|Mullae Arts Village / Korea Times file
By Jun Ji-hye
Key social distancing measures have been eased, as the first stage of the government's "Living with COVID-19" scheme began at the start of this month.
But concerns over COVID-19 infections still abound, with the country's daily caseloads remaining in lower four digits.
For those who want to avoid popular, crowded places due to concerns over the risk of infections, global hotel search platform HotelsCombined recommends hidden alleys in Seoul where they can take a load off.
Mullae Arts Village
Mullae Arts Village, located just a five-minute walk from Mullae Station, has a unique concept that is quite different from other attractions in Seoul.
This neighbourhood saw new life starting in the 2000s when artists who were looking for new studios due to rising rent prices in areas around Hongdae and Daehangno gathered in the aging industrial area of Mullae-dong where ironworks were concentrated.
It is a factory area with a lot of urban decay, but once visitors get past that they will discover that the alleys are rife with art.
There are many trendy restaurants and cafes as well, in addition to various workshops and prop shops where visitors can go shopping for many personal creations.
If you want to enjoy more cultural life following Mullae Arts Village, Courtyard by Marriott Seoul Times Square is recommended.
|Courtyard by Marriott Seoul Times Square / Courtesy of HotelsCombined
This place, located about a kilometer up the street from Mullae Artist Village, is connected to the Times Square shopping mall where there are many indoors amenities, such as shopping and dining.
Gyeongui Line Book Street
|The entrance of Gyeongui Line Book Street / Korea Times file
Gyeongui Line Book Street, an urban regeneration space in western Seoul's Mapo District, was created as a cultural space for visitors to take a literature-themed walk and find a spot to enjoy a good book.
Starting from Exit 6 at Hongik University Station, Gyeongui Line Book Street offers a 250-meter-long walking space with various themes such as literature, humanities, art and travel.
There are a total of 10 sections with different themes, and the sections are used not just as spots for reading but also as spaces for exhibitions and to provide artists with networking opportunities.
If you want to read in your own space, Mercure Ambassador Seoul Hongdae is recommended. This hotel, which opened in August last year, is equipped with private facilities such as unmanned kiosks and private open-air baths that are suitable for guests to spend some time on their own.
|Seochon / gettyimagesbank
Seochon, located west of Gyeongbok Palace, is famous for being the birthplace of King Sejong of the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910), the royal figure who played a key role in the creation of the Korean alphabet, Hanguel.
Local residents have developed it into a cultural art village where King Sejong's spirit lives on.
Seochon's hanok village is one of the city center's best-kept secrets, with over 600 traditional houses.
It is also renowned for its various food options. As Sejong Village Food Street is lined with various traditional restaurants, visitors can truly enjoy a proper gourmet trip there.
At night, lanterns in the street light up the sky as if visitors are back in Joseon times.
For those who want to stay in the city center with their friends or family after enjoying Seochon, Nine Tree Premier Hotel Insadong is recommended.
This hotel, equipped with twin rooms and family suites accommodating up to four people, is known for its reasonable prices and clean facilities.
Visitors can enjoy a beautiful night view of Insa-dong at Lounge 9 on the fifth floor.
Yesultong in Pil-dong
Located in Pil-dong, Yesultong culture and arts street has been created within abandoned idle spaces.
Various artworks such as paintings, installation art and media art are displayed at Yesultong, using non-profit exhibition spaces such as the Street Museum and Open Museum.
In addition, many sculptures are installed throughout the street, with various murals painted on individual houses and buildings.
This artsy spot is open for everyone as all art is on display 24 hours a day and for free.
After enjoying Yesultong, visitors are recommended to stay at Lotte City Hotel Myeongdong, a hotel famous for its beautiful views.
The buffet restaurant C Cafe, located on the 27th floor, offers a panoramic view of Myeong-dong and Cheonggye Stream, an 11-kilometer-long stream that runs through downtown Seoul.