Seoul is the capital of South Korea, and one of the ten largest cities in the world. With its reputation for safety and its low crime rate, its traditional Seoul hotels, and its rich culture and deep history, Seoul attracts tourists from everywhere. It is an extremely modern city with high rise buildings and fast moving 12-lane motorways, but behind this modern exterior lies a cultural ethos built on centuries-old temples, pagodas, ornate palaces and beautifully designed gardens.
A unique blend of the traditional and contemporary, Seoul is an exciting and exotic destination to visit.
There is a great variety of things to see and do in Seoul. If you visit the city market and the Namsangol Hanok Village, you will discover the rich wealth of history here. The Village is an open air museum with many painstakingly restored houses, ideal for exploring on a Seoul tour. You can sample the rich history in these museums, which showcase fine art, traditional music and historical commentary on the cosmetic industry here.
The contemporary side of Seoul can be seen in the form of the state-of-the-art Olympic Park and the World Cup Stadium. Both have hosted the most prestigious sporting events in the world and can be visited on a tour in Seoul. For the adventurous, or those who feel the sporting spirit, you could visit any of the ten Han-gang Riverside Parks that offer activities like water-skiing, windsurfing, cycling and tennis to get your adrenaline pumping. For a more relaxed pace, river cruise tours in Seoul are very enjoyable.
To capture a bird's eye view of the city, the observation deck at the Seoul Tower is a superb vantage point. For peace and quiet, the Jogyesa Temple and Bukhansan National Park are ideal getaways. Shopping in Seoul is also a fabulous experience, with shops offering a special duty free range for foreign shoppers. Whether you are looking for fashion wear, wedding attire, medicines, herbs, spices or the very famous electronics, Korea stocks the best of the lot.
There are a large number and variety of places to stay in Seoul, from cheap guesthouses to luxury five-star Seoul hotels. Some hotels in Seoul still offer rooms where you can sleep on a padded quilt on an ondol (underfloor-heated) floor in a room furnished in the traditional yangban style. You can also use our Seoul map to choose your hotel in Seoul based on its location.
Seoul shot into fame with the 1998 Olympic Games, placing it firmly on the tourist map. Seoul literally means ‘the centre of everything', which is appropriate as it's the centre of the country. Business is the mainstay of South Korea and Seoul serves as the business hub, housing some of the world's largest corporate headquarters. Geographically, sandwiched between China and Japan, Korea has had to fight both these powers to remain independent. It is referred to as a ‘Hermit Kingdom' though it is far from reclusive and is bustling with life.
In Seoul, you will find an array of multi-cuisine Seoul restaurants and fast food chains alongside traditional Korean joints that whet your appetite with fiery hot kimchi. Street food is worth sampling, too, especially the tasty rice cakes with red pepper paste called Ddukbokki. Most street vendors are dressed traditionally in tailored suits and dresses, and you will relish sipping tea and coffee served in the shops here.
Diversity is also a major part of Seoul's culture scene. World-standard art galleries and museums exhibit fine art and traditional masterpieces depicting various eras and facets of life in South Korea. If you enjoy traditional street music, live bands and dance troupes will entertain you on the streets. Alongside them, karaoke bars dole out 21st century music for all music lovers.
Seoul is a lively city with many avenues for partying. Bars and restaurants remain open until the early hours of the morning. There are also many alternative clubs, some underground. For jazz lovers, Live Jazz club hosts live shows featuring different bands every night. On Saturday, special events are hosted instead of the usual live acts. If the shopping bug has caught you, you could enjoy midnight shopping at the Namdaemun and Dongdamun Markets.
The best time to visit Seoul is autumn when the skies are blue and clear and temperatures quite mild. However, any time is great to visit. We are a locally based travel company who have a passion for sustainable tourism and know everything there is to know about Seoul. We have personally selected a range of Seoul hotels which we think are ideal places to stay, as well as a wide range of tours in Seoul to help you get the most from your Seoul holiday!