Published on May 17th, 2019
Seoul is the capital of South Korea. With a municipal population of over 11.8 million, and a metropolitan population totalling over 25.6 million, Seoul is by far South Korea’s largest city and one of East Asia’s financial and cultural epicentres.
A fascinating blend of ancient traditions and cutting-edge digital technology, home to endless street food vendors and vast nightlife districts, an extraordinarily high-pressure educational system and serene Buddhist temples, a trend-setting youth culture and often crushing conformism, extraordinary architecture and endless monotonous rows of grey apartment buildings, Seoul is a city filled with stark contrasts.
1. Bukchon Hanok Village
Meaning ‘North Village’, Bukchon, between Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung, is home to around 900 hanok, Seoul’s largest concentration of these traditional Korean homes. It’s a busy tourist area, but it’s still a pleasure to get lost in the streets here admiring the patterned walls and tiled roofs contrasting with the modern city in the distance.
The World Heritage–listed Changdeokgung is the most beautiful of Seoul’s five main palaces. You must join a one-hour guided tour to look around. English tours run at 10.15am and 1.15pm; if you don’t care about the commentary, Korean tours are at 9.30am, 11.30am and 3.30pm. To see the palace’s lovely Huwon (Secret Garden), join tours at 10.30am, 11.30am and 2.30pm (also 3.30pm February to November). Book online or come early as the Huwon tours are restricted to 50 people at a time.
3. Gwangjang Market
This sprawling fabric market is now best known as Seoul’s busiest meokjagolmok (food alley), thanks to the 200 or so food stalls, kimchi and fresh-seafood vendors that have set up shop amid the silk, satin and linen wholesalers. It’s a hive of delicious sights and smells. Foodies flock here for the golden fried nokdu bindaetteok (mung-bean pancake; ₩4000 to ₩5000) – paired beautifully with makgeolli (milky rice wine).
4. N Seoul Tower & Namsan
The iconic N Seoul tower (236m), atop the city’s guardian mountain Namsan, offers panoramic views of this immense metropolis from its observation deck. Come at sunset and you can watch the city morph into a galaxy of twinkling stars. Up top is the upmarket N.Grill and a cafe. The tower has become a hot date spot with the railings around it festooned with locks inscribed with lovers’ names.
5. Seoul City Wall Museum
With interactive displays and historical artefacts, this modern museum offers an engaging history of the 18.6km-long barrier that has girdled Seoul since the late 14th century. Overlooking Heunginjimun beside a stretch of the City Wall, it also makes a logical embarkation point for a wall hike.
With its landscaped walkways, footbridges, waterfalls and a variety of public artworks, such as the enormous pink-and-blue shell entitled Spring in Cheong-gye Plaza, this revitalised stream is a hit with Seoulites. People come to escape the urban hubbub day and night, whisper sweet nothings under one of its 22 bridges or, in summer, dangle their feet in the water. It is a relaxing way to avoid the traffic while traversing the downtown area, passing near places of interest such as Gwangjang Market, Dongdaemun and Insadong.
7. Joint Security Area
Unquestionably the highlight of any trip to the DMZ is the Joint Security Area (JSA) at Panmunjeom. An improbable tourist destination, it’s here where the infamous Military Demarcation Line separates South and North Korea. Soldiers from both sides often stand metres apart eyeballing one another from their respective sides of the blue-painted UN buildings. You’ll be taken inside the meeting room – where the 1953 truce was signed – the only place where you can safely walk into North Korea.
8. War Memorial Of Korea
This huge museum documents the history of the Korean War (1950–53) using multimedia exhibits and black-and-white documentary footage, along with artefacts like weapons, uniforms, and maps. Outside, a sombre memorial walkway is inscribed with the names of every casualty from the allied forces. There are plenty of tanks, helicopters and planes too, and just to remind you that the war remains unresolved, you can clamber aboard a replica of the patrol boat sunk by North Korean forces in 2002.
Located in the heart of ritzy Gangnam, the shrines and halls of the Buddhist temple Bongeun-sa, with its tree-filled hillside location, stand in direct juxtaposition to its corporate high-rise surrounds. Founded in AD 794, the buildings have been rebuilt many times over the centuries. Entry to the temple is through Jinyeomun (Gate of Truth), protected by four king guardians. The main shrine, Daewungjeon, has lattice doors and is decorated inside and out with symbols and art that express Buddhist philosophy and ideals.
10. Dongdaemun Design Plaza & Park
Designed by the late Zaha Hadid, this neo-futuristic cultural complex was commissioned to replace the Dongdaemun Stadium, built during Japanese rule in the 1920s. Dubbed the ‘largest three-dimensional atypical structure in the world’, the undulating aluminium and concrete landmark comprises galleries, event spaces, design shops and lawns that rise up to its roof. The attached Dongdaemun History & Culture Park includes museums that highlight past uses of this area, such as a 16th-century military camp.
Top Hotels In Seoul
1. Alcove Hotel Seoul Managed by Accorhotels & Ambassador
Alcove Hotel Seoul, an elegant and timeless getaway for urban nomads, is designed to provide a paramount experience through sophisticated yet composed planning with UNESCO World Heritage Site presenting four distinct seasons as a backdrop. Alcove Hotel Seoul with American bistro, Salmanzar and roof top dining bar Club Limit would provide the utmost humble pleasures within an ordinary day in Gangnam’s residentiary area that is surrounded by the vibrant aspects of Seoul.
2. GLAD Mapo
GLAD MAPO is located in the business of Seoul. It’s a new alternative for the smart urban traveler.
3. Hotel Skypark Kingstown Dongdaemun
Hotel SKYPARK Kingstown Dongdaemin is a luxury class hotel based in seoul’s city center. The hotel is located minutes from the dongdaemin Culture and History Park Subway Stations. One of the merits of staying at Hotel SKYPARK Kingstown Dongdaemin is its prime location. From Dongdaemun Market to Cheonggyecheon Stream, guests have easy access to these, plus many more popular sightseeing destinations from right outside the hotels entrance. Moreover, Hotel SKYPARK Kingstown Dongdaemin is equipped with a banquet hall, various facilities and high-class rooms for your most comfortable stay.
4. Hotel PJ Myeongdong
We, HotelPJ, have always tried our best to provide our guests with high-quality service and convenience. Located favourably in the center of Seoul, our hotel is equipped with comfortable guest rooms and various entertainment facilities. Under these optimum conditions, we will require to our guests by best service and support. Our guest rooms are more comfortable and spacious than any other hotel in the same class and provide an executive floor designed for business visitors. It will be ready in order to meet the diverse need of our guests and provide all the facilities and services. Services: Key card for guestroom and elevator, LCD TV, safety box, electric kettle, balcony(in some guestrooms), fabric refresher, water purifier/ice machine on each floor, free Wi-Fi access, tea cups, tumbler,ice pail, electric bidet, bathtub, complimentary mineral water/tea.
5. L7 Hotel Myeongdong
L7 Myeongdong by LOTTE is a lifestyle hotel with trendy sentiments and a cozy atmosphere. It is a welcoming place in the heart of the city that blends customers’ lifestyles with the local culture to create a new culture. It is close to some of the major shopping destinations, including Lotte Duty-free Shops, Lotte Department Store, and tourist attractions, including Gyeongbokgung Palace and Namsan Mountain. You can enjoy a special trip, surrounded by the mountain view with Namsam Tower and the city view of Myeongdong. Major amenities include the rooftop bar on the 21st floor, the foot spa, the lounge & bar on the 3rd floor for parties and gatherings, and the sophisticated suites, superior rooms, and standard rooms.
6. Hotel Skypark Myeongdong III
HOTEL SKYPARK3,where N Seoul Tower and Namsan looking right from the guestroom window along with beautiful sceneries,you can enjoy a more convenient business,shopping and sightseeing with convenient transfortation facilities nearby such as Myeong-dong subway station and airport limousine bus stop.
7. SR Hotel
SR Hotel Seoul Magok all rooms were designed by domestic and international interior designers for vintage and unique atmosphere, and you can choose different types of rooms to your taste. Also, different and unique services will help you feel relaxed. Newest hotel nearby Gimpo Airport and Balsan Station.
8. Lotte Hotel Seoul
Linked to Euljiro 1-ga Subway Station (Line 2) and Lotte Department Store, this luxury hotel provides 10 food and beverage options and rooms with Luxury interior. Guests can also make use of the fitness centre and spa Also In-door swimming pool. Guests can enjoy a variety of cuisines ranging from Korean and Japanese to Chinese and local specialities. La Seine offers an international buffet and a live kitchen.
There is also Peninsula Lounge & Bar, which serves various beverages and desserts in addition to an afternoon tea set. A tour desk is available for day trip arrangements. Lotte Hotel Seoul is located within the Myeongdong area, which has numerous shopping and entertainment options. A few minute’s walk from the hotel leads to city hall and major international corporations. Gimpo International Airport is a 40-minute drive away while Incheon International Airport is an hour’s drive.
9. Nine Tree Hotel Myeong-dong
Professional hotel business, Parnas Hotel Co., Ltd, is the hotel, providing careful concern, which customers do not expect, and pleasant memory of travel and special experience, hidden in a complex city. As it is located at Myeong-dong, Mecca of tour, fashion and culture of all of the country, it has a great accessibility to any town of Seoul and it has 144 rooms with 6 different room types reflecting guest expectations and including an exclusive lounge.
10. Hotel Skypark Central Myeongdong
Hotel Skypark central myeongdong located at the center of myeong-dong is a premium brand of Hotel Skypark Group. Especially, on the tenth floor. There is a unique and individual style of based in collaboration with prestigious cosmetic companies in Korea. Also, cosmetic demonstration desks are equipped on each floor and these give more fun to you.