If there were a baby-friendly cities top list, Seoul would place…
It’s funny how having a baby opens your eyes to a whole new ecosystem: nurseries, restrooms with changing tables, stroller-friendly, or unfriendly cobblestone streets. I was recently in Manila Airport’s Terminal 1 and faced two flights of stairs with no escalator to lug my Uppa Baby Vista down to the gate.
Luckily, travelers with wee ones to Seoul can roll their strollers all over creation. There are elevators down to most metro stations, some train spots even have nurseries for an in-transit top-off.
This palace of palaces has packed earth and limited steps, making it easy to navigate a stroller or LO sleeping on your chest. If you go to one palace in Seoul, this is it, as it is where most of the kings of the Chosun dynasty made their homes, beginning in 1395. Accessible from Gwanhwamun metro.
#4 City Hall Plaza and Deoksugung Road
Another palace? Well, not really. You are welcome to go inside Deoksugung to see the interesting architecture at play–a 1910 classical building standing next to a 16th century–yet another option is to enjoy a quaint walk outside the palace along its southern wall. Start at City Hall Plaza to see the newly-completed glass structure of City Hall, which seems to take over the old City Hall, a Japanese colonial structure, like a wave. Take a right by the Dunkin’ Donuts to walk along the Deoksu Palace wall and see modern office buildings next to a 19th century American-built school and the remains of the Russian legation, which housed the second to last emperor for one full year to protect him from the Japanese. Cute coffee shops also line the street, and there are several benches to sit down. The rumor is that couples cannot walk down this road together or you will break up. Try and get your baby to break up with you. Impossible.
#3 Lotte Department Store
Look at cute Korean and French baby brands such as Minkmui and Le Petit Bateau on the child’s floor. Prices are comparable with American and European sales of the brands. After you are done picking out a cute outfit for LO head up the escalator to the home furnishings floor for a free decaf latte–nearly impossible to find–at the Nespresso showroom. The 10th and 11th floors house Duty Free, which one can purchase with a foreign passport. Be warned: you will join half of Guangzhou; it seems that every Chinese tour group heads here as a pilgrimage to buy Korean cosmetics.
#2 Chandeokgung Palace
This is the only one of Korea’s 5 Palaces to have property listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site. Head to the “Secret Garden” or Biwon to see Chosun-dynasty palace architecture at play in a serene natural setting. Guided tours, necessary to tour the garden, often sell out on weekends so plan ahead or visit during the work week.
#1 D-Cube Sheraton
This mall and hotel complex features a diverse range of restaurants and has a great hotel. In olden times in Korea many babies were not allowed out of the house until they were 100 days old. Many new moms still observe this practice, or at least do so because Grandma insists. Except when you head to D-Cube. You can see little ones as young as one month old in cute Korean baby-carriers.
Stroller rental available.
Located at Sindorim metro