During the holidays, the hustle and bustle of Seoul make the city far from a winter wonderland.
People shuffle down Gangnam sidewalks in single file, get swept into the swarms of people in Myeong-dong, or squeeze into cable cars on the way up to Namsan Tower. In restaurants, couples are likely to bump elbows with those dining at the next table.
For those looking for a way to stay in Seoul yet get away from the maddening crowds for a romantic night out, The Korea Herald offers some ideas.
1. Looking for elegance
If you want to have a dinner-and-movie date without having to stand in long lines for restaurants and theatres, check out CGV's Cine de Chef located at the cinema chain's Apgujeong branch in Gangnam-gu, Seoul. The theatre-cum-restaurant serves elegant French and Italian meals in the restaurant, and you can watch a movie after dinner in a VIP theatre complete with leather couches. The seats are arranged in pairs that are far enough apart to give you privacy, giving a feeling of being at your own private screening.
Cine de Chef is currently offering a special Christmas event for couples. The "Romantic Christmas Package" (lunch) and "Delight Christmas Package" (dinner) combines movie tickets and a six-course lunch or nine-course dinner on Dec. 24-25. Prices are 120,000 won ($106) per person for lunch and 200,000 won per person for dinner. For more information, call (02) 3446-0541.
2) Looking for relaxation
Christmas is a time to be joyous and to let go of the stress of the past year. For couples looking for a quiet, relaxing date, a trip to the spa makes for a perfect date.
Most "couple spas" offering private rooms for two are located in the bustling Gangnam area. For a more relaxing experience, move away from Gangnam toward the Sheraton Seoul D Cube City Hotel in Guro-gu, Seoul. The Sheraton's Aequalis Spa on the 28th floor is offering a special "Romantic Couple Spa Treatment" until the end of the year.
The treatment includes a steam shower, aromatherapy oil body massage, and facial treatment in a private room overlooking the city. The entire treatment takes about two and a half hours. The treatment is 480,000 won for two. For more information, call (02) 2211-1680.
3) Looking for fun
A classic winter date, particularly for Korean TV drama viewers, is lacing up for a trip to an ice skating rink. There are several rinks that open up just for wintertime, including rinks at Lotte World in Songpa-gu and the I-Park Mall in Yongsan-gu. However, traffic will be less congested -- and there will be far fewer couples -- at the ice rink in front of MBC's new headquarters in Mapo-gu, Seoul.
The rink, which opens Friday and will remain open until February, is open every day until 9:30 p.m. Beginners' skating classes are offered. Helmets and skates can be rented for 3,000 won on weekdays and 5,000 won on weekends and holidays. For more information, call (02) 789-2752.