Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Seoul

Thu Dec 3, 2009 11:23pm EST
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By Jonathan Hopfner

SEOUL (Reuters Life!) - South Korea's frenetic capital lends itself to many things such as round-the-clock dining, soaking up the country's rich, tumultuous history, or watching cutting-edge technology in action.

Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors get the most out of a short stay in Seoul.


7 pm - Dive into contemporary Seoul head-first by heading to Gangnam, an affluent district south of the Han River known for corporate powerhouses, buzzing shopping complexes and some of the city's best-loved restaurants, including Samwon Garden ( This massive eatery, in a house surrounded by greenery and waterfalls, is popular with tourists, but plenty of locals eat here too because few places do Korea's famous barbecue better, or in such comfortable surroundings.

9 pm - A short hop away, Garosu-gil ("Tree-lined Street") is Seoul's stab at gallery and boutique-dominated districts like New York's Soho. While it doesn't quite ascend those heights, it's still a great place for a stroll and to ease into a night on the town in an eclectic cafe or wine bar. Grandmother (02-544-7411) stands out with its cozy, Persian-themed interior, ample wine list and pan-Asian snack menu.

11 pm - There are a growing number of challengers to the throne but Gangnam is still the city's premier club district. Eden (, in the basement of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, is one of the more recent and sophisticated additions to the scene, and attracts an energetic, well-heeled crowd with heady cocktails, a space-age sound system and top-ranked DJs.


9 am - Work off the previous night's excesses and take in some culture with a walk up Inwangsan, one of the key "guardian" mountains that marked the boundaries of old Seoul. Its well-maintained, relatively undemanding trails offer sweeping views of the city center, including landmarks such as Gyeongbokkung, the largest of the Seoul's restored palaces, and Cheong Wa Dae, the president's official residence. Long a haven for monks and mystics, Inwangsan is also dotted with Buddhist temples and shamanist shrines.   Continued...