going on
Directions: Myeongdong Station, Line 4, Exit 6
Normally costs 40,000-60,000 won
Lotte World is Seoul’s semi-indoor amusement park and there are enough attractions to keep you occupied all day long! Inside the park, buy a cute Minnie Mouse headband, watch the laser show and parades, and enjoy rides and roller coasters. Outside the park there is an ice skating rink, folk museum, shooting range, bowling alley, arcade, and various restaurants and stores.
Cost: ₩38,000 or ₩31,000 after 4pm
Directions: Jamsil Station, Lines 2 & 8
This is where my boyfriend and I went last Valentine’s Day and it was a great date. I loved the cheesiness of the Teddy Bear Museum but it was also educational. It was divided into two parts: Past and Present. The Past section told the story of Korea’s history through scenes set up with moving teddy bears (building the palaces, traditional royal weddings, enthronement of King Gojong, etc.). The Present section showed different parts of Seoul that are popular today (Myeongdong, Children’s Grand Park, NANTA, etc.). There were also giant teddy bears to pose with and even interactive TV screens where you could take a photo of you in a teddy bear scene. From the observatory at the top of the tower you can see all of Seoul. I liked how they had all the world cities and the distance to them from Seoul on the windows. You can also use “Korea’s highest sky bathrooms” while you’re up there! Don’t forget to bring a padlock to add to the “love locks” outside the tower.
Cost: ₩12,000 for the combo museum/tower ticket
Directions: There are various ways to get there, see the website below. We took a bus from Itaewon Station, Line 6.
Websites for N Seoul Tower and the Teddy Bear Museum
Seoul has so many theme cafes and they are a cheap way to spend a winter afternoon. I have been to a cat cafe in Gangnam and two in Seohyeon, Bundang as well as Dr. Fish in Gangnam and the Bird Flying Tea Shop in Insadong. Check out the links for more info. All are around ₩8,000 including drinks and snacks!