Originating back more than 5,000 years, Korea is one of the oldest countries in the world, and also one of the most unique. As the capital of the Republic of Korea, Seoul overflows with dynamic energy, providing an endless selection of shopping, cultural attractions, dining, entertainment, and historic venues. Like all great cities of the world, Seoul bustles with activity around the clock and provides visitors with fun and enjoyment beyond all expectations. Northern Seoul offers a more traditional feel, while swanky southern Seoul is fast-paced and furious in its enjoyment of the latest in everything.
Namsan Mountain (N Seoul Tower)
The N Seoul Tower offers amazing panoramic views of Seoul located on top of Namsan Mountain, site of the city’s largest park and botanical garden.
Cultural Shows (Non-verbal Performances)
Seoul offers a variety of non-verbal performances that anyone can enjoy. Among them is Nanta, a popular show running since October 1997. From a run on Broadway and tours of the US and much of the world, it has achieved impressive international success, receiving rave reviews and selling out quickly wherever it is performs.
Museums (National Museum of Korea)
The National Museum of Korea is the largest exhibition facility in Asia and among the six largest museums in the world. Here you will find a variety of collections that promote the uniqueness and beauty of Korean culture with many stunning items including National Treasure No. 83, the “Gilt Bronze Seated Maitreya.” Educational tours and cultural performances are also offered. Admission is free.
Royal Seoul (Gyeongbokgung Palace)
Built in 1395, Gyeongbokgung was the main palace through much of the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910). Unlike other palaces in Seoul, Gyeongbokgung’s rectangular space is surrounded by large gates on all sides. It also has three granite walkways, extending from the main entrance to the main hall where all important matters were conducted.
A must-see location for foreigner visitors, Myeong-dong is Korea’s number one shopping district. Located in the heart of Seoul, you will find the area bustling with people all week long. Myeong-dong offers tourists a wide variety of shops which sell everything from fashion items to popular brands for young people. And every corner offers the visitor excellent, traditional restaurants. Even if you’re not interested in a full meal, a variety of local delicacies will round off your visit to the area. Located near Myeong-dong, the Dongdaemun Shopping Town also offers a wide selection of goods and clothing at very affordable prices.
Traditional Market (Namdaemun Market)
Namdaemun Market is the largest and oldest traditional market in Seoul. You can find the just about anything you are looking for. This 24 hour market is a true treasure trove offering a vast variety and bargains galore.
Korean Cuisine (Galbi)
Galbi is either beef or pork marinated in soy sauce, minced garlic, sesame oil, and pear juice, then grilled over a charcoal fire. A similarly delicious dish is Bulgogi (Barbecued beef) marinated in a deliciously tantalizing sauce, then grilled to perfection. Galbi restaurants abound in Seoul, making it easy to enjoy these delicious dishes.
Art and Design (Insa-dong)
The streets of Insa-dong are alive with traditional Korean culture. This area has been the center of culture in Seoul since the Joseon era. A large variety of arts have surfaced in the neighborhood over the years, making it an exciting place to experience a wide range of genres. On the weekends, with Insa-dong closed to vehicle traffic, the streets come to life with festivities such as parades, traditional wedding processions, music and dance performances. You will find time flying by as you wander from shop to shop, immersing yourself in the long, beautiful history of Korea.
Family Fun (Amusement Park)
Lotte World is the perfect place for entertainment as the world’s largest indoor theme park, complete with 42 different attractions and spectacular festivals. The theme park is filled with rides, an ice rink, a folk museum, a lake and much more. Nearly 6 million visitors come to Lotte World every year. The indoor year-round Seoul Grand Park, on the outskirts of the city, is a theme park housing Seoul Land, Seoul Zoo, and Korea’s National Museum of Contemporary Art. This is a favorite place of many locals.
Mountains (Mt. Bukhansan)
Seoul is a capital city surrounded by graceful mountains. The locals love Bukhansan National Park as much as the Hangang River. This beautiful mountain displays the seasonal changes in all their glory. Many hikers visit this national park on the weekends. A variety of trails welcome all ages and types of hikers, from beginners to experts.
Hangang River (Cruise)
The Hangang River is one of Seoul’s most popular attractions and constant source of pleasure and relaxation. A cruise along the river is an excellent way to view the romantic side of Seoul. Relax, feel the cool breeze and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Nightlife (Hongik University street)
The Hongik University Street area, a center of Korea’s indie culture, is popular among young people. Amateur artists decorate the streets, setting cultural trends. The area has many unique and funky cafes and art shops. Hongik Univ. Street is also well known for its clubs and party culture. The vibrant area is popular among those wishing to show their individual style and creativity.
Health and Wellness (Jimjilbang, Korean-style sauna)
The Jimjilbang, a Korean-style bathhouse, has become very popular. It usually offers hot tubs, saunas and massage therapy, making it a perfect place to relax after a long day. Most include a lounge, restaurant and even an internet café. The saunas and treatments can help rejuvenate the skin and improve one’s health. In line with Seoul’s 24-hour culture, jimjilbangs too are open all day, every day.
Korea’s professional baseball league, the Korea Baseball Organization, was launched in 1982 and currently has eight teams. During baseball season, you can experience an exciting game at Jamsil Stadium or Mokdong Stadium. On weekends, baseball parks explode with cheering from the crowd and performances by cheerleaders. Korea won the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Team Korea also won silver at the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
Buddhist Insights (Jogyesa Temple)
Situated in downtown Seoul, Jogyesa is a peaceful oasis. This temple is open to visitors from 4:00am to 11:00pm, and all Buddhist events held here are open to visitors. It also has exhibits explaining much of the history of modern Buddhism. Hundreds of people visit this temple every day and a variety of Temple-stay programs are also available.
Seoul’s Best Walking Streets (Samcheongdong-gil)
Between Gyeongbokgung Palace and Cheong-wadae (Korea’s presidential office) lies a nearly 3km-long street with it’s own unique atmosphere. Samcheongdong-gil is lined with traditional Korean-style cafes as well as wine bars, art shops, and designer showrooms. Be sure to bring a camera since the unique shops and traditional restaurants create beautiful photo opportunities.
Hands-on Experience (Dress-up in a Hanbok)
The Hanbok is traditional Korean clothing, characterized by simple lines, bright colors, and elegant silhouettes. Many aficionados love it for its design and use of eco-friendly materials. Take a souvenir photo in a Hanbok at Chongdong Theater or in Namsangol Hanok Village.
Global Seoul (Itaewon)
Itaewon is a place where a rich mix of ethnicities exist together in harmony, making it a truly global village in the heart of Seoul. Seasonal international parties, such as Halloween parties, are held here each year. You can also find a variety of unusual and intriguing items here from all over the world. The streets are lined with exotic eye-catching shops, and most merchants are able to communicate well in a variety of languages. Another popular place to experience a different culture is “Little Tokyo,” located in Dongbu Ichon-dong, close to Itaewon.
Seoul Spirits (Makgeoli)
Makgeoli is a style of fermented rice wine. Korea’s oldest traditional alcohol, it is mild yet full-bodied with relatively low alcohol content. Enjoy a bowl of cold makgeoli with your Korean friends over some tasty snacks, like Pajon (savory meat/veggie filled pancakes) or Dubu Kimchi (tofu paired with stir-fried kimchi and pork) and you will gain insight into Korea's famous drinking culture.
Unique Architecture (Dongdaemun Design Plaza & Park)
Designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, visit one of Seoul’s newest buildings: Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP). Recently opened, the DDP will continue to evolve into a multi-use space with a park, fashion plaza and underground mall. As it was built on top of the heart of the city's original foundations, the DDP is home to the restoration of several items of national heritage. Make sure to visit not only during the day but also at night as the structure lights up into a space-age spectacle.