Top 5 Things To Do In Seoul, South Korea

Seoul is the capital of South Korea and the country’s largest city. About 20.5 million metropolitan residents call this financial, cultural, and tourism destination in East Asia their home. Visitors to Seoul are quick to note that here ancient deep-seated traditions hold as much sway as cutting-edge technology. Nothing illustrates this more than the way it is divided into two halves by the Han River. North of the river is Gangbuk which is known as the historical part of Seoul. Gangnam, now thrust to worldwide recognition thanks to a popular hit song, is the southern more modern half. Exploring Seoul can be done by bus, cabs, rental car, or train. As traffic jams are common, taking the subway is recommended.

Seoul for History Lovers: Changdeok-gung Palace

 

Changdeok-gung Palace

 

Changdeok-gung Palace  is one of the “Five Grand Palaces” built during the Joseon Dynasty. It is second only to Gyeongbok-gung  in terms of historical importance and was considered as the country’s seat of power from 1618 until 1896. The palace is beautifully restores and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors to the Palace check out the Seonjeongjeon or the King’s office, the Daejojeon or the Great Making Hall, and Huwon or the Secret Garden.

Entrance into the Palace is mostly by guided tour for most of the year. In the summer months of April until August, self-guided tours are allowed. Majority of the tours are in Korean, although English tours are offered from 10:30 AM to 2:30 PM. Japanese-language tours can also be arranged. All tours last for 60 minutes and cover a distance of about 2.5 km.

 

Seoul for the Culture Vultures: Daehangno Theater District

 

Daehangno Theater District

 

The Daehangno Theater District is recommended for art and theater lovers. It is home to several theaters ranging from the intimate sized Hakjeon Blue Theater to the larger-sized Munye Theatre. Other notable theaters in the district include the Batangol Art Center, Comedy Art Hall, and the Dongsoong Art Center.  The number of theaters in this district ensure locals and tourists alike can catch several performances all year round.

The area is also known as the “College Street” due to the number of universities nearby. Students from the Catholic University of Korea, Korea National Open University, Seoul National University’s College of Medicine, and Sungkyunkwan University often hang out here in between and after classes.

 

Seoul for food and drink: Itaewon Street

 

Itaewon Street

 

Itaewon Street is popular among foreign visitors and residents, as well as Koreans interested in a more international scene.  The lively mix of bars, clubs, and restaurants that cater to both local and foreign tastes is largely due to Itaewon’s proximity to the US Army base.

The bars and restaurants offer various cuisines. It won’t be difficult to find a nice bar serving good burgers and other American food, or if fish and chips are more your craving, there are several London-style pubs for that. In most bars, Ladies’ Night is held every Thursday.

Of course you can do your exploration of Korean cuisine here as well. Several Korean restaurants dot the alleys and main street, serving traditional Korean dishes to more modern interpretations of the cuisines such as in the celebrated Si Hwa Dam restaurant. And just like in any Asian city, street food can be found virtually in anywhere in this area.

 

Seoul for Sightseeing: Seoul Tower

 

Seoul Tower

 

Seoul Tower used to be the tallest tower in Asia. Today, it mostly holds the distinction of offering the best panoramic view of the city especially at night. Its central location also makes it visible basically anywhere in Seoul, making it a helpful reference point if you are exploring the city on foot.

The tower houses the Digital Observatory, which has a powerful telescope that gives you a 360° of view of the city. It also has a Teddy Bear Museum wherein illustrations of Korean culture are exhibited using teddy bears. Popular among couples are the “Locks of Love” and “Love Message Tiles” attractions of the Seoul Tower.

Seoul Tower is a very accessible attraction and can be reached on foot or by public transportation. The most popular way to get into the tower is by cable car though. Lots of tourists can have their fill of taking photos while enjoying the view. The cable car’s hours of operation are from 10:00 AM to 10:30 PM.

 

Seoul for Souvenirs: COEX Mall

 

 COEX Mall - Seoul, South Korea

 

The COEX Mall, touted as the biggest underground shopping mall in Asia, houses hundreds of shops that sell clothing, shoes, and sportswear of local and international brands. Electronics, jewelry, and souvenirs can be purchased here as well.

Several other attractions can be found in the mall too such as an Aquarium featuring thousands of marine life, a Kimchi Museum, and the Megabox, a Cineplex consisting of 16 movie theaters. Video game arcades, salons, and bookstores are also located in the mall. A food court, restaurants, and cafes located within and outside of the mall make sure that shoppers never go hungry as they go around with their shopping.

COEX also has an events area where hundreds of exhibitions and conventions are held yearly. Online gaming and anime conventions, as well as auto shows, are just a few examples of the events participated in by international and local businesses.

The mall is directly connected to the City Air Terminal and the COEX Intercontinental Hotel.

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