When I’m bored, I usually end up Sinsa. It would take a lifetime to truly explore all of Seoul. It is an enormous, sprawling city with about a hundred different neighbourhoods, each different and unique. As it is such a big city, it can take a while to get from one place to the other, so it is difficult to explore while working a full-time job. To travel across Seoul by subway takes hours out of your day; it is one of the things that most frustrates me about living here. On the weekends, I often can’t be bothered to sit on the subways because I’m so lazy!
On my first week here, I was taken to Sinsa by some friends as it is south of the river so more convenient from my house. I immediately fell in love with it. Unlike the rest of Seoul, it is slightly calmer and felt more familiar. It feels almost European, and there’s even a pseudo Liberty’s! If I squinted, it almost felt like London!
As I’m usually too lazy to venture too far on the weekends, I have explored many areas around Gangnam, where I live. My favourite area is Sinsa. Located by the river, it is one of the less well-known neighbourhoods in Seoul, which is a shame. It is renowned for being a more high-end, exclusive neighbourhood, think Holland Park and Belgravia.
The area feels more European than other parts of Seoul. The main street is tree-lined and beautiful to stroll down. There are some great shops to wander round, with some great smaller Korean brands also on offer. There are also the bigger brands, such as H&M, Zara Home, Zara, and Mango.
While the main attraction is the main street, the back streets are worth a look. Here is where you will find the majority of restaurants and cafes. You will also find some smaller brands here.
Gentle Monster Flagship Store
The most impressive is the Gentle Monster flagship store. Gentle Monster are a high-end, Korean sunglasses brand. Even if you don’t have any interest in sunglasses, it is worth checking out just for the decoration. When we visited, they had suspended trees from the ceiling.
Food in Sinsa
The main appeal of Sinsa is undoubtedly the food. If you are after authentic Korean food, this isn’t really the place for you. There are Korean restaurants, but they are few and far between. Think of Sinsa as an upmarket Itaewon. There’s no kebabs here, instead think Thai, salads, and fusions. I have eaten at several places here and am going to write a separate post on this. However, my favourites are Café Able, Original Pancake House, and Gilberts Burgers.
As well as restaurants, there is a ridiculous number of cafes. There is everything you could imagine; almond milk, croissants, bakeries, deserts, cruffins. One of my favourite things to do it chill in a café with a good book and Sinsa is an excellent place to do this. My current favourite is Nylk, as they offer gluten-free cake and almond milk coffees.
If you find yourself in Seoul with some time to spare, I would highly recommend an afternoon in Sinsa. You can access the river from here. It is also next to the glitzy Apujeong Rodeo, which has all the high-fashion designers. I know several people living here who have never been, so it’s a great undiscovered gem!