The splendid city of Seoul is an exotic and novel destination. This colossal city, divided by the Han River, treasures an immense cultural and monumental wealth and surprises with its commercial dynamism.
The people of Seoul are clearly addicted to aesthetics. As such, you will find entire districts whose streets are lined with beauty shops, including the glittering Myeong-dong.
A passion for beauty is also evident in Seoul’s urban landscape. From the Blue House, used as the presidential residence, to the Jogyesa Temple and its gardens overflowing with lotus flowers, everything is immensely beautiful.
- Top 5 reasons to visit Seoul
- What to do in Seoul
- When to visit Seoul
- How to get to Seoul
- Where to stay in Seoul
- Getting around Seoul
- Cost of living in Seoul
- Where to Eat in Seoul
Top 5 reasons to visit Seoul
The royal palaces
Palaces convey the richness of the Korean past. The most prominent of these are Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, and Changgyeonggung. They are quite close to each other.
The Myeong-dong Trade Area
During the daytime, Myeong-dong is constantly bustling with thousands of visitors who come and go to shop. As the sun sets, the neon lights come on, creating a unique spectacle. The Myeong-dong Cathedral and the NANTA Theater are located in this area.
The Blue House is located in this area, and it is full of cafes and all kinds of shops. It is also very close to the National Museum of Contemporary Art, whose entrance costs only ₩ 4000.
Among the many museums in the Korean capital, the attractive Leeum Samsung Art Museum stands out, displaying contemporary, modern, and traditional Korean art. Also of interest is the National Museum of Korea, a symbol of the country’s art, history and culture.
Seoul boasts a vibrant and youthful atmosphere every night, thanks to its numerous nightclubs, bars and live music venues. For the best Korean nightlife, come to Gangnam, where you can try soju or rice wine, and the music and dancing continues until dawn.
What to do in Seoul
Explore the Ikseon-dong neighborhood
The centrally located Ikseon-dong area has become a fashionable neighborhood, as young artists and entrepreneurs have opened restaurants, cafes, and design and craft shops here. In its maze of streets you will be surprised by shops like Vintage Bonnie, which specializes in all kinds of handmade retro design items.
Getting lost in the Insa-dong area
From the main street of this neighborhood, Insadong-gil, there is a fascinating network of narrow streets, filled with shops of all kinds. The streets also offer a variety of entertainment options, art galleries, and street performers. There are restaurants such as Bukchon Sonmandu and Sanchon, and many street vendors selling tasty food.
Have fun at the Lotte World complex
This complex houses exciting attractions, both in the Magic Island park and in the world’s largest indoor theme park, and all on a giant scale. There is also a cinema, the luxury Lotte Hotel World and a spa.
Resting by Cheonggyecheon Creek
The banks of Cheonggyecheon Creek offer an oasis of peace and freshness amidst the bustle of the city. At night, the area is illuminated by a contemporary laser show that wows all those who come to watch.
Take an excursion to Bukhansan National Park
This park is home to over 1300 species of plants and animals. It stands out for its ecological quality, its natural beauty and the ancient temples and fortresses that are scattered throughout the area.
When to visit Seoul
The best time to visit Seoul is from early summer and early fall, when the weather is very pleasant and there are many festivals. If you want to avoid crowds, schedule your trip for April or September.
Keep in mind that Seoul hosts the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival in January, during which winter sports such as ice fishing, ice soccer, and snow sledding, among other leisure activities, are practiced.
How to get to Seoul
The vast majority of international flights land at the spectacular Incheon International Airport (ICN), designed by Curtis W. Fentress. The best option to reach the center is to take the AREX train. The normal service takes over an hour to complete and costs between ₩ 4150 and ₩ 4750. The direct train service costs ₩ 9000 and the journey takes about 45 minutes.
If you prefer to take a taxi, you will be in downtown Seoul in 45 minutes. There are four categories of taxis: common taxi costs ₩ 3000 plus 20 % at night, premium and jumbo taxi charges ₩ 5000, and international taxi varies between ₩ 55 000 and ₩ 75 000.
Seoul can be reached by train from all major cities in South Korea. There are two stations in the city center, Seoul Station and Yongsan Station. The train ticket from Busan costs between ₩ 28 600 and ₩ 47 600, and the journey takes between two and a half and four hours.
To get to Seoul from Busan or Daegu, you must access the Gyeongbu Expressway. There is also a direct road connection from Gwangju in the southwest, which takes about three hours.
Seoul has five intercity bus stations throughout the city. Most local services arrive at Gangnam station, where subway lines 3, 7 and 9 converge. A bus ticket from Busan to Seoul costs about ₩ 34 200, and the journey time is four hours and fifteen minutes.
Airports near Seoul
(ICN) Seoul Incheon
(GMP) Seoul Gimpo Intl
Where to stay in Seoul
Areas such as Jongno and Hongdae offer many affordable accommodation options. Hostel Korea, for example, offers rates of around ₩ 22 343 per night. If you prefer a more upscale hotel, you can book your room at the JW Marriott Hotel Seoul, which has its own golf course and an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
Their rates are approximately ₩ 453 440 per night. The Pacific Hotel, on the other hand, offers a 4-star service and rooms from ₩ 105 150 per night.
Popular neighborhoods in Seoul
Gangnam. Launched to fame by the song “Gangnam Style” by the rapper Psy, this district is distributed around the Gangnam station and hosts a large selection of bars and clubs. The Bongeunsa Temple and the Yangjae Citizens’ Forest are located here.
Jongno. Located north of Gangnam, this district is characterized by skyscrapers and various clubs. It is home to the Gyeongbokgung, Changgyeonggung, and Changdeokgung palaces, and to charming neighborhoods such as Bukchon.
Jung. Jung lies east of Seoul’s historic center, and is the ideal place for you if you love to shop. It integrates the shopping areas of Myeong-dong and Dongdaemun.
Getting around Seoul
Seoul has one of the best subway systems in the world, and its 18 lines cover the entire city. The best option is to buy T-Money or Cashbee cards, which are valid to pay for public bus and subway tickets. Its fare starts at ₩ 2500, and the price of tickets ranges from ₩ 900 to ₩ 2300.
Seoul has standard taxis, in orange or silver, and luxury taxis in two colors, black and yellow. Standard taxi fares are ₩ 3000 for the first 2.25 kilometers, and then add ₩ 625 for each kilometer driven. Luxury taxis cost ₩ 4500 for the first 3.25 kilometers, and then add about ₩ 1250 per kilometer, but they are much more comfortable.
Renting a car will be useful if you plan to go to Bukhansan National Park or the electronics market in Yongsan. Car rental companies include Sixt, Hertz and Avis, and it is possible to book a car for rates starting at ₩ 73 600 per day.
Cost of living in Seoul
Seoul is a fantastic shopping destination. If you want to buy branded clothing, such as Uniqlo and Zara, you will find them in Myeong-dong. Dongdaemun, on the other hand, is home to large department stores, such as Doota, and many smaller Korean brands. While in Gangnam, you can visit places like Beaker Tailoring and Ilmo Outlet & (Café) Scoop Garden.
Supermarkets and grocery stores
Among the most popular supermarkets in Seoul are E-Mart, Lotte and HomePlus. You can also buy fresh produce at traditional markets such as Gwangjang and Garak. Consider that a liter of milk costs about ₩ 2390; and a dozen eggs, ₩ 3699.
Where to Eat in Seoul
Gastronomy is one of Seoul’s strengths, and the offer is almost unlimited. If you are in the mood for a real bibimbap, come to Gogung Restaurant in Myeong-dong. At the cozy Wang Bi Jib restaurant and the Mapo Sutbul Galbi you can enjoy delicious Korean barbecues, and at a number of street stalls you can buy grilled pork belly, chicken skewers, and more.
A meal on the street would cost about ₩ 4000, the price of a good bibimbap would be ₩ 7000 and meals in intermediate class restaurants usually exceed ₩ 10 000.
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