SEOUL’S hosting of the UIA Associations Round Table saw the Korean capital’s convention bureau bring delegates across the world into a vitual conference hall, lounge and breakout venues.
Like any good conference, delegates also had the opportunity to enjoy tours of Seoul and even excursions to the capital’s fellow MICE cities of Gangwon and Gwangju – all enjoyed virtually, of course, and with 356-degree views.
These now make up a fine bank of Virtual Seoul Tour Videos (360VR) available to view on YouTube and other platforms.
While unable to attend the media fam trip in person, MIX did the next best thing and selected five tours and activities operated under the Plus Seoul programme.
1/ Walking tour of Changdeokgung Palace
What’s it like? Set within the parklands of Jongnu-gu, in Seoul, this is one of five grand palaces built during the Joseon dynasty. Changdeokgung is about a 15 minute walk from Gyeongbokgung Palace, the main royal palace of the dynasty and one of Seoul’s tourism landmarks.
Highlights: While Gyeongbokgung has the daily changing of the guard ceremony and tells the story of Korea over the centuries to a steam of visitors, there is a more serene atmosphere to Changdeokgung, especially with the palace’s Secret Garden.
History, however, and the lingering memories of Korea’s past rulers can still be found here with what is reputed to be the oldest bridge in Korea and royal residencies such as a Seonjeongjeon and Daejojeon.
2/ Five Senses Experience with MODERNhan
What’s it like? Reviving aspects of traditional life is the new trend in many Asian societies. In Korea, customs continue to evolve alongside modern life. Visitors, whether they are Korean or from overseas, are encouraged to appreciate the essence of Korean culture by enterprising young companies such as MODERNhan.
Highlights: The difference here is that the five senses are emphasised. The experience begins with touching and appreciating the materials of the hanbok before wearing the clothing as the kayagum – one of Korea’s oldest stringed instruments – is heard.
Scent and visual presentation come next with traditional crafts and creating naturally scented aromas from plants and flowers. A shorter version of this activity comes with groups creating homemade scent-diffuser bottles from thinly cut abalone shells with the use of lacquer from a tree native to Korea forming impressively decorated dispensers.
After building up an appetite it’s time to taste tteokgalbi – a beef patty that is a favourite during Korean holidays.
3/ Rickshaw Tour of Bukchon Hanok Village
What’s it like? Energetic members of the We Ride team can take a limited-sized groups in pairs through Bukchon, a neighbourhood with mountain views and homes built in the traditional hanok style with distinct roofs and chimneys.
Highlights: The tour continues through narrow roads to a teahouse for refreshments where omija tea, much loved for its five flavours, is among the choices.
Back on the rickshaw, the route narrows into paths with more quaint residencies on either side until arriving at vantage points with views of city high-rises below and across to Namsan Seoul Tower on the other side of the valley.
A walk into Baek In-Je House lets visitors appreciate the wooden interiors that also feature modern elements so typical of the surrounding homes. With its courtyard and lawn leading to trees and shrubs, Baek In-Je shows how the hanoks form an urban oasis for villagers.
4/ Temple stay at Jingwansa
What’s it like? A temple stay or visit is an experience people of all faiths and creeds can enjoy. Participants are encouraged to change into loose, comfortable attire provided by the monks before a temple tour and activities, which are aimed at relaxing and soothing the mind and body.
Highlights: There is something spiritual about wholesome Korea food. Atop one temple building is a fermentation platform where pastes, kimchi and other ingredients are kept in stone containers until their taste is perfected.
Sitting cross-legged may come to mind with when considering meditation – but going through the process by walking will shed inhibitions and prejudices for many. Follow the monk over a stone path and around a forested area continuing to a riverbank with the sound of waterfalls amid birdsong. Even if you’re simply viewing it in a virtual setting, the activity is impressively therapeutic.
Then it’s onward to a teahouse with an emphasis on learning Korean tea etiquette, which in itself is a form of meditation. Clasp the cup with both hands positioned according to the monk’s instructions with raised elbows and take three to five sips, slowly and meditatively paced.
The relaxation continues with the fun elements of making lotus lanterns with leaves from the flower though the practice also enables self-refection. Overall, the message of the tour and its activities is for participants to learn how to feel healthy and comfortable.
5/ Eland Cruise
What’s it like? Seoul’s Virtual Fam tour includes a virtual site inspection of riverboats that double up as event space with participants cruising along the Han River. The Tritania features a two-deck restaurant and is the largest passenger ship for F&B in Seoul. The cruises are ideal for banquets and events such as riverside celebrations.
Highlights: At either side of the restaurant are viewing decks and a live-performance area at one end of the venue can also be used for presentations or product launches. Ample space up on deck provides more venue options and panoramic views.
Eland Cruise Seoul