[Updated 27 Nov 2019]
Even though we’ve been to Korea countless times, we love the fact that there’s always something new or different every time we visit! During our recent trip to Korea with Korea Tourism Organization (Malaysia), Amir and I visited not just Seoul, but also its surrounding areas like Incheon and Gyeonggi-do. We also saw a different side of Seoul and for repeat travellers like us, it made us love Korea even more ?
What's more, this bustling city is brimming with exciting sightseeing spots
, shopping paradises
, and theme parks
too. Not forgetting the mosque and prayer spaces
as well as many delicious Muslim-friendly restaurants in Seoul
! Come and discover Korea your way on Korea Tourism Organization (Malaysia)'s website
To help you plan your next Korea trip, here’s a 6D5N Muslim-friendly itinerary of Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi-do! But don’t worry, even if it’s your first time to Seoul, you’ll find useful tips in this article too.
Flight to Seoul (6h)
- We took a red-eye flight on Korean Air to get to Seoul - I flew from Singapore while Amir flew from KL. Both flights from Singapore and KL arrived around 6/7am in the morning, which is convenient as we could start our day as soon as we arrived.
- The Muslim meal served was fish with sweet and sour sauce on the flight to Seoul and beef rendang for our return flight. The beef rendang was really yummy but we couldn’t help but to look at the non-Muslim meal in envy as there was an option for bibimbap!
- One thing we loved about Korean Air was its ample leg space, which was perfect as we had to catch some sleep on the flight.
Collect Wi-Fi device from Incheon Airport (15min)
- We got our pocket Wi-Fi from Klook as there was a sale and it was really affordable ($3/RM9 per day)! You can conveniently pick it up and drop it off at Seoul’s Incheon and Gimpo airports or Busan’s Gimhae Airport. Look out for the KT Olleh counter at the Arrival Hall!
- The device can connect up to 3 devices and there’s unlimited 4G Wi-Fi coverage!
- #HHWT Tip: Do note that you can only book your device using a credit card (which must be under your name) and you’ll have to present your card when collecting the device.
Day 1: Ganghwa Island, Incheon
- For our first stop of the trip, we didn’t go straight to Seoul but went to Ganghwa Island in Incheon instead.
- Located about a 1.5-hour drive from Seoul, Ganghwa used to be the hub for Korea’s fabric industry but eventually, the demand for fabrics died down after the 1970s.
- But in recent years, the island has been revived into a spot for tourists and locals and visitors can learn more about Ganghwa’s history.
Getting to Ganghwa Island from Seoul/Incheon
- From Seoul, it takes about 2 hours to get to Ganghwa Island by public transport. Take bus 3000 from either Hapjeong (subway line 2,6), Hongik University (subway line 2, Airport railroad, Gyeong-ui) or Sinchon station (subway line 2) which will bring you to Ganghwa Terminal.
- Do note that if you’re from Incheon Airport, there’s no direct bus to Ganghwa but you can take the Airport Railroad line to Geomam Station (exit 2), then transfer to bus 90 to Ganghwa Terminal.
- #HHWT Tip: Download the Naver Maps app (Android | iOS) to navigate around Korea as it’s very reliable as compared to Google Maps.
Learn about Ganghwa’s textile history and design your own handkerchief (1.5h)
- One of the places where you can learn about Ganghwa’s textile history is Sochang Experience Center.
- The centre is housed in a refurbished hanok (Korean traditional house) which once used to be the Pyeonghwa Fabric Company. At its peak, there were around 1300 factories producing fabric in Ganghwa Island but only 10 are still operating.
- “Sochang” refers to a fabric that was widely produced on Ganghwa and it was very popular with the Koreans as they used it in their daily life for diapers and sanitary napkins.
- One of the great things about sochang was that it’s made of 100% cotton so it dries up really quickly.
- Fun fact: the fabric used to be woven using handlooms and there were around 4000 workers on the island which were replaced by power looms.
- Here’s where you can design your own handkerchief by using stamps to decorate on a sochang.
- Each session lasts around 20 minutes and there’ll be an instructor. Though the session is conducted in Korean, it’s not difficult to figure out how to go about designing your handkerchief!
- This was a very fun experience and we loved that the stamps reflected what Ganghwa was famous like radish, grapes and ginseng. Definitely an activity you’d want to do if you’re travelling with your family!
- What’s even better is that admission to Sochang Experience Center is free of charge ?
- To make reservations for the handkerchief session, call +81 32-934-2500 (Korean language only) or make a reservation through the Ganghwa government district office.
- Address: 8 Nammunan-gil 20 beon-gil, Ganghwa-eup, Ganghwa-gun, Incheon
- Opening hours: 10am-6pm (Apr-Oct), 10am-5pm (Nov-Mar), closed on Mondays
- Directions: From Ganghwa Terminal, you can take buses 18, 49, Daesalli, 96, 25 and 1 and alight at Ganghwagun Office bus stop or buses 88 or 37 to Suhyup bus stop. From either bus stop, walk for about 5 minutes to Sochang Center. Do note that buses are quite infrequent in Ganghwa.
Hang out at a former textile factory (1h)
Credit: @yuzung_ on Instagram
- After an educational morning, it’s time to chill out at Joyang Bangjik, a former textile factory which is now a vintage hipster cafe!
Credit: @koreanhailey on Instagram
- The building dates back to 1933 and it’s now a cafe, gallery and art space all in one.
- There’s also an experience room where you’ll be able to see the sewing tools and machines used in the 1800s.
- With vintage items scattered around the cafe and plenty of Insta-worthy backdrops, snapping the perfect photo here is a must! Be sure to look out for this iconic London telephone booth!
- Halal status: Do note that besides coffee, tea and other beverages, Joyang Bangjik serves desserts and light bites but we are unable to confirm their Muslim-friendly status. We advise you to check for alcohol or animal derivatives in the desserts and consume at your own discretion.
- Address: 589-23 Sinmun-ri, Ganghwa-eup, Kanghwa, Incheon, South Korea
- Opening hours: Mon-Wed, 11am-9pm, Thur-Sun, 11am-10pm
- Directions: From Sochang, take bus 32, 96 or 20 from Ganghwagun Office Board, alight at Girls’ High School and walk for about 3 minutes to Joyang.
Savour kalguksu for lunch (1h)
- For lunch, it’s time to savour a local delicacy, clam kalguksu (knife-cut wheat noodles) at Ganghwa Seon Kalguksu Bon Jeom (강화손칼국수 본점).
- Kalguksu can be eaten all-year round but it’s very popular in summer. Clam kalguksu is a must-try as clams in Ganghwa Island are known to be fresh due to its proximity to the sea.
- Just look at how big our bowl was! We got the original kalguksu which was priced at 7000KRW per serving. All the servings are placed in the same bowl depending on the number or people at your table.
- It was our first time trying kalguksu and the noodles were thicker and more chewy than the handmade noodles we’re used to. The soup was a really refreshing treat in summer!
- If you love spicy food, you can also opt for the spicy clam kalguksu (8000 KRW).
- We also had the leek pancake (puchujeon - 7000KRW) and fried shrimps on the side. Seafood pancake (haemul pajeon) is usually the more popular choice in Korea but in Ganghwa, the locals eat puchujeon more so it was interesting to have a taste of it.
- Halal status: Only seafood and vegetarian dishes sold. We’ve also checked that the sauces and dishes don’t contain any animal derivatives or alcohol. Do note that alcohol is served to other customers. We recommend that you dine at your own discretion.
- Address: 678 Ganghwanam-ro, Yangdo-myeon, Kanghwa, Incheon, South Korea
- Opening hours: 11am till noodles run out, closed on Wed
- Directions: From Ganghwa Bus Terminal, take bus 40, 48 and 49, alight at Gongsuk Entrance.
Go on Asia’s largest luge course (1h)
- Did you know that Ganghwa Island is also home to Asia’s largest luge course?
- The Mega Luge at Ganghwa Seaside Resort has two 1.8km luge courses with a breathtaking view of the island’s mountains ?
- We had to take a gondola all the way up the hill and were greeted with this amazing view! We could also see the luge track beneath us and that built up our excitement.
- For the luge ride, we had to wear a helmet before the staff briefed us on how to operate the luge.
- It was me and Amir’s first time riding the luge but the instructions were fairly simple so even if you’re a first-timer, there’s nothing to worry about!
- Though both courses are 1.8km long, one course has longer and gentle slopes while the other has more thrilling turns.
- We opted for the latter and needless to say, we really enjoyed our first experience on the luge and wished it was longer!
- Admission fee: from 12000 KRW (for Gondola and Luge x 1). Click here for the prices.
- Address: 281-1 Seondu-ri San, Gilsang-myeon, Ganghwa-gun, Incheon
- Opening hours: 9am-7pm (weekdays), 9am-9pm (weekends), 8am-9pm (holidays)
- Directions: Take bus 5 or 59 from Ganghwa Terminal and alight at Gangnam Store
- #HHWT Tip: For a fuss-free trip to Ganghwa Island, we recommend Klook’s Ganghwa Island full-day tour which includes the luge, the handkerchief design experience at Sochang, a seaside railway bike and more. Click here to find out more!
Enjoy your first dinner with Korean BBQ (1h)
Credit: @yanggood on Instagram
- It’s finally time to make your way to Seoul for dinner! Why not have a scrumptious Korean BBQ meal at Yang Good to celebrate your first night in Seoul?
- Yang Good is the only authentic Korean BBQ place in Korea to serve halal-certified lamb and chicken!
- Choose from their various meat platters which range from 13000-25000 KRW and you can grill the meat yourself or the staff will help you.
- It’s so hard to resist the smell of barbecued meat and the sizzling sound it makes. A dining experience here is definitely a must!
- Halal status: Halal meats and ingredients used. As alcohol is served to other customers, we advise you to dine at your own discretion.
- Address: 15 Nonhyeon-ro 95-gil, Yeoksam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
- Opening hours: 4pm-11.30pm, closed on Sun
Check into your hotel
- After your flight and a long day at Ganghwa Island, it’s finally time to check into your hotel and rest for the night!
Day 2: Gangnam
Marvel at the beauty of Starfield Library (1-1.5h)
- Rise and shine! Spend a relaxing morning at the Starfield Library located in the Starfield COEX Mall.
- This picturesque library went viral when it opened 2 years ago due to its towering bookshelves.
- One of our favourite spots for photos is on this escalator with the backdrop of the famous bookshelf. Do note that you might have to wait a while before getting that unobstructed shot!
- #HHWT Tip: Come here in the late morning when the sun is shining through the glass roof of the library so you’ll have higher chances of getting that shot you want.
- Can you believe there are over 50,000 books and magazines here? In case you’re wondering, the books on the upper shelves are purely meant for aesthetic purposes.
- It’s very therapeutic to just sit down for a moment and observe the locals as they go about their daily lives. As there’s only a small section of English magazines, we recommend that you bring your own book to read!
- Although taking IG-worthy photos here is a must, do bear in mind that this is still ultimately a library so do keep your voices down.
- Address: B1/1F, 955-9 Daechi-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
- Opening hours: 10am-10pm
Savour authentic Turkish flavours at Kervan (1h)
- Turkish food in Korea? We kid you not! Kervan is one of the most popular Turkish restaurants in Korea with several branches and it’s one of the few halal eateries in Starfield COEX Mall.
- We ordered the lunch sets (12900KRW) which were really worth it!
- One of our favourites was the Chicken Steak Kulbasti which was barbecued to perfection with the right amount of seasoning. It paired really well with the rice and sauce too.
- The Peymajun was pretty interesting too. It’s actually a Turkish-style thin crispy cheese pizza but served with honey on the side as a dip!
- Halal status: Halal-certified
- Address: B1, Starfield COEX Mall
- Opening hours: Sun-Thur, 10.30am-10pm, Fri-Sat, 10.30am-11pm
Spend an afternoon at Garosu-gil (2h)
- Time for some shopping (or window-shopping ?) and people-watching at Garosu-gil, one of Seoul’s trendiest spots!
- Garosu-gil has become a cool hangout spot in recent years as many celebrities tend to frequent the area and introduce new places to their fans. So, many young Koreans actually come here for a chance to spot their favourite stars!
- Garosu-gil actually means “tree-lined street” and that’s because of these gingko trees which turn a gorgeous shade of yellow in autumn, making it an IG-worthy spot.
- What we really loved the most about Garosu-gil was its unique and picture-perfect storefronts and cafes.
- One store which caught our eye was Cafe Kitsune! A cafe by Parisian fashion label Maison Kitsune, everything about this cafe screams hipster with its outdoor seating areas, fairy lights with some greenery for good measure.
- Don’t miss a visit to the LINE Friends Store! You’ll be greeted with a huge figure of Brown and plenty of merchandise on the first floor.
- But head up to the second floor and you’ll find plenty of photo spots with the LINE friends. Have as much fun as you want and snap lots of photos with your favourite characters ?
Have dinner at New York’s famous kebab store (1h)
- Did you know there are 3 outlets of New York’s most famous kebab store - The Halal Guys?
- Who knew that this chain which started out from a pushcart along the streets of New York would make its way to Seoul!
- We knew we had to order their platter as it’s the most iconic dish! In case you’re wondering, The Halal Guys is best known for this platter which has chicken or meat gyro over rice, topped with delicious red and white sauces.
- There were 3 different platter sizes and you can choose your preferred choice of meat. We opted for the combo (mix of chicken and beef gyro) regular platter (11900KRW)
- It was a treat to look at the eatery staff prepare our meal. The smell of meat lingering throughout the store definitely made out mouths water!
- Needless to say, The Halal Guys tasted like everything we expected it to be. The meat was juicy and tender and paired really well with the rice.
- The sauces were definitely what made it special - the white sauce was a slightly tangy and tasted a little like mayonnaise but it wasn’t so cloying. The red sauce was REALLY spicy so make sure you don’t ask for too much of it unless you love spicy food!
- Halal status: Halal ingredients used
- Address: 8 Gangnam-daero 69-gil, Seocho 4(sa)-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul, South Korea, Opening hours: 11am-10pm daily (we visited the outlet at Gangnam but there are outlets in Hongdae and Itaewon too)
- Opening Hours: 11am-10pm daily
Visit the Han River (2h)
- End the night by spending some time along the Han River at Banpo Hangang Park.
- During the day, you can spot the locals throwing a frisbee in the park, cycling along the river and peddling on a swan boat.
- After sundown, the atmosphere at the Han River changes completely thanks to the Banpo Bridge Rainbow Fountain show
- Don’t miss out because here's where you’ll be able to watch in awe as 380 rainbow-coloured jets spew out water!
- Address: 40 Sinbanpo-ro 11-gil, Banpo 2(i)-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul, South Korea
- Show's timetable:
- April-June and September-October: Mon-Fri; 12PM, 9PM, 9.30PM, 10PM, Sat-Sun; 12PM, 8.30PM, 9PM, 9.30PM, 10PM
- July-August: Mon-Fri; 12PM, 8.30PM, 9PM, 9.30PM, 10PM, Sat-Sun; 12PM, 8.30PM, 9PM, 9.30PM, 10PM, 10.30PM
Day 3: Pocheon, Daehak-ro
Spend a morning at Pocheon Art Valley (3h)
- One of the things that Korea is known for is its K-dramas and many filming spots have been turned into tourist attractions. One such spot is the Pocheon Art Valley in Gyeonggi-do!
- Located about a 1-1.5h drive from Seoul, the art valley was once an abandoned quarry but it has been transformed into an arts and culture space.
- #HHWT Tip: If you’re taking public transport from Seoul, take a bus from Dong Seoul terminal (Gangbyeon station) to the Pocheon Intercity bus terminal. From the terminal, walk to Sineup 7 Tong.IBK Bank Ap bus stop and take bus 73 which will bring you straight to the art valley. Do note that bus timings are limited: 8.30am, 10.40am, 1.40pm, 4pm
- Alternatively, you can also sign up with a tour on Klook which will bring you to the art valley, a strawberry farm and herb island.
- There are various attractions at Pocheon Art Valley - the Cheonjuho Lake, a sculpture park and an astronomy science museum - and there are all located up a mountain.
- We recommend taking a monorail up the mountain (costs 4500KRW two-way) and you’ll be able to admire the view of the surrounding mountains.
- But if you’re feeling energetic, you can also walk up the mountain which will take you around 15 minutes.
- The Cheonjuho Lake is the highlight of Pocheon Art Valley! The lake was formed after granite was excavated and it was filled with rainfall and spring water. Fun fact: the water is emerald green due to the reflection of the granite underwater ?
- Calling all K-drama fans - this was also the filming location for Legend of the Blue Sea (starring Lee Min Ho and Jeon Ji-Hyun), Korean Odyssey and other dramas!
- Address: 234 Artvalley-ro, Sinbuk-myeon, Pocheon-si, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea
- Opening hours: 9am-10pm daily except Mon (till 9pm in winter, last entrance at 8pm), 9am-7pm (Mon)
- Admission fee: 5000KRW (Adult), 1500KRW (Children), monorail fare is separate
Head back to Seoul
- It’s back to Seoul to explore the Daehak-ro neighbourhood or university street. It’s known as Seoul’s theatre and performing arts and hence, it’s a great place to feel the youthful energy of Seoul’s student population.
Try authentic Persian cuisine for lunch (1h)
- One of the few halal eateries in Daehak-ro is Persian Palace which specialises in authentic Persian cuisine.
- It was our first time trying out Persian cuisine so we were super thrilled to find out what was in store for us.
- We were captivated by the elaborate interior of the restaurant, which reflected Persian history and culture and nicely put us in the mood for Persian food!
- Turns out Persian cuisine is a cross between Indian and Middle Eastern food! We had the chef’s recommendations - Kobideh Kebab, Bakhtiari Kebab, Persian-style biryani and Goshto Badamjam.
- While the meats were all grilled to tender perfection, one dish that was really memorable was the Goshto Badamjam which consists of meat (from a 7-month-old lamb), eggplant, tomato and cilantro. We dipped naan bread into the stew and it was the best combination ever ? The average price for our meals are between 19000 and 23000KRW.
- The great thing about Persian Palace is that we could do our prayers at the small prayer room. Do note that it’s not gender-segregated and you’d have to bring your own prayer garments.
- Halal status: Muslim-owned
- Address: 9 Sungkyunkwan-ro 6-gil, Myeongnyun 2(i)ga, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea (in front of Sungkyungkwan University)
- Opening hours: 10.30am-9.30pm daily
Go on a hike at Naksan Park (1.5h)
- After lunch, it’s time to burn off all those calories with a short hike at Naksan Park near Daehak-ro.
- Fun fact: Naksan means “camel mountain” and that’s because the mountain resembles a camel’s back!
- Though not popular with locals, Naksan Park was the shooting location for several dramas such as The Heirs (starring Lee Min-Ho and Park Shin-Hye). And it’s all thanks to the great view!
- On one side, you’ll see the Daehak-ro neighbourhood and on the other side, you’ll get to spot the N Seoul Tower.
- There’s also an 18km wall which once used to be part of the Seoul city wall during the Joseon dynasty. If you walk along the wall, you’ll reach the famous Ihwa Mural Village!
- Address: 41 Naksan-gil, Ihwa-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea, open 24h
- Directions: You can reach the top of Naksan Park by taking bus Jongno03 from Jongno5(o)-ga, Dongdaemun or Dongmyo stations. But if you plan to hike up the mountain, you’d have to walk from Hyehwa station (exit 2) along Daehak-ro 8-gil, turn right into Dongsung-gil then turn left into Gudari-gil all the way up.
Catch a performance at Daehak-ro (1.5-2h)
- What’s a visit to Daehak-ro without watching a performance? One of the best shows that we’d recommend is Fanta-stick - it’s the longest running Korean folk music show!
- It was an eye-opening experience as the show infused elements of gugak (Korean folk music), pansori (Korean opera) and modern dance and beats.
- Even though we don’t understand Korean, we still enjoyed the performance as it was a non-verbal show and the expressions of the characters were enough to make us laugh or cry!
Have the yummiest Korean fried chicken at Kampungku (1h)
- For dinner, head over to Kampungku in Myeongdong!
- Specialising in both Korean and Malaysian cuisine, including fusion dishes, Kampungku is a favourite among many Muslim travellers.
- One of the must-try dishes here is undoubtedly their Korean fried chicken! We were super excited to try it as it we’ve heard a lot of good reviews about it.
- Needless to say, the Korean fried chicken exceeded our expectations! We ordered the crunchy chicken (10000KRW) and 2 types of yangnyeom (sweet and spicy, 11000KRW). Though the yangnyeom chicken was coated in sauce, we could still taste the crunchiness - this is definitely one of the best Korean fried chicken we’ve ever tasted!
- Besides the fried chicken, other dishes we really enjoyed were the bibimbap, japchae and bulgogi with rice. They also serve Korean Army Stew if you want something to share with your travel buddies.
- If you miss the taste of home, we recommend getting some nasi lemak or nasi goreng kampung to go with your Korean food.
- Halal status: Halal ingredients used (cooked by a Muslim chef), prayer room in establishment
- Address: Jong-ro 20-gil, Namsandong 2(i)-ga, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
- Opening Hours: 11am-10pm daily
- Directions: From Myeongdong Station (Line 4), take exit 2 or 3 then walk along Toegye-ro 20-gil for about 5 minutes. You should be able to spot the N Seoul Tower as you're walking towards Kampungku.
- Guess what we found opposite Kampungku? Halal-certified bubble tea from The Bus Stop! We were pleasantly surprised that the bubble tea was certified by the Korea Muslim Federation. The Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Milk Tea was so good it left us wanting more (5000KRW)
- Address: The Bus Stop, 26-1, Toegye-ro 20-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
- Opening hours: Mon-Fri, 8.30am-10pm, Sat-Sun, 10am-10pm
Stock up on Korean snacks and products at Kampungku Mart (30min)
- Just beside Kampungku Restaurant is a halal mart which just opened in December in 2018.
Day 4: Namsan, Itaewon
Try out a hanbok at N Seoul Tower (1.5h)
- The N Seoul Tower might be a popular tourist attraction to catch a bird’s eye view of Seoul but there are many other activities you can do there too.
- As we’ve never tried on a hanbok, we decided to head to the Hanbok Culture Experience Center located at B1F of N Seoul Tower.
- What we loved about the Center was the extensive variety of hanbok that they had - you could dress up as a King, a guard, a Queen, a palace maid and so on. Not to forget the wide selection of ornaments too, especially for women’s hanbok.
- We opted for the King’s costume and the staff dressed us up. There weren’t too many layers as we had expected but we could still feel the weight of the costume. Imagine what it was like for the Joseon dynasty kings who wore it on a daily basis!
- There were also multiple backdrops in the centre itself such as the King’s phoenix throne room, the Queen’s quarters and various houses of noblemen. It felt like we were on the set of a Korean historical drama!
- Price: 2000KRW (entrance), 18000KRW (Silver), 28000KRW (Gold), 58000KRW (Diamond)
- Address: B1F, N Seoul Tower
- Opening hours: 10am-7pm (last entry at 6pm)
Visit the first-ever Kakao friends theme park (1h)
- Located on the fourth floor of N Seoul Tower is the newly opened Ryan Cheezzzball Adventure - the first-ever Kakao friends theme park. What’s more interesting is that it’s a virtual reality (VR) theme park!
- If you’re a fan of Kakao friends, then you’d definitely want to hang out with your favourite characters like Ryan, Apeach, Muzi, Tube and more.
- There are 3 different VR zones and for each of them, you’ll be following Ryan Cheezzzball and there’ll be a mission for you to complete.
- Our favourite was the ZZZ Express, a VR roller coaster. Once we put on the VR glasses, it felt so surreal to be away from the physical world for a moment and just get lost in the VR world!
- #HHWT Tip: Don’t leave Ryan Cheezzzball Adventure without getting any exclusive merchandise! With plenty of plush toys, stationery, badges, magnets and t-shirts, you’ll definitely shop to your heart’s content!
- Admission fee: 10000KRW (1 VR zone), 16000KRW (2 VR zone), 20000KRW (3 VR zone)
- Address: 4F, N Seoul Tower, Opening hours: 10am-10pm
Lunch at Murree (1h)
- Time for lunch at Itaewon, Seoul’s Muslim neighbourhood where you’ll find plenty of halal eateries!
- We decided to try Murree, the first-ever restaurant in Seoul to serve halal Korean cuisine since 2008.
- Though often overshadowed by more prominent halal Korean restaurants in Seoul, we were pleased to find out that the Korean menu here is really extensive.
- From the usual favourites like bulgogi and bibimbap to dakdoritang (spicy chicken stew), dakgalbi (spicy stir-fried chicken), galbitang (short beef ribs soup), kimchi jjiggae and more, there’s something for everyone at Murree!
- We managed to speak to the Chef and turns out, he’s a Sri Lankan who’s been in Korea for years and he learnt to cook Korean cuisine from a Korean Chef. We were impressed that he could speak Korean so fluently!
- Our main highlight was of course, this cheese dakgalbi (20000KRW). As it’s hard to find halal dakgalbi in Seoul, we knew we had to grab the opportunity to try this!
- The dakgalbi was very spicy but luckily, the cheese balanced out the flavours. As the portions are very big, we recommend sharing your dishes.
- Halal status: Muslim-owned
- Address: 20, Usadan-ro 10-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
- Opening hours: 11am-10pm daily
Pray at Seoul Central Mosque (30min)
- A visit to Seoul won’t be complete without visiting the Seoul Central Mosque!
- Being Korea’s largest mosque and the only mosque in the Seoul area, we love the fact that Muslims of different races all come here to fulfil their obligations to Allah, and that’s a beautiful thing to observe ?
Grab a Korean street snack (30 min)
- Though we just had lunch, we couldn’t help but try some halal street snacks from Manis Kitchen. It’s located right outside the mosque!
- Here’s where you can get your fill of halal Korean street snacks like tteokbokki (3000KRW), kimbap (3000KRW), odeng (fishcake, 700KRW) and corn dogs (1500-2000KRW). They also serve kimchi fried rice and shrimp fried rice if you want a full meal here.
- Look at how pleased we were to have gotten halal tteokbokki! And we also ordered some strawberry shaved ice with ice cream to beat the heat ?
- Manis Kitchen’s owner is Safiya Kang, a prominent Korean-Muslim revert but unfortunately, we didn’t get to meet her while we were there.
- Halal status: Muslim-owned
- Address: in front of Seoul Central Mosque
- Opening hours: Tue-Sun, 10am-8pm
Relive your childhood at Olaf Theme Pop-up Store & Cafe (1.5h)
Credit: @smoremarket on Instagram
- Frozen fans, this one’s for you! The Olaf Theme Pop-up Store and Cafe is full of Frozen decorations and merchandise ?
- The pop-up store was actually opened in conjunction with the Frozen 2 movie and it will only be opened till 6 December 2019.
Credit: @smoremarket on Instagram
- Get your hands on exclusive merchandise or just chill out with their selection of coffee and mocktails.
- There’s a themed corner complete with rocking chairs, decorative fireplace and a Frozen movie playing in the background!
- Don’t forget to go all the way up to the rooftop where you’ll find a wooden bench with decorated autumn trees. Be sure to take pictures here!
- Address: 17, Hoenamu-ro 6-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
- Opening hours: Tue-Fri, 12pm-10pm, Sat-Sun, 11am-10pm, closed on Mon (only till 6 November 2019)
- Directions: From Noksapyeong station exit 4 (line 6), take bus Yongsan03, alight at Daeseong Church bus stop, then walk up Hoenamu-ro 6-gil for about 2-3 minutes.
Try healthy traditional Korean food for dinner (1h)
- After having all the good food, it’s time for a cleanse with a healthy traditional Korean meal at Maji.
- Located in a traditional house in the Seochon district near Gyeongbokgung, Maji specialises in vegan temple food.
- We had the dinner set menu which included a selection of dishes like japchae, pancake, shiitake mushrooms, side dishes, lotus leaf rice and more.
- We’ve never tried vegan temple food before so it was really eye-opening and fascinating to learn about this cuisine.
- As our table of food consists of around 5 colours, the staff actually explained that it’s important to consume food from all colours in our daily diet as each colour is supposed to be healthy for a body part (eg. heart, liver etc).
- What’s different about the food at Maji is that everything is prepared using organic ingredients, with minimal or no oil. They also don’t use any garlic or onion in their cooking.
- One of the main highlights of our meal was gujeolpan (the colourful dish in the middle) - this dish was once only enjoyed by the nobility and there are 9 ingredients such as carrot, baby pumpkin, radish, mushroom, beetroot, paprika and more.
- To eat this, we had to put all the ingredients on a paper-thin flour cake, wrap it like a tortilla and dip it in their fruit sauce.
- It was really refreshing and it felt good to eat healthy food once in a while! We also learnt that this dish is good for curing diabetes and stomach ache.
- It may seem like a simple dish but it actually takes 4 hours to make so you’d have to reserve in advance (by calling or through Facebook) if you want to try this.
- Halal status: Only vegan ingredients used
- Address: 19, Jahamun-ro 5-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
- Opening hours: Mon-Sat, 11.30am-10pm, Sun, 12pm-9pm, Contact No: +82 2-536-5228
Day 5: Bukhansan, Ikseon-dong
Go hiking in Bukhansan (2h)
- We started off day 5 with a hike at Bukhansan, a mountain located in the northern part of Seoul. It’s one of the most popular hiking spots among locals!
- The peak of Bukhansan is 836-metres tall and there are 20 trails but not all of them reach the summit.
- As we didn’t have enough time to hike all the way up to the peak of Bukhansan, we opted for course no.1, the Dulegil course which took only about an hour. It was a fairly easy walk so don’t worry if you’re not an avid hiker!
- But if you have time to spare and are up for a challenge, take the Bukhansanseong course which will you all the way to Baegundae Park in 2.5 hours!
- During our hike, we spotted many local senior citizens and it’s amazing how they were still very energetic at their age! Kudos to them!
- #HHWT Tip: Do wear comfortable shoes as there are many rocks at Bukhansan.
- Though our trail didn’t reach the summit of Bukhansan, it was still nice to enjoy a slice of nature in the bustling city!
- Directions: If you’re planning to hike the Dulegil course, take the subway to Bukhansan Ui station (Ui Sinseol Line) and take exit 2.
- Find out more about the hiking courses and opening hours here.
Lunch at Myeongdongjeong (1h)
- After the hike, we were famished and couldn’t wait to eat!
- To celebrate our morning hike, we decided to go for a traditional Korean course meal at Myeongdongjeong, located near Myeongdong station.
- What we loved about Myeongdongjeong was the traditional atmosphere as we were brought into a private dining room. It’s not always that we get to dine at a traditional Korean restaurant so this was a great experience!
- We ordered the lunch set meal (15000KRW) and it consisted of scrumptious treats like japchae, tteokbokki, jeon (traditional pancakes), various types of fish, squid, kimchi soup and more. It definitely felt like a meal fit for a King!
- We really loved the japchae as the noodles were full of flavour and the texture was just right.
- #HHWT Tip: As traditional Korean cuisine is always expensive, we recommend that you take advantage of the lunch set. Usually, it’ll cost around 40000-5000KRW!
- Halal status: Muslim-friendly menu set (seafood) available and no meat/alcohol is used in preparation. No pork is served in the restaurant but other non-halal meats are served. While Muslim-friendly dishes are prepared separately from non-halal meats, the same utensils are used. Alcohol is also served in the restaurant. We advise you to dine at your own discretion.
- You can request for halal beef but do note that you’d need to make a reservation in advance by calling +82-2-3789-5132.
- P. S. Do note that to dine at the restaurant, you’ll need to be in a group and you can’t order takeaway.
- Address: 299, Samil-daero, Jung-gu, Seoul
- Opening hours: 11.30am-9.30pm
Hang out at Ikseon-dong (2h)
- After a morning of workout, what better way to chill out than to spend a slow afternoon? Head over to Ikseon-dong Hanok Alley, one of Seoul’s up-and-coming spots!
- This neighbourhood is brimming with unique shops and hipster cafes and when we went, there were many locals hanging out here too.
- The houses and buildings here actually date back to the 1920s! It’s amazing how many of the shops and cafes have managed to retain the traditional architecture and at the same time, infuse their own style into the old houses.
- Be sure to check out Madang Flower House for these Insta-worthy umbrellas. If you’re a fan of flowers, you’d want to check out their collection of flowers and flower-themed souvenirs too. Or perhaps you’d want to have a cup of flower tea in their cafe too?
- We also made a coffee stop at Seoul Coffee 1945. The traditional elements in the cafe are still intact and it was aesthetically pleasing ? Plus, we loved the glass ceiling concept as there was plenty of light, perfect for a coffee shot!
- Ikseon-dong is one of those places that we can hang out at for hours and explore its nooks and crannies. Check out our full guide on Ikseon-dong here!
- Directions: To get to Ikseon-dong, take subway line 1, 3 or 5 to Jongno 3(sam)-ga station and take exit 4. Cross the narrow road and you can start exploring the neighbourhood!
Marvel at the architecture at Arc N Book (1h)
- Arc N Book is one of Seoul’s most unique bookstores which opened late last year.
- Although it’s located just 5 minutes away from the bustling shopping district of Myeongdong, it’s still largely a hidden gem and feels like a world away from the busy city.
- The most striking feature at Arc N Book is this dazzling archway in the centre of the store made up entirely from books which have been glued together.
- There are two of these archways in the store and we’re pretty amazed at how they managed to create this marvellous sight!
- Apart from the archway, other parts of the bookstore are pretty charming as well, like this London telephone booth (which is actually a book search counter!) and glamorous reception counters which look like they are from the set of The Great Gatsby movie ?
- In case you’re wondering, there are English books in the store and plenty of seats for you to sit and read books, much like a library!
- Address: 29, Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul
- Opening hours: 10am-10pm daily
- Directions: Arc N Book is located right outside exit 1-1 of Euljiro 1(il)-ga station (line 2).
Indulge in an Indian feast for dinner (1h)
- For our last night in Seoul, we decided to indulge in an Indian feast for dinner at Taj, located near the Myeongdong shopping streets.
- It’s known for serving one of the best Indian food in Seoul, so we were excited to try it out!
- We ordered some of our favourite Indian dishes like naan and butter chicken but instead of chicken tikka, we got some fish tikka masala instead.
- The butter chicken was a little sweeter than what we are used to but it was still a familiar and comforting taste. While the fish tikka had a charred taste on the outside, we just wished the fish could have more flavour.
- Halal status: Halal ingredients used, alcohol is served in establishment
- Address: 73, Myeongdong-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
- Opening hours: 11.30am-10pm
Try a healing tea therapy session (1-1.5h)
- It’s the last day of our trip :( We decided to wind down by trying out a healing tea therapy session at Tea Therapy in Bukchon.
- For the uninitiated, tea therapy is where medicinal herbs and tea are used to treat ailments. It’s a rising trend in Korea among the younger generation as the pace of life is really hectic and tea therapy helps calm them down.
- How it works is that you’ll have to refer to answer the questions on this flowchart and your answers will lead you to a colour - either yellow, green, orange or brown. Then you’ll look at the tea menu and choose the tea which corresponds to your colour.
- There’s an extensive variety of tea here from Honey Ginger to Citron, Goji Berry, Jujube, Ginseng and more. The most popular ones are the Qi-Booster (helps boost energy), Anti-Aging and Stress-free.
- We tried one of the more traditional tea called Sang-wha. Ginseng and other herbs are boiled and it’s meant to help get rid of cold and boost energy.
- It was a little bitter but we knew that it’s good for our health, so we finished the whole bowl of it ? It helped that there were some dried jujube and nuts to balance out the taste.
- Besides the different tea and their properties, we were also captivated by the various tea leaves or roots which were sold in the cafe.
- We had a nice chat with the staff and found out that the owner of Tea Therapy used to be a traditional medicinal doctor. He wanted to change the perception that medicinal herbs are only for treatments and show that it can also be infused with tea.
- What’s unique about this cafe is that rather than using just tea leaves, they blend 2-3 different herbs including the roots, branch or bark of a tree and roast them in-house.
- Address: 74, Yunboseon-gil, Jongno-Gu, Seoul
- Opening hours: 10am-8pm (winter), 10am-9pm (summer)
- Directions: From Anguk station exit 2 (line 3), walk along Bukchon-ro, turn left into Bukchon-ro 5-gil then turn left again into Yunboseon-gil (10 min from Gyeongbokgung)
Lunch at Halal Kitchen (1h)
- Before heading to the airport, head over to Halal Kitchen in Bukchon for your final Korean meal!
- Halal Kitchen is owned by a Korean Muslim, Hassan Lee and there are only 2 items on the menu - samgyetang (ginseng chicken soup) and bulgogi hotpot.
- We recommend getting the bulgogi hotpot (17000KRW)! Thinly shaved meat is marinated overnight in a sweet and savoury sauce, then left to cook on a stove top griddle. There’s no way you can resist this!
- The beef is really tender and there are rice cakes, mushrooms and japchae which pair perfectly with the beef.
- Halal status: Muslim-owned, prayer facilities in establishment
- Address: 86-4, Samcheong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
- Opening hours: 12-3pm, 5-8pm, closed on Tue
- Directions: Halal Kitchen is only a 10-minute walk from Tea Therapy. Turn into Bukchon-ro 5-gil then turn right into Samcheong-ro till you see Halal Kitchen.
Say goodbye to Seoul
- As we had some time to kill before our flight, we made use of the airport’s amazing facilities such as the prayer room (located on level 3F near gate 249, beside the KAL Lounge). We loved how spacious it is and there were plenty of prayer mats and the Quran.
- Do note that you’ll have to bring your own prayer garments and take wudhu at the nearby toilet.
- We found a Kakao Friends & Pororo store which sold merchandise like plush toys, stationery, portable fans, water bottles and handphone cases! So make sure you do some last minute shopping!
- #HHWT Tip: If you’ve got even more time to spare, head over to the Korean Traditional Culture Experience Center to learn more about Korean culture and make some traditional Korean crafts.
6 days in Seoul and its surrounds, check! Though there’s never enough time to cover everything in this huge city, our trip this time round gave us the opportunity to venture out of Seoul to interesting places like Ganghwa Island and Pocheon Art Valley. Not to mention that we got to explore new attractions and neighbourhoods in Seoul, and tried various halal cuisine. Our experience was even better, thanks to the attractions, shopping spots and Muslim-friendly restaurants recommended by the Korea Tourism Organization (Malaysia)
! So, whether it’s your first time to Seoul or you’re planning to make a return trip, it’s time to start looking for flights and plan that awesome trip ?
This article is brought to you by Korea Tourism Organization (Malaysia).
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