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.
From popular and hip places to hidden local spots, we hope you visit these must-go places and have unforgettable experiences make amazing new memories. Now let’s hit the road!
1. Feel the sublime Korea through a palace tour
The royal palaces from the Josun dynasty are some of the best spots to get a glimpse into the rich history and culture of Korea. In Seoul, there are five grand palaces – Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, Deoksugung, Gyeonghuigung and Changgyeonggung. If you’d like to take a guided tour to some of these beautiful royal palaces, click the image below. 😉
You can also rent Korean traditional clothes –’Hanbok‘ – near the palaces and enter them for free. Renting a hanbok is available here.Read more: Travel Review & Tips: Renting a Hanbok at 3355 Shop near Gyeongbokgung
2. Take in sweeping views from Seoul’s iconic landmark
N Seoul Tower at the summit of Namsan mountain is ranked as the top sightseeing spot in the capital. 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 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. Savor a local food scene in Noryangjin Fish Market
If you want to see the liveliness of the local people in Seoul, head over to Noryangjin fish market. It’s a wholesale market/eatery where you can buy and try fresh seafood and fish and some of the exotic local dishes like ‘hoe (raw fish)’. Even if you don’t buy anything here, the entire market itself gives a great local experience for travelers and tourists.
Get fresh fish sliced into hoe and take it home, or go into the sit-in restaurants where they will cook and then serve them as a meal out of fresh seafood to you.
4. Burn, Baby, Burn -Drink & Party in clubs until the sunrise
Seoul is a city where you can enjoy the ultimate nightlife experience as most of the clubs and bars open until the sunrise. Plus, there are also after-hours clubs for those who are just not ready to go home yet even when the sun’s up.
Hongdae is a popular area of choice for young clubbers and college/university students. Club NB2, Cocoon, and Vera are some of the most well-known ones.
Read more: Dance Till You Die at Best Clubs in Hongdae
Gangnam is another main clubbing district and you will find clubbers here in their mid-20’s or more. Club Octagon is one of the best clubs around, featured with a state of the art sound system and plays electronic, trance, house and techno.
Read more: Seoul Nightlife Guide: Best Clubs in Gangnam
5. Take a stroll along Cheonggyecheon Stream
Cheonggyecheon is a 10-kilometer stream that runs across central Seoul. The area once used be packed with stores and suffered from a heavy traffic but the city of Seoul removed the highway and restored Cheonggyecheon stream. Today, the stream offers both city-dwellers and foreign visitors a peaceful oasis in the city.
6. Go native at Korean Folk Village
Get a glimpse of how Korean people lived in the past by visiting a Korean folk village. You will be able to see the Korean traditional housings and talented actors and actresses are hired to play the roles of people from the past to give visitors an authentic feel.
Instead of merely seeing the displays of ancient artifacts in museums, you can take part in various hands-on programs and watch performances, so try a visit to Korean Folk Village.Sign up for this private tour if you would like to navigate this folk village and a historical fortress, which is designated a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, in one day. Click here to book your trip.
7. Shop till you drop!
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.
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 beelined with small boutique shops full of unique styles.
See more: Cheap Shopping Spree in Seoul
8. Taste the world in Itaewon district
Itaewon is a popular international neighborhood of Seoul where many residents and visitors of diverse cultures and countries . It is like a small global 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 and follow this link for a whole list of posts on places to dine in Itaewon as well!
9. Head to Insadong for Korea’s top traditional 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.
Or instead of buying one, how about creating your own personalized Korean traditional style stamp at a workshop in Insadong? You can sign up for the stamp-making experience here.
Read more: Top 20 Things to Buy in Seoul to Take Home
10. Indulge in Korean 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.
11. Sweat it out at a Korean sauna, 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 and the discount ticket is available here.Read more: Travel Review & Tips: Dragon Hill Spa (Korean Sauna)
12. Hike up the lush green Bukhansan National Park
You may think that Seoul is just a city that is high tech. Well, you’re half right. But the city also does offer greenery and natural landscapes.
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.
13. Take a tour to the dangerous divide, DMZ
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. All visitors can not visit DMZ or JSA by themselves and they can only visit by booking a trip through tour packages.
Only through these tour packages, 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.Read more: 13 things you need to know before visiting the DMZ
14. Feel the adrenaline rush at the city’s 3 best amusement parks
There are 3 big amusement parks in or near Seoul – Lotte World, Everland, and Seoul Land.
Lotte World has a direct connection to subway station (Jamsil Station) and is extremely easy to reach on the subway, which makes it a popular amusement park among teens and those in their 20’s.Just like Lotte World, Everland features plenty of rides, but it also offers a zoo, botanical garden and Everland is comparatively bigger in scale than Lotte World.
Since Everland is located about an hour away from Seoul, the best way to get there is to take a shuttle bus. To lessen the hassle, simply book a shuttle bus package online, which comes with an admission ticket at the discounted price. 🙂
If you would you like to visit Everland theme park, browse our collection of awesome deals on Everland!
Another amusement park in the city is Seoul Land. Since Seoul Land is designed to cater families with kids, you may find rides and attractions less thrilling than the ones in Lotte World or Everland.
However, for parents, it is a great amusement park to take your kids because the amusement park offers a variety of children-friendly rides and attractions, including a sledding hill during the winter season.
15. Revel in the merriment at ice skating rinks during winter!
When winter comes, there are various outdoor ice skating rinks for you and your friends and your family to beat the blues. From public outdoor ones to indoor ice skating rinks, the city of Seoul has plenty to offer, so go ahead and practice your skills at one of these places.
See more: Ice Skating Rinks in Seoul
16. Witness the feverish pink cherry blossoms in Yeouido
Spring is a romantic season, but what makes it more romantic is walking under cherry blossom trees.
It is also spectacular during night time as there will be fewer people and the cherry blossom flowers gleam dreamily under the street lights.
See more: South Korea’s Cherry Blossom Festivals.
17. Relax with a picnic at 12 Han River Parks
The 12 Han River Parks are the perfect spots to sit back and chill out during the summer. There are plenty of hip and fun activities you can do at these parks, such as riding an electric scooter, wakeboarding, waterskiing, cruising through the city on the Han River cruise and many more.
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!
18. Overnight on one of the Korean Buddhist temples
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 sign up and take part in the temple stay program within the city.
See more: Templestay Programs in Korea
19. Get a wholesome experience in the K-Pop capital
Try waiting in front of the buildings of big entertainment companies like YG, SM and JYP where you might spot your favorite stars. Or visit performance halls like K-live or SM artium where you can enjoy K-Pop hologram concerts featured by Big Bang, JYP and many more like this one anytime.
See more: K-Pop or K-Drama experiences in Korea
Go and watch K-Pop concerts to take part in the famous “ttae-chang“, the crowd singing along with the singer. There are also lessons that teach 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. Stay up all night in the city that never sleeps
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.
Read more: 10 Must-Try Korean Convenience Store Foods