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Things to do in Seoul

Things to do in  Seoul

Welcome to Seoul

Seoul, the capital of South Korea, is a thriving metropolis that marches to the beat of millions of busy residents. Dominated by the towering peaks of Mt. Bukhansan and Mt. Namsan, the city boasts an impressive infrastructure that makes getting around the city by public transport easy. However, sightseeing tours provide added value with insightful commentary and off-the-beaten-track attractions. Discover UNESCO World Heritage–listed treasures such as Changdeokgung Palace, Gyeongbokgung Palace, and the Blue House (Cheong Wa Dae); take a day trip to the DMZ, the no-man’s-land between North and South Korea; or shop until you drop in the commercial zones of Dongdaemun, Myeongdong, and Gangnam—birthplace of the global hit, “Gangnam Style.” Sample hearty Korean cuisine and local craft beers on a food tour or during a cooking class; peruse the stalls at the markets in Gwangjang, Insadong, and Namdaemun; and watch the city lights dance across the Han River on an evening cruise. Plus, Seoul serves as a convenient launch pad for outdoor adventures. Pull on your hiking boots and join throngs of South Koreans exploring Seoraksan National Park, the UNESCO Biosphere Protected Site home to Mt. Seorak. Or practice your turns at the ski resorts of Elysian Gangchon or Yongpyong. If you’ve got a flexible itinerary and wish to explore more of South Korea, use Seoul as a gateway to Gongju, Buyeo, Suncheon, Yeosu, and Busan.

Top 10 attractions in Seoul

#1

Gyeongbokgung Palace

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Most commonly referred to as the Northern Palace because of its location compared to the other palaces of Seoul, Gyeongbokgung is a stunning reminder of the Joseon Dynasty, with elements of the complex still intact from that time, despite the wars and occupations that have since happened. The Gyeonghoe-ru pavilion and Hyangwonjeong pond are gleaming examples of that reminder, helping Gyeongbokgung become arguably the most stunning of the five palaces. Originally built in the 14th century, the main gate of the palace is the only thing dividing the once royal quarters from one of the busiest parts of the city. The grounds of the palace contain a number of structures you may not see all of on your first trip, including Geunjeongmun (the Third Inner Gate), Geunjeongjeon, (the Throne Hall) and Sajeongjeon (the Executive Office). The palace also contains a royal banquet hall, a royal study, and of course, the queen's and king's quarters.More
#2

Cheonggyecheon

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One of Seoul’s most ambitious revitalization projects of the past several decades has been to transform the Cheonggyecheon stream into one of the city’s best outdoor pedestrian areas. Cheonggyecheon, a small stream passing through downtown Seoul, was restored in 2005 to give the city a desperately needed outdoor area. The project included the installation of extensive walking paths, 22 bridges, a large central fountain and several murals and art installations featuring the work of local artists. The stream now stretches nearly 7 miles (11 kilometers), so you’ll usually be able to find a place to sit and relax. In a city that was once largely devoid of natural spaces, Cheonggyecheon is one of the best places in Seoul for walking, people watching or simply taking a break from a walking tour of the surrounding historic district. During the summers, the city hosts cultural festivals and concerts as part of the Cheonggyecheon Cultural Festival.More
#3

Deoksugung

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Situated along an old stone road and tucked between a handful of western-style buildings, Deoksugung is the only traditional palace in Seoul’s bustling neighborhood of Jung-gu. Visitors who enter the grounds must cross a picturesque bridge where the king’s carriage once traveled thousands of years ago. Tourists can explore the traditional palace buildings that dot the grounds, as well as venture into the ornate gardens and the National Museum of Art. Free guided tours are available for those interested in learning more about the history of Deoksugung, but visitors say the exquisite detail of the buildings’ interiors and vast grounds are still impressive without the back story. The changing of the guards, which takes place daily, is one of the most popular attractions at Deoksugung.More
#4

Seoul City Hall

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#5

Tapgol Park

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Formerly known as Pagoda Park, this small public gathering place was once the home of a Buddhist Temple and still holds an important place in Korean history. That’s because the March 1st Movement, part of the nation’s move towards independence from Japanese rule, took place in Tapgol Park. Visitors can wander the grounds, which offer a number of places for quiet reflection, including an old pagoda dating back to the 15 Century. Impressive stone statues dot the grounds, which most travelers agree can be seen in about 30 minutes. Tapgol Park is perfect for relaxing on the way to or from nearby Isna-dong.More
#6
#7

Bukchon Hanok Village

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Bukchon Hanok Village is a lovely residential neighborhood located between Gyeongbok and Changdeok Palaces, and is full of traditional hanok homes. It is a place that perfectly embodies the heritage and culture of South Korea. Famous for once being the residences of high-ranking government officials, the village is now a peaceful destination for visitors looking to taking a stroll through its comforting alleyways and calm, picturesque scenery. Boasting more than 600 years of history, the village reflects that of the tranquil views and nature of neo-Confucianism. It currently houses a museum and various craft shops tucked away in its back alleys, built in a uniform way where gardens meeting on adjacent properties seem to make the whole idea of property go away. Located just at the mouth of the village, the Bukchon Traditional Culture Center is a great place to get the low-down on not only the village itself.More
#8

Insadong

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Insadong (Insa-dong), Seoul’s cultural and artistic hub, is the place to go to shop for local crafts, visit a traditional Korean tea shop or catch an impromptu street performance. The quaint neighborhood, located in Jongno-gu district, houses one of the largest antiques and craft markets in the country. The area’s name dates back more than 500 years when Insadong was two separate towns divided by a small stream. The wealthy Korean residents who called the towns home were forced out during the Japanese occupation, and the new residents established Insadong as an antiques trading post. Today, Insadong’s collection of cafes, galleries and shops attract domestic and foreign tourists to the area. Many of the restaurants and shops are housed in the original historic buildings. You’ll find nearly half of Korea’s antique shops and nearly all of its stationary shops in Insadong. Keep in mind that many galleries in Insadong close on Sundays or Mondays.More
#9

Namsan Tower (N Seoul Tower)

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Offering one of the most beautiful panoramic views in the city, the 777 foot (236.7 meters) Namsam tower, or N Seoul tower, in Seoul is an opportunity for visitors to see just how much the South Korean capital has grown over the years. Featuring a nice array of restaurants serving local food, including one that revolves, and a gift shop, you can take a cable car up the mountain the tower is located on and enjoy the views from various observation decks. Another option is to hike up to the tower through Namsan Park, which features paths and viewpoints. It's photographer's dream; try and catch the city flashing below the mountainous backdrop day or night. Though it was first opened to the public more than 30 years ago, it was reopened as a cultural landmark in 2005 and now offers art exhibitions, movies, performances, a children's center and even a bakery, making it a cannot-miss destination.More
#10

DMZ

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Nowhere is the tension between North and South Korea more palpable than in the no man’s land known as the demilitarized zone, or DMZ. As the only divided nation on earth, only 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) separate the North from the South in what is the most heavily armed border on earth. The 150-mile (241-kilometer) long zone has served as a buffer since the 1953 cease fire that put the Korean War on hold. The area is quite safe for tourists and is probably the most fascinating day trip you could possibly take from Seoul. While touring the DMZ, you’ll get the chance to visit the Joint Security Area, also known as Panmunjeom. When the North and South met for peace talks during the Korean War, they met in Panmunjeom, and it is here that you can really feel the tension as North Korean soldiers gaze down at passing tourists from their side while South Korean soldiers stare back.More

Trip ideas

How to Spend 3 Days in Seoul

How to Spend 3 Days in Seoul

Must-See Palaces in Seoul

Must-See Palaces in Seoul

How to Choose a DMZ Tour

How to Choose a DMZ Tour

Top activities in Seoul

Half-Day Korean DMZ Tour from Seoul

Half-Day Korean DMZ Tour from Seoul

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US$45.50
Full-Day Essential Seoul Tour

Full-Day Essential Seoul Tour

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US$97.44
Small-Group Korean Night Food Tour

Small-Group Korean Night Food Tour

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US$106.79
Private Seoul City Tour

Private Seoul City Tour

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US$190.00

Frequently Asked Questions

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