Seoul Travel Guide

Seoul, the capital city of South Korea, is a crowded, frenetic testament to this nation’s rise as one of Asia’s premier economic powerhouses. Spreading out along the Han River, a mere hour south of the border with unpredictable North Korea, Seoul is the gateway to this fascinating country and a worthy tourism destination in itself.

The vast majority of South Koreans either live in Seoul, or want to. It’s the place to be for work, play and everything else connected with the concept of progress. This precocious atmosphere can be felt all over the city, from the traditional yet chic shopping districts of Jongno, Daehango and Dongdaemun to the modern shopping and entertainment mini-city of Lotte World.

Seoul is a huge metropolis comprised of small districts, all of which are connected by an effective subway network, making it easy to explore the nooks and crannies. Each neighborhood has its own character, and they all have something to offer visitors. Apart from the plethora of eating and drinking options, the city is covered in historical sites, ancient palaces and museums which help put the pieces of this wonderful, if somewhat self-absorbed, culture in perspective.

Highlights

Changyong Palace: the oldest royal palace still in existence after 600 years has been restored to its former glory and offers an amazing look at regal life during the famous Chosun Dynasty.

COEX Aquarium: apart from being one of the main shopping centers in Seoul, COEX is also home to one of Asia’s finest aquariums, making it an ideal daytrip destination.

Dongshipjagak: one of the city’s original 13th century gates is a historic landmark offering an interesting contrast as it towers over the surrounding restaurants and shops - which have since taken over the area.

Jongmyo Royal Shrine: this UNESCO World Heritage site, found within the pleasant Jongmyo Park, is where the ancestral tablets of the Chosun Dynasty are preserved.

Mount Pukhansan: within the city limits is this stunning mountain park where some 100 temples are scattered among the imposing granite peaks.

Seoul Tower: capping the peak of Mount Namsan, this viewing platform and exhibition tower is the place to go for the best panoramic views of the city, especially at night or during sunset.

Taehangno (University street): art galleries, theaters and caf├ęs line this famous and popular avenue near Seoul National University, where street performers keep the steady flow of people entertained.