If you only have time for one palace visit make sure this is the one. Also referred to as the "Northern Palace", it was built in 1395 and is a stunning example of traditional Korean palatial architecture. Free guided tours are available in English, Japanese and Chinese.
The museum is located inside Gyeongbokgung Palace and offers an excellent collection of Korean cultural exhibits. There are over 4,000 historical artefacts on display, and it is a great place to learn more about the history and historic lifestyles of the Korean people.
A trip to Namsangol Hanok Village will grant visitors insight into the traditional ways of living during the extended period of of Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) rule. Here, one will be able to see restored housing dating back centuries, watch performances and even try a hand at activities such as archery.
For sweeping views of the city from Seoul's highest point, head to the observation deck of Seoul Tower - a local landmark and attraction that's been in operation for over three decades. The top floor features an upscale revolving restaurant; other eateries and attractions operate on-site.
Taking a cruises along the Hangang River in Seoul is a great way to enjoy the city panorama - ferries pass local attractions en route, and those in the evening often include a dining option. Cruises vary in length (some as short at 40 minutes) and have an on-board tour guide.
Escape the bustle of the city and retreat to the tranquillity of the mountains. Bukhansan National Park has several gorges, granite peaks and more than 1,300 species of flora and fauna. There are also many historical and cultural sites including Bukhansanseong Fortress, Buddhist temples and monk’s cells. Bukhansan National Park Office:
Lotte World is an amusement park located in the heart of the city. The theme park features exciting rides, an ice rink, a folk museum, a lake, both indoor and outdoor games, a fantasy forest with animals and much more. Lotte World is a very popular site - about 6,000,000 visitors are welcomed here every year.
This little gem is situated in the middle of Seoul and is an easy one to overlook. Bongeunsa Temple was founded in 794 during the Shilla King Weongseong’s reign. There is a special 2-hour program designed for visitors, which includes meditation and a tea ceremony. Do not miss the huge Buddha statue in the back.
Changdeokgung is a grand palace from the last Korean dynasty. This is a great place to learn about Korean history but be sure to have some comfortable shoes on since the place is big. Enjoy the guided tour in English that lasts for one hour and be sure not to miss the guard changing ceremony.
Trickeye Museum is an interactive museum with paintings which are created with 'trompe l'oeil' (eye-tricking) techniques that give each 2D art piece the impression of being in 3D. This allows you to interact with the paintings in a way that makes it look like you are part of the original work.
The City Tour Bus is a great way to see Seoul. The tour includes stops at some of Seoul’s most popular attractions and shopping venues. There are 26 stops and you can get off at any station and then take the next bus again. Buses run at 30-minute intervals. Departure location: In front of Donghwa duty-free Shops at Gwanghwamun.
This huge museum is a great place where you can learn about the history of the Korean Military. There are many things to see both inside and outside the museum. On display are military airplanes, tanks, weapons and other military equipment. Put your walking shoes on since this is a massive place. There are English-language tours available.
Stroll around and enjoy this botanical garden with great sports facilities such as a swimming pool, tennis court, ping-pong court, baseball stadium and roller-skating area. You can also take the cable car to the top or walk up the stairway path to get a great view over the city. Here at Namsan Park you will find the Seoul Tower.
Leeum Samsung Museum of Art showcases a selection of artwork by artists from across the globe - both Korean and international creators. Works range from traditional to contemporary art, and exhibitions change frequently. Guided tours in English available on Saturdays and Sundays.
Set amidst high-rise modern buildings, the Deoksugung Palace is an oasis of traditional Korea in the very heart of Seoul's downtown. Historically, it served for various administrative purposes and was inhabited by Korean royalty. Today, the palace and premises are open to visitors (guided tours available).
The historic eatery has been serving pollack soup for decades - ever since it first began operation in 1968. It's client base doesn't show signs of scaling down until today - those willing to indulge in the signature soup must prepare to wait in line during peak hours.
Dimatteo Pizza offers authentic Italian cuisine with a selection of Italian wines. The very thin pizza is hailed as one of the best in town, and is made with fresh ingredients such as fresh basil and buffalo mozzarella. Seafood and pasta dishes feature on their menu in abundance.
If you would like to have some Indian food, head over to Jyoti Restaurant. The menu offers both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options cooked by skilled chefs with ample experience. Set lunches are served on weekdays from 11.30am to 2pm, and various sets are available for dinner.
This food court is located at the basement level of Lotte Department Store, and offers a good range of international dishes at reasonable prices. All the Korean food you can wish for is served here - and there are plenty of spots to choose from. The place is huge and the atmosphere is lively.
The restaurant is well-visited by locals, which serves as testament to its authenticity. Myeongdong Kyoja opened its doors in 1976 and offers guests delicious dumplings and noddle dishes. This is an inexpensive restaurant with a fast pace and great for a solid in-and-out meal.
If you still had not had the chance to try Korean soy crab and if you are willing to go for something new, give this restaurant a go. Tanks with live crabs are on display in the yard, which means very fresh crab is served at the restaurant. The menu is pleasantly varied and offers quite a selection of Korean dishes.
For any animal or cat lover, this is definitely the place to visit. The cosy cafe is where guests are welcome to interact with the furry creatures while sipping on delicious coffees. Graceful felines roam around the space, gracing laps of visitors with their presence from time to time.
There hardly is a better place for foodies on a budget than Tongin Market. At several cafes on-site (Box Lunch or Dosirak, for example), visitors may purchase a recommended 5 US dollars worth of coins, which may then be then exchanged for foods and snacks to complement the staple of soup and/or rice.
Known primarily as a clothing market, Gwangjang is a prime destination for those looking to fest on Korean street food - and it certainly has no shortage of mouthwatering choices. Constantly teeming with visitors, the market is a great place to savour some classic specialties such as bibimbap, as well as, perhaps, try something vey much out of the box, such as the dreaded live octopus.
All offerings at O'Sulloc - food and drink - contain high-quality green tea from Korea's own Jeju-do island, where some of the world's finest tea is grown. The cafés offerings include green tea ice cream, cakes and scones, desserts, and several varieties of soft drinks, such as the milky green tea latte.
Rogpa is a place where one can enjoy delightful (Indian and Himalayan) vegetarian snacks and drinks, all while supporting good causes run by the volunteer organization. To further support the volunteers and Tibetans in need, stop by the next door shop selling handicrafts by exiled Tibetans on your way out.
The longstanding cafe is know for one thing only - the filling, traditional red bean soup-like dessert made with rice dough, nuts (peanuts and chestnuts), and other ingredients (several varieties on offer). It's a must-visit location for those looking to try authentic Korean treats.
The canine answer to the world's rapidly growing number of cat cafés, Bau House is a place dog-lovers will certainly enjoy. The cafés residents are of varied breeds, tiny lap dogs mixed in with Labradors and dogs of comparable size, all of which roam free in the cafés cosy insides and eagerly interacts with visitors.
The trendy and rather unusual eatery is a good pick for those looking to grab a quick bite of the non-Korean kind - the Moroccan café serves a nice selection of great sandwiches with meat and vegetable stuffing, as well as several varieties of other authentic, hearty dishes.
One of the most popular clubs in Seoul's stylish Gangnam district (and a nightlife venue renowned worldwide), Octagon is where the party doesn't stop until the early morning hours, with DJs playing house and electro all night long - all in a trendy interior featuring an indoor pool.
M2 is a popular EDM dance club with modern sound and lighting systems. International superstar DJs are frequent guests here, and music genres played range from electronic to house. The place tends to get crowded on weekends, when dozens of locals and the occasional foreigners fill up the dance floor.
Located on Grand Hyatt Seoul premises, J.J. Mahoney's is an establishment that has something for everyone. Live music is played here rather frequently, the high-quality sound system makes for great dancing conditions, and there is a billiards and darts room for those who are up for a challenge. The venue attracts a clientele of a diverse age range.
Enjoy a great drink at Lobby Lounge.Bar on the 41st floor of the Sheraton Seoul D Cube City Hotel. The staff serve a good variety of mouth-watering food, drinks, delightful desserts. Live entertainment is often provided - all with sweeping views of Seoul uncovering before guests' eyes.
Offering one of Seoul's most poplar evening entertainment varieties, this particular noraebang is the place to go to see and be seen (through the floor-to-ceiling windows in some of the karaoke rooms, that is). Prices vary depending on time of day or night, but tend to be highest from 8pm onwards.
There are multiple places to catch a show in Seoul, some of the best ones include National Gugak Center (for traditional Korean music and dance shows), Jeongdong Theater (for musicals), Nanta Theatre Jung-gu (which puts on first-rate non-verbal performances with music and comedy), and, of course, the National Theatre of Korea. National Theatre of Korea:
Upholding the recently developing trend of vinyl bars, Golmok is one location not to be missed - the compact space is extremely inviting, and music selection impressive (with over 12,000 LPs). Theme music nights are held frequently, and the place tends to get packed with locals in-the-know at weekends.
Fit for an evening drink every night of the week, Glam is a sleek, stylish bar in Itaewon - the kind this particular neighbourhood isn't exactly known for. The bar's interior was crafted to emulate old European designs, with well-dressed business-minded professionals frequenting its glamorous insides.
One of the trendiest clubs of the moment, Cakeshop is where many international DJs and bands play when passing through Seoul. The crowd here is mostly made up of savvy music-lovers, with genres played ranging from electronic to hip hop. The club has an ever-so-slightly grungy feel to it.
In the centre of Seoul, you will find Namdaemun Market – an open-air shopping extravaganza that has been a trading place for centuries! Here you can buy anything from a pig’s head to a Louis Vuitton replica handbag. It's the largest market in the country, selling everything from food to clothing.
Not far from Namdaemun is Dongdaemun, another bustling market area where once again just about anything can be found. Dongdaemun is made up of some traditional-style market stalls, wholesale outlets and various shopping centers selling mainly Korean and international fashion.
A popular shopping area, Myeongdong is the place to go if you're on the lookout for styles trending in Korea - often, rather unique clothing and accessories pieces may be found in the shops and stores dotting the district. Do mind that most shops only sell sizes geared at a smaller build, which means some Western travelers may encounter difficulty finding fitting clothing.
Itaewon is a part of town thoroughly enjoyed by Western tourists - finding appropriately-sized clothing presents less of a difficulty than elsewhere in town, and street salesmen often approach tourists with offers to flip through catalogues of knock-off brand goods (leading those interested into a basement store somewhere in the area - do exercise precaution if you choose to follow).
The Incredibly large COEX Mall is a one-stop shopping location, where high-end international brands are represented alongside mid-range, affordable Korean stores. The mall's shopping, entertainment (there is an actual aquarium on-site), and dining options are endless - there will certainly be something there to suit every taste.
For latest electronics, both genuine and imitation (if you happen to be interested in the latter), try the Yongsan Market packed to the brim with vendors and shops selling phones, cameras, laptops, video games, and all sorts of useful devices. Prices tend to be lower than those in regular retail outlets.
For all your literary needs, Kyobo Book Store the place to be - with well-organized books and periodicals in multiple different languages and a very impressive selection, the book shop is probably among the best in town. Kyobo also sells stationery, electronics, games, and more.
Held once a week (on Saturdays), Hongdae Free Market reflects the youthful and artsy spirit of the neighbourhood. Local artists and craftsmen gather here to showcase and sell their work, which is mostly unique, one-off items produced by the young designers themselves. Some street food stalls are normally in operation, too.
The store really is a shoppers' paradise - with multiple floors each having a different theme (street wear, feminine attire, etc.), Åland might just be one of the essential go-to places for the hottest Korean fashions. Leftovers are sold at the great value Åland After Åland outlet (19-12 Wausan-ro 17-gil, Mapo-gu).
Incheon International Airport is located approximately a 1-hour ride from downtown Seoul by bus or taxi. Airport buses are normally stop directly outside the airport building (Limousine buses run not to Seoul only, but also connect the airport to other provincial cities). The Limousine bus runs to and from the airport every 10-15 minutes and stops at most of the major hotels. You can buy your bus ticket from ticket booths next to the bus stops outside on the sidewalk. Taxis are available from stands no.16-21 on the arrivals floor. Some taxi companies offer English-language service.
The Underground is clean and efficient and operates from approximately 5.30am to midnight non-stop every day. All stations display signs both in Korean and English. You can buy your ticket at the ticket vending machine. Check the website for details (www.seoulmetro.co.kr). Seoul Station is a central hub for transportation. Standard buses are frequent and inexpensive. You can pay your fare by either scanning your T-money card or paying in cash when entering the bus. Make sure to have change since you cannot pay with bigger bills. There are several city buses operating in Seoul. For example the "Blue Bus" which connects inner Seoul with the outer suburban areas. The Yellow Bus (Circular Line) goes in a circular pattern around the very central part of Seoul. There are also the Red Bus (Wide Area Line), Maeul Bus (Local Bus) and the Green Bus (Branch Line).
Taxi in Korea is an affordable means of transportation. Taxis come in two varieties - regular and deluxe (easy to recognize by the black-with-golden-stripe color scheme; prices for those are slightly higher). There is also the International taxi which was specially created for foreign tourists in Seoul who cannot speak Korean. They are orange with a "Haechi", the Seoul mascot, on the side of it. www.intltaxi.co.kr +82 2 1644 2255 In addition there is also the water taxi. There are total of 17 water taxi stations located along the Hangang River.
There are many different pharmacies and you will find one on nearly every major street or road. They are marked by a sign that says “약,” (“yak,” which means “medicine”). However, many pharmacies are closed on Sundays, but pharmacies located in large shopping malls, subway stations, bus terminals are open on Sundays. 24-hour phone information service: 120 and 1339