South Korea offers everything a traveler could want in a destination. It has a long and fascinating history, a wonderful culture, amazing food, friendly people, and an excellent tourism infrastructure including a new high-speed rail system. It's also a country of contrasts, with tourist attractions ranging from ancient mountaintop Buddhist temples like Bulguksa to the ultra-modern skyscrapers of Seoul like the Lotte World Tower.
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Written by Freddy Sherman Updated Mar 9, We may earn a commission from affiliate links. Seoul, South Korea is a vibrant and exciting city, one that deftly combines ancient history with ultra-modern de and technology. The city is filled with a wide range of tourist attractions of all types, from outdoor adventures like exploring Mount Namsan and its surrounding park to indoor fun like visiting one of Seoul's many museums.
Seoul is also a city of palaces, with five huge palace complexes located throughout the city and now restored to their former glory. Of course it's also known for its food, with a mouthwatering array of street food, Korean specialties like barbecue, and fine-dining options. Discover the best things to do in this exciting city with our list of the top tourist attractions in Seoul. Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.
Cherry blossoms in front of Seoul Tower. Rising almost meters above the city, this communications and observation tower provides dramatic views of the city from its perch on the side of Mount Namsan. A cable car whisks you up the side of the mountain to the base of the tower. From here, you can go up in the tower and visit any one of four observation decks, one of which is a rotating restaurant. There are two restaurants at the tower and, of course, several gift shops. There's even a digital observatory, where people with height issues can experience a live, degree view through the use of 32 LED Looking for fun South Korea 12 to 3 and cameras mounted at the tower's top.
The views from the tower are great, but so are the views of the tower from most parts of the city. Computer-controlled LED lighting on the exterior of the tower provides a digital, visual cultural experience of Seoul with themed lighting presentations.
Traditionally dressed Korean girls at Bukchon Hanok Village. For a taste of Korean traditional culture and architecture, head over to the Bukchon Hanok Village. This preserved area of several ancient neighborhoods gives you a feel for what it was Looking for fun South Korea 12 to 3 to live in Korea years ago.
It's right in central Seoul, in the area between the Gyeongbokgung Palace and the Changdeokgung Palace. The neighborhoods feature hanoks or traditional Korean houses. It's a unique place, as it's a historic area, very popular with tourists, but it's also a real neighborhood because the houses are all occupied. Some of the hanoks are now guesthouses and bed-and-breakfasts, and a few are museums and can be toured.
Others are cultural centers showcasing traditional crafts and other historic aspects of Korean life. This is a fun place to spend an afternoon and really gives visitors the feeling of being in ancient Korea due to the historic architecture and narrow streets.
National Museum of Korea. This must-see attraction in Seoul showcases the incredible history and artwork of Korea and the Korean people. The museum, one of the largest in Asia, is in the city's Yongsan District close to Itaewon. It focuses on archeology, history, and art and includes a vast collection of works and objects going back more than a million years.
There are ancient and prehistoric artifacts, sculpture, paintings, and other artwork along with a large collection of objects and antiques. Before or after your museum visit, head down the street to Yongsan Family Parka nice outdoor space to relax. Another important museum, The War Memorial of Korea, is also close by. Lotte World Tower. One of the newest attractions in Seoul is the Lotte World Tower skyscraper. It's meters above the ground and one of the world's tallest currently fifth buildings.
There are several indoor and outdoor observation areas called Seoul Sky at the top on the rd floor. Views are spectacular both during the day and at night, and you can see degrees around the city.
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On the th floor, there's the Sky Deck with the world's highest glass floor. Like magic, the floor changes from opaque to clear, terrifying unsuspecting visitors. Even getting to the top is fun, and the journey is done via super fast, double-decker elevators, with windows on one side and LED screens on the other three and the ceiling.
Inside the tower are offices, luxury residences, and a hotel. There's also an aquarium and a large shopping mall. The tower is home to a concert hall and a state-of-the-art, screen MoviePlex. Gyeongbokgung Palace. First built inGyeongbokgung Palace is the largest of Seoul's five grand palaces built during the powerful Joseon dynasty. Destroyed and rebuilt several times over the centuries, it was restored to its original glory after the Second World War and totally restored in the s.
Within the palace grounds, you can also find the National Palace Museum of Korea and the National Folk Museumand both are worth a visit. The palace museum is especially fascinating as it presents items from the palaces of the Joseon Dynasty. This includes priceless antiques and artwork, as well as everyday items for cooking, cleaning, and daily life. The National Folk Museum focuses on items from daily life, as well as clothing and dioramas, to tell the story of the Korean people since prehistoric times. Sunset over the Seoul Museum of Art.
Located behind the Deoksugung Palace, SeMa as it's known to locals, has a large collection of artwork, mainly from the modern era.
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The art museum focuses on Korean art and Korean artists but has a decent selection of international works and creators. Changing temporary and visiting exhibitions also showcase unique collections and artwork. The collection is displayed over three floors in a large building that was formerly the home of the Korean Supreme Court.
The museum has two additional satellite locations in other parts of Seoul, and these feature rotating exhibits from the museum's main collection, as well as special exhibitions. The Blue House. It's the official residence of the Korean presidentas well as the location of his and related executive offices of state. The Blue House isn't really a single building, it's an entire campus of buildings, all built in the traditional Korean style and all featuring the distinctive blue tile roofs where it gets its name.
Hour-long tours are given, but participants must apply and schedule their tour in advance, online.
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The tour takes you to many parts of the palace complex including meeting rooms, reception rooms, and the Korean version of the Rose Garden, where the Korean president holds press conferences. Bongeunsa is one of many Buddhist temples in and around Seoul.
It first opened in the year and is a complex of multiple buildings and shrines. It's easy to visit, as it's centrally located in the exciting Gangnam area. The temple is on the side of a low mountain, directly across the street from the massive COEX convention center and mall.
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It's a popular spot for convention-goers to take Looking for fun South Korea 12 to 3 break and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. Visitors are welcome, and the temple even has a program that allows guests to experience the daily life of a monk for a few hours. Gwanghwamun Gate at night. The largest and main gate to Seoul's Gyeongbokgung PalaceGwanghwamun Gate is home to the changing of the guards ceremony performed sincewhich happens daily except Tuesdays at 10am and 2pm. The gate has undergone many renovations and rebuilding, most recently inwhen it was restored to its original location and reconstructed with native materials.
There's a large plaza in front, and the gate sits in front of the vast Gwanghwamun Squarehome to frequent political demonstrations, a large subway station, giant fountain, and some huge statues of Joseon-era leaders. Cheonggyecheon Stream in central Seoul. This natural creek that flows through central Seoul was covered over by highways in the post-Korean War economic boom. Seven miles of the creek were uncovered as part of an urban revitalization project and turned into an outdoor recreation area, opening in There are now seven miles of creek-side hiking, walking and biking trails.
It really has changed the CBD of Seoul by bringing an artery of green into what was a very urbanized, crowded area. The creek is also home to the spectacular Seoul lantern festivalheld each November.
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Ornate, lighted paper lanterns are displayed in and along the creek and each night thousands of people line the creek and view the floating artwork. Baegundae Peak, Bukhansan National Park. Set within the strikingly beautiful landscape of the Bukhansan National ParkJingwansa is an ancient temple complex offering many ways to experience and learn about Buddhism. The traditional buildings are surrounded by miles of hiking trails you can come here just to hike snaking through the mountains.
The temple, which grows most of its own food and ferments its own kimcheehas a range of public programs.
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There's a temple stay program, which includes an overnight visit, plus there are cultural and learning programs. They also offer foodie experiences like a traditional vegetarian temple meal, as eaten by the monks.
Jingwansa is on the far west side of the city, one of the four major temples of Seoul first built around 1, BC. Itaewon at dusk. If you have limited time in the city, it's one of the those places that can give you a real feel for Korean retail culture in a short time period. There are food carts, street performers, and some of the side streets are filled with restaurants.