When we are talking about Seoul, we are talking about the capital city of South Korea. It is also the biggest city with a population of more than 10 million lives. Despite the high number of population, the area is pretty small – at least not as big as expected from such a big population. The densest area in Gyeonggi and Incheon. Seoul has become the center of politics, culture, and economy in South Korea. Here is everything you need to know about Seoul.
The city has gone through a long history in its existence. No wonder if it has several historical monuments and sites. Some of them have been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites, such as Royal Tombs of Joseon Dynasty, Jongmyo Shrine, Hwaseong Fortress, and Changdeokgung Palace Complex. The climate is subtropical where it is hot during summers and cold during winters.
Tourist Attraction in Seoul
Seoul has many interesting spots to explore and visit. There is everything for everyone. Whether you are into culture and art, nature, or even religious, rest assured that you will find everything in this city.
Cultural Attraction in Seoul
1. Gyeongbokgung Palace
Seoul has 5 palaces, but this one is the most popular. Not only it is the most important palace, but it is also the biggest. Do you know the Forbidden City in Beijing? Well, Gyeongbokgung is bigger! You can find Korea’s National Folk Museum inside of the complex. Be prepared to get free admission if you wear a hanbok dress (you can rent it).
2. Gwanghwamun Square
Gyeongbokgung Palace has the main gate known as Gwanghwamun Gate. This square is right in front of it. It is lovely with a big statue of King Sejong the Great. He was the inventor of Hangul, the Korean alphabet. You can also see some statues of his inventions.
3. Leeum Samsung Museum of Art
This is one of the most prestigious (art) museums in Seoul. It has two buildings displaying both Korean traditional art as well as a contemporary one. If you enjoy cultural exhibition and art, you would love coming to this museum
4. Heunginjimun Building
It was originally one of the eight gates that were acting as the city’s fortress wall. The name means ‘Gate of Rising Benevolence’, located in Dongdaemun district. The gate was built in 1398 with strong architectural design and characteristics from the Joseon period.
5. National Museum of Korea
This is the biggest art and history museum in Korea. Set up in 1945, the museum is visited by around 3 million visitors every year. You should go there to learn Korean history in an in-depth manner.
Religious Attraction in Seoul
1. Jogyesa Temple
The popular temple for Zen Buddhism in Korea, the temple is majestic and grandeur. The building is elaborate and it is visually pleasing. Located in Jongno District, the place has become the main spot for religious festivals, like Buddha’s Birthday which usually takes place in May. If you are looking for Buddha’s souvenirs, you can find some stalls and shops.
Reach the place, go with Line 1 to Jonggak Station. Then take Exit 2. You can walk for 70 meters and then cross the street. From there, walk again for 100 meters. As an alternative, you can take Line 3 to Anguk Station and then take Exit 6.
2. Seoul Central Mosque
Seoul Central Mosque is the biggest mosque (and also the most popular one) in Korea. Not only it is designed as a place for worship, but it is also used as an education center about Islam and its culture. Be sure to cover yourself properly and follow the rules when coming here. Being polite and courteous is important.
You can take Line 6 subway to Itaewon Station and then take Exit 3. Go right before the Fire Station and then go left at the intersection of Bogwang Elementary School. From there, just go straight for 100 meters.
3. Myeongdong Cathedral
This is a place of worship for Catholics. It is the national cathedral of Seoul Roman Catholic. The church isn’t only a place of worship now, but it has also become Korean’s Roman Catholicism symbol, a tourist attraction, and a community landmark. It is a part of the country’s cultural asset and property.
Take Line 4 to Myeongdong Station and then take Exit 8. Go left and walk for 300 meters. At the intersection, go right. Then walk again around 100 meters to reach the church on your right.
4. Krishna Temple
It is the religious center for Hindu worship that is located in the center of a business area in Haebangchon. Finding it is pretty easy. Find the popular Kimchi pots in Haebangchon and then go past Phillies bar. The place is dedicated to religious ceremonies as well as celebrations. They also have classes for kids, such as singing, drawing, Korean lessons, and the Hindu religion.
5. Anglican Cathedral Jung-gu
This is a religious place that is offering services in English as well as other languages. Located across Seoul City Hall and beside Deoksu Palace, it shouldn’t be difficult to find it. They have English Holy Communion on Sundays and Sunday school for kids.
Explore Natural Wonders
1. Bukhansan National Park
You enjoy outdoor activities and the fresh air, this is a place that you should go to. As a hiking spot, this place is quite popular. It’s not far – just outside the city. There are tons of things to see here, such as ancient fortresses, temples, various flora and fauna, and also different types of hiking trails.
We need to take the Orange Line 3 subway heading to Daehwa. Depart at Gupabal Station and take Exit 1. Take bus 704 and get off at the entrance of Bukhansanseong Fortress station.
2. Seoul Forest
A walk is fun and somewhat peaceful. It has natural surroundings, lovely walks, and also educational exhibits. Kids would love the deer park – yes, they can feed the deer. They can also go to the butterfly garden. A lot of people are using the forest for exercising – and the kids can roam around freely. You can also skateboard or ride the bike.
You should take Subway Line 2 heading to Ttukseom Station and take exit 8. Or you can take Bundang Line heading to Seoul Forest Station and take exit 3. Walk straight until reaching the big street, and then go left. It takes about a block to reach the park.
3. Seokchon Lake
You are into concerts, food trucks, and cherry blossoms, then you have come to the right spot. Feel free to take a walk and marvel at the view. From the lake, you can see the Lotte World Tower, which is Korea’s tallest building and the 5th tallest building in the world. Feel free to climb it too, if you want to.
You can take the subway heading to Jamsil Station and take Exit 2. From there, you only need to walk around 5 minutes out from the shopping complex of Lotte World and head to the lake
4. Cheonggyecheon Stream
A lot of people say that this is the best place for quietly taking a walk. Once a polluted place, the stream has turned into a beautiful and clean tourist attraction. It is filled with greeneries and it is quiet and peaceful. You can take the Metro heading to Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station. Take Exit 1. Go past DDP (Dongdaemun Design Plaza) and you have reached the stream entrance once you cross the street.
Recreation and Entertainment Places in Seoul
1. Lotte World or Everland Resort
If you are traveling with kids, you can consider these big theme parks in Seoul. A ticket for one day at Everland costs you KRW 54,000 while the one for Lotte World is around KRW 55,000. Those costs are enough for a full-day exploration. You will have a fun and satisfying day at either one of them.
2. Snowboarding, Skiing, or Sledding
If you are visiting Seoul in winter (between December and February), then you should try snow activities. Oak Valley Snow Park is an ideal place to do them all. For KRW 75,000, you can rent the equipment and clothes, a day lift pass, and also a roundtrip transfer. There are still plenty of other ski resorts in Seoul
3. Hwaseong Fortress Wall
Located in Suwon, this fortress wall is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It takes an hour to southern Seoul by subway. It is a perfect place to hike or even try Korean traditional archery.
4. DDP and the Future
If you are into design, then you should head to DDP. It is like a huge design supermarket, a museum, and also a spaceship all combined. You can spend hours there without realizing it because of the magnetic and appealing designs.
Taste of Seoul Culinary
Seoul has its signature foods and dishes. From the street foods to the restaurant-grade, expect to find mouth-watering treats everywhere you go.
Most Popular Restaurants with Their Signature Dishes
1. Yeontabal BBQ Restaurant
One of the signatures of Korean dishes is Korean BBQ or Gogigui. The marinated meat is barbequed with a charcoal grill to deliver a mouth-watering taste. Many restaurants are selling Gogigui but the one at Yeontabal is the best! It is tender with a combination of savory sweet and smoky. It is best when consumed with kimchi and white rice. Be advised, though, that meat is quite expensive in Korea so don’t be surprised if you have to spend around KRW 38,000 a person when eating there.
2. Woo Lae Oak
One of its best menus is a buckwheat noodle that is served in cold broth or naengmyeon. It is a delicacy from North Korea. Woo Lae Oak is the oldest restaurant in Seoul and they serve it. Be ready to spend around KRW 13,000 a bowl.
3. Myeongdong Kyoja
The restaurant is super popular for its kalguksu or (knife-cut) wheat flour noodle dish served in a big bowl of broth. The restaurant has been around for 50 years and it is located in Myeongdong, one of the most popular shopping areas in Seoul. A bowl will cost you KRW 8,000.
4. Manjok Ohyang Jokbal
Jokbal is the dish consisting of the most tender parts of trotters (feet) of a pig cooked in spices and soy sauce. The portion is quite big in this restaurant – enough for 2 to 3 people. It is usually served with dumpling soup and bossam (or pork belly that is boiled in spices). It costs you KRW36,100 for two people
5. Oksang Dalbit
It is a unique version of fried chicken in Korea. It is unique because it is double fried and yet it isn’t greasy – and yet they are super crunchy. Be ready to spend KRW 17,000 for one order which is good and satisfying for two
Enjoy Seoul Street Food
1. Pajeon (Pancakes)
Pajeon may not be your average pancake for a snack because it is deep-fried. The pancake is savory and packed with green onions and leeks. It is best eaten while still hot. For the gluten and vegan lovers, there is nokdu bindaetteok. It is a thick and traditional pancake made from mung beans. They are easy to find at Gwangjang Market.
2. Twigim (Korean-style Tempura)
The tempura consists of various ingredients such as a hash of veggies, succulent squid, boiled eggs, and sweet potatoes. They are usually used with skewers and their size is pretty big. They are super fulfilling.
3. Gimbap (Korean Sushi)
It has a sushi-like appearance with the contents that you can see and almost similar to sushi – spinach, pickled radish, meat, egg roll, tofu, and surimi. Gim is seaweed (the wrapper) and bap is rice (the content). You can see various versions of it at the street stalls, so enjoy it! It is healthy and tasty and also efficient for the takeout.
4. Hotteok (Korean Donuts)
Despite the name, it looks more like a filled and spiced plump pancake. It is served with a mix of brown sugar and cinnamon. The fillings can include honey, red beans, peanuts, and black sesame seeds. Is it delicious? Super!
5. Gyeranppang (Egg Muffins)
It is egg bread coming in an onblong (golden) muffin with a moist egg baked on the top. It is both comforting and dense with a nice combination of sweet and savory.
No need to worry; Seoul has one of the most convenient and also the best systems (for transportation) in the world. You won’t experience any hassle when using them.
1. Seoul Subway
It is one of the fastest and also the most convenient public transportation in the city. The base fare is only KRW 1,350 (around $1,27) so you can explore the city without breaking the bank. Not to mention that the stations are connected, creating a wide and expansive transportation net. The easiest way to travel around is to use Seoul City Pass Plus or T-money Card which provides a cheaper system.
2. Seoul Buses
If the subway is super packed and cramped, you can always use the bus. Some routes will get you faster to your destination than the bus. However, using it can be confusing for foreign travelers. Not to mention that there are colors that will differentiate the destinations. It takes time to get used to it.
3. Taxis in Seoul
Unlike other cities, the taxi in Seoul is quite inexpensive and affordable. It won’t hurt your wallet to take one for short rides. The regular taxi is coming in white, blue, orange, or silver. But when you are traveling at midnight, the cost will go up to 20%. There is also a deluxe taxi with black color and yellow stripes. The fare is naturally more expensive.
4. Incheon International Airport
This is the biggest airport in Seoul. It has two terminals with different air carriers.
It is the older one covering an area of 594,000 square meters. It has a main terminal and also a concourse serving international services. The air carriers are Asiana Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, and Korean Air.
It is the newer one, just launched in 2018. The air carriers available are China Eastern Airlines, Korean Air, KLM, Delta Air Lines, Garuda Indonesia, Czech Airlines, Vietnam Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, and Air France.
Always be prepared when you want to travel. You need to manage your itinerary. Don’t forget to visit Airpaz to manage your flights and choose the suitable air carriers.