South Korea

Dongdaemun Market, SeoulPhoto: Gavin Hellier/JAI/Corbis


Forget Gangnam: Savvy Seoulites are leaving the street-stylish ­district made famous by Psy and heading across the Han River to the Dongdaemun Design Plaza & Park, the galactic Zaha Hadid ­landmark that opened in March. The city’s new cultural hub is a short drive from the new National Museum of ­Modern and Contemporary Art as well as several Soho-style streets where you can pick up ­oversize neoprene sweatshirts by cult Korean designer Juun.J, before heading to the bustling food stalls at the famed 24-hour Dongdaemun Market for sweet sticky rice cakes and soju. Just next door: The JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square (from $280;, a Balazsian hotel with a slick geometric façade, ­features a rooftop bar with ­panoramic views of the city.


Barring Seoul’s infamous gridlock, you’ll arrive at Jinkwansa in under an hour (reserve a driver at This 12th-century Buddhist temple has drawn Korean pop stars, as well as big-name chefs David Chang and Eric Ripert, with its ­reputation for stellar temple cuisine. The ­“ultimate Slow Food,” as it’s called, is made from veggies grown on ­temple grounds. Sign up for the five-hour Saturday ­program that includes a cooking class taught by nuns (from $50). A ­temple stay (from $65; will give you a true taste of the monastic life with daily tea ceremonies and Buddhist chants in ­bamboo groves. Post–Zenning out, take a 40-minute bus to Bukhansan National Park, where the trails are dotted with shrines and a bowl of jjigae is waiting at the base.

South Korea