FOLLOW US

World Travel Guide > Guides > Asia > South Korea > Seoul

Seoul Weather

19°C

Local time Seoul

Currency

Things to see in Seoul

Tourist Offices

Myeong-dong Tourist Information Center

Address: Jung-gu, 66 Eulji-ro, Seoul,
Telephone: +82 2 3778 0883.
Opening times:

Daily 0900-2000.

Website: http://www.visitseoul.net

Seoul Tourism Organisation maintains 13 tourist information centres throughout the city, but the Myeong-dong Tourist Information Center is its main hub. It has multi-lingual staff who can provide information on attractions, events, shopping and dining. They can also reserve accommodation and tickets for shows. There are other tourist information centres in Itaewon (tel: +82 2 3785 0942) Gangnam (tel: +82 2 3445 0111; and Incheon Airport (tel: +82 32 743 3270).

Tourist passes

The Korea Pass (tel: +82 2 1330, www.koreapass.or.kr) is a multi-purpose prepaid travel card that offers discounts at more than 6,000 affiliated stores, shows, restaurants and attractions, plus a preferential exchange rate at Hana Bank branches. The Korea Pass can also be used to pay for transport.

Attractions

Gyeongbokgung

Gyeongbokgung, or Gyeongbok Palace, is the oldest and grandest of the five palaces of the Joseon Dynasty, which ruled modern day Korea from 1392 until 1897. Gyeongbok Palace was first established in 1394 and is set in a gorgeous green landscape that also houses Korea's National Folk Museum. The present-day palace, incorporating ancient Chinese and royal court architecture, was constructed in the 1860s, the original having being destroyed during Japanese occupation. You can buy an all-inclusive ticket, valid for a month, to visit Gyeongbokgung along with the other key heritage sites of Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung, Deoksugung and Jongmyo Shrine.

Address: Jongno-gu, 161 Sajik-ro, Seoul,
Telephone: +82 2 3700 3900.
Opening times:

Wed-Mon 0900-1700 (Jan, Feb, Nov, Dec); Wed-Mon 0900-1800 (Mar-May, Sep, Oct); Wed-Mon 0900-1830 (Jun-Aug).

Website: http://www.royalpalace.go.kr
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

National Museum of Korea

Sleek and modern, the National Museum of Korea can easily fill a day’s itinerary in Seoul. With about 13,000 pieces on display at a time, the museum offers a look into Korea’s earliest history through to the modern day. Ancient sculptures, artefacts and weaponry greet visitors as well as paintings from around the world. Regular cultural programmes and performances are also offered.

Address: Yongsan, 137 Seoubinggo-ro, Seoul,
Telephone: +82 2 2077 9000.
Opening times:

Mon, Tues, Thu, Fri 0900-1800, Wed & Sat 0900-2100, Sun & hols 0900-1900.

Website: http://www.museum.go.kr
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Korean Demilitarised Zone (DMZ)

Just 55km (34 miles) north of Seoul is one of the world’s most curious attractions, the Korean Demilitarised Zone (DMZ). What is actually a decades-old ceasefire area, the DMZ is a buffer region between South and North Korea that has been in place since the Korean War armistice of 1953.

The tourist-friendly section of the DMZ includes sites like the 3rd Tunnel, an underground infiltration route, and Panmunjeom, where peace talks between North and South Korea are still held. There are also shrines, an observatory, mountains and Imjingak, a park displaying artwork alongside relics and monuments from the Korean conflict. Since the conflict ceased, internationally protected species, endangered species and protected wild flora and fauna have also flourished here. You must join an organised tour to visit the DMZ. The International Culture Service Club (tel: +82 2 755 0073; www.tourdmz.com) and KTB Tour (tel: +82 2 778 0150; www.go2korea.co.kr) both offer regular excursions in English.

Address: , , ,
Telephone:
Opening times:

Varies by attraction and tour operator.

Website:
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Changdeokgung and the Secret Garden

This 15th-century palace complex has fared better than the other four Joseon strongholds, earning it a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage list. The palace grounds include several official halls as well as royal residences where descendants of the royal line lived until 1989. It was all built in harmony with nature for good pungsu (Korean feng shui). This tranquil setting was a favourite among Korean royalty thanks to its Secret Garden, which can still be visited today through a guided tour.

Address: Jongno-gu, 99 Yulgok-ro, Seoul,
Telephone: +82 2 3688 2300
Opening times:

Daily 0900-1800 (Feb-May, Sep-Oct); Daily 0900-1830 (Jun-Aug); Daily 0900-1730 (Nov-Jan).

Website: http://eng.cdg.go.kr
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: Yes

The War Memorial of Korea

Korea’s long history of invasions by neighbouring countries is examined at The War Memorial of Korea, a spot where Korean infantry soldiers once trained. Today, eight main exhibits look at the battle history of this once war-torn nation. The Korean War (1950-53) is a focal point here, as is the outdoor collection of military planes, tanks and missiles. A memorial wall near the entrance lists the names of UN soldiers who lost their lives during the Korean War.

Address: Yongsan, 29 Itaewon-ro, Seoul,
Telephone: +82 2 709 3139.
Opening times:

Tues-Sun 0900-1800.

Website: http://www.warmemo.or.kr
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Museum Kimchikan

The spicy, fermented vegetable dish kimchi is considered Korea's ‘national food' and a cure-all. This curiously unique museum in Seoul details the history of the dish and its preparation, and gives visitors the chance to make the ubiquitous meal accompaniment themselves; naturally, there are tastings too. Interactive displays bring the subject matter alive, and free English audioguides are available.

Address: , B2 level, COEX Mall, 159 Samseong-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul,
Telephone: +82 2 6002 6456.
Opening times:

Tues-Sun 1000-1800.

Website: http://www.kimchimuseum.co.kr
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Insa-dong

The cobbled alleys of this popular and lively district of Seoul are a kind of Korean Covent Garden. Wander around art galleries, craft, antique and fashion shops, or watch sweets being made, stop for a break in a traditional tea house or, on Sundays, catch a free cultural performance. For serious shopping, the Art Centre Bus will shuttle you between galleries. Try and visit the Ssamzie-gil mall, a shopping spot on four floors which has over 70 shops selling traditional wares including fine art, clothes, food and accessories.

Address: Jongno-gu, Insa-dong, Seoul,
Telephone:
Opening times:

Shop openings vary by store.

Website:
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

N Seoul Tower

There are three ways to reach the city’s dazzling skyline landmark, the N Seoul Tower: by bus, cable car or using your own steam. Sat atop Mount Namsan, the communications and observation tower offers astounding views across Seoul and beyond. Visitors are mainly drawn by the observation decks, but bakeries, cafés, a revolving restaurant and a children’s theatre keep tourists amused when they’re finished with the vistas. The Reed of Light Garden, near the entrance, is now covered in love locks (padlocks chained to major landmarks that symbolise never-ending love), and there is a teddy bear museum displaying toys in whimsical settings at the foot of the building. The tower is lit in different colours depending on the season and it projects beams of light in various shapes each evening.

Address: , 105 Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan-gu,
Telephone: +82 2 3455 9277.
Opening times:

Sun-Thurs 1000-2300, Fri-Sat 1000-2330 (observatory).

Website: http://www.nseoultower.co.kr
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Lotte World

Lotte World is Seoul’s most popular family attraction. It is the city’s answer to Disney World and is the largest indoor theme park on Earth. It includes thrill rides, an ice rink, shopping centres and a folk village across three different zones: Adventure, a Water Park and an Aquarium. Brave the coasters, flumes and haunted house, or watch colourful shows and parades with themes like samba, masquerade and Christmas. If it’s all too much, head to the food court for a refuel.

Address: Jamsil-dong, 240 Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu,
Telephone: +82 1661 2000
Opening times:

Mon-Thurs 0930-2200, Fri-Sun 0930-2300.

Website: http://www.lotteworld.com
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Dongdaemun Market

This traditional market, frequently photographed against its backdrop of skyscrapers, is a Seoul city icon and Asia's largest and liveliest. Start at its ancient East Main Gate, a national treasure in itself, and check out the Gyeong-dong Herbal Medicine Market within. Dongdaemun Market is particularly known for its fabrics and fashion and there are further opportunities for retail therapy in the modern malls that have sprung up nearby, many of which put on music and dance entertainment in the evenings.

Address: Jongno-gu, Jongno 6-ga, Seoul,
Telephone:
Opening times:

Daily 1030-0500 (shops), 2100-dawn (stalls).

Website:
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Featured Hotels

SEE MORE

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.

JW Marriott Dongdeamun Square Seoul

This hotel's relatively small size - 170 rooms on 11 floors - and the elegant, luxe room decor makes for more of a boutique feel than you'd expect from a chain hotel. It's located in Seoul's premier shopping district, close to Dongdeamun Design Plaza, and amenities include an indoor pool lit by chandeliers, a large fitness centre and two restaurants. The rooftop bar has views of Dongdaemun Gate, an iconic landmark in the city.

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.