With a population of over ten million, Seoul is world’s second largest metropolitan area and can overwhelm any tourist. Here is a guide to some of the major attractions to visit in Seoul for any interest.
Seoul boasts over 100 museums, including one of the largest museums in Asia. The Korean National Museum in Yongsan showcases artifacts from Korean history, and is reportedly the sixth largest museum in the world. If art is what you’re looking for, the Seoul Museum of Art focuses on modern and contemporary art in Korea and its progression over the last fifty years. For a look into the unique food of Korea, try the Kimchi Field Museum, which features Korea’s most famous dish.
The War Memorial of Korea, also in Yongsan, offers a powerful glimpse at the many wars plaguing the past of the only nation in the world that remains divided to this day. The War Memorial includes indoor display rooms and an outdoor exhibition, where you can examine tanks and other military equipment.
Are you hoping to leave Asia with an mp3 player unlike any you’ve seen back home? Head to the staggering Yongsan Electrontics Market, where 20 buildings house thousands of stores selling cameras, phones, computers, gaming equipment, and any other gadget you can imagine. Korean products can be found here for up to 20% cheaper than other retail stores, and you’ll get a better deal on imports as well.
No matter what kind of shopper you are, there’s a place for you in Seoul. The Dongdaemoon Market features twenty-six shopping malls spread out over ten blocks. If you enjoy bartering and boutiques, head to Itaewon, Seoul’s most “foreigner-friendly” district. Here you’ll find leather goods, crafts, and eclectic souvenirs, as well as the widest variety of international restaurants.
For more upscale shopping, try Myeondong, one of Seoul’s main shopping districts featuring lots of international brand outlets. Or hop over to Gangnam and check out the largest mall in Korea. The COEX Mall, which is underground and accessible from the subway station, has great shops, a huge bookstore, and arguably one of the best movie theaters in the country.
If you’re traveling with kids, LotteWorld is a must on your list of places to visit. The complex includes not only one of the largest indoor theme parks in the world, but also an outdoor amusement park, shopping, restaurants, a folk museum, sports facilities- and a hotel, if you want to make more than a day out of it! With rides, games, festivals, and parades, this place is sure to be a hit with the kiddos.
Seoul is home to several national parks. The Bukhansan National park covers nearly 80 km, and includes forests, mountains, and fortresses. The Bukhansanseong Fortress, first built in 132 AD and expanded on in the early 1700’s, rests here. The mountains are a popular destination for Koreans, and offer many winter sports activities, as well great hiking for warmer weather.
Aside from visiting the Seoul World Cup Stadium in Seongsang, what can the sports enthusiast do in Seoul? Check out the Han River. Riverside recreational areas include basketball courts and soccer fields, and water sports like wind surfing and water skiing are also available. For around $5, you can rent a bike and ride around the river, which runs straight through Seoul.
After a day of fun on the Han, relax on one of the ferry boats that leave hourly from Jamsil and Yeouido island. For $11 per person, you can enjoy a leisurely ride with a fantastic view of the city. The ferries typically include bars, café’s, and sometimes restaurants.
No visit to a major city is complete without a few great pictures of a spectacular view. The best place to go is Seoul Tower, a communication tower located on top of a mountain near Itaewon. The ride up in a cable car will give you a great view by itself, but the four observation decks near the top of the tower present the entire city sprawled out at your feet. Seoul Tower also houses gift shops and a revolving restaurant.