It’s a time for happiness and festivities as the Lunar New Year, ‘Seollal’, is just around the corner in South Korea!
Seollal: Lunar New Year’s Day
What is Seollal?
Seollal, which is considered a major holiday season for the Koreans, usually lasts for 3 days. During this period, most of the shops and restaurants will be closed, especially on the official day of Seollal (January 22, 2023). So, keep that in mind if you’re planning on visiting South Korea during the month.
Major palaces, museums, and amusement parks are open, but do double-check the websites to check one more time before you go!
Of course, there will be a heavy traffic jam and it’ll be very difficult for travelers and tourists to purchase a train or bus ticket. However, if you still want to travel to other regions, simply book an Express Bus Ticket or Korail Pass (KR Pass) for KTX & Train Rides via Trazy!
Then, how do we celebrate Seollal? Let’s find out!
1. Korean Traditional Dress ‘Hanbok’
During Seollal, you might witness Koreans wearing a beautifully colored and patterned Korean traditional dress called ‘hanbok’. It is not mandatory to wear, but nowadays, wearing a hanbok is becoming a popular fashion trend in Korea.
If you’re interested in renting or trying out Korean traditional dress for a day, check these out!
Why don’t you visit the beautiful palaces in Seoul, Gyeongbokgung Palace, Deoksugung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace, and Changgyeongung Palace while wearing a hanbok? You can get free admission to these palaces if you are wearing a hanbok!
Check out Palace Tours in Seoul:
Korean Folk Village in Yongin is also highly recommended if you want some Korean traditional experiences.
Check out Tours to Korean Folk Village:
- Korean Folk Village Half Day Tour from Seoul (Morning/Afternoon)
- Suwon Hwaseong Fortress & Korean Folk Village Private Van Tour
- Suwon Hwaseong Fortress + Korean Folk Village + Uiwang Rail Bike 1 Day Tour
- South Gyeonggi Private Van Package: Getaway to Folk Village/ Dae Jang Geum Theme Park/ Yeoju Premium Outlet/ Hwaseong Fortress
2. An Ancestral Rite, ‘Charye’
In the early morning of the official day of Seollal, all the family members and relatives gather and begin an ancestral rite and preparation of a process called ‘charye‘.
All family members together prepare dishes of ritual foods and set them on the table. After the table is set, they (in the order of oldest to youngest) stand in front of the table and bow to the spirits of the ancestors first. Watch the video below to see how ‘charye’ is done!
Now, this is the exciting part! 🙂 Family members take turns (from the oldest to the youngest) and give a deep bow to the elderly and parents. Koreans call this bowing process ‘sebae‘.
After the bow, parents or relatives will then give the children money or ‘sebaetdon (New Year’s money)’ and words of blessing in return for the New Year.
4. Try Seollal Food, ‘Tteokguk’
After ‘sebae’ comes the feast (finally)! On Lunar New Year’s Day, Koreans eat ‘tteokguk (sliced rice cake soup)’. In Korea, eating tteokguk = a year added to one’s age. So, as a joke, Koreans say ‘the more bowls of tteokguk you eat, the older you will get!’
Try other Seollal foods as well like ‘sanjeok’ (meat and vegetable brochette)’, ‘buchimgae (Korean style pancake)’, and Korean traditional desserts like ‘yakgwa(honey cookie)’, ‘hangwa (traditional Korean sweets)’ as well as ‘injeolmi (rice cake covered with bean flour)’.
Check out these Traditional Korean food cooking classes in Korea:
- Authentic Korean Cooking Class with a Local Market Tour near Hongdae/Mangwon
- Korean Side Dish Cooking Class near Hongdae/Mangwon
- 4 Kinds of Kimchi Making Class near Hongdae/Mangwon
- Seoul Kimchi Making Class in Bukchon Hanok Village
- Traditional Korean Rice Wine (Makgeolli) & Cooking Class in Seoul
- Korean Rice Cake with Sweet Bean Filling / Sweet Rice Puffs Making Experience
5. Fun & Thrilling Rides at Theme Parks
Theme parks are all open during the Korean Lunar New Year’s holiday and it’s a wonderful place to have fun with your family or friends. At Everland, the largest theme park in Korea, you can visit 1 day to enjoy the fun rides and parades. You can also book a hassle-free shuttle bus package or private van package to Everland theme park!
Lotte World is a theme park in Seoul that you can easily reach by subway and they have the largest indoor theme park in Korea! You can also visit Lotte World Tower, the tallest building in Korea, and Lotte World Aquarium, which are all just next to the Lotte World theme park.
Seoul Land is recommended especially to those who have children since you can enjoy snow sledding! If you are residing in the southern region of Korea, visit Daegu E-World where you can also get a ticket to Daegu 83 Tower, the iconic landmark in Daegu.
6. Indoor Attractions & Activities
If you are afraid of enjoying outdoor activities in cold weather, don’t worry about it! There are plenty of indoor attractions and activities you can enjoy in Korea. One of the most recommended indoor attractions is the aquarium. In Seoul, there are COEX Aquarium in Samseong, Aqua Planet at 63 Building in Yeouido, and Lotte World Aquarium in Jamsil.
If you are looking for more unique indoor activities check out the below activities in Seoul:
- Make Your Own Custom Ring/Bracelet/Necklace in Hongdae
- Neon Sign Making Class in Gangnam & Hongdae
- Make Your Own Korean Lettering Silver Jewelry in Eulji-ro
- Traditional Knot Ornament-Making Experience in Bukchon Hanok Village
- Make Your Own Perfume in Seoul
- Find Your Personal Scent and Make Your Own Perfume in Bogwang-dong
- Make Your Own Cosmetics (Skincare products/Lipsticks) near Hongdae
7. Exciting Paragliding Experience
Tandem Paragliding is one of the best ways to appreciate the stunning sceneries and enjoy the thrilling and exciting moments! Why don’t you have this once-in-a-lifetime experience during the Seollal holiday in Korea? You can try tandem paragliding in Danyang, Jeju Island, Gyeongju, and Daegu during the holiday!
8. Winter Escapes to Ski Resorts
If you want to plan a winter getaway during Seollal, booking ski resorts is a perfect way! There are many high-quality ski resorts in Korea where you can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, and snow sledding. You can book hassle-free lift pass and ski equipment/clothes rental packages at Vivaldi Park Ski Resort and Elysian Gangchon Ski Resort. If you are in the southern region, such as Busan or Daegu, you can head to Eden Valley Ski Resort!
Check out more ski packages at Trazy’s Hand-picked Korea Ski Resorts’ Best Packages!
9. Play Traditional Games
Seollal is a perfect time for families to play some fun games together! The most popular traditional game is called ‘yut nori‘, a board game with four wooden sticks instead of two dice. The game’s main objective is to get all your pawns through to the end, and the first one to do that is the winner!
Other fun games include ‘jegichagi (a game where you kick a shuttlecock and try and keep it in the air for as long as possible)’, ‘neolitwiggi (a Korean jumping game similar to see-sawing)’, and ‘tuho (a game where people throw sticks into a canister)’. Go to a park and try ‘yeon-naligi (kite flying)’ as well!
10. Hang lucky bags on trees
One of the traditional customs carried out on Seollal is hanging ‘bokjumeoni‘ or lucky bags on walls or trees. Koreans believe that these beautifully embroidered pockets bring good fortune and bliss to the holder.
Get one of these lucky bags as a souvenir or gift for your loved ones. Hang them up on the walls at home or on the branches of trees and see if they really bring good luck! 😉
Last but not least, watch this video that shows how Koreans generally spend the Lunar New Year.
Now, go on and discover the genuine beauty of South Korea with Trazy.com, Korea’s #1 Travel Shop. It’s better to see something once than hear about it a thousand times! 😉