Seoul Tourism Information

The Gwanghwamun Gate is the main entrance to the Palace of the same name.
ℹ️ Introduction 

The capital has many delights waiting to be discovered, from ancient temples and palaces to modern skyscrapers. Not only Seoul is popular for its culture but it has a brilliant nightlife as well. If we mix to this infusion, the bonus of great places to eat and drink, you have yourself one of the best destinations to explore! Today, Seoul is considered a leading and rising global city, resulting from an economic boom. It was rated Asia's most liveable city with one of the highest quality of life. There are major companies based here, resulting in high employment, development and stability. Many foreigners also make Seoul their home thanks to the ease to move to the country and working there as language teachers. (specially English). 

⛅️ Climate and Temperature  🌡️

Seoul has a humid continental/subtropical transitional climate with four distinct seasons. Temperature differences between the hottest part of summer and the depths of winter are extreme. Summer (June to August) brings very hot, humid weather with average high temperatures soaring as high 35°C on occasions; in winter (December to February) average low temperatures drop as low as -5°C.

The most pleasant seasons in the city are spring and autumn, when blue skies and comfortable temperatures are ideal to be out exploring the city. 

However, in Seoul, you can experience heavy rainfall, most of it falls in the summer monsoon period between June and September.

🚇 Transport 

Arriving to Seoul, is very simple and after clearing immigration you can access the quick subway which links the two airports with the downtown.  

From the main Airport (ICN) there are several options. The express metro line (AREX) which has a few stops along the way is extremely efficient and leaves every 10 minutes. Cost is 4.150KRW (€4) When you arrive you can link to the main subway lines or continue your journey by train for example  as it arrives to the main train station. Also there is KTK (High Speed Rail) which in half the time reaches the main station, but double the price (12.500KRW). Currently there is also the construction of the Maglev, (Magnetic Levitation), but it doesn't reach the heart of the city yet. 

Within the city, public transportation is very easy to follow. The metro is very advanced and reaches all areas, ideally suited to visitor key sights. You can pay for single tickets or use a T-Money card which stores the credit and it's easier to use if you travel often. Tickets are issued with a fee which is returned to you once you deposit your ticket again at the machines. Also it's very simple to navigate in the metro in Seoul, when you need to transfer there are specific sounds and colours for each line which help you identify the stations. For more information visit Metro Seoul

Seoul Metro Map PDF
AREX Train to/from ICN Airport
🏰 What to see and do ?

Seoul offers a good cultural and historical scene thanks to many centuries of rich history, linked to it's grounds and surroundings. Temples and imperial palaces are mixed within the city and spotting them is not hard. It also offers plenty of modern buildings, interesting architecture, museums and galleries as well as good view points in which to see the city.

Main highlights to see in the city are: 

  • The N Seoul Tower, located on Namsan Mountain in central Seoul. At 236m, it's the highest point in Seoul. 
  • Gyeongbokgung Palace, was the main royal palace of the Joseon dynasty. Built in 1395.To get there take the metro to Gyeongbokgung Station. 
  • Gwanghwamun Gate, is the main and largest gate of Gyeongbokgung Palace. It is located at a three-way intersection at the northern end of Sejongno, (street which is worth walking all the way down as you will find many interesting buildings). 
  • Namdaemun Gate, known as the Sungnyemun, is one of the Eight Gates in the Fortress Wall of Seoul. 
  • Heunginjimun, literally "Gate of Rising Benevolence" another of the Eight Gates. 
  • War Memorial of Korea, located in Yongsan-dong. Opened in 1994 on the former site of the army headquarters to exhibit and memorialise the military history of Korea. 
  • National Museum of Korea, the flagship museum of Korean history and art in South Korea. 
  • The 63 Building, is a skyscraper on Yeouido island, overlooking the Han River in Seoul, it's distinctive golden colour is very attractive. 
  • The Banpo Bridge is a bridge in downtown Seoul over the Han River, recommended to visit at night when it shines in colours. 
  • The National Theater of Korea
  • Also not to be missed is the Namdaemun Market, located next to the Great South Gate, after which it is named. It's the oldest and largest market in South Korea, dates back to 1414.It sells everything from housewares and fabrics to flowers and stationery. The multi-storey buildings offer thousands of shops, as well as endless numbers of street-vendor stalls and great food stalls to refresh and eat tasty local snacks! 
  • Itaewon: This district has developed into a multicultural mecca of great foreign influence. This international place is also one of the most popular tourist areas in Seoul. Shops and restaurants with influence from Europe, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Turkey, Malaysia, Thailand, and Mexico are widely available in Itaewon making the streets colorful and vibrant in terms of language and looks.In Itaewon you will find high quality leather products along with traditional Korean souvenirs. If you want to get custom-made shirts or dresses, Itaewon is also the place to go in Seoul. Furthermore, the main street is lined with brand stores such as Nike, Adidas, Converse, Apple Computers etc.
    The local residents and visitors of Itaewon are dominated by Americans (both Military and civilian due to the military base history) but also many other 'international residents', who work and live here. 
🌃 Nightlife

The cosmopolitan city of Seoul is known for having quite a good nightlife, packed with just about every activity and all kinds of entertainment venues, and with a particular fascination for karaoke bars.

🌈During the night, Itaewon really comes alive. Seoul is a thriving city during the weekend and Koreans love to go out and party! Where to go out best but in this area, notorious for its nightlife, labelled a nightlife/entertainment district for ages. This district caters for everybody's liking. Itaewon has a significant gay/lesbian community, so you'll also find numerous gay bars in this colourful district, along with world class clubbing, numerous smaller clubs and lounges, Irish pubs, sports bars, boutique hotels, cigar lounges, cocktail bars, hostess bars and Russian karaoke bars etc. Itaewon offers great variety for everyone and the prices are not that bad either! 

Other areas include, the night markets in Dongdaemun, while Myeongdong is a great spot to start off the evening with a dinner or a few beers at one of the many cafés and bars. The area of exclusive wine bars, clubs and expensive bars in Apgujeong-dong or Sinsadong, attract a trendy crowd, but it's very expensive and an etiquette for entering clubs could be demanded. 

The more relaxed, younger crowd tends to hang out in Gangnam, where plenty of Western-style clubs and bars can be found. Dongdaemun is great for a few quiet ales and a spot of theatre, or to stroll through a gallery. Hongdae is the best area for live music and great dance floors on which to move into the early hours. 

✔️Tip: Soju is South Korea's rice wine, traditionally served in small shot glasses and drank all at once with a shout of 'Gumbay!' (cheers). Although traditions often become blurred on the party scene, it is customary in South Korea for people to buy and pour each other's drinks rather than their own. If you don't want your drinks refilled, you should leave a bit of liquid in them.

🛍️  Shopping

Shopping in Seoul can be sometimes a chaotic experience, with a vast selection of products, busy malls, and communication barriers, making it more difficult for visitors to shop. However, there are many bargains that make it worthwhile. Most shops stay open until 10pm and some markets are open 24 hours.

Myong Dong is the most popular shopping district, home to sports and fashion shops offering cheap and trendy clothes for young people. Seoul's biggest department stores are also in the Myong Dong area: Shinsegae, Lotte, and Hyundai. These dazzling emporiums stock everything under the sun, from cheap electronics to high end fashion. All feature labyrinthine grocery selections and popular food courts.

Second hand goods are numerous at markets like the Hwanghak-dong Flea Market. Chang-anp'yong Antique Market treasures include paintings, calligraphy, and old chests, as well as stone and ceramic artefacts.

The birthplace of leading global electronics companies like Samsung and LG, South Korea is renowned for its cutting edge technology. The best place for electronics is the Yongsan Electronics Market, where dozens of stores specialise in one or two of the latest gadgets and frequent sales mean excellent prices.

The Itaewon area has shops selling discounted designer clothes from brands such as DKNY, Nike and Adidas; stalls on the street sell hats and fake designer handbags.

Apkujong has upscale department stores and boutiques, as well as the Kangnam underground shopping mall

🛌 Accommodation

Seoul is not an expensive city to stay for tourists, however with the increase in popularity the country's wealth and a strong economy, prices are on the increase. 

For the budget travellers there are numerous  hostels and guesthouses offering cheap accommodation. Also airbnb is a popular option as it takes off in Asia now. 

Normal hotels within the city centre are expensive, so staying close to a metro station and further away from the centre is not a bad idea, it can cost €40-50 per night.

✔️Tip: Itaewon is a popular area for budget hotels, hostels and backpacking accommodation where to also stay in a popular area with lots of nightlife. 

⏳ How long to stay?

Seoul is a fascinating city and has much to offer for tourists. Staying a minimum of 3 nights would give you time to see the highlights of the city but probably you will be left short so an ideal 5 nights would be enough to enjoy and go out too, during a weekend.  

Seoul Photo Slide 📷