The Seoul Subway Challenge: LINE 4

Posted by on Sep 26, 2012 in Asia, Destination Articles, Korea | 23 Comments

I’m thrilled to be participating in The Seoul Subway Challenge, an idea by Tom from Waegook Tom. This project requires nine Korea-based bloggers to document unique, off-the-beaten-path places on at least five stops of one specific subway line. I was assigned LINE 4, the light blue line running from Northeastern Seoul all the way to Oido in Gyeonggi province.  I photographed places on eight different stops, accompanied with a short paragraph of text and directions. I hope this post inspires you to venture to some new places in Seoul! Check out the other bloggers’ posts at the bottom of the page.

I will start in the northeast and work my way down south.

1. Nowon 노원

Nowon nightlife: Nowon is packed with bars, barbecue restaurants, shops, and surprisingly lots of hair salons. (I barely ever cut my hair, but when I saw those colorful heart-shaped mirrors in Mix Hair, I fell in love.) There’s a vibrant party scene filled with young people, but then again, Nowon attracts the ajusshi crowd with an array of hofs and meat restaurants. I’m tempted to return to Nowon to shop at the “Oprah” store.

Directions: Any exit–stroll around and choose a bar that catches your eye. 

 

2. Suyu 수유

Hwagyesa Buddhist Templestay 화계사: In June 2011, I participated in a Buddhist Templestay located a short bus ride away from Suyu Station. (Read about it here.) Hwagyesa is a great place to glimpse Korean Buddhism for a couple days, and the remote feeling of the temple’s grounds makes you feel like you’re farther from central Seoul than you actually are.

Directions: At Suyu Station, go out through exit No. 3. Then transfer to the local bus No. 2, and it will take about 15 minutes to get to Hwagyesa.

Price: 40,000 won. You must reserve your space ahead of time. View more info about Hwagyesa on their website.

 

3. Mia Samgeori 미아 삼거리

The Dream Forest 북서울꿈의숲: This newly developed park is a short bus ride away from Mia Samgeori station. It’s a great place to relax, grab a coffee, or mingle with friends. There’s a small cluster of Hanok houses, a pond, an observatory, some restaurants and coffee shops, an art museum, expansive areas of grass, walking paths, short hiking paths and outdoor exercise equipment. The park is especially beautiful in the fall with the changing of the leaves.

Directions: From exit 1, take the local bus #9 or #11 (10min ride) and get out at the Dream Forest Stop, pronounced “buk seoul kum ae sup.” 

Price: Free.

 

4. Hyehwa 혜화

Saju Readings: Hyehwa is a trendy area dominated by young Seoulites–I even heard Nas blasting from a shop while I was walking around. In Hyehwa, you can see a variety of dance, music, and theater performances, eat in quaint, creatively-designed restaurants, or grab a cocktail in a bag from a street vendor. There are Saju (Chinese numerology), palm, face, and Tarot card readers who work in booths on the street and inside some of Hyehwa’s buildings. These readings cost between 3,000 to 10,000 won. For a Saju reading, all you need to bring is your exact birth date (including the time). These readings are fun and can be more accurate than you would suspect. If your language skills aren’t up to par, bring a Korean or linguistically-gifted friend along. (Read a narrative about my Saju reading here.)

Directions: Any exit.

 

5. Myeongdong 명동

Cat Cafe, “Cat Playground” 거양이 놀이터: When your feet tire from shopping and pushing your way through mobs of Japanese tourists, find solace in this surprisingly clean cat cafe. I’m quite the cat lover, and I’ve visited a number of cat cafes in Seoul, but this one is my favorite. The accessories are hysterical, like the tie and collar combo above. The employees may even give you some tuna to make you feel popular among the cats.

Directions: From exit 6 of Myeongdong Station, walk straight and turn right when you see the man dressed in a cat costume. You’ll see a sign. 

Time: It closes at 11 PM.

Price: 8,000 won for entrance and a drink.

 

6. Seoul Racecourse Park 경마 공원

Horse RacingGambling is illegal in Korea–with horse racing being an exception (along with a new casino in Gangwon-do, I believe.) The stadium is filled with anxious spectators, mainly ajusshi, screaming their horses’ names, usually consisting of Konglish words like 모닝 파레임 (Morning Flame). You can make bets from 100 won to 100,000 won. I chose to make two 500 won bets, but I lost both times, because I suck at choosing horses. (Dammit.) Alcohol is illegal in the stadium, but there is a Chinese restaurant, some Korean snack stands, a Cafe Bene, and some mini horses to obsess over.

Directions: From exit 3, walk straight to the stadium. 

Time: Saturday-Sunday, 11-13 races are held from 11AM to 5:30 PM. There are night races in the summer.

Price: 1,000 won entrance fee, payable with T-Money. For more info, visit their website.

 

7. Seoul Grand Park 대공원

The National Museum of Contemporary Art Korea: This museum features conceptual, contemporary art in its galleries and sculpture park. There was a great photography exhibition depicting shots from modern-day Korean households when I visited a week ago. I was also drawn to the featured shrine-like installation consisting of hundreds of TVs and the textile art along the main hallways.

Directions: 

By Shuttle Bus: A free shuttle bus to the museum is available every 20-30 minutes at exit 4.

By Tram: A tram that runs a circular route around the park is available at exit 2. (Fare: Adults 800 Won)

By Foot: Walk from exit 2 in the direction of Seoul Grand Park. The museum is approximately 20 minutes from the subway station.

Price: Free, 5,000 won for special exhibitions. 

Time: Mon-Fri 10 AM to 6 PM, Sat-Sun 10 AM to 9 PM. For more info, visit their website.

 

8. Surisan 수리산

Rock Climbing: I went rock climbing with Sanirang through a Meetup group, but I’m sure you can climb Surisan on your own if you have the right gear. (Read more about it here.)

 

View the remaining lines by these awesome Korea-based bloggers:
-Text and photography by Sarah Shaw @ www.mappingwords.com. All rights reserved.



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23 Comments

  1. Audrey
    September 26, 2012

    The racecourse looks like fun! I didn’t even realize Seoul had one. And now I also kind of want to check out the museum of contemporary art – again, I had never heard of it.
    p.s. Loved the cat with the tie. ;)

    Reply
    • Sarah Shaw
      September 26, 2012

      Thanks, Audrey. You’ve gotta check those two places out! The museum is definitely one of my favorites in Seoul.

      Reply
  2. Kat
    September 26, 2012

    What a cool project! I love the hairdressing salon… and the cats are super cute!

    Reply
    • Sarah Shaw
      September 26, 2012

      Thanks, Kat! It was a cool project–I had a lot of fun with it.

      Reply
  3. Andrea
    September 26, 2012

    Wow, you did so much stuff! I just walked around and took pictures :) Great finds!

    Reply
  4. Sheryll
    September 26, 2012

    oooh, so many places I’ve never heard of. I had no idea Nowon had such a poppin’ nightlife. The shopping looks really cool too…pretty sure I need to go to the Oprah store ;)

    Reply
    • Sarah Shaw
      September 26, 2012

      Yeah, you’ll have to make a trip– I discovered a lot too!

      Reply
  5. Tom @ Waegook Tom
    September 27, 2012

    This is awesome, Sarah! I LOVE Hyehwa – I end up there a lot for some reason. Also, Changgyeong Palace is really close to the station and it’s STUNNING. I’ll definitely consider your recommendation for the Cat Cafe in Myeongdong as my brother will be here soon and he wants to go to one…but I just hate Myeongdong! Way too crowded. Seoul Racecourse Park looks cool, though. I may have to have a flutter on the horses, and I LOVE Seoul Grand Park.

    Reply
    • Sarah Shaw
      September 27, 2012

      Glad you like it, Tom! I agree that the Myeongdong crowds can be super annoying with all the slow walking couples and tourists in high heels. Ughh, I feel your pain. But this cat cafe is the best–and it’s not too far from the station. I would suggest going on a week night if possible. :)

      Reply
  6. Samuel @ Backpacking Travel Blog
    September 27, 2012

    I learned about a lot of new stations here! I’d love to go to Suyu 수유 for a temple stay before I leave Korea in December.

    Reply
    • Sarah Shaw
      September 27, 2012

      Samuel– You absolutely should. It was a great experience.

      Reply
  7. Amanda @ Farsickness
    September 27, 2012

    This was really great! I love your photos. Also, line 4 is surprisingly cool. I love one stop from Nowon and don’t spend any time there. That needs to change. Same with Hyehwa. Seoul Racecourse is so much fun, and I need to check out this contemporary art museum! Fantastic job :)

    Reply
    • Sarah Shaw
      September 27, 2012

      I live so close to Nowon too, and I rarely go out there! I also need to chill in Hyehwa more often–It’s such a cool area. hey, we should meet up sometime! ^^

      Reply
  8. Rachel
    September 28, 2012

    Great post! Some cool stuff on line 4.

    Reply
  9. Seoul Subway Challenge: Line 6 | Chincha
    September 30, 2012

    [...] 1 by World Flavor Line 2 by Backpacking Travel Blog Line 3 by Work Walk About Line 4 by Mapping Worlds Line 5 by Farsickness Line 7 by Waegook Tom Line 8 by The Wanderlust Project Line [...]

    Reply
  10. Loren
    September 30, 2012

    Hi Sarah, love the post! I think you really captured line 4. That art museum sounds awesome and I want to get to Hyehwa immediately.

    Just to let you know, I added some of the SSC photos to a pinterest board. You can see it here:

    http://pinterest.com/chinchamag/seoul-subway-challenge/

    Reply
    • Sarah Shaw
      September 30, 2012

      Hey Loren, thanks! The pinterest board looks awesome!

      Reply
  11. Devan
    October 9, 2012

    I think I need to do another temple-stay…your photos have convinced me. Great post!

    Reply
    • Sarah Shaw
      October 9, 2012

      Thanks, Devan. I was thinking about doing another one sometime too!

      Reply
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