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17 March, 2021

[TRAVEL] Full Day Itinerary in Gangnam District feat. Seoul's Most Instagrammable Rooftop!

 Happy S {E} O U L Searching!

If you ask me, Seoul isn't exactly a super huge city but there are so so so many things to explore! Until I do some research about the city, I realise Seoul is separated into two parts by the Han River.

I stay around the "older side" of Seoul towards the south -- Myeongdong area where the streets are flooded with fashion shops and street food but if you are into high-end luxury goods, K-pop and hipster lifestyle, I'm sure the Southern part of Seoul (Gangnam / Songpa District) would offer a different experience.

Songpa-gu is relatively more modern and developed (cost wise, food and stuff here are more expensive). This is the city where the famous skyscrapers such as Lotte Tower, Trade Tower and COEX as well as Seoul's No.1 theme park, Lotte World are located at.

1 Day Itinerary of Exploring Songpa-gu
Seokchon Lake Park - COEX Mall - Bonguensa Temple - Seoulism Cafe - 
Gangnam Station Underground Shopping Centre - Banpo Bridge

I love how well connected the places in Seoul city are. Just 30-minute train ride from Myeongdong, I arrive at my first destination of the day: Seokchon Lake Park for sakura viewing! It is almost the end of sakura festival here, and I am so so so lucky to be here on time and witness the beautiful full blooms.

Seokchon Lake Park
Entrance: Free

How to get there: Take Seoul Subway Line 2, Jamsil Station, Exit 2.

The weekday morning crowd is still bearable, but the windy morning weather at 9°C is probably not for me. Another thing I notice is the sight of lovebirds at every nook and corner here. I am surprised that the lovey dovey Korean couples show their affections so publicly :P may not wanna go there alone hahaha...

 Meet the 123-floor Lotte World Tower, one of Korea's architectural crown jewels!

Starfield Library, COEX Mall
Samseong 1(il)-dong, Seoul.

How to get there: Take Seoul Subway Line 2, Samseong Station, Exit 5/6.

Then I head to the high-end COEX Mall for some window shopping but I am not exactly a fan here since I don't really shop for luxury international brands. But the most iconic spot to check out here is the Instagram-famous Starfield Library.

I am really amazed about how they can have such a huge and eye-pleasing 2-storey library inside a mall! I notice that most foreigners are here just for photo taking, but it is also flocked by locals who can spend their entire day reading and chilling there.

 Bonguensa Temple
531 Bongeunsa-ro, Samseong 1(il)-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul.

How to get there: Take Seoul Subway Line 2, Samseong Station, Exit 5/6.

I am also surprised to see that there is such an ancient Buddhist temple sitting on a forested hillside among the skyscrapers in the heart of the city. Just a quick stroll across the street from COEX Mall, I am here at Bonguensa Temple that dates back to 794 -- this is probably the oldest temple I've ever been in my entire life!

To be honest, I don't see many worshippers here during my visit -- the few people I meet here are mostly tourists. Nevertheless, I love how this beautifully-designed temple features a secluded and quieter atmosphere. If you would like to experience a well-rested night in the temple, feel free to check out the accommodations offered here.

 Seoulism Cafe
48-7 Songpa-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul.

How to get there: Take Seoul Subway Line 8, Songpa Station, Exit 2.

After hours of sightseeing, the next thing I need is a good cup of coffee in a cosy cafe. Trust me, the list of Instagram-worthy / hipster cafes in Gangnam area is longer than your grocery list! But the most visited one during recent years is probably Seoulism rooftop cafe.

Beverages and food here are exorbitantly priced, but it is all worth for a picture at the rooftop where you can enjoy a clear skyline view of Seoul with Lotte World as a backdrop. Not only the rooftop is amazing, the interior of Seoulism featuring a royal Victorian decor at one corner and mystical woodland-themed setting at another is pretty impressive.

Girls, there is no way you can skip such Instagrammable spots and enjoy your taitai life here :P

Express Bus Terminal Underground Shopping Center (Goto Mall)
jiha 200, Sinbanpo-ro, Seocho-gu, Seoul.

How to get there: Take Seoul Subway Line 7, Express Bus Terminal Station, Exit 8-1 and 8-2.

Woohoo, since I have some time to spare after enjoying my afternoon tea, it means shopping time for me! Goto Mall is the largest underground mall in Seoul with 600 stores along the 880m long alley -- yes, super packed like sardine but surprisingly well-organized.

Frankly, it feels like the old (dodgy) Sungei Wang in KL which I used to hang out during high school times hahaha! But I am happy to find plenty of good bargains (fashion pieces like bags, shoes and clothes) here, priced from only KRW 10,000 (RM38) onwards. Well, I gotta stop myself from overshopping since I don't lug my heavy loots to the next destination of the day.

Banpo Bridge
Banpo 2(i)-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul, South Korea

How to get there: Take Seoul Subway Line 7, Express Bus Terminal Station, Exit 8-1 then walk straight to the major cross junction with a flyover bridge.

Although Navers app has been really helpful in guiding me to Banpo Bridge from the subway station, I must admit that the path is a little tricky as you'd need to cross the flyover bridge and there is no signboard along the way. Anyway, the 20-minute walk is all worth it because I get to catch Banpo Bridge Moonlight Rainbow Fountain show on time!

Do you know that Banpo Bridge was once recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's longest bridge fountain with 380 water jets and a dazzling array of rainbow-colored lights? The locals even camp at the open grassy space nearby and enjoy some romantic moments under the moonlight.

I personally love this spectacular display that showcases the synchronicity of music and lights. But, be sure to come at the right time to be able to catch it. The Moonlight Rainbow Fountain operates daily from April to October: 7.30pm (15 minutes per show), 8pm / 8.30pm / 9pm (20 minutes per show).

There goes the end of my one-day trip around the 'modern side' of Seoul. If there is one thing I could do more in the Gangnam area, it would be cafe hopping. Gonna tick off my list the next time I come here!

More about my 7D6N Seoul trip:

- Seoul searching @ 9-16 April 2019 -

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