Seoul is a fairly safe city that buzzes alive at night from all the neon lights wrapping the city. Here is a recommended route to stroll around the city, from the city center stream to the shopping district.
Start the walk from Jongno 5-ga station and head a couple of block south to reach Cheonggyecheon – Seoul’s testament to enervate the city by going ‘green’. Also used by Seoul’s former mayor Lee Myung-Bak as a vehicle to capture the interest of Korean initiative to push forward the country’s environmental agenda and urban renewal – they demolished an elevated motorway in the middle of the city to give precedence to restoring the stream. Lee received much criticism then, but was lauded afterwards for such brave efforts. It is now one of Seoul’s major landmarks and highlights.
After reaching point B on the map, walk slightly north to view Dongdaemun gate, one of the remaining fortress-gates to ancient Seoul that is fully intact (Namdaemun in the west was damaged in a fire last 2008 and is currently being restored).
Just south of the gate is a massive construction site for Zaha Hadid’s Dongdaemun Design Plaza and Park. It was meant to be completed in early 2010 in line with Seoul being awarded as World Design Capital. Instead, the park is not set for completion by end 2011. It may look like an inverted shoe, or an alien embryo (not that I know what an alien embryo should look like), but I think it’s pretty funky the way the park will turn out. My only photo is from the construction site, so click on this link to get a better visual of the architect’s vision.
Finally, you’ll be spoiled for choice at Dongdaemun’s Fashion district, with floors and malls of shopping area. There are many arcades and stalls selling mostly clothes at the shops, so what a better way to end the evening stroll. My personal suggestion will still be jumping into Dragonhill Spa, a jimjilbang (truly an authentic Korean experience! try sleeping on a block of wood as a pillow!) to reward yourself with a walking tour well done.