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.

Where to stay in Seoul

Myeongdong
Myeongdong featuring shopping, night scenes and street scenes

Myeongdong

Known for Shopping, Rivers, Urban

This luxury shopping district at the heart of central Seoul is the place to come for quality brand products and simply great food.

Jung-gu
Dongdaemun Design Plaza which includes modern architecture as well as a couple

Jung-gu

Known for Shopping, Castles, Dining

4.5/5(131 reviews)

Historic meets modern in this central district of Seoul, where good food, unique architecture and mountainous green spaces come together. 

Insadong
Insadong which includes shopping as well as a small group of people

Insadong

Known for Culture, Castles, Shopping

Right at the centre of Seoul, this district is a mix of culture and shopping complemented by traditional Korean art, crafts and antiques.

Seocho-gu
Seocho-gu which includes a river or creek, a bridge and modern architecture

Seocho-gu

Known for Shopping, Skyscrapers, Dining

4.5/5(3 reviews)

This riverside district of Seoul is packed with exciting places for discovering South Korean culture, including museums, galleries and theaters.  

Samseong-dong
Samseong-dong showing interior views

Samseong-dong

Known for Temples, Shopping, Aquariums

With one of Asia’s biggest underground malls, sky-high buildings and international brands, this glitzy Seoul district is also the unlikely home of several historic sites.

Top hotels in Seoul

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Lotte Hotel Seoul
Lotte Hotel Seoul
5 out of 5
30, Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul, Seoul
NZ$321
per night
1 Dec. - 2 Dec.

This family-friendly Seoul hotel is located in the business district, within a 5-minute walk of Seoul City Hall and Lotte Department Store. Deoksugung Palace ...

4.4/5Wonderful! (2,928 reviews)

"I've stayed at many 5 star hotels across the world, and in terms of value, quality of the rooms, service, and fit-out, I was deeply impressed by the Lotte Executive Hotel Seoul. The Executive Tower has amazing decor, very modern room facilities, and the staff are very helpful, friendly, welcoming ..."…"

Reviewed on 3 Nov. 2019

Lotte Hotel Seoul
Sotetsu Fresa Inn Seoul Myeong-dong
Sotetsu Fresa Inn Seoul Myeong-dong
3 out of 5
48, Myeongdong-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
NZ$125
per night
2 Dec. - 3 Dec.

Located in Myeongdong, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Myeongdong Street and Lotte Department Store. Namsan Park and Seoul City Hall are also within ...

4.3/5Excellent! (102 reviews)

"The location was excellent! Very new and clean hotel. Will definitely rebook for the next trip."…"

Reviewed on 13 Nov. 2019

Sotetsu Fresa Inn Seoul Myeong-dong
ENA Suite Hotel Namdaemun
ENA Suite Hotel Namdaemun
4 out of 5
36, Sejong-daero 11-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul, Seoul
NZ$155
per night
26 Nov. - 27 Nov.

Located in Jung-gu, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Sungnyemun Gate and Deoksugung Palace. Cheonggye Plaza and Dongdaemun History and Culture Park are ...

4.5/5Wonderful! (1,204 reviews)

"The bed was incredibly comfortable, and the staff was very friendly!"…"

Reviewed on 1 Nov. 2019

ENA Suite Hotel Namdaemun

Popular activities in Seoul

Dongdaemun History and Culture Park
Image for Dongdaemun History and Culture Park

Dongdaemun History and Culture Park

4.5/5(67 reviews)

This vast commercial district is a shopper's paradise with its many malls, boutiques and specialist shops sitting happily alongside traditional Korean market places.

Gyeongbok Palace
Image for Gyeongbok Palace

Gyeongbok Palace

4.5/5(67 reviews)

This royal palace has risen up from the ashes more than once and today, it's one of Seoul's finest examples of traditional Korean architecture.

National Museum
Image for National Museum

National Museum

4.5/5(25 reviews)

Marvel as natural light illuminates the galleries of this contemporary museum building, which houses thousands of ancient and valuable Korean objects. 

N Seoul Tower
Image for N Seoul Tower

N Seoul Tower

4.5/5(46 reviews)

Wherever you are in Seoul, you'll usually be able to spot this landmark that offers superb views over the city.

Namsan Park
Image for Namsan Park

Namsan Park

4.5/5(43 reviews)

Walk amid this peaceful natural environment, ride a cable car and marvel at Seoul’s majestic skyline at this sprawling mountain park.

Deoksugung Palace
Image for Deoksugung Palace

Deoksugung Palace

4.5/5(27 reviews)

This may be the smallest of Seoul's Five Grand Palaces but it has a big soul and a mix of western and eastern architecture.

Top activities in Seoul

Demilitarized Zone & with Third Infiltration Tunnel
Image for Demilitarized Zone & with Third Infiltration Tunnel

Demilitarized Zone & with Third Infiltration Tunnel

NZ$63

Venture to the border of South and North Korea, where the unsettling Demilitarized Zone separates the 2 countries in a 2.5-mile-wide (4-km) swath of land lined by tanks, landmines, and electric fences.

Winter Sonata & Nami Island Tour
Image for Winter Sonata & Nami Island Tour

Winter Sonata & Nami Island Tour

NZ$150

Enter the world of Winter Sonata on this full-day tour to Nami Island. At the scenic area where Winter Sonata was filmed, get a glimpse of roaming deer, ostriches, and lanes lined with soaring pine trees and then savor a delicious Korean lunch.

Morning Excursion to the Korean DMZ (No Shopping)
Image for Morning Excursion to the Korean DMZ (No Shopping)

Morning Excursion to the Korean DMZ (No Shopping)

NZ$55

Explore the territory that separates North and South Korean on this tour to the Demilitarized Zone and its surrounding historic sites. Learn about the Korean Conflict as you visit the DMZ Theater and Exhibition Hall, as well as nearby sites like Dorasan Station, Imjingak Park, and the 3rd Tunnel.

Palaces, Temple & Folk Museum Morning Tour
Image for Palaces, Temple & Folk Museum Morning Tour

Palaces, Temple & Folk Museum Morning Tour

NZ$53

Explore the cultural heritage of Seoul on this morning tour. See the charming presidential residence, the majestic 13th-century Gyeongbokgung Palace, the vast historical collection at the National Folk Museum, and an ornate Buddhist temple.

Korean Home Cooking Class and Exploring Local Market Tour
Image for Korean Home Cooking Class and Exploring Local Market Tour

Korean Home Cooking Class and Exploring Local Market Tour

NZ$82

Head to Seoul and enter OME Cooking Lab. OME means five tastes, which are sweetness, sourness, bitterness, saltiness, and spiciness. Follow instructions from professional chefs. Explore And Yangnyeong Market(Korean herb medicine market), Gyeongdong Market(food ingredient market) with local guide.

Seoul Private Professional Photoshoot
Image for Seoul Private Professional Photoshoot

Seoul Private Professional Photoshoot

NZ$121

Itinerary This is a typical itinerary for this product Stop At: HaB Korea, Seoul South Korea Meet up your photographer at your desired location in Seoul. Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes

Reviews of Seoul

4.5

Top Destination

5 - Excellent
117
5 - Excellent 63.24324324324324%
4 - Good
55
4 - Good 29.72972972972973%
3 - Okay
10
3 - Okay 5.405405405405405%
2 - Disappointing
3
2 - Disappointing 1.6216216216216217%
1 - Terrible
0
1 - Terrible 0%

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

11 Nov. 2019

Amazing city, helpful people, safe, very advanced and a must visit tourist destination.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

10 Nov. 2019

Food is the best I have have experienced in all my travels. Seoul is a very clean and safe place to visit. Subway easy to access and use to get around to all areas. Very friendly people. Loved loved loved it.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

2 Nov. 2019

Amazing, futuristic, efficient, cultural, fashionable, excellent coffee.. just memorable!

2/5 - Disappointing

Verified traveller

25 Oct. 2019

People are rude

2/5 - Disappointing

Verified traveller

13 Oct. 2019

Another large asian city. People are OK. Nothing special about Seoul, beyond some shopping and some nice temples/palaces. Have no interest in visiting Seoul again any time soon.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

3 Oct. 2019

Vibrant and modern city

Other places like Seoul

Suwon
Image for Suwon
Suwon
Suncheon
Image for Suncheon
Suncheon
trover photo by Jeong Young Woo
Tokyo
Image for Tokyo
Tokyo
Shanghai
Image for Shanghai
Shanghai