Since so many parts of Seoul are so appealing and you may be wondering about where to visit and what to do (especially if you’re only here for a few days), here are our recommendations for building your bucket list for Seoul.
1. Feel the Sublime Korea Through a Palace Tour
Old palaces from the Josun dynasty display the traditional beauty of Korea, showing how long and preserved Korean history has been. (It spans almost 5,000 years!) There are 4 major palaces in Seoul – Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, Deoksugung, and Changgyeonggung. Changdeokgung, in particular, has been designated as a World heritage site by UNESCO and is renowned for its beautiful garden. You can also rent Korean traditional clothes –Hanbok – near the old palaces. Why don’t you walk along the same path that ancient Koreans did by becoming a princess or a prince from the Josun dynasty? Check out this link if you’d like to visit these old palaces? Or perhaps you’d like to rent a Hanbok?
2. Romantic Night View From Namsan Mountain
Namsan Mountain, especially the N Seoul Tower on the top of the mountain, is a highly recommended spot for foreigners. You can see an overview of Seoul from all angles at the towel’s observatory. The night view of Seoul from N Seoul Tower is romantically beautiful. For example, there are the bridges over the black Han River at night that shine like diamond bracelets. The tower is a spot you can’t leave out if you’re a couple, as you can install a lock amongst the existing thousands, in hopes of having an eternal love.
3. Try Fresh Raw Fish in Noryangjin Fish Market
If you want to see the liveliness of the local people in Seoul, Noryangjin fish market will show more than what you can imagine. You will be surprised to see so many fish and other marine creatures gathered in one place. Owners in the Noryangjin fish market will try to attract you to their area by showing how fresh their fish are. You can even see the owners filleting the fish you choose and if you’re lucky, you may be given an extra fish or seafood as a token of their kindness.Check out our insider’s guide to the market here for more information.
4. Burn, Baby, Burn – Clubbing
Seoul is a city that never sleeps because young people usually dance the night away in a club or drink during the night. Hongdae is a popular area of choice for young clubbers, ie college students. Club NB2, Cocoon, and Vera are some of the most well-known ones. Click here for a full list of clubs in Hongdae.
There are also many 24 hour cafes open in Hongdae for clubbers who want to take a rest. Gangnam is another hot place for clubbing. As there are a lot of companies’ offices in Gangnam area, usually people over 25 go clubbing after work. Club Octagon is one of the best clubs around, located in Gangnam and ranked 6th in the world. Check out our picks on the best clubs in Seoul here.
5. Cool Off in Cheonggyecheon!
Cheonggyecheon is a stream going through the northern part of Seoul. There used to be many stores along the stream, but it was restored in 2005 by Seoul City Hall. After the restoration project, Cheonggyecheon and the surrounding area became cleaner and more organized. You can even see fish swimming in the water. Many people have visited Cheonggyecheon during the summer, and sometimes people put their feet in the water.
6. A Blast To the Past: Korean Folk Village
You can experience how people from the past lived by visiting a Korean folk village. Real traditional houses are built and actors are hired to play the roles of people from the past to liven the experience. Instead of just seeing the ancient artifacts in museums, you can be a part of the lives of the commoners from the past. Visit now!
7. Be a Shopaholic!
Shopping is something you must not miss while you are in Korea. There are numerous places to shop in Seoul from underground shopping complexes in subway stations to elegant shops in department stores. Myeong-dong is one of the most popular shopping areas as almost all of the famous brands in Korea are placed there, making shopping very convenient.Check out this post showing the must go places in Myeong-dong as well as discount coupons you can use.
Dongdaemun is famous for reasonably priced items and has several shopping complexes built in the area, providing young and casual style clothes for young people and tourists. Garosugil has risen as a trendy shopping area filled with small boutique shops full of unique styles. Here’s a list of places to go for a cheap shopping spree in Seoul.
8. Enjoy Exotic Cuisines in Itaewon
Itaewon is the most international place in Seoul where people of all cultures and countries gather. It is like a small village of the world. There are many restaurants specializing in authentic traditional dishes of various countries. Zelen is a Bulgarian restaurant run by chef Mihal Spasov Ashminov, who rose to popularity after appearing in Korean cooking TV show “Take Care of My Refrigerator”. Check out this list of our top favorite spots in Itaewon as well as discount coupons you can use here. Follow this link for a whole list of posts on places to dine in Itaewon as well!
9. Head To Insadong For the Best Souvenirs
Good souvenirs show you to be a thoughtful and caring person to others around you. Insadong is a street filled with shops selling Korean traditional items perfect as souvenirs. From small items like a key chain to big ones like a piece of furniture, you can purchase almost anything. If something you want to buy is too expensive, don’t fret as it’s likely to be sold in another store for much cheaper. Besides shopping, there are many good museums and galleries to look around in. Check out this list of traditional restaurants in the area as well as discount coupons you can use.
10. Irresistible Yummy Street Foods
You can easily find vendors selling street food in Korea. Korean street food has its own charm that can’t be replaced by meals from a restaurant. We bet that street vendors selling local street foods will draw you to their food with its mouthwatering smell and look. Gwangjang market is a famous place where you can enjoy classic local foods like mungbean pancake and sliced raw beef sashimi. Noryangjin is a great place where you can have a tasty meal for a cheap price with most dishes costing around 5,000 won or below. Street foods in Hongdae are trendy and experimental like their fashion style. Check out these posts on the best street foods from Jeonju Hanok Village and Myeong-dong. You also don’t want to miss the Seoul street food tour!
11. Sweat It Out at a Jjimjilbang
A Jjimjilbang is a Korean sauna where you can go into rooms with high temperature and emit any impurities and detox your skin by sweating. There are many types of rooms: Red clay room, Ice room, Crystal room and so on. However, before you enter , you are required to use a public bath in full nudity. But don’t worry! Public baths are very common in Korea and people couldn’t care less about how each other’s bodies look. Dragon Hill Spa is the most famous Jjimjilbang in Korea.Click here for an in-depth post about it and make sure you grab this discount ticket if you’re interested in going! We also have a list of the best saunas and spas in Seoul here.
12. Workout During traveling – Climbing Bukhansan National Park
You may think that Seoul is just a city that is high tech. Well, you’re half right. Seoul is also an eco-friendly city surrounded by mountains where you can enjoy nature. One good way to experience this is by hiking along Bukhansan National Park, located in the northern part of Seoul. There are several courses to be hiking across, but most usually take about 4~5 hours to complete. If you get tired while climbing the mountain, try visiting the Buddhism temples built on the mountain. Unlike temples in the middle of the city, the temples isolated on the mountain are much more peaceful and reflective.
13. Experience North Korea Through a DMZ Tour
Korea has been divided into South and North Korea since the Korean civil war in the 1950s. At the border between South and North Korea, the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) was set to prevent any invasion and is currently controlled by dispatched UN soldiers. With your ID, you can have a tour in DMZ guided by the soldiers. You can go to the Dora observatory to see North Korean villages, the third tunnel built by North Korean soldiers, and the joint security area Panmunjom. There are two types of tours available – the DMZ tour and the DMZ + JSA tour. Check out this post on the 13 things you need to know before visiting the DMZ before you go.
14. Do You Enjoy Going On Rides At Amusement Parks?
There are 3 big amusement parks in or near Seoul – Lotte World, Everland, and Seoul Land. Lotte World has many thrilling rides and most of its visitors are of a young demographic. Everland has many rides just like Lotte World, but there is also a zoo, botanical garden, and place for glamping (a word combining glamorous and camping). Seoul Land has many exciting yet less thrilling rides, targeting families with children. Along with rides and additional attractions, various festivals are being held with numerous events in these amusement parks. Would you like to visit Everland? Check out these awesome deals on discount tickets to Everland (afternoon + night package, 1-day pass, half price group discount, ticket + shuttle bus ticket and discount ticket + private van transfer package) , Lotte World (ticket discount and 1-day pass + aquarium combo discount) and Seoul Land!
15. Be Yuna Kim in City hall’s Ice Rink!
When winter comes, Seoul city hall opens an ice skating rink in front of the Seoul Plaza for Seoul citizens. Usually, it opens from 10 AM to 10PM and the entrance fee is 1,000 won per hour including rental for ice skates. Next to the rink, various booths are installed to offer additional entertainments for the visitors.
16. Imagine the Sky Covered with Cherry Blossom Flowers in Yeouido
Spring is a romantic season, but what makes it more romantic is walking under cherry blossom trees. Yeouido has a road where a row of cherry blossom trees stands, with millions of people visiting during the Yeouido Cherry Blossom Flower Festival in April. We recommend you to visit at night as there will be fewer people and the cherry blossom flowers gleam dreamily under the street lights. For a full list of cherry blossom festivals in Korea, check out this post.
17. Small Picnic at Han River
The Han River is the perfect place to chill out during the summer. You can enjoy a nice little vacation in Seoul by feeling the cool breeze. Delivery foods are another attractive point of this venue with the menu of choice by most people being chicken with beer! You simply call any restaurant, order your food, tell them where you’re sitting and your food will be delivered right to you! You can sit on a picnic mat, eat, take pictures, ride an electric scooter or just nap.
However, beware of mosquitoes. Pack some bug bite ointment or mosquito repellent and reapply regularly throughout the day. There are lots of fun activities to enjoy such as wakeboarding and waterskiing, a ferry cruise, buffet cruise, tubester boat ride, or duck boat ride. Check out this post for a full list of things to do at the Han!
18. Cleanse Your Body and Mind With a Temple Stay
Want to wind down and enjoy some healing time? You don’t need to go out of Seoul to find your inner peace. You can join a temple stay operating in Seoul. Forget all the complicated and loud things surrounding you and relax and focus on yourself. In temples such as Gilsangsa, Hwagyesa, and Bongeunsa, you will learn basic temple manners and the way of life harmonized with nature through the guide of monks.Check out this page for a list of places you can have a temple stay experience!
19. Explore the Hometown of K-pop
Seoul would be a fascinating city to K-pop lovers. If you wait in front of the buildings of big entertainment companies like YG, SM and JYP, you may see your beloved stars commuting. This list tells you all of the locations of the major K-pop companies. You can even visit performance halls like Klive or SM artium where you can see K-pop hologram concerts like this one anytime.
A lot of K-pop concerts are also held in big stadiums in Seoul, giving you opportunities to participate in Koreans’ famous crowd sing-along. There are several lessons teaching you how to sing and dance like K-pop stars as well, like this one. Finally, your trip wouldn’t be complete without picking up some k-pop merchandise, so check out these stores to load up on some goods!
20. Enjoy Seoul Life For 24 Hours
As Koreans love to play even at night, many shops and facilities are open for 24 hours. Usually, in crowded areas like Hongdae and Gangnam, cafes are open for 24 hours to give clubbers a place to rest. Buses that start with the alphabet ‘N’ are night buses that run during the night, providing convenience to Seoul citizens. If you’re hungry at around 1 or 2 am, run to any convenient store to pick up a bite to eat. Click here to check out our list of must try convenience store foods and if you’re in Hongdae, try a slice of the famous Monster Pizza to fill your stomach after a night out.