Seoul, South Korea’s eclectic and bustling capital, is a city of two faces, offering something for every traveler – from hi-tech gadgets and fast fashion to deeply historical and spiritual temples and palaces. A vast metropolis, with a population of over 25 million people, it’s a crowded, adrenaline filled city with bags of character. Prepare to be mesmerized by the vast contrasts and host of fun things to do that Seoul serves up.
Seoul is a city rich in history and you can find out more about its fascinating past by leaving the bustle of the city center and taking a trip to one of the many palaces, temples and museums in the surrounding areas.
The city dates as far back as 18 BC and has been Korea’s official capital a number of times during different rules. Seoul was the capital of Korea from 1394 until the 1948 division of the North and South and, interestingly, the word Seoul has now come to mean “capital” in the Korean language.
The Japanese invasions of the 16th century have certainly left their mark on the city but there are still plenty of historical references and interesting spots to visit to learn more about ancient Korean culture and civilization.
More recently, Seoul has been a trailblazer for the latest and most modern technology and is synonymous with invention asnd state of the art electronics, a real mecca for those who love their gadgets.
COOL THINGS TO DO
Take a glimpse into the past at Gyeongbokgung
Prepare to be transfixed by the beauty and fascinating history of the main palace of Seoul, where you can easily wile away a day enjoying the spectacle that is the changing of the guard and meandering around the whole compound, taking in the sights of the ornamental gardens and the museums.
The palace was built by King Taejo but was burnt down in the 1500s and not subsequently rebuilt until the 1800s. Visitors can enjoy looking around the living quarters of the royal dynasties of the past, including beautifully preserved gardens, lakes and ponds.
Enjoy a leisurely wander around Huwon, the “Secret Garden”
These beautiful gardens, in Changdeokgung, can be enjoyed via a guided tour, where you can take refuge from the heat of the city under the canopies of the stunning plants and trees spread across the garden’s six acres. Take your time to stroll around the lotus ponds or take a refreshing drink in one of the wide, shaded squares.
Explore the high life at N Seoul Tower
An iconic landmark of Seoul, this eye catching tower, built on Mount Namsam in Namsan Park, climbs a breath-taking 480 meters above sea level and gives you the perfect opportunity to take in the panoramic sights of the whole city. Not only are the views to die for, there are plenty of other attractions within the tower to keep you entertained such as restaurants, museums and exciting LED displays.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Timing is everything and, to enjoy the city at its very best, you should consider taking your trip to coincide with the most pleasant weather. March to May and September to November are ideal times as the weather is mild, avoiding the high heat and monsoons of the summer and the, often, sub-zero temperatures and snow of the winter.
HOW TO GET THERE
Seoul benefits from having a world-class airport, Incheon International Airport, which is located just 30 miles west of the city. Consistently ranked both one of the world’s busiest, yet most efficient airports, it’s easy to travel into the city center by the many trains, buses and taxis serving the airport.