3 Places in Seoul to Celebrate Christmas
January 11, 2017
Christmas is a festive season celebrated worldwide every year; it’s always the holiday I love best. My childhood memories are filled with being driven around by my parents to see the Christmas lights along Orchard Road, and jumping in joy whenever fake snow (made from foam) “drops from the sky”. As I grew older, I began to pay even more attention to details, from sparkling centerpieces to beautiful packages, street decorations, lights, colourful displays … too much to see that Christmas is like a carnival for the eyes. Albeit being entertained by friends and family during the holiday, it has always been my wish to spend Christmas abroad, especially when there are chances of experiencing snow. White Christmas … Oh! So romantic! Well, buckets full of thanks to the boyfriend as I finally spent last Christmas in Seoul!
Unfortunately, we didn’t experience any snow, but the vibrant and merry atmosphere can be felt in major areas in Seoul. I’ve rounded up 3 places where you can spend Christmas in Seoul. Perhaps, this might entice you to plan your year-end trip early (as it’s only January). Haha!
Home to a couple of private universities in Seoul, you’ll notice many youngsters frequenting Sinchon. Prices here for shopping are relatively low as it’s considered a “university street”. Besides shopping for trendy clothes, accessories and shoes, you’ll find many eateries around the area as well. During Christmas, there are beautifully decorated photo-booths set up along the streets, of which, some are even lighted up. This place is perfect for couples as you can take as many instagram-worthy shots as you want, or even mushy shots. Trust me, no one judges you here.
Moreover, a Christmas Market will also be set up along the main street. Exquisite hand-crafted gifts and Christmas treats are sold, and I really enjoyed the fresh, handmade strawberry-mochi. We also noticed a concert going on, and if you walk to the end of the main street, you’ll reach a church that looks majestic at night. Kids get the opportunity to interact with ponies along the main street too! With activities for both the young and old, spending Christmas in the area of Sinchon is perfect.
This place is a major tourist attraction, and ‘cause we decided to ascend the tower on Christmas Day itself, the queue for ticketing, all the way to being onboard the cable car, took more than an hour. Renamed as N. Seoul Tower, the 236.7 meters structure sits atop Namsan Mountain, which is already 243 meters above sea level. Imagine the panoramic views you get as the cable car brings you higher and higher up the mountain.
The shimmering Christmas tree placed right in front of the entrance of the tower draws everyone’s attention. Exploring the vicinity, we came across a platform where hundreds of lovelocks were secured on handrails. There is even a gorgeously lighted-up tunnel which leads you to a viewing deck. Plus, if you stay atop the mountain long enough till the sun sets, you’ll be able to catch the tower lighting up.
PS. We walked from Myeongdong to the cable car station and passed by some fancy departmental stores with Christmas decorations that dazzled our eyes blind. In short, I simply fell in love with the atmosphere – the sights and sounds, and the energized, jovial crowd.
Address: 105 Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan 2(i)ga-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Opening Hours: The Cable Car operates from 10am to 11pm daily. As for the restaurants atop N. Seoul Tower, and the observatory, check their website for more details.
Ticket Pricing for Cable Car:
8,500 won per adult and 5,500 won per child (return ticket)
6,000 won per adult and 3,500 won per child (one-way ticket)
Getting lost in Myeongdong is as easy as ABC with so many lanes criss-crossing the streets. The first stop you need to check out is Myeongdong Cathedral as it will be stunning with all the festive decorations during Christmas period. After that, navigate your way through the crazy crowd as you jostle for a spot to purchase Korean street food. There are so many stalls lining the streets, and a huge variety to choose from – we were spoilt for choice! However, do note that street foods at Myeongdong aren’t as cheap as you think they’re supposed to be. Done feeding your belly? It’s time to pamper yourselves with a shopping spree! There are massive Christmas sales going on at most of the shops and we ended up burning huge holes in our pockets.
Although Christmas celebration in Seoul differs distinctly from those held in Western countries, the underlying emotions still boil down to the same idea. The festive holiday is all about spending time intimately with loved ones, whether friends or family. I’m super happy to say that my very first Christmas in Korea topped all my other Christmases spent in Singapore over two decades of my life. I’m very grateful to have my special half with me in Seoul and am looking forward to planning 2017’s Christmas together!