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; marriott.com), 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 intltaxi.co.kr). 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; jinkwansa.org) 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.