One Day (and Gluten Free!) in Seoul, South Korea

We had a lot of fun in Seoul this past spring and I was able to get my fill of Korean BBQ, KoMex (actually, no such thing as too much KoMex), Korean cosmetics, and raccoons (yes, raccoons). The highlight was visiting the infamous (?) Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) which separates North Korea from South Korea. Here are my favorite places, and more importantly, food items, and what’s worth visiting if you only have one day.


Where to Stay

G2 Hotel

I was staying in an unfortunate hostel (won’t mention any names) before stumbling on this hotel, which was JUST $10 more per night. This hotel is fancy shmancy, complete with a talking toilet and within nearby walking distance to food, coffee and a shopping area. Side note, I fell in love with toilets in Korea/Japan. So much so, all of my toilets now have a Tushy installed. Highly recommended.




The Flying Pan Blue

Located in the cool Itaewon neighborhood, this place has good ol’ KoMerican (I just made that up) cuisine, with gluten free bread available.




The only café that I could find in Korea (and I looked... and looked) that offers alternative milk (soy milk) options. Also, the cherry blossom latte is off the chain.



Talk To U Later

The most adorably pink and quirkily decorated café.  Your Instafeed will thank you. I went with their blueberry lemonade, as they did not have alternative milk options when I visited.



The most insane latte art you’ll ever see. Upon our arrival, we were disappointed to find out a reservation was required. They do not have any dairy milk alternatives, but the intricate and stunning latte art is almost worth the trip.


Raccoon Café

Yes, this is a real thing. Raccoons, meet coffee. We almost waited an hour to hang with the fur babies, and watched two get really close to escaping while we were there. They have you slip out of your shoes, and remove all your jewelry and belongings and place them into lockers before they cage you in (raccoons will literally grab onto anything). Due to the smell, I pretty much lost my appetite. But, the raccoons were adorable. And you guessed it, no alternative milk options. Womp.



Baekjeong Korean BBQ

I was happy to have a reunion with my friend/Seoul local, Eugene, who I met while on the Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage. I remember us talking and dreaming about KBBQ while on the Camino, and it was beyond cool to be able to enjoy it with her in the heart and Seoul (sorry not sorry) of KBBQ. Also, stoked she could translate for me. But for those who don’t have that privilege, don’t forget to keep your allergy restaurant card handy! P.S. She just wrote a lovely book on the Camino - Check it out here! 



Vatos Urban Tacos

Did we eat here three times in a week? Yes. Would I seriously plan a layover in Seoul just for their comida? Yes. This isn’t simply food truck KoMex, this is real Mexican meets Korean, and if I had the money, I would open up a location in San Diego. They have gluten-free options, and I am still dreaming of the Kimchi Carnitas Fries.  



Sulbing-Korean Desert Café

If you can handle dairy, then this is your spot. Amazing snow-ice wonderfulness, with some insanely delicious toppings. For the rest of us, we will just watch and admire.


Things to Do

DMZ Tour

This was one of the unique highlights of visiting Korea. We were a little nervous, as a failed missile launch occurred the morning of our tour. We thought they would close the DMZ, but they didn’t. Security was definitely heightened though. Due to the security concerns, you can only visit the DMZ via tour, and ours was extremely informative, interesting, and hopeful, in terms of reunification. Make sure to reserve as early as possible. These tours sell out pretty quickly, especially during peak season.


Trick Eye Museum

A friend recommended this to me, and it was super random, but cool (only $13 for entrance when you download and show them their app). The app allows you to take interactive photos, and videos. Oh, and your admission also comes with admission into the 'Ice Museum' which includes an ice slide! So much fun. 


Namsan Cable Car/North Seoul Tower

The Seoul Tower sits on the second highest point in #Seoul (Namsan Mt. 236 m is the first). You can either hike to the top of the mountain to access the base of the tower, take a bus, or ride the funicular. Do I think getting to the top of the tower was worth the cost and wait (both ways)? No. Definitely not. The windows at the top are not the clearest and you don't get a great view. Did I mention you also have to wait forever? My suggestion — just get to the base and soak up the clear view from there. Interesting tid-bit: When you face North Korea at night, you won't see any light pollution.



I personally love Korean fashion (granted, I am a little big for it) and cosmetics. Here are my favs:

Sinchon Fashion Street

Great street shopping, and food stalls. Cheap clothing (if you can fit…half joke… but seriously).



U-PLEX is an awesome, and very large mall, and has a UNIQLO. The end.



S. Korea is renowned for its cosmetics, hence all of the women being so kyeopta (pronounced ‘key-opta’ and means ‘beautiful’ in Korean). Have you noticed the recent growth of the face mask fad? Especially, since the Winter Olympics, or Shark Tank. Most of these masks are made in Korea. My personal favorites are Nature Republic and Skinfood.


Enjoy your time in Korea, and as always,

Buen Camino!


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