WHAT ARE THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN SEOUL?
On this page, you’ll find the essential experiences not to be missed in Seoul (South Korea), the must-see attractions as well as the best activities you should do.
This selection can help you plan and organize your trip to Seoul, giving you a taste of the best things to do and places to see.
The practical information is changing quickly, so feel free to leave a comment if there are points to change or if you want to share tips if you’ve already visited Seoul.
Here are 10 things to do and see during a trip to Seoul:
1. Gyeongbokgung (Gyeongbok Palace)
Gyeongbokgung is the first palace of the Joseon Dynasty. This jewel of the past shows all the splendor of yesteryear and especially how far the country was ahead of the architectural point. The palace is huge and very colorful, you will realize from the entrance with the door Gwanghwamun where you can attend the changing of the guard. Allow at least two hours and 3000 won to go around but you will not be disappointed by this wonder of traditional Korean culture.
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2. Changdeokgung (Changdeok Palace & Huwon Garden)
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Changdeok Palace (Palace of Prosperity) is the palace that has been most occupied by rulers. It has 13 buildings and 28 pavilions in a beautiful park. Count one to two hours to go around (3000 won) and admire all the details of its extreme eastern architecture. This temple is a real haven of peace including its secret garden, the Huwo Garden, which houses so many wonders as century-old trees (5000 won with a guide in English).
3. Hongdae District
Hongdae is the trendy area of Seoul. There are the best fashion boutiques, many themed cafes and cheap restaurants. Young people party and go to night clubs. In short Hongdae is the young neighborhood par excellence, the one where freedom of expression makes sense. There are also many outdoor markets where people come to sell their handicrafts, beautiful galleries and theaters. The festivals that take place there as well as the events make it a place full of effervescence. The atmosphere is very special.
4. Bukchon Hanok Village
Bukchon is a traditional neighborhood. It was there, in huge traditional houses (Hanok), aristocracy and nobility in the Joseon era. Today, some have been transformed into small hotels and others into smaller homes. Yet, they have preserved all their charm of yesteryear. You can even make your accommodation. It will be an opportunity to live like the Koreans. Bucchon Hanok Village can be visited in 1 to 2 hours. But take the time to really wander through the alleys and into small shops, museums and galleries.
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5. Dongdaemun Market (and Dongdaemun Design Plaza)
Dongdaemun is a shopping district. Fans of shopping, you will find your happiness! The market is made up of several shopping malls and, compared to other areas of the city, there is a very good business in terms of fashion items. And then they are open from 10am to 5am. In March, a new and futuristic building was inaugurated, the Dongdaemun Design Plaza. This place hosts many exhibitions of contemporary art as well as shops and restaurants. But it’s more architecture, to see at night, which is worth a look.
6. Walk along the Cheonggyecheon stream
This refreshing water course was built in the early 2000s and has become a pretty walk with a preserved ecosystem. The water is so clear that you can see the fish and shores are well appointed: pretty bridges, waterfalls, benches to sit and occasionally concerts and exhibitions.
You can go up the river following two courses. They allow to discover the main tourist places of the city such as Changdeokgung Palace, Gwangjang Market or Dongdaemun Design Plaza.
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7. The National Museum of Korea
If you want to know all the history of Korea, you must definitely go there. It is the largest in the country and one of the 10 largest in the world, so do not be surprised if you spend more than 3 hours. The building is very pretty and super modern, so it is very impressive and the rooms are full of beautiful collections. However, you will have to follow the explanations in English. Fortunately the visit is free.
8. Namsan and the N Seoul Tower
Namsan Park is located in the heart of Seoul. It is overlooked by a mountain (265 m) and the N Seoul Tower is at its summit. The lights that are projected each night create a wonderful show.
The tower offers many activities (paying) such as an observatory and a museum of toys and figurines. It also hosts shows and exhibitions. But the highlight of the show is the rotating restaurant located on the 4th floor. From here you will have a magnificent panoramic view of the city. To enjoy it, you can walk or take the cable car (Return: 7,500 won).
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9. The War Memorial
It is an exceptional museum that traces the history of Korea through the war and its military development along the conflicts it has experienced. It is gigantic then count at least two or three hours to see everything. Do not miss the memorial with planes and tanks outside.
The visit is most interesting and very educational. There are many explanations and reconstructions as well as a 4D cinema. However, the comments are in English. But the entire visit is free.
10. Insadong District
This is THE neighborhood where you can find unique pieces. In antique shops and fine art galleries, you’ll find fabulous antique items as well as Korean costumes. On Saturdays and Sundays, the streets become pedestrian and give way to exhibitions and shows but also to sellers on the sly. This downtown Seoul neighborhood is also known for the oldest traditional teahouse in the city. So do not hesitate to go for a ride.