This South Korean metropolitan capital city is a mix of busy markets and thumping nightlife, sitting happily alongside palaces and peaceful teahouses.
An intoxicating blend of the past and the present, vibrant Seoul has plenty to see and do. Independent fashion boutiques, contemporary art galleries and modern restaurants rub shoulders with historic palaces, impressive gardens and traditional teahouses.
The people of Seoul are warm, friendly and welcoming to visitors. Many of the older population don’t speak English, but the younger Seoulites will be more than happy to help you out and practice their language skills at the same time!
Korea has had its fair share of hardships, and physical evidence of its turbulent history can be seen throughout the capital. Nowhere more so than in the Five Grand Palaces, all of which have been destroyed or damaged through the centuries. The Grand Palaces have now all been restored, and are home to many of the country’s most treasured artefacts.
Seoul has a fun and eclectic nightlife, with a varied selection of good bars, music venues and clubs dotted throughout the city. Start your evening at Hongdae Young Street and see where the night takes you! Seoul is a shopaholic’s dream, with traditional craft shops at Insadong, designer shopping at Myeongdong and the enormous Dongdaemun Market, ideal for bargain hunters.
If history and culture is more your thing, then head to Chongdong Theatre, which hosts traditional music, dance and performance. Dive into Seoul’s excellent food scene by starting with the cheap road-side stalls and eateries that serve up everything from pork donkas to kalguksu noodles and the Korean national dish kimchi. Kimchi is a spiced fermented vegetable (usually cabbage), and even has an entire museum dedicated to it in the form of the Pulmuone Kimchi Museum! After you’ve had your fill, head to a classic teahouse to relax.
But Seoul is not all bright lights and inner-city madness. The serene Cheonggyecheon Stream is a winning combination of a natural park, local art exhibition and wildlife display, situated in the very heart of the city.
The best times to visit are between March and May or from September to November, when the climate is at its mildest. The summers can be incredibly hot and the winters very cold. The city has a fast and efficient subway system, which is considered to be one of the best in the world.