So.. you will be in Seoul on New Year’s Eve and are looking forward to a Korean style celebration?
There are a few places to consider, and your choice will ultimately depend on your kind of fun, and more importantly, where you are staying.
Yes, public transports will likely get extended. But the crowd will be massive, and it will take you a long time to get into a bus or train, and an even longer time to reach your accommodation.
Thinking of taxis and Ubers? Yea that is an alternative. It’s just that thousands of others are thinking of that as well. Local taxis are rather affordable as compared to other cities, so there will be a huge demand of it. You will have a hard time getting one along the streets.
You can try to book one using KakaoTaxi if you are fluent in Korean, though you will likely face a similar challenge getting one.
Uber might work. The cost is way higher than regular cabs and regular uber rides in other cities, as you get chauffeured in a sleek vehicle like a chaebol, and I foresee a further surge in price as well when other tourists whip out their phones to try and grab a ride.
And let’s say you indeed got into a taxi, uber, bus. The traffic will be crazy. Because most folks in Seoul have a car. Traffic in Seoul is crazy at regular peak hours, and probably even more so after the countdown events.
So yea, pick somewhere close-by, or plan for after-parties to avoid the long journey home.
Alright, back to topic.
COEX a large mall, full of shopping and dining options. There is a game arcade and cinema, which gives you plenty of entertainment choices before the countdown (and be sure to check out the cool library too).
The countdown event is located just outside the mall. You can’t miss the stage, decorations, and food trucks.
Yes, try the food trucks. They are amazing. They will accept cash and card. Some open till late so you can grab delicious Korean street food as your first meal of the new year (or last meal of the previous year, whatever).
There will be performance by reasonably popular Korean stars. And of course, fireworks, lasting probably about 10-15 minutes.
As with most countdown events, get there early to get a good spot. This mall is close to various offices and residences, so the crowd will be huge.
Another option relatively close to COEX is…
LOTTE World Tower
This is in a cluster of real estate owned by Lotte, including hotels, shopping malls, department stores, and a theme park. There is no shortage of things to do while you wait for the clock to strike 12 on Dec 31st.
And yup, there is fireworks too.
Looking for something more cultural and unique? Check out…
Bosingak Bell Ringing Ceremony
Yes it is as the name suggest. You will witness a bell ringing ceremony conducted by a number of people, including the Seoul Mayor.
It is a tradition to ring the landmark bell to mark the end of the year and start of a new one.
While you can visit the temple to participate on regular days, it is just cooler to be there on New Year’s Eve.
And it’s just right outside Jonggak station so its fairly accessible.
Seoul’s temperature in December and January is around 0 to -10 degree celsius. These countdown events take place outdoor, and you are likely gonna be there for a while to soak in the atmosphere. If you are not used to such a temperature, be sure to layer up and get your winter coats ready.
That’s that. Enjoy. Have fun. And no matter what year you are reading this, Happy New Year 🎉