Welcome to our METRO series: a guide that aims to take you on a journey through Seoul by literally using the metro as your map.
The Seoul Metro has been consistently voted as one of the best transport systems around the world. This is due to a number of factors including its frequent service, cleanliness, low cost and general ease of use. It’s no surprise then that, when travelling around Seoul, the metro is the easiest and best way to travel, especially for first time visitors.
In this series, we’ll be covering our six favourite lines and how you can utilize them as an easy itinerary. In our fifth edition, we’re covering the wide expanse of Line Three and all it has to offer. Line Three is home to many fun locations both modern and old throughout Seoul, making it the perfect line for this month’s K-CULTURE magazine. Starting off at Gyeongbokgung station in northern Seoul, we aim to take you south across the city, passing over the River Hangang, to Nambu Bus Terminal Station in the south-east. We’ll show you the best locations where you can learn about the rich history and culture of Korea along the way.
Gyeongbokgung Station (경복궁역)
The first stop on our Line 3 journey takes us to Gyeongbokgung (경복궁) in northern Seoul. To get a taste of Korean culture you don’t even need to leave the station. Within the station you can find many artifacts from the various dynasties, and also many decorations lining the walls.
On the second floor of the station you will find Seoul Metro Art Center (서울메트로미술관), an art exhibition space for various styles and art forms. There are three long exhibition walls stretching across the expanse of the station, and the best part is it’s totally free to visit. Right next to Gyeongbokgung station lies Gyeongbokgung Palace (경복궁), one of the largest Joseon palaces in Korea.
There are many Hanbok rental shops in the area surrounding Gyeongbokgung, as many people like to dress in traditional Korean clothes and take pictures at the palace. Entrance to the palace is actually free if you wear Hanbok, otherwise it costs 3,000 won.
Chungmuro Station (충무로역)
Moving four stops on line three, we come to our second stop; Chungmuro. Chungmuro is Seoul’s traditional home of film. Although many studios have now moved to the glamorous Gangnam region, the legacy still remains. If you are interested in photogrophy or film, the Chungmuro camera district is the place to visit. There are many camera shops offering the best equipment at good prices. However, if photography is not your thing, the Chungmuro area is also home to the biggest collection of pet shops in Korea. You can find all kinds of pet supplies, so you can take home presents from Korea for your favourite furry friends too.
Leaving the station by exit 2, you will come across Korea House. This traditional Hanok style building holds a variety of traditional cultural experience programs primarily for tourists. There are various cooking sessions, crafting sessions and an evening dinner accompanied by a traditional Korean show whilst you eat. Details of timings and prices can be found at koreahouse.or.kr.
Apgujeong Station (압구정역)
Moving south five stops we arrive at our next destination; Apgujeong. Apgujeong is one of the most wealthy and glamorous parts of Seoul. It has wide streets filled with high-end shops and fancy cafes.
It is the home of some of Korea’s largest entertainment companies such as SM, Cube, JYP and FNC, so many fans visit Apgujeong with a hope of seeing some of their favourite idols. The sighting of an idol is not that rare although you may have to wait many hours to see them, so waiting outside is not recommended. However, the buildings themselves are very impressive, showcasing modern designs, so they’re worth taking a look at.
Walking from Apgujeong Station to Apgujeongrodeo Station, you will come across K-Star Road. K-Star Road is a street filled with a series of bear statues each dedicated to a different idol group. Many fans visit here to take pictures with their favourite group’s bear.
Even if the K-idol world is not your scene, visiting Apgujeong is a must as you will still find a great selection of cafes, restaurants and boutique shops.
Sinsa Station (신사역)
Taking the metro one stop we arrive at our next stop; Sinsa. Leaving the station by exit 8 you will reach Garosu-gil (가로수길); one of the most famous shopping streets in Seoul. The name 가로수길 literally meaning ‘tree-lined street’, comes from the fact that the long, straight street is lined consistently with beautiful trees along its entire length. Garosu-gil is home to many upmarket shops and quirky shops that are almost like art exhibitions more than shops. We recommend that you pay a visit to Tamburins (탬버린즈), Gentle Monster (젠틀몬스터) and Stretch Angels (스트레치 엔젤스).
All these stores put more emphasis on the presentation of their products and the shopping experience more than simply selling large quantities of products. Whilst visiting their stores you will not feel like you’re in a shop as they feature various sculptures, artworks and even a boxing ring in Stretch Angels.
The stores usually have a concept or theme which they will design around for a few months at a time, so you can keep visiting over and over as the theme is constantly changing.
Aside from the concept stores, you will find all the common high street shops in Garosu-gil. Usually you can also find great deals at your favourite Korean skincare shops. They often offer great bulk buys for tourists and it is normally a bit quieter than the more famous Myeongdong skincare streets. Also the first and only Apple Store in Korea was opened in Garosu-gil in 2018, making Garosu-gil a landmark spot in Korea’s modern technology-driven culture.
Nambu Bus Terminal Station (남부터미널역)
The final stop on our Line 3 journey is Nambu Bus Terminal. Nambu is the main bus terminal in Seoul serving the Gyeongsang-do, Jeolla-do and Chungcheong-do areas in the far south of Korea. The bus terminal itself is filled with many cafes and fast food eateries if you’re after a quick bite to eat, or in need of your daily kimbab fix. Leaving the station by exit 4-2 you can cross over the Nambu expressway using the famous Aqua Art Bridge (아쿠아아트육교). The Aqua Art Bridge was originally designed by French architect David-Pierre Jalicon and features a huge glass waterfall at one end. It was made famous when it featured in the 2004 KBS drama ‘I’m Sorry, I Love You‘ (미안하다, 사랑한다).
After crossing the bridge and walking a short distance you will reach Seoul Arts Center (예술의 전당). Seoul Arts Center is an art complex space made up of an Opera House, Music Hall, the Hangaram Art Museum, the Hangaram Design Museum and the Seoul Calligraphy Museum. You can buy tickets to the various performances held there at http://sac.or.kr.
If you are a keen hiker or nature lover, you can take a hike up Umyeonsan Mountain (우면산) from the Seoul Arts Center. It takes around 25 minutes to reach the peak, and on a clear day you can see almost all of Seoul, with a great view of Namsan Tower in the north. Finally, if the K-technology culture is more your thing, heading north back towards Gangnam Station (강남역) you will find the Samsung D’light (삼성 딜라이트). Samsung D’light is an exhibition of Samsung’s latest and cutting edge technologies. If you’re a tech junkie, it’s a must visit; and it really highlights Korea’s place as one of the leading technological powers of the world.
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Featured Image: ©zheng2088, 30.08.19, pixabay.com