Seoul City Guide: Things to Do, See and Eat traveling in Seoul, South Korea

A dynamic city at the centre of Korea’s cultural and economic renaissance over the past generation, Seoul packs in nearly 12 million people within its undulating valleys and peaks. With over 25 million people lying within an hour of the city proper, this megalopolis stands as one of the world’s most intense urban environments, boasting one of the largest subway systems on Earth, and with densely packed districts of business people, artists, and students living, working and playing (quite hard) within close proximity of each other.

Yet, with South Korea’s dramatic opening to the West over the past 20 years, Seoul sticks out as an island of unique creativity in a sea of conformity.  At first glance, it can be hard to see this, but a simple 10 minute stroll through the alleyways of Hongdae will confirm the pronouncement in this previous sentence.

Amidst all the modernity of the present era, even in the capital Seoul, the traditions and monuments of the past still loom large among forests of skyscrapers and the snake-like tracks left by countless expressways and overhead trains.  Visitors to Seoul will get an overdose of urban grit and charm, mixed in with the Korea of days gone by.  Upon your first few hours in this fascinating city, it can be a very intoxicating combination indeed.

Seoul Travel Guide: Things to do in Seoul, South Korea with incredible nighttime views of Namsan and Seoul Tower off in the distance

Seoul City Guide: A Brief History Of Seoul, South Korea

Seoul is a city with a rich and fascinating history that spans over two thousand years. It has undergone many changes and challenges throughout the centuries, from its origins as a small settlement to becoming the bustling metropolis it is today.

The earliest evidence of human settlement in the Seoul area dates back to the Neolithic period, around 8,000 BCE. During the Three Kingdoms period (57 BCE – 668 CE), Seoul was a small city known as Wiryeseong and was the capital of the Baekje kingdom. It was strategically located on the Han River and was protected by high walls and fortifications. Despite this, Wiryeseong was invaded and destroyed by the Goguryeo kingdom in 372 CE.

In 918 CE, Gyeon Hwon, a military leader, founded the Goryeo dynasty and established a new capital in Gaegyeong, modern-day Kaesong. However, in 1394, King Taejo, the founder of the Joseon dynasty, moved the capital to Hanyang, present-day Seoul. This marked the beginning of a new era for the city.

Under the Joseon dynasty, Seoul became a cultural and economic center. The construction of significant landmarks, such as Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace, and the Jongmyo Shrine, helped to establish the city’s cultural identity. The city also became an important hub for international trade and diplomacy, with merchants and diplomats from China and Japan settling in Seoul.

In the late 19th century, Seoul was opened to the world following the signing of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce with Japan in 1876. This led to an influx of Western influence and modernization, with the construction of new buildings, roads, and infrastructure. However, this also led to increased tensions between Korea and Japan, culminating in Japan’s annexation of Korea in 1910.

During Japan’s occupation of Korea, Seoul underwent significant changes. The Japanese colonial government transformed the city, with the construction of new buildings, the destruction of traditional neighborhoods, and the imposition of their language and culture on the Korean people. Despite this, Koreans maintained their cultural identity, and resistance movements against Japanese rule emerged.

After Japan’s defeat in World War II, Korea was liberated, and the country was partitioned into two halves along the 38th parallel. In 1948, the Republic of Korea was established, with Seoul as its capital. However, the country was soon engulfed in the Korean War (1950-1953), resulting in the city being devastated by fighting and bombing.

After the war, Seoul began to rebuild itself, with significant aid from the United States. The city’s infrastructure was modernized, and new high-rise buildings were constructed. However, the country also experienced significant political and social upheaval, including the authoritarian rule of President Park Chung-hee and the pro-democracy movement of the 1980s.

In the 21st century, Seoul has continued to develop and evolve, becoming a global economic powerhouse and cultural destination. The city has undergone significant development, including the construction of new landmarks such as the Lotte World Tower, the Seoul Sky Observatory, and the Dongdaemun Design Plaza. Seoul has also become a hub for technology and innovation, with companies such as Samsung, LG, and Hyundai headquartered in the city.

Today, Seoul is a bustling and vibrant city, with a unique blend of modern and traditional culture. It is a city that has undergone many changes throughout its history, yet remains firmly rooted in its rich cultural heritage. Visitors to Seoul can explore the city’s ancient palaces and shrines, sample traditional Korean cuisine, and experience the vibrancy of its modern culture.

Seoul Top Attractions and Best Places to Visit in South Korea

Although the ravages of the elements and war over the many centuries had wreaked havoc on the temples and palaces that lie within Seoul, they have been restored to nearly mint condition in recent years, making it a breathtaking experience for those that make the effort to visit.  At the top of your sightseeing list should be Gyeongbok-gung, which served as the main palace for the emperor of Korea during the Joseon Dynasty, opening in 1395.  While it had been razed by the Japanese twice in 1592 and 1910, its present state of restoration still makes it an excellent place to visit, where you can watch the changing of the guard on the hour between 10 am to 3pm, and explore two museums on the palace’s history and Korean folk culture.

Second in importance to Gyeongbok-gung, but no less spectacular is the palace named Changdeok-gung, which was erected in 1405. The restoration of this structure is more complete, and was so eloquently done that it garnered an UNESCO World Heritage Site designation in recent years.  As such, guided tours are the only way to tour the complex (except on Thursday, oddly enough), and an admission fee is charged, with it costing 3,000 ₩ to enter here.

Those looking to get in a bit of exercise with their culture hunting should tick off both boxes by climbing Mount Inwang (Inwangsan).  On this 336 metre high mountain, there are a number of small Buddhist temples (including one with a gaudy-looking bronze bell), but the true attraction of this mountain, besides the magnificent view from the top, is the presence of Guksadang, a shamanist shrine which is said to house the spirit of King Taejo, the founder of the Joseon Dynasty.

Finally, those looking to find the work of today’s artists in Seoul have several options to explore.  In the neighbourhood of Hongdae, there are many art galleries, coffee shops, and handmade furniture shops that showcase the work of Korea’s younger generations.  Those who have their artistic proclivities more rooted in the past can be found peddling their traditional potteries, crafts, and clothes in the historical district of Insadong, where one can also find an overabundance of restaurants serving authentic Korean cuisine.

Other Cultural Attractions: Trip to Seoul, Korea

If you have brought your love interest to Seoul with you, purchase a lock and a sharpie at a hardware store on the streets beneath Namsan Mountain in the centre of the city, then make for Seoul Tower.  Commanding a breath stealing view of the sea of urban density that has consumed the lowlands below, the grounds of the tower offers fencing where you can write a message proclaiming your love for each other on your lock, after which you can attach it to a space on the fence.  Unlike other love lock destinations in the world, the locks are not disturbed, allowing you and your significant other to come back in the future to find the symbol of your commitment still waiting there for you!

Korean and Japanese anime fans should make time to attend a World Comic Convention event.  Unlike other festivals in the world, which are only held once per year, these gatherings go off twice a month at the SETIC convention centre.  Even if you don’t dress up, it’s worth checking out for the intricate costumes that fans create to honour their favourite heroes/heroines!

Finally, be sure to make time for the Cheonggye Stream, an urban reclamation project of a former freeway that had overrun the stream previously.  Situated at the bottom of an urban canyon of concrete, but carpeted with trees, grass and the free-flowing waters of a surprisingly clean river, this attraction combines elements of the natural environment of Korea with the urban colossus of Seoul to create a place of serenity where you would least expect it.

Top 10 Things To Do in Seoul, South Korea For Visitors

Seoul, the bustling capital of South Korea, is a city that never sleeps. It is a perfect blend of ancient traditions and modernization. The city is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in the country and is a popular destination for tourists from around the world. Here are the top 10 things to do in Seoul:

  1. Visit Gyeongbokgung Palace: Built in the 14th century, Gyeongbokgung Palace is one of the most iconic landmarks in Seoul. It was the main palace of the Joseon Dynasty and is now a popular tourist attraction. Visitors can explore the palace grounds and enjoy traditional Korean cultural performances.
  2. Shop at Myeongdong: Myeongdong is a shopper’s paradise with a vast array of stores and boutiques selling everything from cosmetics to clothing. It is also a popular spot for street food and traditional Korean snacks.
  3. Explore Bukchon Hanok Village: Bukchon Hanok Village is a traditional Korean village that has been preserved since the Joseon Dynasty. Visitors can explore the narrow alleyways and admire the traditional Korean architecture.
  4. Visit Namsan Tower: Located on top of Namsan Mountain, Namsan Tower offers panoramic views of the city. Visitors can take a cable car to the top and enjoy the view, as well as explore the tower’s observatory and exhibition hall.
  5. Explore Insadong: Insadong is a popular tourist destination known for its traditional Korean art and crafts. Visitors can explore the many galleries and shops selling everything from pottery to paintings.
  6. Visit Changdeokgung Palace: Changdeokgung Palace is another iconic palace in Seoul and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can explore the palace grounds and take a tour of the secret garden, which is filled with traditional Korean architecture and beautiful scenery.
  7. Enjoy Korean food at Gwangjang Market: Gwangjang Market is a traditional Korean market that has been around for over 100 years. It is a popular spot for foodies to try traditional Korean dishes such as bibimbap and bindaetteok.
  8. Visit the War Memorial of Korea: The War Memorial of Korea is a museum dedicated to the Korean War and the country’s military history. It has a vast collection of artifacts and exhibits, including tanks, planes, and weapons.
  9. Explore Hongdae: Hongdae is a trendy neighborhood popular with young people. It is known for its street art, live music, and unique cafes and shops.
  10. Visit the National Museum of Korea: The National Museum of Korea is the largest museum in Korea and has a vast collection of Korean artifacts and art. Visitors can explore the various exhibitions, including traditional Korean art and pottery, and learn about the country’s history.

Seoul is a city full of life and energy. With so many things to see and do, visitors are sure to have an unforgettable experience in this vibrant and dynamic city.

Underrated Things To Do in Seoul (Not In A Guidebook)

Seoul is a city filled with hidden gems that often go unnoticed in guidebooks. Here are some of the most underrated things to do in Seoul:

  1. Explore the alleys of Ikseon-dong: This charming neighborhood in the heart of Seoul is filled with traditional hanok houses and narrow alleyways. It’s the perfect place to wander and get lost while discovering small cafes and boutique shops.
  2. Visit the Seoul Museum of History: While not as well-known as some of Seoul’s other museums, the Seoul Museum of History is a fascinating look at the city’s past. The museum features interactive exhibits and displays that showcase the history and culture of Seoul.
  3. Walk along the Seoul City Wall: The Seoul City Wall is a 600-year-old fortress that surrounds the city. While parts of the wall have been destroyed over time, several sections have been restored and are open to visitors. Walking along the wall offers stunning views of the city and a unique perspective on Seoul’s history.
  4. Check out the flea markets: Seoul is home to several vibrant flea markets, including the Dongmyo Market and the Gwangjang Market. These markets offer everything from vintage clothing to traditional Korean snacks and are a great place to experience local culture.
  5. Visit the Ihwa Mural Village: This colorful neighborhood in Seoul is filled with murals and street art. It’s the perfect place to snap some Instagram-worthy photos and explore the local art scene.
  6. Take a hike in Bukhansan National Park: While Seoul is known for its urban landscape, the city is also surrounded by mountains and natural beauty. Bukhansan National Park is just a short subway ride from the city center and offers several hiking trails with stunning views of the city.
  7. Relax in a jjimjilbang: Jjimjilbangs are traditional Korean bathhouses that offer a unique and relaxing experience. They typically have multiple hot tubs, saunas, and even sleeping areas. It’s a great way to unwind after a busy day of exploring the city.

Seoul has plenty of underrated activities that are worth checking out. From exploring traditional neighborhoods to hiking in the surrounding mountains, there’s something for everyone.

What To Eat and Drink in Seoul, South Korea

From traditional Korean dishes to international cuisine, Seoul is a food lover’s paradise. Here are some of the top mouth watering foods and drinks to try in Seoul:

  1. Korean BBQ: Korean BBQ is a must-try when visiting Seoul. This dish involves grilling various cuts of meat, such as beef, pork, and chicken, at the table, along with vegetables and a variety of side dishes. The meat is often marinated in a soy sauce and sugar mixture, giving it a delicious sweet and savory flavor.
  2. Kimchi: Kimchi is a traditional Korean side dish made of fermented vegetables, such as cabbage or radish, and spices. It is a staple in Korean cuisine and can be found in almost every meal. The fermentation process gives it a slightly sour and spicy taste, making it a perfect complement to any dish.
  3. Bibimbap: Bibimbap is a traditional Korean rice bowl dish that is served with a variety of vegetables, beef, and a fried egg on top. It is usually mixed with a spicy chili paste called gochujang. The combination of flavors and textures makes this dish a favorite among locals and tourists alike.
  4. Jjimdak: Jjimdak is a popular Korean braised chicken dish that is made with soy sauce, sugar, and various vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, and onions. It is a hearty dish that is perfect for sharing. The tender and flavorful chicken is sure to satisfy your cravings.
  5. Korean Fried Chicken: Korean Fried Chicken is a popular dish in Seoul that is made with a crispy fried chicken that is coated in a sweet and spicy sauce. It is often served with pickled radish and beer, making it the perfect bar snack. The combination of sweet, spicy, and crunchy makes it an addictively delicious dish.
  6. Makgeolli: Makgeolli is a traditional Korean rice wine that is often served in small bowls. It is a milky-colored drink with a slightly sweet and sour taste and is perfect for pairing with spicy Korean dishes. It is often served with pajeon, a savory pancake filled with green onions and seafood.
  7. Soju: Soju is a clear and colorless distilled beverage that is similar to vodka. It is one of the most popular alcoholic drinks in Korea and is often enjoyed with friends and food. It is a versatile drink that can be enjoyed straight or mixed with other beverages, such as soda or juice.
  8. Bingsu: Bingsu is a popular Korean dessert made with shaved ice and sweet toppings such as fruit, condensed milk, and red bean paste. It is a refreshing and sweet treat that is perfect for hot summer days. It is a popular dessert during the summer months and can be found in various cafes and restaurants throughout the city.

In addition to these popular dishes, Seoul also offers a variety of street food and snacks that are perfect for exploring the city. Some of the most popular street foods include tteokbokki, a spicy rice cake dish, and hotteok, a sweet pancake filled with brown sugar and cinnamon.

Seoul’s cuisine reflects the country’s rich cultural heritage and is an essential part of experiencing the city’s vibrant culture. With a vast array of delicious traditional Korean dishes and international cuisine, visitors are sure to find something to suit their taste buds in this vibrant city.

Korean Street Food Guide To Seoul

Korean street food is known for its unique blend of flavors, spices, and textures, making it a must-try for any food lover visiting Seoul. From savory dishes to sweet treats, here is a guide to the best Korean street food to try in Seoul.

  1. Tteokbokki (Spicy Rice Cakes): Tteokbokki is a beloved Korean street food made with soft and chewy rice cakes coated in a spicy and sweet chili sauce. It is often served with fish cakes, boiled eggs, and chopped scallions, creating a flavorful and filling snack.
  2. Japchae (Stir-Fried Glass Noodles): Japchae is a popular Korean dish made with sweet potato noodles, stir-fried with vegetables and meat. The dish is seasoned with soy sauce and sesame oil, creating a sweet and savory flavor that melts in your mouth.
  3. Kimbap (Korean Sushi Roll): Kimbap is a popular Korean street food that looks like sushi but has a unique flavor. The rolls are made with steamed white rice and filled with various ingredients such as carrots, spinach, and pickled radish, making it a healthy and filling snack.
  4. Hotteok (Sweet Pancakes): Hotteok is a sweet Korean street food that resembles a pancake. It is made with a flour dough, filled with cinnamon, brown sugar, and nuts, then fried until crispy and golden brown. This sweet and savory snack is perfect for cold weather or as a dessert.
  5. Odeng (Fish Cakes): Odeng is a popular Korean street food made with fish cakes on skewers and boiled in a savory broth. It is often served with a spicy soy sauce and green onions, creating a warm and comforting snack.
  6. Bungeoppang (Fish-Shaped Bread): Bungeoppang is a sweet Korean street food made by filling a fish-shaped pastry with sweetened red bean paste. It is often served hot and fresh, making it a popular snack during the winter months.
  7. Gyeran-ppang (Egg Bread): Gyeran-ppang is a savory Korean street food that resembles a muffin. It is made with a sweet pancake batter and a whole egg inside, creating a soft and fluffy texture that pairs perfectly with the crispy outside.
  8. Jokbal (Pig’s Feet): Jokbal is a traditional Korean dish made by boiling pig’s feet in a soy sauce and spices. The meat is often served with garlic, lettuce, and sliced radish, creating a flavorful and filling meal.
  9. Twigim (Korean Fried Food): Twigim is a popular Korean street food that consists of various fried foods such as shrimp, vegetables, and squid. It is often served with a side of dipping sauce, creating a crispy and satisfying snack.
  10. Dakkochi (Grilled Chicken Skewers): Dakkochi is a Korean street food made by grilling chicken skewers coated in a sweet and spicy marinade. It is often served with a side of rice cake, creating a hearty and flavorful meal.

Seoul’s street food scene offers a wide range of flavors and dishes that can satisfy any foodie’s craving. Whether you’re looking for something savory or sweet, Seoul’s street food is a must-try for any traveler visiting this vibrant city.

Top Restaurants In Seoul, Korea

Seoul is a food lover’s paradise with a vibrant culinary scene that offers a mix of traditional Korean cuisine and international flavors. The city is home to some of the best restaurants in the world, offering a range of dishes that are sure to satisfy every taste bud. From Michelin-starred fine dining restaurants to casual street food vendors, Seoul has something for everyone. Here are some of the top restaurants in Seoul that are definitely worth a visit:

  1. Jungsik: Located in the trendy Gangnam district, Jungsik is a Michelin-starred restaurant that serves modern Korean cuisine with a focus on seasonal ingredients. The restaurant’s signature dishes include the beef tartare, sea urchin rice, and pork belly.
  2. Mingles: Another Michelin-starred restaurant, Mingles is known for its innovative and contemporary approach to Korean cuisine. The restaurant offers a tasting menu that includes dishes like Korean beef with mushroom and black garlic, and Jeju Island abalone with gochujang sauce.
  3. La Yeon: Situated on the 23rd floor of The Shilla Seoul hotel, La Yeon is a fine dining restaurant that offers stunning views of the city. The restaurant specializes in traditional Korean cuisine and serves dishes like hanwoo beef tartare and abalone porridge.
  4. Gwangjang Market: One of the oldest and largest traditional markets in Seoul, Gwangjang Market is a must-visit for foodies. The market is famous for its street food stalls that serve a variety of dishes like bindaetteok (mung bean pancakes), tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes), and mayak gimbap (miniature rice rolls).
  5. Myeongdong Kyoja: A popular spot for locals and tourists alike, Myeongdong Kyoja is a restaurant that specializes in kalguksu (knife-cut noodles) and mandu (dumplings). The noodles are handmade daily, and the broth is made from beef and anchovies.
  6. Hanilkwan: Established in 1939, Hanilkwan is one of the oldest and most famous Korean restaurants in Seoul. The restaurant is known for its hanjeongsik, a traditional Korean meal that consists of rice, soup, and a variety of side dishes.
  7. Jokbal Street: Jokbal Street, located in the trendy Hongdae neighborhood, is a street lined with restaurants that specialize in jokbal (pig’s feet). The dish is typically served with soy sauce and chili paste and is a popular late-night snack among locals.
  8. Bukchon Son Mandu: Bukchon Son Mandu is a small family-run restaurant that specializes in mandu (dumplings). The dumplings are made from scratch using high-quality ingredients, and the restaurant offers a variety of fillings like pork and kimchi.
  9. Kkanbu Chicken: If you’re a fan of fried chicken, then Kkanbu Chicken is a must-visit. The restaurant serves crispy and juicy chicken that is fried to perfection. The chicken is available in a variety of flavors like original, soy garlic, and spicy.
  10. Noryangjin Fish Market: Noryangjin Fish Market is the largest fish market in Seoul and offers a wide selection of fresh seafood. The market has several restaurants where you can select your seafood and have it prepared on the spot.

Seoul’s food scene is constantly evolving, and there are always new restaurants and food trends to discover. Whether you’re looking for traditional Korean cuisine or international flavors, Seoul has something for everyone.

Tours For Visitors To Seoul, South Korea

There are many tours available for visitors to explore the various attractions and experiences that the city has to offer.

  1. Traditional Korean Culture Tour: This tour takes you through the Gyeongbokgung Palace, where you can witness the changing of the guard ceremony and the Korean folk village. You can also enjoy a traditional Korean performance, including a dance and music show.
  2. DMZ Tour: The DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) tour is a must-do for anyone visiting Seoul. It is a unique opportunity to visit one of the most heavily guarded borders in the world, where you can see the North Korean border and learn about the history of the Korean War.
  3. Seoul Night Tour: Seoul is a city that never sleeps, and the Seoul Night Tour is the perfect way to experience the vibrant nightlife of the city. The tour takes you through the streets of Hongdae, Gangnam, and Itaewon, where you can enjoy delicious food, shopping, and live music.
  4. Nami Island Tour: Nami Island is a small island located in Chuncheon, which is about an hour and a half from Seoul. This tour takes you on a scenic drive through the Korean countryside to Nami Island, where you can enjoy beautiful scenery, rent bicycles, and take a leisurely stroll.
  5. Korean Cooking Class: Korean cuisine is delicious and unique, and what better way to experience it than by learning how to cook it yourself? A Korean cooking class is a great way to learn about traditional ingredients, techniques, and flavors.
  6. Seoul Tower Tour: The Seoul Tower is a must-see attraction in Seoul. This tour takes you to the top of the tower, where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city, including Namsan Mountain and the Han River.
  7. Korean Traditional Tea Tour: The Korean Traditional Tea Tour takes you through the beautiful countryside, where you can learn about traditional tea-making techniques and enjoy a cup of Korean tea in a peaceful setting.
  8. K-Pop and K-Drama Tour: Korean pop culture has taken the world by storm, and this tour takes you through the streets of Gangnam and other popular K-Pop and K-Drama filming locations.
  9. Bukchon Hanok Village Tour: Bukchon Hanok Village is a traditional Korean village located in the heart of Seoul. This tour takes you through the narrow alleys and streets of the village, where you can see traditional Korean houses and learn about the history of the area.
  10. Shopping Tour: Seoul is a shopper’s paradise, and this tour takes you through some of the city’s most popular shopping areas, including Myeongdong, Dongdaemun, and Gangnam. You can shop for Korean cosmetics, fashion, electronics, and more.

With so many tours available, there is something for everyone in Seoul. Whether you want to experience traditional Korean culture, explore the city’s vibrant nightlife, or indulge in Korean cuisine, these tours offer a unique and unforgettable experience.

Independent Walking Tours Of Seoul, Korea

While there are plenty of organized tours available, exploring Seoul on your own is a great way to discover hidden gems, immerse yourself in local culture, and create your own adventure. Here are some tips for an independent walking tour of Seoul:

  1. Plan Your Route: Before setting out on your walk, plan your route and identify key points of interest you want to see. Use a map or smartphone app to help you navigate the city’s streets and public transport system.
  2. Start with the Historic District: Begin your walking tour in the historic district of Seoul, where you can explore ancient temples, palaces, and other cultural landmarks. Visit the iconic Gyeongbokgung Palace, the largest and most grandiose of the five historic palaces in Seoul. Other notable landmarks include Changdeokgung Palace, the Royal Shrine of Jongmyo, and Bukchon Hanok Village, a well-preserved traditional Korean neighborhood.
  3. Wander Through the Markets: Seoul is famous for its vibrant markets, selling everything from local street food to souvenirs and clothes. Visit the bustling Gwangjang Market, one of the oldest and largest traditional markets in Seoul, where you can sample local street food like bindaetteok (mung bean pancake) and tteokbokki (spicy rice cake). You can also explore the Insadong Antique Market, which is filled with shops selling traditional Korean crafts and souvenirs.
  4. Check Out the Street Art Scene: Seoul is home to a thriving street art scene, with colorful murals and graffiti decorating the city’s walls. Visit the Ihwa Mural Village, located on the hills of Naksan, where you can see stunning murals and installations created by local artists. Other notable street art districts include Mullae Art Village and Hongdae.
  5. Experience the Local Food Scene: Seoul is known for its delicious and diverse cuisine, so make sure to sample some of the local specialties on your walking tour. Try Korean BBQ, bibimbap, and kimchi, and be sure to visit traditional tea houses for a taste of Korean tea culture.
  6. End with a View: Finish your walking tour by taking in a panoramic view of the city. Visit Namsan Tower, a popular tourist spot that offers breathtaking views of Seoul’s skyline. You can also hike to the top of Bukhansan Mountain, one of the most beautiful natural landmarks in Seoul.

With its rich history, diverse culture, and dynamic street scenes, Seoul is a fascinating destination that rewards exploration on foot. By planning your own walking tour, you can discover hidden gems, engage with the local culture, and create your own unique adventure in this vibrant city.

Distinct Neighbourhoods in Seoul, Korea Worth Visiting

Seoul is also home to a variety of distinct neighborhoods that offer unique sights, sounds, and flavors. Here are some of the most noteworthy neighborhoods in Seoul worth visiting:

  1. Gangnam: Made famous by the catchy K-pop song “Gangnam Style,” this district is known for its high-end fashion boutiques, trendy bars, and luxurious apartments. Visitors can enjoy strolling along the tree-lined streets and admiring the impressive architecture.
  2. Hongdae: A favorite among college students and young artists, Hongdae is known for its vibrant nightlife and street performances. This district is home to a plethora of bars, cafes, and clubs, as well as some of the best street food in Seoul.
  3. Itaewon: Known as Seoul’s international district, Itaewon is a melting pot of cultures, with a diverse array of restaurants and shops that cater to expats and tourists. Visitors can find everything from halal food to vintage clothing stores in this eclectic neighborhood.
  4. Insadong: This charming neighborhood is filled with traditional Korean teahouses, antique shops, and art galleries. It’s a great place to experience the rich cultural heritage of Korea and shop for souvenirs.
  5. Bukchon Hanok Village: This historic neighborhood features traditional Korean homes known as hanoks, which have been preserved and restored to their original state. Visitors can wander through the narrow alleys and admire the beautiful architecture of these centuries-old buildings.
  6. Myeong-dong: One of the busiest shopping districts in Seoul, Myeong-dong is a haven for fashionistas and beauty enthusiasts. Visitors can shop for everything from high-end designer clothes to Korean skincare products, and indulge in delicious street food along the way.
  7. Samcheong-dong: This upscale neighborhood is known for its beautiful cafes, art galleries, and boutique stores. It’s a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy a leisurely afternoon of shopping and dining.
  8. Yeonnam-dong: A hidden gem in Seoul, Yeonnam-dong is a quieter neighborhood that’s perfect for those who want to escape the crowds. It’s known for its trendy cafes, beautiful parks, and charming alleyways filled with street art.

Seoul Accommodations Guide: Hotels, Guesthouses and Hostels

Seoul offers a wide range of accommodations for visitors from all over the world. From luxurious hotels to budget-friendly hostels, there is something for everyone.

Luxury Hotels: For those looking for luxury accommodations, Seoul has plenty to offer. Some of the top luxury hotels in the city include:

  • The Shilla Seoul: This iconic hotel features 464 rooms and suites, a world-class spa, and multiple dining options, including a Michelin-starred restaurant.
  • Lotte Hotel Seoul: Situated in the heart of the city, this hotel boasts over 1,000 rooms and suites, an indoor ice rink, and a stunning outdoor garden.
  • Four Seasons Hotel Seoul: This five-star hotel offers 317 rooms and suites, a fitness center, an indoor pool, and a rooftop bar with views of the city.

Mid-Range Hotels: For those on a mid-range budget, Seoul also offers a wide range of options. Some of the best mid-range hotels in the city include:

  • Aloft Seoul Myeongdong: This modern hotel features 223 rooms and suites, a 24-hour fitness center, and a rooftop terrace.
  • Courtyard by Marriott Seoul Namdaemun: This stylish hotel offers 409 rooms and suites, a fitness center, and an on-site restaurant.
  • Fraser Place Namdaemun: This upscale hotel offers 252 rooms and suites, a fitness center, and a rooftop terrace with views of the city.

Budget-Friendly Accommodations: For budget travelers, Seoul offers many affordable accommodations, including hostels and guesthouses. Some of the best budget-friendly options in the city include:

  • Kimchee Downtown Guesthouse: This popular guesthouse offers dorm-style accommodations and private rooms, as well as a communal kitchen and lounge.
  • Zzzip Guesthouse: This trendy hostel offers dorm-style accommodations and private rooms, as well as a rooftop terrace and lounge.
  • K-Guesthouse Myeongdong 3: This cozy guesthouse offers affordable private rooms, as well as a communal kitchen and lounge.

No matter what your budget or travel style, Seoul has a range of accommodations to fit your needs.

Day Trips From Seoul, Korea

If you’re looking to venture beyond the city limits, there are several amazing day trips that you can take. From natural beauty to cultural experiences, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

  1. Suwon

Suwon, the capital of Gyeonggi Province, is just a short train ride from Seoul, making it an easy day trip. The city is famous for its Hwaseong Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage site that dates back to the late 18th century. The fortress is surrounded by beautiful gardens and is an impressive example of Korean military architecture.

  1. Nami Island

Nami Island, also known as Namiseom Island, is a small island located in Chuncheon, about an hour and a half from Seoul. The island is known for its beautiful tree-lined paths, which are especially breathtaking during the fall when the leaves change color. Visitors can also rent bicycles or take a ferry ride around the island.

  1. Everland

Everland is a popular theme park located in Yongin, just outside of Seoul. The park has a wide variety of rides and attractions for visitors of all ages, as well as a zoo and botanical garden. During the winter months, the park is transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with ice skating and snow sledding.

  1. Jeonju

Jeonju is a historic city located in the southwestern part of South Korea. The city is known for its traditional Korean architecture, including the Jeonju Hanok Village, a collection of traditional Korean houses that have been preserved and restored. Jeonju is also famous for its food, including bibimbap, a rice dish with various vegetables and meat.

  1. DMZ

The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) is a buffer zone between North and South Korea that runs along the 38th parallel. While not technically a day trip, it’s still a must-see destination for visitors to Seoul. Visitors can take tours of the DMZ, including visits to the Joint Security Area and the Third Tunnel of Aggression, which was built by North Korea to invade South Korea.

  1. Seoraksan National Park

Seoraksan National Park is a beautiful national park located in Gangwon Province, about two and a half hours from Seoul. The park is known for its stunning natural scenery, including towering mountains, crystal-clear streams, and lush forests. The park is also home to several Buddhist temples, including Sinheungsa Temple, which dates back to the 7th century.

  1. Incheon

Incheon is a city located on the coast of the Yellow Sea, just west of Seoul. The city is home to Incheon International Airport, one of the largest and busiest airports in the world. Visitors can explore the historic Chinatown, which dates back to the late 19th century, or visit the beautiful Songdo Central Park, a large public park with walking trails and a man-made lake.

  1. Paju

Paju is a city located just north of Seoul, near the DMZ. The city is known for its historic sites, including the Imjingak Peace Park and the Dorasan Observatory, which offers stunning views of North Korea. Paju is also home to several shopping destinations, including the Paju Premium Outlets and Heyri Art Valley, a collection of unique galleries and shops.

Seoul Transportation Guide

There are a variety of transportation options available that make it easy to navigate the city and reach your destination quickly and efficiently.

One of the most popular modes of transportation in Seoul is the subway system, which is extensive and covers almost all parts of the city. There are 18 different subway lines, each with a different color, and all of them are operated by the Seoul Metropolitan Subway Corporation. The subway is fast, efficient, and affordable, with fares ranging from 1,250 won to 2,150 won depending on the distance traveled. There are also several passes available that offer discounts for frequent riders, including the T-money card, which can be used on all forms of public transportation in Seoul.

Another option for getting around Seoul is the bus system. There are several different types of buses, including local buses, express buses, and airport buses. Local buses are the cheapest option, with fares starting at 1,200 won, but they can be slow and crowded during peak hours. Express buses are faster and more comfortable, but they are also more expensive, with fares starting at 2,400 won. Airport buses are a convenient option for travelers arriving or departing from Incheon International Airport, with fares starting at 10,000 won.

Taxis are also a popular mode of transportation in Seoul, and they are widely available throughout the city. Taxis in Seoul are color-coded, with orange taxis being the most common and cheapest option. Black taxis are more expensive and can be hailed on the street or through a taxi app. Many taxi drivers in Seoul speak English, but it’s a good idea to have your destination written down in Korean just in case.

For those who prefer to travel on two wheels, Seoul also has an extensive network of bike paths and rental services. There are several rental companies throughout the city that offer hourly or daily rentals, with prices ranging from 1,000 won to 4,000 won per hour depending on the type of bike.

Overall, Seoul has a variety of transportation options available that make it easy to get around the city. Whether you prefer to travel by subway, bus, taxi, or bike, there is a convenient and affordable option for everyone. With a little planning and some knowledge of the transportation system, you can explore all that Seoul has to offer without getting lost or breaking the bank.

Where To Visit After Your Trip To Seoul?

There are also plenty of incredible destinations to visit after your trip to Seoul that are worth exploring. Here are some top recommendations:

  1. Jeju Island: Located off the southern coast of South Korea, Jeju Island is a paradise for nature lovers. The island is known for its beautiful beaches, volcanic landscapes, and stunning waterfalls. It’s a great place to go hiking, biking, or simply relax and soak up the natural beauty.
  2. Gyeongju: Known as the “museum without walls,” Gyeongju is a city located in the southeastern part of South Korea. It’s home to a number of ancient historical sites, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bulguksa Temple. Visitors can also explore the Tumuli Park, which is home to hundreds of ancient burial mounds.
  3. Busan: As mentioned earlier, Busan is a port city located on the southern coast of South Korea. It’s a great place to visit after Seoul, as it offers a different atmosphere and vibe. Visitors can enjoy stunning beaches, delicious seafood, and a vibrant nightlife.
  4. Sokcho: Located in the northeastern part of South Korea, Sokcho is a beautiful coastal city that offers visitors plenty of natural beauty. The city is home to Seoraksan National Park, which is one of the most beautiful national parks in the country. Visitors can enjoy hiking, biking, or simply take in the stunning scenery.
  5. DMZ: The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) is a strip of land that divides North and South Korea. While it’s not technically a destination to visit after Seoul, it’s certainly worth a trip if you’re interested in learning more about the history of the Korean War and the division of the two countries.

These are just a few of the top destinations to visit after your trip to Seoul. South Korea is a country full of incredible destinations, each with their own unique charm and beauty. No matter where you decide to go, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience.

Seoul Travel Guide: Final Thoughts

Seoul is a city that embodies the dynamism and innovation of contemporary Asia, while also paying tribute to its rich cultural heritage. Its history, as well as its present-day charms, have positioned it as a top destination for travelers from all over the world. From the city’s palaces and museums to its modern high-rise buildings and bustling streets, Seoul offers a fascinating glimpse into the convergence of the traditional and the contemporary.

For those with a passion for art and culture, Seoul is a treasure trove of museums, galleries, and historic sites. From the Gyeongbokgung Palace to the National Museum of Korea, the city’s cultural offerings are sure to satisfy even the most discerning traveler. Seoul is also famous for its vibrant street life, with colorful markets, bustling shopping districts, and a dizzying array of street food options to explore.

Transportation in Seoul is efficient and reliable, with an extensive subway system and a well-developed bus network that makes getting around the city easy and convenient. Whether you choose to embark on a walking tour of the city’s various neighborhoods or venture further afield on a day trip, Seoul’s transportation options are sure to accommodate your needs.

For those seeking a respite from the city’s hustle and bustle, there are numerous parks and green spaces to enjoy, including the famous Namsan Mountain and the Han River Park. These areas provide a tranquil escape from the fast-paced urban environment, allowing visitors to unwind and soak in the natural beauty of the city.

Overall, Seoul is a city that captivates the imagination with its blend of the ancient and the modern, the traditional and the contemporary. Its diverse offerings make it a destination that is sure to please all who visit, from the most seasoned traveler to the first-time tourist. Whether you’re looking to explore its rich history, indulge in its culinary delights, or simply soak up its vibrant atmosphere, Seoul has something for everyone.

In Seoul, a city of lights and sound, The heart of Korea can be found, From bustling streets to ancient shrines, A world of wonder that always shines.

The sights and smells of street food fair, Aroma of spices filling the air, Kimchi, bibimbap, and more, Flavors to savor forevermore.

From palaces grand to temples old, Stories of history waiting to be told, Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, and more, Treasures of culture to explore.

The hustle and bustle of the city life, Glimmers of neon cutting through the night, The energy and pulse of Gangnam’s beat, A vibe that sweeps you off your feet.

The hills and trails of Bukhansan, A nature escape just a short span, The views from above take your breath away, A moment of peace to seize the day.

In Seoul, there’s something for everyone, A city that never ceases to stun, A place that’ll leave you wanting more, A destination to always adore.

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