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Things to do in Seoul

Belt out a classic at a noraebang (Korean singing room)

There's certainly nothing quite like belting out today's pop hits and yesterday's classic songs in a local noraebang. Rented by the hour, 'singing rooms' can be found throughout Seoul; there are handheld drums, tambourines and other small instruments for those too shy to sing. Take centre stage at Sky SU (tel: +82 2 322 3111; www.skysu.com).

Explore Cheonggyechon Stream

It took the dismantling of 6km (4 miles) of an overhead expressway to uncover Cheonggyechon Stream, which has now been landscaped to create an urban ecology park. Sitting just below street level, it is a joy uncovered with walkways, waterways, artwork and fountains. Don't miss Cheonggye Plaza for the illuminations.

Sip coffee at an animal café

There’s certainly no shortage of cafés in Seoul, and many come with their own niche selling point. One of the more distinctive coffee shops is the so-called animal café, such as Hongdae’s Bau House (tel: +82 2 334 5152; www.baumall.co.kr), in which patrons can enjoy the company of roaming cats, dogs and even sheep.

Try your fist at taekwondo

Don’t be misguided by the impressively quaint setting of Namsangol Hanok Village; this is the place to come if you want to try out taekwondo. Sign up for introductory sessions at the Experience Program (tel: +82 2 3469 0134); first watch demonstrations by the masters before experiencing the traditional Korean martial art yourself.

Unwind in a traditional Korean bathhouse

Korea's bathhouses, called mogyoktang, are places to relax and socialise. An intrinsic part of Seoul life, some even open 24 hours a day. With gender-separated facilities, the spas make use of underground hot springs, so visitors can alternate hot and cold water tubs. Yongsan Dragon Hill Spa (tel: +82 2 792 0001; www.dragonhillspa.co.kr) is a stand-out.

Featured Hotels

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The Shilla

Celebrities, royalty and heads of state have stayed at The Shilla, which is set in 9 hectares (23 acres) of woodland yet known for its state-of-the-art technology. Modern public areas belie traditionally furnished rooms. The restaurant, La Yeon, has three Michelin stars - the first restaurant to receive such an accolade.

Fraser Place Central Seoul

A luxury home-from-home is offered by these serviced 'residences' in Seoul, from studios to three-bed and penthouse apartments. Relaxation is further aided by the attractive leisure facilities - a large pool, steam and sauna rooms and peaceful atrium garden.

K-POP Hotel Seoul Station

Only a short walk from Seoul Station, this hotel ticks all the boxes when it comes to a central location and low price. The rooms are tiny, it's true, but they are light and modern and offer underfloor heating, minifridges and flat-screen TVs. There's also a lounge area, a basement cafe and rooftop terrace. Laundry facilities don't include dryers, though.

Ibis Seoul Ambassador Gangnam

A good value mid-range hotel in Seoul with smart facilities in a central location. Amenities include a restaurant, a rooftop garden and underground parking, plus there's a sauna and fitness room. The COEX convention centre and shopping mall are nearby.

Lotte Hotel Seoul

The refurbished wing of this huge super-deluxe hotel in Seoul is a good bet for those who want to stay in the heart of the city and close to shopping areas – there's even a large duty-free store on site. A good choice of dining includes French and Italian restaurants. A personal trainer and sports lab analysis are available in the fitness centre.

Grand Ambassador Seoul

This good, centrally located deluxe business hotel offers great views over the Seoul cityscape. There's easy access to the main markets and historic palaces, and facilities include six bars and restaurants plus a health centre with hydrotherapy pool.