Seoul is the capital of Korea with over 600 years of history. It is the heart of Korea’s culture and education as well as politics and economics. Seoul is home to many old historic sites like Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung Palaces, and places of traditional culture like Bukchon Hanok Village, Insa-dong, and Namdaemun Market. The shopping and entertainment districts of Myeongdong and Apgujeong, and Asia’s largest underground shopping center COEX Mall also draw a large number of tourists every year. The Hangang River, which runs through the center of the city, is also a distinctive landscape of Seoul that offers a myriad of resting areas for citizens.
– 04536, 27 Myeong-dong 8-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
Myeong-dong is Seoul’s shopping mecca and is a must-see for tourists, but it is not just a shopping destination; Myeong-dong is also a center of commerce, banking and culture with a daytime population of 1.5-2 million.
For shoppers there is a mixture of street stalls and retail outlets selling everything from high fashion to casual attire as well as many Korean cosmetics stores offering high-quality products at competitive prices.
Myeong-dong is very popular with international visitors and fills with Japanese tourists during the Japanese holiday period known as “Golden Week” which runs from the end of April to the beginning of May. Part of Myeong-dong’s popularity stems from the more affordable prices here compared to Apgujeong-dong and Cheongdam-dong.
– 03145, 39-1 Insadong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Nowhere exudes more local and traditional charm than Insa-dong, a quaint neighborhood in the center of Seoul that transports visitors back to a time when women wore hanbok and men rode horses.
With its wooden tea houses, boutique galleries and street vendors selling traditional snacks, a stroll through Insa-dong is mandatory for all visitors, especially on Sundays when the streets become traffic free and come alive with street performances, buskers and throngs of young and old who have come to experience one of Seoul’s most fascinating and creative neighborhoods. While the entertainment here is free, Insa-dong is also one of the best places in Seoul to purchase traditional Korean art, products, and other souvenirs, as it is filled with antique shops, art galleries, traditional stationery shops, handicraft shops, pottery and porcelain shops, bookstores, and art supply stores. Insa-dong is also home to many traditional restaurants and teahouses.
– 03045, 161 Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Gyeongbokgung Palace was the first royal palace built by the Joseon Dynasty, three years after the Joseon Dynasty was founded. Built in 1395, Gyeongbokgung Palace was located at the heart of newly appointed capital of Seoul (then known as Hanyang) and represented the sovereignty of the Joseon Dynasty.
The largest of the Five Grand Palaces (the others being Gyeonghuigung Palace, Deoksugung Palace, Changgyeonggung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace), Gyeongbokgung served as the main palace of the Joseon Dynasty.
– 03187, 37 Mugyo-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea (Seorin-dong)
Cheonggyecheon is an 11 km long modern stream that runs through downtown Seoul. Created as part of an urban renewal project, Cheonggyecheon is a restoration of the stream that was once there before during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). The stream was covered with an elevated highway after the Korean War (1950-1953), as part of the country’s post-war economic development. Then in 2003, the elevated highway was removed to restore the stream to its present form today. The stream starts from Cheonggye Plaza, a popular cultural arts venue, and passes under a total of 22 bridges before flowing into the Hangang (River), with many attractions along its length.
– 04340, 105 Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Korea (Yongsan-dong 2-ga, YTN Seoul Tower)
N Seoul Tower was built in 1969 as Korea’s first integrated transmission tower beaming television and radio broadcasts across the capital. Since opening to the public in 1980, it has become a much-loved Seoul landmark. The tower’s main attractions include multi-colored digital art projected onto the tower at night, a digital observatory, a roof terrace, the HanCook restaurant, the n.Grill restaurant, and the Haneul (Sky) Restroom. N Seoul Tower’s mountain surroundings on Namsan (Mt.) have made it a popular place to unwind for locals and tourists alike.
– 03038, 283 Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul (Jongno 6-ga, Seoul Design Support Center)
The Seoul City Wall was originally built in 1396, surrounding Seoul (then known as Hanyang) during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897). The wall stretches for 18.6km along the ranges of Bugaksan Mountain, Naksan Mountain, Namsan Mountain, and Inwangsan Mountain. The wall stands at average heights of 7m to 8m high.
Along the Seoul City Wall, there once stood eight gates that were originally built between 1396-1398, but only six remain standing. The North, South, East, and West gates of the wall are known as the “Four Great Gates” (Sukjeongmun, Heunginjimun, Sungnyemun, Dongeuimun), while the Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, and Southwest gates are known as the “Four Minor Gates” (Changuimun, Hyehwamun, Gwanghuimun, Soeuimun).