Ok, I’ve heard about Common Ground ever since it was built in April 2015. I’ve wrote an article for some blog, but since I haven’t been there, thus I didn’t write up anything for my blog. So, after visiting this place during the last weekend, here are some of my thoughts about it.
What’s Common Ground?
It’s actually a one-in-a-kind shopping center in Seoul that was built with 200 shipping containers! Yes, those containers that were used in shipping stuffs from overseas! And it looks really pretty!
The building was actually separated into 2 parts, while one side are solely selling guy’s stuff, while the other are the women’s section. Both are 3 storey high, other than some boutiques and some restaurants and cafe, it has nothing much to offer in my opinion. Prices are kinda high too in my opinion, so I think it’s not a wise decision to shop here.
But Common Ground is definitely an interesting place to take some beautiful pictures, and a good place to have a cup of drink while you’re here.
Do you know that even part of Sistar’s Shake It MV was filmed here too?
To get there:
Konkuk University station (Line 2 or 7), Exit 6, just walk for a couple blocks once you came out of Exit 6.
One huge question that will haunt every traveler, including myself, except those who doesn’t bother to plan their trip, will come faced to faced with it, Mr. Where. Especially those who eagerly waited for their first time experience in their dream country or maybe after a couple times revisiting that country. “Where should I go?”, this question forever pop up into the mind whenever you are trying to plan your itinerary.
After 2 visits to Korea, endless researches online, I thought that I’m now confident enough to write this article for people who are feeling lost at where they should visit when they are in Seoul. Here are some places which I would definitely recommend visiting, and even I myself would revisit again when I had the chance.
Hidden behind the walls of Changdeokgung Palace lies a 78 acre Huwon (후원) (widely known as Secret Garden), which is one of the main highlight of this palace.
It’s a little more than just a mere garden inside, there is a royal library, known as Gyujanggak that stood erected beside of a beautiful pond which the kings once used for fishing, royal quarters where the kings used to sleep in, and study rooms for the Prince that used for studying.
This garden was very well taken care of and protected as it accommodates more than 300 species of plants. Only accessible with a guided tour from the palace staff, you will need to make a reservation online if you planned to visit the Huwon as they only allow a number of visitors in per day. Book Here!
To get here: Subway Line 3 (orange line), and get down at AngukStation, exit 3. Go straight for 5 min.
Jongno 3(sam)-ga Station (Subway Line 1, 3 or 5), Exit 7. Go straight along Donhwamun–ro Street for 10min.
A great spot for a stroll to cool down and relax, Koreans usually come here together with friends or what they called a “dating place” among couples. Located in the heart of the city, just a couple of streets away from Gwanghwamun Square, this iconic stream stretched out approximately 5.8km all the way through Jongno-gu and Dongdaemun, like a portal from one area to another.
Every November, there will be a Seoul Lantern Festival which will be held here as well, displaying hundreds and maybe thousands of lanterns which latterly lights up the stream with grace.
In addition to that, Seoul city has also installed a couple of mobile charging stations beside the stream, benefiting from the water to generate electricity using water turbines for users to charge their phones on the charging platform, if you are nearby this stream, you might want to try it out and give your phone juice a little boost.
I first know about Namsan Tower (a.k.a N. Seoul Tower) from the drama “Boys Over Flowers”. Never did I know that it could be that beautiful until I was there myself. If you are wondering, it has such a great romantic feeling that makes you want to be there with your other half. Surrounded by way too many couples, I would definitely say that this is one of the places that couples used to hang out a lot, of course not forgetting to padlock their love locks at the fences as well.
There are 2 ways to get to Namsan Tower, by cable car or hike up.
If you ought for a more relaxing way, take the cable car. But before that, you will need to take the Oreumi elevator up to the cable car station. Be prepared to line up when waiting for the cable car. Check out this blog for more directions to the Oreumi elevator and cable car.
Travelling cheap, seeking for a more challenging task and taking the cable car makes you feel like you’re missing some adventure? Hike or walk up. Let the beautiful sceneries entertain you, make you gasp in awe and takes your breath away. And while you reached the top, take a stop and see the sunset. Don’t forget to visit the observatory as well, it only takes like what, 3 ~ 5 seconds for the lift to reach the peak of the tower? Something that I don’t believe but it’s true. Blink your eyes and you reach the top! You don’t feel it too!
Insadong is well known as a center of cultural in this city. Why did I say that? Here, you can easily find traditional stuffs such as Hanbok, Korean traditional masks, calligraphy, teahouses, and more to be discovered, a one stop cultural center only in Insadong! So, if you are looking to hook up some Korean traditional souvenirs, this place will definitely please you a lot. Try to spot the HUGE calligraphy brush sculpture somewhere here as well.
Only in Insadong, you can find the famous 2 Starbucks installed with Korean signboards, instead of the world wide English signboards everywhere. Of couse there are other shops with Korean signboards too.
Ssam Jie Gil, which is supposedly a shopping complex, the tiny-sized shopping complex I would call it, where you could find handmade products made by talented shop owners. Nice place to bring parents!
Beside that, you can catch some street performances that will make you go gaga and keep you wanting to watch more.
To get there: Anguk Station, Line 3, Exit 6
5. Express Terminal underground shopping mall
The well known shopping district in Seoul might be Myeongdong or Dongdaemun, but neither did many know, there’s another secret place which I personally think it’s quite a good place for shopping, and guess what, the products are much cheaper as well, although you won’t be able to find those branded clothing around here, but the quality of the items are quite comparable to those selling in Hongdae or Ehwa area.
Ranging from bags, cloths, shoes, cosmetic and skin care products, and accessories etc, definitely worthwhile to check out when you visit Seoul!
A well known shopping district in Seoul, especially among tourists, this place is filled with hundreds of shops and street vendors. Though I would not really come here for shopping, rather, I would definitely come here for window shopping!
In the night, you would see colorful signboards litted up brightly, streets packed with humans and the smell of food filled the air in Myeongdong. One thing I would definitely do here is to buy facial and cosmetic products!
To get here: Get off at Myeongdong Station (Line 4)
This place is not for those who loves to party and night life. It’s a peaceful, wonderful, magical (to me) place that seems to takes all my worries away. I remember how peaceful it was walking around this ranch, and even my friends noticed that I was really happy with smiles all over my face.
This is also a place to bring your kids. You get to feed the sheeps with your own hands and even touch them.
You had finally booked your first flight to Seoul and searching for more information about places to visit while you are there. Probably you might be also thinking “if only there’s a way to cut some budget”.
I had traveled to Seoul twice and with some understanding of the Korean cultures and time spent researching about Korea, so I thought of making a list that could be of some help about ways to keep your money to your own pocket. 1. Free water, or some time rice tea
In my country, restaurants charge customers even though it’s just a cup of water. Instead, in Seoul, once you sit down at the table, you will be greeted with a bottle of cold water, free! What’s even more better, it’s refillable, just ask the staffs and they will bring you another bottle. What if there the ahjummas/agashi/ajuhssi aren’t serving you any water? No worries, check around the restaurant to see if there’s any water dispenser, basically it’s for you to fill up your cup.
2.T-money The very first thing to do when you step foot in Korea is to get a T-money from any convenience shops for only 2,500 won, you can either refill it straight from the shop or at any of the machines in subway stations. Subway, taxis, buses accept this card and it doesn’t only help you to save time without the need of queuing and buying your tickets, you can also save 100 won off your fares as compared to buying tickets by cash.
A side note, T-money have no expiration date, so you could keep and reuse it whenever you return to Korea.
3.Try to avoid taxis
Some people would prefer to go by taxi, but hey, Seoul has a great subway system which is connected throughout many districts and areas, grab the subway map at the stations, hop on the right train and track, and happy riding! Even nowadays buses are getting a lot of attention from the travelers and tourists too, not to forget that Seoul had launched it’s night owl buses recently.
4. Free samples
When I read online regarding free samples was given to anyone who enter the skin care shops, at first I didn’t really trust it, not until I was there myself. While walking around Myeongdong, the shop assistants were ushering customers to go in have a look at their products and handed you a basket which they already had sample(s) in it. We didn’t bought anything but we took the samples *I felt guilty taking it, but my mom isn’t*. But if you were to buy any products from them, they will give you more samples at the counter. So, maybe you can buy 1 item at a shop, at a time, you might find yourself with lots of samples which can be used while you’re moving around.
5.No tipping culture
Tipping in Korea is not necessary. Unlike the Western culture, Koreans doesn’t practice the tipping culture, and some shops even banned customers from giving tips to the staffs. You can definitely save some bucks in Korea.
6.Stay in guesthouses or hostels
Nowadays, guesthouse and hostel businesses are blooming in many country, thanks to those who are traveling on a budget that motivated a lot of owners to start their own little cozy place for travelers and tourists to stay. In Seoul, you can easily find a guesthouse in mostly every corner ranging from 18,000 ~ 25,000 depending on the place. Why pay more to stay in a luxury hotel when you only need a comfortable place to spend the night and do your business?
7.Free Walking Tours
If you search on the internet, you could sometime find Korean students giving free tours to foreigners, allowing them to know more about the culture and history of their country, as well as making some new friends for language exchange. You can check out a Facebook page which provide free walking tours to tourists.
Hopefully few of these tips may give you some insights about saving costs when traveling in Seoul.
What could caught your sight more than this building? Ssamziegil (or Ssamjie Gil) built in the middle of Insadong street in 2004 by Ssamzie Co. Ltd. The huge korean alphabet “ㅆ” which is supposedly the main icon as well as the the first letter of the name of this building “ss”.
At the lower level, there are some stalls selling snacks which you can bite on, handicraft works and art products could be seen while moving up the top floors. Wheelchair and elderly friendly, sloping ramps were the main walkway instead of stairs making it easier to walk even for kids.
Surrounded by glass windowed shops, walk the ramps to the top and you will find yourself at the roof. There is even a tiny garden planted with few species of flowers at the rooftop.
Recommended to visit this complex if you are at Insadong. You can get here by subway on Line 3 (Orange) and get off Anguk Station, Exit 3 or 6.
This struck my mind when I was searching for more info about Hongdae for the first time. So, the fact is, it’s actually called “Hongdae Free Market” and not Flea Market. The booths selling handmade products by mostly university students, are arranged in a way like those in a flea market and held during every Saturday throughout March ~ November ever since year 2002.
Hongdae, which is well known for it’s artistic side, as well as a night club heaven in Seoul. The name derived from a famous arts school Hongik University (Hongik Dae hak-gyo), short name of Hong-Dae.
Each item displayed at the stalls representing the creativity of the seller, unique and one-of-a-kind. Not only they sell pouches, bags, clothing, shoes, handmade toys, and key rings, there are booths which sell the live drawing of your portraits as well.
Since it is held on a Saturday, crazy huge crowds will be expected, where walking eventually became a squeezing through “war” just to pass a spot. “It’s now or never”, either you squeeze through first or you will have to wait until you had the chance to escape that area.
To get there
Take Line 2 (Green line), get off at Hongik University station, and follow the map below.