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Seoul, South Korea: Travel Guide

Explore the best of South Korea's capital.
Its name means 'traditional' and is full of Korean culture but the city is also a fusion of old and new.

Weather/ when to go:

Autumn (September to November) is a good time to visit Seoul as the weather is usually sunny. Spring (April to early June) is also warm and you can see the cherry blossoms at this time of year. Winter is usually dry but cold, with the average temperature lingering around freezing. Summer may seem like the most logical time to visit but it's actually the wettest time of year with as much as 60 percent of the city's annual rainfall arriving between late June and late July. August is typically hot and humid.

Do & see:

Don't miss these attractions during your visit!

Gyeongbokung

If you only visit one palace in Seoul, make it this one. Built in 1395, it is the largest of the five Grand Palaces. The re-enactment of the Changing of the Guard and the Patrol Ritual is performed daily here (between 10am and 3pm) in front of the Heungyemun (Gate). Nearby is the National Folk Museum and the National Palace Museum, both of which give a greater insight into traditional Korean culture.
Address: Gwanghwamun


N Seoul Tower

Originally built in 1969 as the first integrated transmission tower in Korea to beam TV and radio broadcasts across Seoul. It's been open to the public since 1980 and is now a major landmark in the city. Its features include a digital observatory, roof terrace, the Hancook restaurant (which services traditional Korean food) and eye-catching digital art projected onto the Tower after dark. Enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding area courtesy of the viewing platforms and 360 degree panoramic views from the digital observatory.
Address: Seoul-si Yongsan-gu Yongsandong 2-ga Namsan


Lotte World

This large recreation complex in downtown Seoul includes Indoor Adventure (the largest indoor theme park in the world), Magic Island (an outdoor theme park) and other leisure activities such a movie theatre. Indoor Adventure also features seasonal festivals and parades.
Address: Jamsil


Cheongwadae

The Presidental residence offers free guided tours four times per day between Tuesday and Saturday, provided that reservations have been made in advance. This includes trips to Chunchugwan (the press center), Nokjiwon (a garden containing over 120 types of trees), Yeongbingwan (an official function hall which is used for receptions for presidential guests and official conferences), Chilgung (7 small palaces in the south-western part of Cheongwadae) and the Cheongwadae Fountain (which hosts the parade of the Guard of Honor every Saturday in the plaza at the front) as well as the Main Building itself.
Address: Seoul-si Jongno-gu Sejong-ro 1


Gwanghwamun Square

The square's main focus is a statue of King Sejong the Great, in front of which are monuments from this reign. When night falls, the square is lit up, illuminating the statue and the nearby fountain. Beneath the square, "The Story of King Sejong" exhibition can be accessed.

Namsangol Hanok Village

Here, you'll find a collection of traditional Korean houses (hanoks) which have been rebuilt after the traditional houses of Joseon Dynasty and belong to those of various social classes, ranking from peasants to the king.
Address: Jung-gu


Myeongdong Shopping District

If you love shopping, be sure to head here. You'll find a great mix of shops and stalls and Korean cosmetic stores selling high-quality products at much less than you'd expect.

Dongdaemun Market

This is another shopper's haven, containing 26 shopping malls, 3000 speciality shops and 50,000 manufacturers. It's open for 24 hours a day and is famed for its night market. One of its main selling points is the ability to buy pretty much everything you could need in one place.
Address: Dongdaemun Market


Banpodeagyo Moonlight Rainbow Fountain

This two-tiered bridge over the Hangang (River) now incorporates the Moonlight Rainbow Fountain, making it the longest bridge fountain in the world. It features 380 water jets with multi-colored lights after dark, which can even move in time to music. For a truly spectacular viewing experience, look at the fountain from the inside via the Jamsugyo (the lower level of the bridge). Open from April to October, there are twenty minute shows several times per day.

Bugak Skyway Octagonal Pavilion

Known as Palgakjeong, the pavilion is located at the end of the Bugak Skyway, a scenic driving route. Its elevated position offers panoramic views of the city and there is some great scenery around the promenade for walking enthusiasts.

Seoul Tour Bus

Not got long in the city? Take a ride on the Seoul Tour Bus and get around some of the main attractions. Choose from the Circulation Tour (which lasts for a couple of hours and takes in many of the city's main sights), the Ancient Palaces tour (which stops at Cheonggyecheon and the five Grand Palaces) and the two night tours (for a chance to see the city after dark). You can hop on and off the bus at any of the stops but if you've never been on the tour before, you're advised to board the bus at the main departure point outside the Donghwa Duty Free Shop in Gwanghwamun.

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