If you find yourself in Seoul, you won’t have any trouble finding interesting things to do, but if you just need some ideas to get started as you’re planning your trip, we’ve got five places you won’t want to leave off your itinerary.
Located in the heart of Seoul, Gyeongbokgung Palace is the largest of the five Grand Palaces built during the Joseon Dynasty. Designed to embody the principles of Feng Shui, Gyeongbokgung Palace, or the “Palace of Felicitous Blessing,” is roughly 4.5 million square feet of picturesque buildings and lavish gardens. Free guided tours are available in Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian, and Vietnamese, and entry into the National Palace Museum of Korea and the National Folk Museum of Korea are included with the cost of admission. Rumor has it you can get in for free if you wear a hanbok, a traditional Korean dress.
A radio tower might seem like an odd place to visit, but the views alone make it more than worth the trip. Popular among tourists and locals alike, Namsan Seoul Tower boasts of several viewing platforms, a digital observatory, a roof top terrace, and several famous restaurants. From atop the tower, visitors can take in the entire cityscape and surrounding area. If that wasn’t enough for you, the tower’s unique digital observatory offers a 360 panorama of the city while recounting Seoul’s 600-year history. We recommend visiting the tower at night though, when you can gaze at the Han River while taking in the city lights on the roof top terrace (considered one of the most romantic places in Korea)
If you’re looking to shop and sample some delicious Korean street food, Myeong-dong is the place to go. Although it is a well-known for being the center of commerce and banking in Korea, it is also popular with tourists who are looking for a bargain. Generally cheaper than Apgujeong-dong and Cheongdam-dong, the streets of Myeong-dong are lined with an eclectic mix of street stalls and stores that sell everything from high-end fashion pieces to sweatpants. If you’re looking to find some high-quality Korean cosmetics at a reasonable price, look no further.
For any art-lovers out there, Insa-dong should be at the top of your list for places to visit in Seoul. Home to over 100 art galleries, this neighborhood showcases nearly every form of art ranging from traditional Korean art pieces to the work of up and coming artists. If you get hungry or thirsty while taking in the sights, there are a number of teahouses, restaurants and cafes in the numerous alleyways that surround the main street. If you go on a weekend, the main street is blocked off to vehicle traffic, allowing booths, performances, and other cultural exhibitions to take place.
5. Bukchon Hanok Village
If visiting the Gyeongbokgung Palace got you wondering what life was like in Korea hundreds of years ago, you should head on over to Bukchon Hanok Village. It is home to hundreds of traditional Korean homes called “hanok” that date back to the days of the Joseon dynasty. Although many of these traditional homes are now used for commercial or cultural purposes (such as restaurants, tea houses, hotels, etc.), people actually live in Bukchon Hanok Villlage. If you want to learn more about traditional Korean culture, this is definitely a must-see destination.