The Best Things To Do In Seoul
The capital city of South Korea, Seoul is a thriving destination with an interesting blend of modern innovation, skyscrapers and pop culture blended with much of the ancient history and street markets located throughout every pocket of the city. When visiting Seoul, you’ll have the opportunity to experience much of the traditional points of interest – including temples and ornate palaces – as well as explore the modern and high-tech aspects of the city.
As one of the major cities in Asia — as well as the world — Seoul is a significant hub of all things art, culture and commerce. Though most of the city is fast paced and vibrant, visitors to Seoul will also notice traditions and cultures that permeate throughout much of the region. Need a break from all of high energy locations? Head out to the outskirts of Seoul and experience a quieter pace of life as well as outdoor recreation, including hiking on one of the many peaceful mountain trails. Whether you plan on staying in the city center or you want to get out and explore, there is an essential balance here in Seoul that gives you as much tranquility as it does energy.
Landscaped parks and beautiful river landscapes also weave and meander throughout Seoul. Surrounded by nature and mountains, this South Korean city has just about everything you could imagine for an adventurous getaway. Explore the city center and shop at any number of the popular boutiques or partake in one of the quirky and innovative cafés located around the city. South Korea has an extensive past and much of its history is infused throughout, no matter where you look. One of the most notable aspects of visiting South Korea is the demilitarized zone, also known as the DMZ, which separates the country from its neighbor, North Korea. Local villages are scattered throughout the mountain landscape and offer a good sense of what life is like outside of Seoul. Palaces and religious temples are worth visiting and completely awe-inspiring — but when you’re looking for something completely unique to Korea and you want to immerse yourself in a local experience, the night market is buzzing with electricity and full of a high energy atmosphere!
HERE ARE OUR PICKS FOR THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN SEOUL…
DMZ (Demilitarized Zone)
A stand-off that has extended decades, this visit to no man’s land – the demilitarized zone – is safe but tense. Only 40 minutes from Seoul, the soldiers of North and South Korea meet each other’s gaze. See the Joint Security Area where the North and South met for peace talks in the Korean War; this narrow stretch of land is well worth the visit!
Absorb the history of Changdeokgung Palace, which dates to 1405, the time of the Joseon Dynasty. Its magnificent architecture has been restored, and the palace, on 110 acres, was UNESCO Heritage Listed in 1997. You are welcome to tour the buildings and gardens, from the Donhwanmun Gate to the majestic Halls, the Shrine and the Secret Garden and both self-guided, and guided, tours are available!
Hustle and bustle, alleys, nooks and crannies – The Namdaemun Markets never close! There is something for everyone at this traditional market, and you will never tire of the variety of goods on sale and display. A favourite souvenir is to purchase a stamp with your name in Korean – made in minutes as you wait. When you need a rest, head to Noodle Alley or Restaurant Alley for tasty street food.
The Blue House (Cheong Wa Dae)
The Blue House is the official residence of South Korea’s head of State, the President, named after the 150,000 blue tiles used on the roof. Set on 62 acres, you are welcome to visit the main building and wander around the gardens. The Blue House is a magnificent example of traditional architecture, and an introduction to the history of this country. If you visit on Saturday morning you can even see the Military Honour Guard and Band perform!
Seoul City Hall
Shaped like a wave poised to break, visit Seoul City Hall to appreciate the modern innovative architecture of Seoul. As you stroll past the seven-story vertical garden admiring its beauty, head to the basement to see relics, such as arrowheads found as the building was constructed. There is modern South Korean art on display and the old council chambers are worth visiting, as they now house a public library.
Experience the history of South Korea, as you the cross the entrance bridge shared by royalty hundreds of years ago. Meander through the buildings and gardens of Deoksugong Palace, on a free guided tour, or by yourself, to learn and appreciate the past grandeur of this country, and its contrast with the modern world. You should also take the time to visit the National Museum of Art!
Right in the centre of Seoul, and with free admission, take a break and transport yourself back to an earlier time at Unhyeongung Palace. As you enter the main gate, the opulence of this palace greets you. Tour the kitchens and the visitor’s quarters with many historical artefacts on display. Make the day special – wear and learn about the traditional clothing of the Joseon Dynasty – it’s a truly unique experience!
The War Memorial of Korea
In a country that lives with military tension, a visit to the The War Memorial of Korea is a must. This memorial and museum respectfully documents and displays the history of this country’s involvement in wars and conflicts. The Korean War is a major display, and you will see weaponry, tanks, planes and guns. There are eight main exhibits, so this makes a great tour to absorb the country’s history.
A popular and vibrant district in Seoul’s city centre, Jongno is a major hub for all things finance, history and culture – a perfect spot when you want to explore this bustling South Korean city and get an immersive glimpse at what life is like as a local!
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